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Simulation of the evolution of codon usage in cpDNA


Morton, Brian (2021), Simulation of the evolution of codon usage in cpDNA, Dryad, Dataset,


The codon usage of the Angiosperm psbA gene is atypical for flowering plant chloroplast genes but similar to the codon usage observed in highly expressed plastid genes from some other Plantae, particularly Chlorobionta, lineages. The pattern of codon bias in these genes is suggestive of selection for a set of translationally optimal codons but the degree of bias towards these optimal codons is much weaker in the flowering plant psbA gene than in high expression plastid genes from lineages such as certain green algal groups. Two scenarios have been proposed to explain these observations. One is that the flowering plant psbA gene is currently under weak selective constraints for translation efficiency, the other is that there are no current selective constraints and we are observing the remnants of an ancestral codon adaptation that is decaying under mutational pressure. We test these two models using simulations studies that incorporate the context-dependent mutational properties of plant chloroplast DNA. We first reconstruct ancestral sequences and then simulate their evolution in the absence of selection on codon usage by using mutation dynamics estimated from intergenic regions. The results show that psbA has a significantly higher level of codon adaptation than expected while other chloroplast genes are within the range predicted by the simulations. These results suggest that there have been selective constraints on the codon usage of the flowering plant psbA gene during Angiosperm evolution.


Sequences were downladed from NCBI and aligned using Clustal.

Code was written by the authors.

Usage Notes

All information is in the README file.