Journal Article

Patterns of Evolutionary Conservation of Microsatellites (SSRs) Suggest a Faster Rate of Genome Evolution in Hymenoptera Than in Diptera

Eckart Stolle, Jonathan H. Kidner and Robin F.A. Moritz

in Genome Biology and Evolution

Published on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Volume 5, issue 1, pages 151-162
Published in print January 2013 |
Published online January 2013 | e-ISSN: 1759-6653 | DOI:

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  • Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
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Microsatellites, or simple sequence repeats (SSRs), are common and widespread DNA elements in genomes of many organisms. However, their dynamics in genome evolution is unclear, whereby they are thought to evolve neutrally. More available genome sequences along with dated phylogenies allowed for studying the evolution of these repetitive DNA elements along evolutionary time scales. This could be used to compare rates of genome evolution. We show that SSRs in insects can be retained for several hundred million years. Different types of microsatellites seem to be retained longer than others. By comparing Dipteran with Hymenopteran species, we found very similar patterns of SSR loss during their evolution, but both taxa differ profoundly in the rate. Relative to divergence time, Diptera lost SSRs twice as fast as Hymenoptera. The loss of SSRs on the Drosophila melanogaster X-chromosome was higher than on the other chromosomes. However, accounting for generation time, the Diptera show an 8.5-fold slower rate of SSR loss than the Hymenoptera, which, in contrast to previous studies, suggests a faster genome evolution in the latter. This shows that generation time differences can have a profound effect. A faster genome evolution in these insects could be facilitated by several factors very different to Diptera, which is discussed in light of our results on the haplodiploid D. melanogaster X-chromosome. Furthermore, large numbers of SSRs can be found to be in synteny and thus could be exploited as a tool to investigate genome structure and evolution.

Keywords: microsatellite conservation; genome evolution; social Hymenoptera; Drosophila; mosquitoes; generation time; haplodiploidy; synteny

Journal Article.  7239 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology ; Evolutionary Biology ; Genetics and Genomics

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