Pinaceae show elevated rates of gene turnover that are robust to incomplete gene annotation. Academic Article uri icon


  • Gene duplications and gene losses are major determinants of genome evolution and phenotypic diversity. The frequency of gene turnover (gene gains and gene losses combined) is known to vary between organisms. Comparative genomic analyses of gene families can highlight such variation; however, estimates of gene turnover may be biased when using highly fragmented genome assemblies resulting in poor gene annotations. Here, we address potential biases introduced by gene annotation errors in estimates of gene turnover frequencies in a dataset including both well-annotated angiosperm genomes and the incomplete gene sets of four Pinaceae, including two pine species, Norway spruce and Douglas-fir. We show that Pinaceae experienced higher gene turnover rates than angiosperm lineages lacking recent whole-genome duplications. This finding is robust to both known major issues in Pinaceae gene sets: missing gene models and erroneous annotation of pseudogenes. A separate analysis limited to the four Pinaceae gene sets pointed to an accelerated gene turnover rate in pines compared with Norway spruce and Douglas-fir. Our results indicate that gene turnover significantly contributes to genome variation and possibly to speciation in Pinaceae, particularly in pines. Moreover, these findings indicate that reliable estimates of gene turnover frequencies can be discerned in incomplete and potentially inaccurate gene sets. Because gymnosperms are known to exhibit low overall substitution rates compared with angiosperms, our results suggest that the rate of single-base pair mutations is uncoupled from the rate of large DNA duplications and deletions associated with gene turnover in Pinaceae.

published proceedings

  • Plant J

altmetric score

  • 7.6

author list (cited authors)

  • Casola, C., & Koralewski, T. E.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Casola, Claudio||Koralewski, Tomasz E

publication date

  • June 2018