Frequent gene movement and pseudogene evolution is common to the large and complex genomes of wheat, barley, and their relatives

Thomas Wicker, Klaus F.X. Mayer, Heidrun Gundlach, Mihaela Martis, Burkhard Steuernagel, Uwe Scholz, Hana Šimková, Marie Kubaláková, Frédéric Choulet, Stefan Taudien, Matthias Platzer, Catherine Feuillet, Tzion Fahima, Hikmet Budak, Jaroslav Doležel, Beat Keller, Nils Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


All six arms of the group 1 chromosomes of hexaploid wheat (Triticum aestivum) were sequenced with Roche/454 to 1.3-to 2.2-fold coverage and compared with similar data sets from the homoeologous chromosome 1H of barley (Hordeum vulgare). Six to ten thousand gene sequences were sampled per chromosome. These were classified into genes that have their closest homologs in the Triticeae group 1 syntenic region in Brachypodium, rice (Oryza sativa), and/or sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) and genes that have their homologs elsewhere in these model grass genomes. Although the number of syntenic genes was similar between the homologous groups, the amount of nonsyntenic genes was found to be extremely diverse between wheat and barley and even between wheat subgenomes. Besides a small core group of genes that are nonsyntenic in other grasses but conserved among Triticeae, we found thousands of genic sequences that are specific to chromosomes of one single species or subgenome. By examining in detail 50 genes from chromosome 1H for which BAC sequences were available, we found that many represent pseudogenes that resulted from transposable element activity and double-strand break repair. Thus, Triticeae seem to accumulate nonsyntenic genes frequently. Since many of them are likely to be pseudogenes, total gene numbers in Triticeae are prone to pronounced overestimates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1706-1718
Number of pages13
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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