Sugars play a variety of roles in plants, and their accumulation in seeds and/or surrounding pericarp tissues is distinctly different between grasses and eudicots. However, little is known about the evolutionary pattern of genes involved in sugar accumulation in these two major groups of flowering plants. Here, we compared evolutionary rates, gene duplication, and selective patterns of genes involved in sugar metabolism and transport between grasses and eudicots using six grass species and seven eudicot species as materials. Overall, sugar transporter genes exhibit divergent evolutionary patterns, whereas, sugar metabolism genes showing similar evolutionary pattern between monocots and eudicots. Sugar transporter genes have higher frequencies of recent duplication in eudicots than in grasses and their patterns of evolutionary rate are different. Evidence for divergent selection of these two groups of flowering plants is also observed in sugar transporter genes, wherein, these genes have undergone positive selection in eudicots, but not in grasses. Taken together, these findings suggest that sugar transporter genes rather than sugar metabolism genes play important roles in sugar accumulation in plants, and that divergent evolutionary patterns of sugar transporter genes are associated with the difference of sugar accumulation in storage tissues of grasses and eudicots.
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