Nucleotide sequence diversity at the methionine synthase locus in endangered Dunnia sinensis (rubiaceae): An evaluation of the positive selection hypothesis

Yu Chung Chiang, Xue Jun Ge, Chang Hung Chou, Wen Lung Wu, Tzen Yuh Chiang

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Methionine synthase is a key enzyme for the synthesis of the aspartate-derived methionine, the immediate precursor of S-adenosyl-methionine, which has been illustrated to be associated with plant growth and pathogen interactions. In this study we tested the positive selection hypothesis of molecular evolution of the methionine synthase gene in Dunnia sinensis. In the entire sample of 87 sequences, 22 haplotypes of introns and 16 haplotypes of exons were identified. An excess of polymorphism over the neutral expectation for the class of unique nucleotide polymorphisms was observed in both exon and intron sequences. Ten replacement substitutions versus six synonymous substitutions among lineages, although nonsignificant, revealed that some advantageous mutants might have been favored. The distribution of dN/ds > 1 at nodes between closely related haplotypes in the gene network also indicated weak and variable positive selection. Nevertheless, low levels of genetic diversity in exons (0 = 0.0052) and introns (0 = 0.0070) of the methionine synthase gene of the outcrossing Dunnia were also attributed to the endangered status of the species. The atpB-rbcL intergenic spacer of cpDNA and the ribosomal internal transcribed spacer of mtDNA were used to discern the relative effectiveness of natural selection from intrinsic evolutionary forces. The low levels of nucleotide polymorphisms in both organelle spacers and the significant population differentiation reflected the effect of population-species history and demography. Two major lineages of the methionine synthase gene genealogy were recovered corresponding to two geographic regions, a result that was consistent with organelle phylogenies. Both past fragmentation and recent habitat disturbance causing complete bottlenecks may have resulted in population decline and geographic isolation and may have led to the depletion of genetic variation at loci in nuclear and organelle genomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1367-1375
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Aug

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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