Nova pesquisa genética ajuda a solucionar o mistério de Darwin sobre a evolução primeva das plantas floríferas

terça-feira, abril 12, 2011

New Genetic Study Helps Solve Darwin's Mystery About Ancient Evolution of Flowering Plants

ScienceDaily (Apr. 11, 2011) — The evolution and diversification of the more than 300,000 living species of flowering plants may have been "jump started" much earlier than previously calculated, a new study indicates.

Amborella trichopoda, a flowering plant. Amborella trichopoda is a basal angiosperm and the earliest surviving branch of the angiosperm tree of life. This plant was included in the Ancestral Angiosperm Genome Project. (Credit: Sangtae Kim)

According to Claude dePamphilis, a professor of biology at Penn State University and the lead author of the study, which includes scientists at six universities, two major upheavals in the plant genome occurred hundreds of millions of years ago -- nearly 200 million years earlier than the events that other research groups had described. The research also indicates that these upheavals produced thousands of new genes that may have helped drive the evolutionary explosion that led to the rich diversity of present-day flowering plants. The study, which provides a wealth of new genetic data and a more precise evolutionary time scale, is expected to change the way biologists view the family trees of plants in general and flowering plants in particular.

The research findings are posted on the early online website of the journal Nature on 10 April 2011, and later will be published in the journal.

"We began with some intense genomic detective work -- combing through nine previously sequenced plant genomes, plus millions of new gene sequences that the Ancestral Angiosperm Genome Project ( had gathered from the earliest surviving lineages of flowering plants," dePamphilis said. "We knew that, at some point in ancient history, one or more important genetic metamorphoses had occurred in the ancestor of flowering plants, and we also knew that these metamorphoses could explain the enormous success of so many species living on the Earth today. Most importantly, we suspected that these important changes had been driven by a common mechanism instead of by many independent events." DePamphilis explained that, after examining volumes of molecular evidence, his team discovered and calculated the dates for two instances of a special kind of DNA mutation -- called a polyploidy event -- that revolutionized the flowering-plant lineage.

"A polyploidy event is basically the acquisition, through mutation, of a 'double dose' of genetic material," explained Yuannian Jiao, a graduate student at Penn State and the first author of the study. "In vertebrates, although genome duplication is known to occur, it generally is lethal. Plants, on the other hand, often survive and can sometimes benefit from duplicated genomes." Jiao explained that, over the generations, most duplicated genes from polyploidy events simply are lost. However, other genes adopt new functions or, in some instances, subdivide the workload with the genetic segments that were duplicated, thereby cultivating more efficiency and better specialization of tasks for the genome as a whole.

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Ancestral polyploidy in seed plants and angiosperms

Yuannian Jiao, Norman J. Wickett, Saravanaraj Ayyampalayam, André S. Chanderbali, Lena Landherr, Paula E. Ralph, Lynn P. Tomsho, Yi Hu, Haiying Liang, Pamela S. Soltis, Douglas E. Soltis, Sandra W. Clifton, Scott E. Schlarbaum, Stephan C. Schuster, Hong Ma, Jim Leebens-Mack & Claude W. dePamphilis

Corresponding author

Nature (2011) doi:10.1038/nature09916Received 29 August 2010 Accepted 10 February 2011 Published online 10 April 2011

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 organisms1, 2, 3, especially plants. The success of angiosperms has been attributed, in part, to innovations associated with gene or whole-genome duplications4, 5, 6, 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.


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