Evidence for a high ancestral GC content in Drosophila

Molecular Biology and Evolution
F Rodríguez-TrellesF J Ayala


Study of the nucleotide composition in Drosophila, focusing on the saltans and willistoni groups, has revealed unanticipated differences in nucleotide composition among lineages. Compositional differences are associated with an accelerated rate of nucleotide substitution in functionally less constrained regions. These observations have been set forth against the extended opinion that the pattern of point mutation has remained constant during the evolution of the genus. A crucial assumption has been that the most recent common ancestor of the subgenus Sophophora had an elevated GC content. Until now, this assumption has been supported by indirect arguments, consisting of extrapolations from closely related outgroups and limited by the robustness of mathematical descriptions concerning the extensive nucleotide composition differences among sequences. The present study seeks to test the assumption of a high ancestral GC content using realistic representations of the nucleotide substitution process to account for potential biases induced by the heterogeneous GC content of the taxa. The analysis of eight nuclear genes unambiguously corroborates that the common ancestor of Sophophora had an elevated GC content.


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Related Concepts

G+C Composition
Sense Codon
DNA, Double-Stranded
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