Colored aleurone1 and Purple plant1 are both genes with long histories in maize research and are involved in the regulation of anthocyanin biosynthesis.The mutant version of purple plant1 does exactly what it sounds like. (In the proper genetic background) it has plants producing anthocyanin (a purple plant pigment) everywhere, resulting in purple plants. The mutant form of colored aleurone1 was identified from a mutant that changed the color of individual corn kernels. Guess which of these two classic maize mutants made it into the top 15 most published on genes in maize, and which fell barely short.
The two genes are also duplicates (homeologs) resulting from the maize whole genome duplication. From the picture below you can also see both the two genes and the regions they are in match up to single regions in rice and sorghum, two grasses that haven’t gone though a whole genome duplication since the great radiation of grass species that took place an estimated 50 million years ago (well after dinosaurs stopped walking the earth).
More interesting, at least to me, is the fact that there is NO gene equivalent to colored aleurone1 and purple plant1 in the region we’d expect to find such a gene in Brachypodium (the only other grass species with a sequenced genome)*. From all the genes that line up perfectly on either side we can predict the exact location the gene equivalent to colored aleurone1 and purple plant1 should be found in the Brachypodium genome. But the gene isn’t there…
The GEvo panel shown here can be regenerated at: http://tinyurl.com/yddlwor
For a couple more examples of comparisons between the four sequences grass genomes check out the Cogepedia post I spent this morning pulling together.
*The publication of which I celebrated just a little while ago.