Spatio-temporal expression dynamics differ between homologues of flowering time genes in the allopolyploid Brassica napus.

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Polyploidy is a recurrent feature of eukaryotic evolution and has been linked to increases in complexity, adaptive radiation and speciation. Within angiosperms such events have occurred repeatedly in many plant lineages. Here we investigate the retention and spatio-temporal expression dynamics of duplicated genes predicted to regulate the floral transition in Brassica napus (oilseed rape, OSR). We show that flowering time genes are preferentially retained relative to other genes in the OSR genome. Using a transcriptome time series in two tissues (leaf and shoot apex) across development we show that 67% of these retained flowering time genes are expressed. Furthermore, between 64% (leaf) and 74% (shoot apex) of the retained gene homologues show diverged expression patterns relative to each other across development, suggesting neo- or subfunctionalization. A case study of homologues of the shoot meristem identity gene TFL1 reveals differences in cis-regulatory elements that could explain this divergence. Such differences in the expression dynamics of duplicated genes highlight the challenges involved in translating gene regulatory networks from diploid model systems to more complex polyploid crop species.