Regulation of gene expression plays a central role in adaptive divergence and evolution. Although the role of gene regulation in microevolutionary processes is gaining wide acceptance, most studies have only investigated the evolution of transcript levels, ignoring the potentially significant role of transcript structures. We argue that variation in alternative splicing plays an important and widely unexplored role in adaptation (e.g., by increasing transcriptome and/or proteome diversity, or buffering potentially deleterious genetic variation). New studies increasingly highlight the potential for independent evolution in alternative splicing and transcript level, providing alternative paths for selection to act upon. We propose that alternative splicing and transcript levels can provide contrasting, nonredundant mechanisms of equal importance for adaptive diversification of gene function and regulation.
- 1181 Ekologia, evoluutiobiologia
- alternative splicing
- post-transcriptional regulation