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Evolution DOES bump up “against constraints”

Some of the many species of clover/Ken Olsen

Further to “If the world’s tape were rewound and played again … Would it play out the same way?” and “Do rare chance events shape evolution?,” this just in from ScienceDaily:

How repeatable is evolutionary history? ‘Weakness’ in clover genome biases species to evolve same trait:

Some clover species have two forms, one of which releases cyanide to discourage nibbling by snails and insects and the other of which does not. A scientist found that this ‘polymorphism’ has evolved independently in six different species of clover, each time by the wholesale deletion of a gene. The clover species are in a sense predisposed to develop this trait, suggesting that evolution is not entirely free form but instead bumps up against constraints.

Here’s the abstract:

Variation in cyanogenesis (hydrogen cyanide release following tissue damage) was first noted in populations of white clover more than a century ago, and subsequent decades of research have established this system as a classic example of an adaptive chemical defence polymorphism. Here, we document polymorphisms for cyanogenic components in several relatives of white clover, and we determine the molecular basis of this trans-specific adaptive variation. One hundred and thirty-nine plants, representing 13 of the 14 species within Trifolium section Trifoliastrum, plus additional species across the genus, were assayed for cyanogenic components (cyanogenic glucosides and their hydrolysing enzyme, linamarase) and for the presence of underlying cyanogenesis genes (CYP79D15 and Li, respectively). One or both cyanogenic components were detected in seven species, all within section Trifoliastrum; polymorphisms for the presence/absence (PA) of components were detected in six species. In a pattern that parallels our previous findings for white clover, all observed biochemical polymorphisms correspond to gene PA polymorphisms at CYP79D15 and Li. Relationships of DNA sequence haplotypes at the cyanogenesis loci and flanking genomic regions suggest independent evolution of gene deletions within species. This study thus provides evidence for the parallel evolution of adaptive biochemical polymorphisms through recurrent gene deletions in multiple species. (paywall)

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"n some ways, these predispositions are analogous to the crease patterns in origami paper that make it easier to fold the paper into some shapes than others. Evolution can fold across a crease -- but it is much easier to fold along one." Blind Watchmaker? Maybe a Blind Origamimaker using prefolded paper. Not as impressive:( But maybe we can pretend the Blind Watchmaker put the creases in? In his spare time. A hobby as it were. ppolish
Non-Random...... When will we give Alfred Russel Wallace his dues? Andre

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