Reconstructing the origin and evolution of land plants and their algal relatives is a fundamental problem in plant phylogenetics, and is essential for understanding how critical adaptations arose, including the embryo, vascular tissue, seeds, and flowers. Despite advances in molecular systematics, some hypotheses of relationships remain weakly resolved. Inferring deep phylogenies with bouts of rapid diversification can be problematic; however, genome-scale data should significantly increase the number of informative characters for analyses. Recent phylogenomic reconstructions focused on the major divergences of plants have resulted in promising but inconsistent results. One limitation is sparse taxon sampling, likely resulting from the difficulty and cost of data generation. To address this limitation, transcriptome data for 92 streptophyte taxa were generated and analyzed along with 11 published plant genome sequences. Phylogenetic reconstructions were conducted using up to 852 nuclear genes and 1,701,170 aligned sites. Sixty-nine analyses were performed to test the robustness of phylogenetic inferences to permutations of the data matrix or to phylogenetic method, including supermatrix, supertree, and coalescent-based approaches, maximum-likelihood and Bayesian methods, partitioned and unpartitioned analyses, and amino acid versus DNA alignments. Among other results, we find robust support for a sister-group relationship between land plants and one group of streptophyte green algae, the Zygnematophyceae. Strong and robust support for a clade comprising liverworts and mosses is inconsistent with a widely accepted view of early land plant evolution, and suggests that phylogenetic hypotheses used to understand the evolution of fundamental plant traits should be reevaluated.
Movement of RNAs between cells of a single plant is well documented, but cross-species RNA transfer is largely unexplored. Cuscuta pentagona (dodder) is a parasitic plant that forms symplastic connections with its hosts and takes up host messenger RNAs (mRNAs). We sequenced transcriptomes of Cuscuta growing on Arabidopsis and tomato hosts to characterize mRNA transfer between species and found that mRNAs move in high numbers and in a bidirectional manner. The mobile transcripts represented thousands of different genes, and nearly half the expressed transcriptome of Arabidopsis was identified in Cuscuta. These findings demonstrate that parasitic plants can exchange large proportions of their transcriptomes with hosts, providing potential mechanisms for RNA-based interactions between species and horizontal gene transfer.
Petunia possesses self-incompatibility, by which pistils reject self-pollen but accept non-self-pollen for fertilization. Self-/non-self-recognition between pollen and pistil is regulated by the pistil-specific S-RNase gene and by multiple pollen-specific S-locus F-box (SLF) genes. To date, 10 SLF genes have been identified by various methods, and seven have been shown to be involved in pollen specificity. For a given S-haplotype, each SLF interacts with a subset of its non-self S-RNases, and an as yet unknown number of SLFs are thought to collectively mediate ubiquitination and degradation of all non-self S-RNases to allow cross-compatible pollination. To identify a complete suite of SLF genes of P. inflata, we used a de novo RNA-seq approach to analyze the pollen transcriptomes of S2-haplotype and S3-haplotype, as well as the leaf transcriptome of the S3S3 genotype. We searched for genes that fit several criteria established from the properties of the known SLF genes and identified the same seven new SLF genes in S2-haplotype and S3-haplotype, suggesting that a total of 17 SLF genes constitute pollen specificity in each S-haplotype. This finding lays the foundation for understanding how multiple SLF genes evolved and the biochemical basis for differential interactions between SLF proteins and S-RNases.
Pectins are acidic sugar-containing polysaccharides that are universally conserved components of the primary cell walls of plants and modulate both tip and diffuse cell growth. However, many of their specific functions and the evolution of the genes responsible for producing and modifying them are incompletely understood. The moss Physcomitrella patens is emerging as a powerful model system for the study of plant cell walls. To identify deeply conserved pectin-related genes in Physcomitrella, we generated phylogenetic trees for 16 pectin-related gene families using sequences from ten plant genomes and analyzed the evolutionary relationships within these families.
Genome sequencing with next-generation sequence (NGS) technologies can now be applied to organisms pivotal to addressing fundamental biological questions, but with genomes previously considered intractable or too expensive to undertake. However, for species with large and complex genomes, extensive genetic and physical map resources have, until now, been required to direct the sequencing effort and sequence assembly. As these resources are unavailable for most species, assembling high-quality genome sequences from NGS data remains challenging. We describe a strategy that uses NGS, fluorescence in situ hybridization, and whole-genome mapping to assemble a high-quality genome sequence for Amborella trichopoda, a nonmodel species crucial to understanding flowering plant evolution. These methods are applicable to many other organisms with limited genomic resources.
We report the complete mitochondrial genome sequence of the flowering plant Amborella trichopoda. This enormous, 3.9-megabase genome contains six genome equivalents of foreign mitochondrial DNA, acquired from green algae, mosses, and other angiosperms. Many of these horizontal transfers were large, including acquisition of entire mitochondrial genomes from three green algae and one moss. We propose a fusion-compatibility model to explain these findings, with Amborella capturing whole mitochondria from diverse eukaryotes, followed by mitochondrial fusion (limited mechanistically to green plant mitochondria) and then genome recombination. Amborellas epiphyte load, propensity to produce suckers from wounds, and low rate of mitochondrial DNA loss probably all contribute to the high level of foreign DNA in its mitochondrial genome.
Carnivorous Lentibulariaceae exhibit the most sophisticated implementation of the carnivorous syndrome in plants. Their unusual lifestyle coincides with distinct genomic peculiarities such as the smallest angiosperm nuclear genomes and extremely high nucleotide substitution rates across all genomic compartments. Here, we report the complete plastid genomes from each of the three genera Pinguicula, Utricularia and Genlisea, and investigate plastome-wide changes in their molecular evolution as the carnivorous syndrome unfolds. We observe a size reduction by up to nine percent mostly due to the independent loss of genes for the plastid NAD(P)H dehydrogenase and altered proportions of plastid repeat DNA, as well as a significant plastome-wide increase of substitution rates and microstructural changes. Protein-coding genes across all gene classes show a disproportional elevation of non-synonymous substitutions, particularly in Utricularia and Genlisea. Significant relaxation of purifying selection relative to non-carnivores occurs in the plastid-encoded fraction of the photosynthesis ATP Synthase complex, the photosystem I, and in several other photosynthesis and metabolic genes. Shifts in selective regimes also affect housekeeping genes including the plastid-encoded polymerase, for which evidence for relaxed purifying selection was found once during the transition to carnivory, and a second time during the diversification of the family. Lentibulariaceae exhibit significantly enhanced rates of nucleotide substitution in most of the 130 non-coding regions. Various factors may underlie the observed patterns of relaxation of purifying selection and substitution rate increases, such as reduced net photosynthesis rates, alternative paths of nutrient uptake (including organic carbon), and impaired DNA repair mechanisms.
Parasitic plants, represented by several thousand species of angiosperms, use modified structures known as haustoria to tap into photosynthetic host plants and extract nutrients and water. As a result of their direct plant-plant connections with their host plant, parasitic plants have special opportunities for horizontal gene transfer, the nonsexual transmission of genetic material across species boundaries. There is increasing evidence that parasitic plants have served as recipients and donors of horizontal gene transfer (HGT), but the long-term impacts of eukaryotic HGT in parasitic plants are largely unknown.
Previous studies in basal angiosperms have provided insight into the diversity within the angiosperm lineage and helped to polarize analyses of flowering plant evolution. However, there is still not an experimental system for genetic studies among basal angiosperms to facilitate comparative studies and functional investigation. It would be desirable to identify a basal angiosperm experimental system that possesses many of the features found in existing plant model systems (e.g., Arabidopsis and Oryza).
Orobanchaceae is the only plant family with members representing the full range of parasitic lifestyles plus a free-living lineage sister to all parasitic lineages, Lindenbergia. A generalist member of this family, and an important parasitic plant model, Triphysaria versicolor regularly feeds upon a wide range of host plants. Here, we compare de novo assembled transcriptomes generated from laser micro-dissected tissues at the host-parasite interface to uncover details of the largely uncharacterized interaction between parasitic plants and their hosts.
Sacred lotus is a basal eudicot with agricultural, medicinal, cultural and religious importance. It was domesticated in Asia about 7,000 years ago, and cultivated for its rhizomes and seeds as a food crop. It is particularly noted for its 1,300-year seed longevity and exceptional water repellency, known as the lotus effect. The latter property is due to the nanoscopic closely packed protuberances of its self-cleaning leaf surface, which have been adapted for the manufacture of a self-cleaning industrial paint, Lotusan.
Extreme haustorial parasites have long captured the interest of naturalists and scientists with their greatly reduced and highly specialized morphology. Along with the reduction or loss of photosynthesis, the plastid genome often decays as photosynthetic genes are released from selective constraint. This makes it challenging to use traditional plastid genes for parasitic plant phylogenetics, and has driven the search for alternative phylogenetic and molecular evolutionary markers. Thus, evolutionary studies, such as molecular clock-based age estimates, are not yet available for all parasitic lineages. In the present study, we extracted 14 nuclear single copy genes (nSCG) from Illumina transcriptome data from one of the "strangest plants in the world", Hydnora visseri (Hydnoraceae). A ?15,000 character molecular dataset, based on all three genomic compartments, shows the utility of nSCG for reconstructing phylogenetic relationships in parasitic lineages. A relaxed molecular clock approach with the same multi-locus dataset, revealed an ancient age of ?91 MYA for Hydnoraceae. We then estimated the stem ages of all independently originated parasitic angiosperm lineages using a published dataset, which also revealed a Cretaceous origin for Balanophoraceae, Cynomoriaceae and Apodanthaceae. With the exception of Santalales, older parasite lineages tend to be more specialized with respect to trophic level and have lower species diversity. We thus propose the "temporal specialization hypothesis" (TSH) implementing multiple independent specialization processes over time during parasitic angiosperm evolution.
The rhizosphere is teemed with organisms that coordinate their symbioses using chemical signals traversing between the host root and symbionts. Chemical signals also mediate interactions between roots of different plants, perhaps the most obvious being those between parasitic Orobanchaceae and their plant hosts. Parasitic plants use specific molecules provided by host roots to initiate the development of haustoria, invasive structures critical for plant parasitism. We took a transcriptomics approach to identify parasitic plant genes associated with host factor recognition and haustorium signaling and previously identified a gene, TvPirin, which is transcriptionally up-regulated in roots of the parasitic plant Triphysaria versicolor after being exposed to the haustorium-inducing molecule 2,6-dimethoxybenzoquinone (DMBQ). Because TvPirin shares homology with proteins associated with environmental signaling in some plants, we hypothesized that TvPirin may function in host factor recognition in parasitic plants. We tested the function of TvPirin in T. versicolor roots using hairpin-mediated RNA interference. Reducing TvPirin transcripts in T. versicolor roots resulted in significantly less haustoria development in response to DMBQ exposure. We determined the transcript levels of other root expressed transcripts and found that several had reduced basal levels of gene expression but were similarly regulated by quinone exposure. Phylogenic investigations showed that TvPirin homologs are present in most flowering plants, and we found no evidence of parasite-specific gene duplication or expansion. We propose that TvPirin is a generalized transcription factor associated with the expression of a number of genes, some of which are involved in haustorium development.
Heavy metal accumulation in the environment poses great risks to flora and fauna. However, monitoring sites prone to accumulation poses scale and economic challenges. In this study, we present and test a method for monitoring these sites using fluorescent resonance energy transfer (FRET) change in response to zinc (Zn) accumulation in plants as a proxy for environmental health. We modified a plant Zn transport protein by adding flanking fluorescent proteins (FPs) and deploying the construct into two different species. In Arabidopsis thaliana, FRET was monitored by a confocal microscope and had a 1.4-fold increase in intensity as the metal concentration increased. This led to a 16.7% overall error-rate when discriminating between a control (1?m Zn) and high (10mm Zn) treatment after 96h. The second host plant (Populus tremula×Populu salba) also had greater FRET values (1.3-fold increase) when exposed to the higher concentration of Zn, while overall error-rates were greater at 22.4%. These results indicate that as plants accumulate Zn, protein conformational changes occur in response to Zn causing differing interaction between FPs. This results in greater FRET values when exposed to greater amounts of Zn and monitored with appropriate light sources and filters. We also demonstrate how this construct can be moved into different host plants effectively including one tree species. This chimeric protein potentially offers a method for monitoring large areas of land for Zn accumulation, is transferable among species, and could be modified to monitor other specific heavy metals that pose environmental risks.
The rapidly increasing number of available plant genomes opens up almost unlimited prospects for biology in general and molecular phylogenetics in particular. A recent study took advantage of this data and identified a set of nuclear genes that occur in single copy in multiple sequenced angiosperms. The present study is the first to apply genomic sequence of one of these low copy genes, agt1, as a phylogenetic marker for species-level phylogenetics. Its utility is compared to the performance of several coding and non-coding chloroplast loci that have been suggested as most applicable for this taxonomic level. As a model group, we chose Tildenia, a subgenus of Peperomia (Piperaceae), one of the largest plant genera. Relationships are particularly difficult to resolve within these species rich groups due to low levels of polymorphisms and fast or recent radiation. Therefore, Tildenia is a perfect test case for applying new phylogenetic tools.
Annual plants grow vegetatively at early developmental stages and then transition to the reproductive stage, followed by senescence in the same year. In contrast, after successive years of vegetative growth at early ages, woody perennial shoot meristems begin repeated transitions between vegetative and reproductive growth at sexual maturity. However, it is unknown how these repeated transitions occur without a developmental conflict between vegetative and reproductive growth. We report that functionally diverged paralogs FLOWERING LOCUS T1 (FT1) and FLOWERING LOCUS T2 (FT2), products of whole-genome duplication and homologs of Arabidopsis thaliana gene FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT), coordinate the repeated cycles of vegetative and reproductive growth in woody perennial poplar (Populus spp.). Our manipulative physiological and genetic experiments coupled with field studies, expression profiling, and network analysis reveal that reproductive onset is determined by FT1 in response to winter temperatures, whereas vegetative growth and inhibition of bud set are promoted by FT2 in response to warm temperatures and long days in the growing season. The basis for functional differentiation between FT1 and FT2 appears to be expression pattern shifts, changes in proteins, and divergence in gene regulatory networks. Thus, temporal separation of reproductive onset and vegetative growth into different seasons via FT1 and FT2 provides seasonality and demonstrates the evolution of a complex perennial adaptive trait after genome duplication.
Recent phylogenetic analyses have identified Amborella trichopoda, an understory tree species endemic to the forests of New Caledonia, as sister to a clade including all other known flowering plant species. The Amborella genome is a unique reference for understanding the evolution of angiosperm genomes because it can serve as an outgroup to root comparative analyses. A physical map, BAC end sequences and sample shotgun sequences provide a first view of the 870 Mbp Amborella genome.
Multiple sequence alignment is typically the first step in estimating phylogenetic trees, with the assumption being that as alignments improve, so will phylogenetic reconstructions. Over the last decade or so, new multiple sequence alignment methods have been developed to improve comparative analyses of protein structure, but these new methods have not been typically used in phylogenetic analyses. In this paper, we report on a simulation study that we performed to evaluate the consequences of using these new multiple sequence alignment methods in terms of the resultant phylogenetic reconstruction. We find that while alignment accuracy is positively correlated with phylogenetic accuracy, the amount of improvement in phylogenetic estimation that results from an improved alignment can range from quite small to substantial. We observe that phylogenetic accuracy is most highly correlated with alignment accuracy when sequences are most difficult to align, and that variation in alignment accuracy can have little impact on phylogenetic accuracy when alignment error rates are generally low. We discuss these observations and implications for future work.
Vascular plants appeared ~410 million years ago, then diverged into several lineages of which only two survive: the euphyllophytes (ferns and seed plants) and the lycophytes. We report here the genome sequence of the lycophyte Selaginella moellendorffii (Selaginella), the first nonseed vascular plant genome reported. By comparing gene content in evolutionarily diverse taxa, we found that the transition from a gametophyte- to a sporophyte-dominated life cycle required far fewer new genes than the transition from a nonseed vascular to a flowering plant, whereas secondary metabolic genes expanded extensively and in parallel in the lycophyte and angiosperm lineages. Selaginella differs in posttranscriptional gene regulation, including small RNA regulation of repetitive elements, an absence of the trans-acting small interfering RNA pathway, and extensive RNA editing of organellar genes.
Perennial woody species, such as poplar (Populus spp.) must acquire necessary heavy metals like zinc (Zn) while avoiding potential toxicity. Poplar contains genes with sequence homology to genes HMA4 and PCS1 from other species which are involved in heavy metal regulation. While basic genomic conservation exists, poplar does not have a hyperaccumulating phenotype. Poplar has a common indicator phenotype in which heavy metal accumulation is proportional to environmental concentrations but excesses are prevented. Phenotype is partly affected by regulation of HMA4 and PCS1 transcriptional abundance. Wild-type poplar down-regulates several transcripts in its Zn-interacting pathway at high Zn levels. Also, overexpressed PtHMA4 and PtPCS1 genes result in varying Zn phenotypes in poplar; specifically, there is a doubling of Zn accumulation in leaf tissues in an overexpressed PtPCS1 line. The genomic complement and regulation of poplar highlighted in this study supports a role of HMA4 and PCS1 in Zn regulation dictating its phenotype. These genes can be altered in poplar to change its interaction with Zn. However, other poplar genes in the surrounding pathway may maintain the phenotype by inhibiting drastic changes in heavy metal accumulation with a single gene transformation.
This review bridges functional and evolutionary aspects of plastid chromosome architecture in land plants and their putative ancestors. We provide an overview on the structure and composition of the plastid genome of land plants as well as the functions of its genes in an explicit phylogenetic and evolutionary context. We will discuss the architecture of land plant plastid chromosomes, including gene content and synteny across land plants. Moreover, we will explore the functions and roles of plastid encoded genes in metabolism and their evolutionary importance regarding gene retention and conservation. We suggest that the slow mode at which the plastome typically evolves is likely to be influenced by a combination of different molecular mechanisms. These include the organization of plastid genes in operons, the usually uniparental mode of plastid inheritance, the activity of highly effective repair mechanisms as well as the rarity of plastid fusion. Nevertheless, structurally rearranged plastomes can be found in several unrelated lineages (e.g. ferns, Pinaceae, multiple angiosperm families). Rearrangements and gene losses seem to correlate with an unusual mode of plastid transmission, abundance of repeats, or a heterotrophic lifestyle (parasites or myco-heterotrophs). While only a few functional gene gains and more frequent gene losses have been inferred for land plants, the plastid Ndh complex is one example of multiple independent gene losses and will be discussed in detail. Patterns of ndh-gene loss and functional analyses indicate that these losses are usually found in plant groups with a certain degree of heterotrophy, might rendering plastid encoded Ndh1 subunits dispensable.
Parasitism in flowering plants has evolved at least 11 times . Only one family, Orobanchaceae, comprises all major nutritional types of parasites: facultative, hemiparasitic (partially photosynthetic), and holoparasitic (nonphotosynthetic) . Additionally, the family includes Lindenbergia, a nonparasitic genus sister to all parasitic Orobanchaceae [3-6]. Parasitic Orobanchaceae include species with severe economic impacts: Striga (witchweed), for example, affects over 50 million hectares of crops in sub-Saharan Africa, causing more than $3 billion in damage annually . Although gene losses and increased substitution rates have been characterized for parasitic plant plastid genomes [5, 8-11], the nuclear genome and transcriptome remain largely unexplored. The Parasitic Plant Genome Project (PPGP; http://ppgp.huck.psu.edu/)  is leveraging the natural variation in Orobanchaceae to explore the evolution and genomic consequences of parasitism in plants through a massive transcriptome and gene discovery project involving Triphysaria versicolor (facultative hemiparasite), Striga hermonthica (obligate hemiparasite), and Phelipanche aegyptiaca (Orobanche ; holoparasite). Here we present the first set of large-scale genomic resources for parasitic plant comparative biology. Transcriptomes of above-ground tissues reveal that, in addition to the predictable loss of photosynthesis-related gene expression in P. aegyptiaca, the nonphotosynthetic parasite retains an intact, expressed, and selectively constrained chlorophyll synthesis pathway.
Whole-genome duplication (WGD), or polyploidy, followed by gene loss and diploidization has long been recognized as an important evolutionary force in animals, fungi and other organisms, especially plants. The success of angiosperms has been attributed, in part, to innovations associated with gene or whole-genome duplications, but evidence for proposed ancient genome duplications pre-dating the divergence of monocots and eudicots remains equivocal in analyses of conserved gene order. Here we use comprehensive phylogenomic analyses of sequenced plant genomes and more than 12.6 million new expressed-sequence-tag sequences from phylogenetically pivotal lineages to elucidate two groups of ancient gene duplications-one in the common ancestor of extant seed plants and the other in the common ancestor of extant angiosperms. Gene duplication events were intensely concentrated around 319 and 192 million years ago, implicating two WGDs in ancestral lineages shortly before the diversification of extant seed plants and extant angiosperms, respectively. Significantly, these ancestral WGDs resulted in the diversification of regulatory genes important to seed and flower development, suggesting that they were involved in major innovations that ultimately contributed to the rise and eventual dominance of seed plants and angiosperms.
Because of their phylogenetic position and unique characteristics of their biology and life cycle, ferns represent an important lineage for studying the evolution of land plants. Large and complex genomes in ferns combined with the absence of economically important species have been a barrier to the development of genomic resources. However, high throughput sequencing technologies are now being widely applied to non-model species. We leveraged the Roche 454 GS-FLX Titanium pyrosequencing platform in sequencing the gametophyte transcriptome of bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) to develop genomic resources for evolutionary studies.
The origin and rapid diversification of the angiosperms (Darwins "Abominable Mystery") has engaged generations of researchers. Here, we examine the floral genetic programs of phylogenetically pivotal angiosperms (water lily, avocado, California poppy, and Arabidopsis) and a nonflowering seed plant (a cycad) to obtain insight into the origin and subsequent evolution of the flower. Transcriptional cascades with broadly overlapping spatial domains, resembling the hypothesized ancestral gymnosperm program, are deployed across morphologically intergrading organs in water lily and avocado flowers. In contrast, spatially discrete transcriptional programs in distinct floral organs characterize the more recently derived angiosperm lineages represented by California poppy and Arabidopsis. Deep evolutionary conservation in the genetic programs of putatively homologous floral organs traces to those operating in gymnosperm reproductive cones. Female gymnosperm cones and angiosperm carpels share conserved genetic features, which may be associated with the ovule developmental program common to both organs. However, male gymnosperm cones share genetic features with both perianth (sterile attractive and protective) organs and stamens, supporting the evolutionary origin of the floral perianth from the male genetic program of seed plants.
Molecular genetic studies of floral development have concentrated on several core eudicots and grasses (monocots), which have canalized floral forms. Basal eudicots possess a wider range of floral morphologies than the core eudicots and grasses and can serve as an evolutionary link between core eudicots and monocots, and provide a reference for studies of other basal angiosperms. Recent advances in genomics have enabled researchers to profile gene activities during floral development, primarily in the eudicot Arabidopsis thaliana and the monocots rice and maize. However, our understanding of floral developmental processes among the basal eudicots remains limited.
Although overall pollinator populations have declined over the last couple of decades, the honey bee (Apis mellifera) malady, colony collapse disorder (CCD), has caused major concern in the agricultural community. Among honey bee pathogens, RNA viruses are emerging as a serious threat and are suspected as major contributors to CCD. Recent detection of these viral species in bumble bees suggests a possible wider environmental spread of these viruses with potential broader impact. It is therefore vital to study the ecology and epidemiology of these viruses in the hymenopteran pollinator community as a whole. We studied the viral distribution in honey bees, in their pollen loads, and in other non-Apis hymenopteran pollinators collected from flowering plants in Pennsylvania, New York, and Illinois in the United States. Viruses in the samples were detected using reverse transcriptase-PCR and confirmed by sequencing. For the first time, we report the molecular detection of picorna-like RNA viruses (deformed wing virus, sacbrood virus and black queen cell virus) in pollen pellets collected directly from forager bees. Pollen pellets from several uninfected forager bees were detected with virus, indicating that pollen itself may harbor viruses. The viruses in the pollen and honey stored in the hive were demonstrated to be infective, with the queen becoming infected and laying infected eggs after these virus-contaminated foods were given to virus-free colonies. These viruses were detected in eleven other non-Apis hymenopteran species, ranging from many solitary bees to bumble bees and wasps. This finding further expands the viral host range and implies a possible deeper impact on the health of our ecosystem. Phylogenetic analyses support that these viruses are disseminating freely among the pollinators via the flower pollen itself. Notably, in cases where honey bee apiaries affected by CCD harbored honey bees with Israeli Acute Paralysis virus (IAPV), nearby non-Apis hymenopteran pollinators also had IAPV, while those near apiaries without IAPV did not. In containment greenhouse experiments, IAPV moved from infected honey bees to bumble bees and from infected bumble bees to honey bees within a week, demonstrating that the viruses could be transmitted from one species to another. This study adds to our present understanding of virus epidemiology and may help explain bee disease patterns and pollinator population decline in general.
Although the overwhelming majority of genes found in angiosperms are members of gene families, and both gene- and genome-duplication are pervasive forces in plant genomes, some genes are sufficiently distinct from all other genes in a genome that they can be operationally defined as single copy. Using the gene clustering algorithm MCL-tribe, we have identified a set of 959 single copy genes that are shared single copy genes in the genomes of Arabidopsis thaliana, Populus trichocarpa, Vitis vinifera and Oryza sativa. To characterize these genes, we have performed a number of analyses examining GO annotations, coding sequence length, number of exons, number of domains, presence in distant lineages, such as Selaginella and Physcomitrella, and phylogenetic analysis to estimate copy number in other seed plants and to demonstrate their phylogenetic utility. We then provide examples of how these genes may be used in phylogenetic analyses to reconstruct organismal history, both by using extant coverage in EST databases for seed plants and de novo amplification via RT-PCR in the family Brassicaceae.
The multiple independent origins of plant parasitism suggest that numerous ancestral plant lineages possessed the developmental flexibility to meet the requirements of a parasitic life style, including such adaptations as the ability to recognize host plants, form an invasive haustorium, and regulate the transfer of nutrients and other molecules between two different plants. In this review, we focus on the Orobanchaceae, which are unique among the parasitic plants in that extant member species include the full range of host dependence from facultative to obligate parasites. The recent emergence of genomic resources for these plants should provide new insights into parasitic plant evolution and enable the development of novel genetic strategies for controlling parasitic weeds.
Whole genome doubling (WGD), a frequent occurrence during the evolution of the angiosperms, complicates ancestral gene order reconstruction due to the multiplicity of solutions to the genome halving process. Using the genome of a related species (the outgroup) to guide the halving of a WGD descendant attenuates this problem. We investigate a battery of techniques for further improvement, including an unbiased version of the guided genome halving algorithm, reference to two related genomes instead of only one to guide the reconstruction, use of draft genome sequences in contig form only, incorporation of incomplete sets of homology correspondences among the genomes, and addition of large numbers of "singleton" correspondences. We make use of genomic distance, breakpoint reuse rate, dispersion of sets of alternate solutions, and other means to evaluate these techniques, and employ the papaya (Carica papaya) and grapevine (Vitis vinifera) genomes to reconstruct the pre-WGD ancestor of poplar (Populus trichocarpa), as well as an early rosid ancestor. A significant result is that the papaya genome has rearranged at a greater rate from the rosid ancestor than phylogenetic relationships would predict.
We have developed a simulation approach to help determine the optimal mixture of sequencing methods for most complete and cost effective transcriptome sequencing. We compared simulation results for traditional capillary sequencing with "Next Generation" (NG) ultra high-throughput technologies. The simulation model was parameterized using mappings of 130,000 cDNA sequence reads to the Arabidopsis genome (NCBI Accession SRA008180.19). We also generated 454-GS20 sequences and de novo assemblies for the basal eudicot California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) and the magnoliid avocado (Persea americana) using a variety of methods for cDNA synthesis.
Phylogenomic analyses show that gene and genome duplication events have led to the diversification of transcription factor gene families throughout the evolutionary history of land plants and that gene duplications have played an important role in shaping regulatory networks influencing key phenotypic characters including floral development and flowering time. A molecular evolutionary investigation of the mode and tempo of selection acting on the angiosperm MADS box AP1/SQUA, AP3/PI, AG/AGL11, and SEP gene subfamilies revealed site-specific patterns of shifting evolutionary constraint throughout angiosperm history. Specific positions in the four canonical MADS box gene regions, especially K domains and C-terminal regions of all four of these MADS box gene subfamilies exhibited clade-specific shifts in selective constraint following concerted duplication events. Moreover, the frequency of site-specific shifts in constraint was correlated with gene duplications and early angiosperm diversification. We hypothesize that coevolution among interacting MADS box proteins may be responsible for simultaneous increases in the ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitutions (d(N)/d(S) = omega) early in angiosperm history and following concerted duplication events.
Polyploidy has long been recognized as a major force in angiosperm evolution. Recent genomic investigations not only indicate that polyploidy is ubiquitous among angiosperms, but also suggest several ancient genome-doubling events. These include ancient whole genome duplication (WGD) events in basal angiosperm lineages, as well as a proposed paleohexaploid event that may have occurred close to the eudicot divergence. However, there is currently no evidence for WGD in Amborella, the putative sister species to other extant angiosperms. The question is no longer "What proportion of angiosperms are polyploid?", but "How many episodes of polyploidy characterize any given lineage?" New algorithms provide promise that ancestral genomes can be reconstructed for deep divergences (e.g., it may be possible to reconstruct the ancestral eudicot or even the ancestral angiosperm genome). Comparisons of diversification rates suggest that genome doubling may have led to a dramatic increase in species richness in several angiosperm lineages, including Poaceae, Solanaceae, Fabaceae, and Brassicaceae. However, additional genomic studies are needed to pinpoint the exact phylogenetic placement of the ancient polyploidy events within these lineages and to determine when novel genes resulting from polyploidy have enabled adaptive radiations.
Next-generation sequencing plays a central role in the characterization and quantification of transcriptomes. Although numerous metrics are purported to quantify the quality of RNA, there have been no large-scale empirical evaluations of the major determinants of sequencing success. We used a combination of existing and newly developed methods to isolate total RNA from 1115 samples from 695 plant species in 324 families, which represents >900 million years of phylogenetic diversity from green algae through flowering plants, including many plants of economic importance. We then sequenced 629 of these samples on Illumina GAIIx and HiSeq platforms and performed a large comparative analysis to identify predictors of RNA quality and the diversity of putative genes (scaffolds) expressed within samples. Tissue types (e.g., leaf vs. flower) varied in RNA quality, sequencing depth and the number of scaffolds. Tissue age also influenced RNA quality but not the number of scaffolds ? 1000 bp. Overall, 36% of the variation in the number of scaffolds was explained by metrics of RNA integrity (RIN score), RNA purity (OD 260/230), sequencing platform (GAIIx vs HiSeq) and the amount of total RNA used for sequencing. However, our results show that the most commonly used measures of RNA quality (e.g., RIN) are weak predictors of the number of scaffolds because Illumina sequencing is robust to variation in RNA quality. These results provide novel insight into the methods that are most important in isolating high quality RNA for sequencing and assembling plant transcriptomes. The methods and recommendations provided here could increase the efficiency and decrease the cost of RNA sequencing for individual labs and genome centers.
The stability of the bimodal karyotype found in Agave and closely related species has long interested botanists. The origin of the bimodal karyotype has been attributed to allopolyploidy, but this hypothesis has not been tested. Next-generation transcriptome sequence data were used to test whether a paleopolyploid event occurred on the same branch of the Agavoideae phylogenetic tree as the origin of the Yucca-Agave bimodal karyotype.
Although it is agreed that a major polyploidy event, gamma, occurred within the eudicots, the phylogenetic placement of the event remains unclear.
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