The extent of molecular differentiation between domesticated animals or plants and their wild relatives is postulated to be small. The availability of the complete genome sequences of two subspecies of the Asian rice, Oryza sativa (indica and japonica) and their wild relatives have provided an unprecedented opportunity to study divergence following domestication. We observed significantly more amino acid substitutions during rice domestication than can be expected from a comparison among wild species. This excess is disproportionately larger for the more radical kinds of amino acid changes (e.g. Cys↔Tyr). We estimate that approximately a quarter of the amino acid differences between rice cultivars are deleterious, not accountable by the relaxation of selective constraints. This excess is negatively correlated with the rate of recombination, suggesting that 'hitchhiking' has occurred. We hypothesize that during domestication artificial selection increased the frequency of many deleterious mutations. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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