Evidence for positive selection on a sexual reproduction gene in the diatom genus Thalassiosira (Bacillariophyta)

  • Sorhannus U
  • Kosakovsky Pond S
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Single likelihood ancestor counting (SLAC), fixed effects likelihood (FEL), and several random effects likelihood (REL) methods were utilized to identify positively and negatively selected sites in sexually induced gene 1 (Sig1) of four different Thalassiosira species. The SLAC analysis did not find any sites affected by positive selection but suggested 13 sites influenced by negative selection. The SLAC approach may be too conservative because of low sequence divergence. The FEL and REL analyses revealed over 60 negatively selected sites and two positively selected sites that were unique to each method. The REL method may not be able to reliably identify individual sites under selection when applied to short sequences with low divergence. Instead, we proposed a new alignment-wide test for adaptive evolution based on codon models with variation in synonymous and nonsynonymous substitution rates among sites and found evidence for diversifying evolution without relying on site-by-site testing. The performance of the FEL and REL approaches was evaluated by subjecting the tests to a type I error rate simulation analysis, using the specific characteristics of the Sig1 data set. Simulation results indicated that the FEL test had reasonable Type I errors, while REL might have been too liberal, suggesting that the two positively selected sites identified by FEL (codons 94 and 174) are not likely to be false positives. The evolution of these codon sites, one of which is located in functional domain II, appears to be associated with divergence among the three major Thalassiosira lineages.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Likelihood methods
  • Negative selection
  • Nonsynonymous substitution
  • Positive selection
  • Sexual reproduction gene
  • Synonymous substitution
  • Thalassiosira

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  • Ulf Sorhannus

  • Sergei L. Kosakovsky Pond

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