Jozef Schell seminar room
UGent-VIB Research Building FSVM
B-9052 Zwijnaarde (Gent)
The survival of species depends on their ability to adapt to new environments. Adaptive innovations require genetic material, mainly provided by gene duplications, which can lead to new or alternative pathways. However, the principles behind the emergence of such pathways are not understood. Here, we show that approximately one third of the genes of a plant’s genome participate in hundreds of alternative pathways, which were primarily generated by single gene duplications. We determined the copy number of alternative pathways by searching for sets of genes, termed gene modules, that occur multiple times in gene co-function networks of eight plant species. We found that plants employ a genetic copy-and-paste principle to increase the number and diversity of gene modules. Our findings demonstrate that gene module multiplication has provided the capacity for plants to increase their repertoire of cellular functions.