BcMF26a and BcMF26b Are Duplicated Polygalacturonase Genes with Divergent Expression Patterns and Functions in Pollen Development and Pollen Tube Formation in Brassica campestris
The polygalacturonase (PG) gene family is one of the largest gene families in plants. PGs are involved in various plant development steps. The evolutionary processes accounting for the functional divergence and the specialized functions of PGs in land plants are unclear. Whole sets of PG genes were retrieved from the genome web sites of model organisms in algae and land plants. The number of PG genes was expanded by lineage-specific manner with the biological complexity of the organism. Differentiation of PGs was related with phylogenetic hierarchy such as presence of rhamno-PGs from algae to plants, endo- and exo-PGs in land plants, exo-PGs in flowering plants. Gene structure analysis revealed that land plant PG genes resulted from differential intron gain and loss, with the latter event predominating. Differential intron losses partitioned the PGs into separate clades to be expressed differentially during plant development. Intron position and phase were not conserved between PGs of algae and land plants but conserved among PG genes of land plants from moss to vascular plants, indicating that the current introns in the PGs in land plants appeared after the split between unicellular algae and multicelluar land plants. The results demonstrate that the functional divergence and differentiation of PGs in land plants is attributable to intron losses.