Gene Sequences Shed Light on Over One Billion Years of Green Plant Evolution
Technology Networks | October 24, 2019
Gene sequences for more than 1100 plant species have been released by an international consortium of nearly 200 plant scientists who were involved in a nine-year research project, One Thousand Plant Transcriptomes Initiative (1KP), that examined the diversification of plant species, genes and genomes across the more than one-billion-year history of green plants dating back to the ancestors of flowering plants and green algae. Their findings, “One Thousand Plant Transcriptomes and Phylogenomics of Green Plants,” published today in Nature, (doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1693-2) reveal the timing of whole genome duplications and the origins, expansions and contractions of gene families contributing to fundamental genetic innovations enabling the evolution of green algae, mosses, ferns, conifer trees, flowering plants and all other green plant lineages. The history of how and when plants secured the ability to grow tall, and make seeds, flowers and fruits provides a framework for understanding plant diversity around the planet including annual crops and forest tree species. Sequences, sequence alignments and tree data are available through the CyVerse Data Commons. “Plants have evolved to produce numerous useful chemicals. This study provides insight into that evolutionary process,” said Toni Kutchan, Ph.D., vice president for Research and Oliver M. Langenberg Distinguished Investigator, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Megan Augustin, research associate, Alex Harkess, Ph.D., postdoctoral associate and Michael McKain, Ph.D., former postdoctoral associate at the Danforth Center also contributed to the research.