An Atlas of the Speed of Copy Number Changes in Animal Gene Families and Its Implications

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The notion that gene duplications generating new genes and functions is commonly accepted in evolutionary biology. However, this assumption is more speculative from theory rather than well proven in genome-wide studies. Here, we generated an atlas of the rate of copy number changes (CNCs) in all the gene families of ten animal genomes. We grouped the gene families with similar CNC dynamics into rate pattern groups (RPGs) and annotated their function using a novel bottom-up approach. By comparing CNC rate patterns, we showed that most of the species-specific CNC rates groups are formed by gene duplication rather than gene loss, and most of the changes in rates of CNCs may be the result of adaptive evolution. We also found that the functions of many RPGs match their biological significance well. Our work confirmed the role of gene duplication in generating novel phenotypes, and the results can serve as a guide for researchers to connect the phenotypic features to certain gene duplications.