The evolutionary importance of meiosis may not solely be associated with allelic shuffling caused by crossing-over but also have to do with its more immediate effects such as gene conversion. Although estimates of the crossing-over rate are often well resolved, the gene conversion rate is much less clear. In Arabidopsis, for example, next-generation sequencing approaches suggest that the two rates are about the same, which contrasts with indirect measures, these suggesting an excess of gene conversion. Here, we provide analysis of this problem by sequencing 40 F2 Arabidopsis plants and their parents. Small gene conversion tracts, with biased gene conversion content, represent over 90% (probably nearer 99%) of all recombination events. The rate of alteration of protein sequence caused by gene conversion is over 600 times that caused by mutation. Finally, our analysis reveals recombination hot spots and unexpectedly high recombination rates near centromeres. This may be responsible for the previously unexplained pattern of high genetic diversity near Arabidopsis centromeres.
Via Jean-Pierre Zryd