Authors: Hsin, Kuan-Ting; Lu, Jing-Yi; Möller, Michael; Wang, Chun-Neng
Publication: PLOS ONE
Year: 2019
Genera: Conandron, Hemiboea, Lysionotus

Floral bilateral symmetry is one of the most important acquisitions in flower shape evolution in angiosperms. Members of Gesneriaceae possess predominantly zygomorphic flowers yet natural reversal to actinomorphy have independently evolved multiple times. The development of floral bilateral symmetry relies greatly on the gene CYCLOIDEA (CYC). Our reconstructed GCYC phylogeny indicated at least five GCYC duplication events occurred over the evolutionary history of Gesneriaceae. However, the patterns of GCYC expression following the duplications and the role of natural selection on GCYC copies in relation to floral symmetry remained largely unstudied. The Asiatic tribe Trichosporeae contains most reversals to actinomorphy. We thus investigated shifts in GCYC gene expression among selected zygomorphic species (Hemiboea bicornuta and Lysionotus pauciflorus) and species with reversals to actinomorphy (Conandron ramondioides) by RT-PCR. In the actinomorphic C. ramondioides, none of the three copies of GCYC was found expressed in petals implying that the reversal was a loss-of-function event. On the other hand, both zygomorphic species retained one GCYC1 copy that was expressed in the dorsal petals but each species utilized a different copy (GCYC1C for H. bicornuta and GCYC1D for L. pauciflorus). Together with previously published data, it appeared that GCYC1C and GCYC1D copies diversified their expression in a distinct species-specific pattern. To detect whether the selection signal (ω) changed before and after the duplication of GCYC1 in Asiatic Trichosporeae, we reconstructed a GCYC phylogeny using maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference algorithms and examined selection signals using PAML. The PAML analysis detected relaxation from selection right after the GCYC1 duplication (ωpre-duplication = 0.2819, ωpost-duplication = 0.3985) among Asiatic Trichosporeae species. We propose that the selection relaxation after the GCYC1 duplication created an “evolutionary window of flexibility” in which multiple copies were retained with randomly diverged roles for dorsal-specific expressions in association with floral symmetry changes.