- Plant evolutionary developmental biology
"For a more ecological discussion on the evolution of plant morphology, refer to
Evolutionary history of plants" Evolutionary developmental biology(evo-devo) refers to the study of developmental programs and patterns from an evolutionary perspective. [cite journal | author=Hall B | title = Evo-Devo or Devo-Evo - Does it matter? | journal=Evolution and Development | volume=2 | issue=4 | pages=177–178 | year=2000 | doi = 10.1046/j.1525-142x.2000.00003e.x] It seeks to understand the various influences shaping the form and nature of life on the planet. Evo-devoarose as a separate branch of science only in the last decade. [cite journal | author=Goodman C, Coughlin B | title = The evolution of evo devo biology | journal=Proc. Natl.Acad. Sci. | volume=97 | issue=9 | pages=4424–4425 | year=2000 | doi = 10.1073/pnas.97.9.4424] Most of the synthesis in evo-devo has been in the field of animal evolution, one reason being the presence of elegant model systemslike " Drosophila", " C.elegans", Zebrafishand " Xenopus". However, in the past couple of decades, a wealth of information on plant morphology, coupled with modern molecular techniques has helped shed light on the conserved and unique developmental patterns in the plant kingdomalso.
The origin of the term "morphology" is generally attributed to
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He was of the opinion that there is an underlying fundamental organisation "(Bauplan)" in the diversity of flowering plants. In his book titled [http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0918024684 The Metamorphosis of Plants] , he proposed that the "Bauplan" enabled us to predict the forms of plants that had not yet been discovered. [cite journal | author=Kaplan D | title = The Science of Plant Morphology: Definition, History and Role in Modern Biology | journal=Am. J. Bot. | volume=88 | issue=10 | pages=1711–1741 | year=2001 | doi = 10.2307/3558347] Goethe also was the first to make the perceptive suggestion that flowersconsist of modified leaves.
In the middle centuries, several basic foundations of our current understanding of plant morphology were laid down.
Nehemiah Grew, Marcello Malpighi, Robert Hooke, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Wilhelm von Nageliwere just some of the people who helped build knowledge on plant morphologyat various levels of organisation. It was the taxonomical classification of Carolus Linnaeusin the eighteenth century though, that generated a firm base for the knowledge to stand on and expand. [http://www.cas.muohio.edu/~meicenrd/ANATOMY/Ch0_History/history.html Plant Morphology: Timeline] The introduction of the concept of Darwinismin contemporary scientific discourse also had had an effect on the thinking on plant forms and their evolution. Wilhelm Hofmeister, one of the most brilliant botanists of his times, was the one to diverge away from the idealist way of pursuing botany. Over the course of his life, he brought an interdisciplinaryoutlook into botanical thinking. He came up with biophysical explanations on phenomena like phototaxisand geotaxis, and also discovered the alternation of generationsin the plant life cycle. [cite journal | author=Kaplan D | title = The Science of Plant Morphology: Definition, History and Role in Modern Biology | journal=Am. J. Bot. | volume=88 | issue=10 | pages=1711–1741 | year=2001 | doi = 10.2307/3558347]
"1900 to the present"
The past century witnessed a rapid progress in the study of
plant anatomy. The focus shifted from the populationlevel to more reductionistlevels. While the first half of the century saw expansion in developmental knowledge at the tissue and the organ level, in the latter half, especially since the 1990s, there has also been a strong impetus on gaining molecular information. Edward Charles Jeffreywas one of the early evo devoresearchers of the 20th century. He performed a comparative analyses of the vasculatures of living and fossil Gymnospermsand came to the conclusion that the storage parenchymahas been derived from tracheids. [cite journal | author=Jeffrey CE | title = The Origin of Parenchyma in Geological Time | journal=Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. | volume=11 | pages=106–110 | year=1925 | doi = 10.1073/pnas.11.1.106] His research [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=RIouAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA317&dq=edward+charles+jeffrey Collected Papers of Jeffrey EC] ] focussed primarily on plant anatomyin the context of phylogeny. This tradition of evolutionary analyses of plant architectures was further advanced by Katherine Esau, best known for her book "The Plant Anatomy". Her work focussed on the origin and development of various tissues in different plants. Working with Cheadle, she also explained the evolutionary specialization of the phloemtissue with respect to its function.
In the meantime, by the beginning of the latter half of 1900s, "
Arabidopsis thaliana" had begun to be used in some developmental studies. The first collection of Arabidopsis thalianamutants were made around 1945. [ [http://www.arabidopsis.org/portals/education/aboutarabidopsis.jsp TAIR: About "Arabidopsis"] However it formally became established as a model organismonly in 1998. [cite journal | author=Fink G | title = Anatomy of a Revolution | journal=Genetics | volume=149 | pages=473–477 | year=1998]
The recent spurt in information on various plant-related processes has largely been a result of the revolution in
molecular biology. Powerful techniques like mutagenesisand complementationwere made possible in " Arabidopsis" via generation of T-DNAcontaining mutant lines, recombinant plasmids, techniques like Transposon Taggingetc. Availability of complete physical and genetic maps, [ [http://www.arabidopsis.org/index.jsp The Arabidopsis Information Resource] ] RNAivectors, rapid transformationprotocols are some of the technologies that have significantly altered the scope of the field. [cite journal | author=Fink G | title = Anatomy of a Revolution | journal=Genetics | volume=149 | pages=473–477 | year=1998] Recently, there has also been a massive increase in the genomeand EST sequences [ [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/dbEST/dbEST_summary.html NCBI dbEST Statistics] ] of various non-model species, which, coupled with the Bioinformaticstools existing today, generate interesting opportunities in the field of plant evo devo research.
Organisms, databases and tools
The most important
model systemsin plant development have been Arabidopsisand Maize. Maize has traditionally been the favorite of plant geneticists, while extensive resources in almost every area of plant physiologyand development are available for " Arabidopsis". Apart from these, Rice, " Antirrhinum", " Brassica", Tomatoare also being used in a variety of studies. The genomes of "Arabidopsis" and Rice have been completely sequenced, while the others are in process. [ [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genomes/PLANTS/PlantList.html#C_SEQ NCBI Plant Genomes Central] ] . It must be emphasized here that the information from these "model" organisms form the basis of our developmental knowledge. While " Brassica" has been used primarily because of its convenient location in the phylogenetic treein the mustardfamily, " Antirrhinum" is a convenient system for studying leafarchitecture. Ricehas been traditionally used for studying responses to hormoneslike abscissic acidand gibberelinas well as responses to stress. However, recently, not just the domesticatedrice strain, but also the wildstrains have been studied for their underlying genetic architectures. [cite journal | author=Ge S. et al | title = Phylogeny of rice genomes with emphasis on origins of allotetraploid species | journal=Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. | volume=96 | issue=25 | pages=14400–14405 | year=1999 | doi = 10.1073/pnas.96.25.14400]
Some people have objected against extending the results of
model organismsto the plantworld. One argument is that the effect of gene knockouts in lab conditions wouldn't truly reflect even the same plant's response in the naturalworld. Also, these supposedly "crucial" genes might not be responsible for the evolutionary origin of that character. For these reasons, a comparative study of plant traitshas been proposed as the way to go now. [cite journal | author=Cronk Q. | title = Plant evolution and development in a post-genomic context | journal=Nat. Rev. Gen. | volume=2 | pages=607–619 | year=2001 | doi = 10.1038/35084556]
Since the past few years, researchers have indeed begun looking at non-model, "non-conventional" organisms using modern genetic tools. One example of this is the
Floral Genome Project, which envisages to study the evolution of the current patterns in the genetic architecture of the flower through comparative genetic analyses, with a focus on EST sequences. [ [http://www.floralgenome.org/ The Floral Genome Project Home] ] Like the FGP, there are several such ongoing projects that aim to find out conserved and diverse patterns in evolution of the plant shape. Expressed sequence tag(EST) sequences of quite a few non-model plants like Sugarcane, Apple, Lotus, Barley, Cycas, Coffee, to name a few, are available freely online. The Cycad Genomics Project, [ [http://nypg.bio.nyu.edu/cycadgenomics.htm Cycad Genomics Project home] ] for example, aims to understand the differences in structure and function of genesbetween gymnospermsand angiospermsthrough sampling in the order Cycadales. In the process, it intends to make available information for the study of evolutionof structures like seeds, cones and evolution of life cycle patterns. Presently the most important sequenced genomes from an evo-devopoint of view include those of " A.thaliana" "(a flowering plant)", Poplar"(a woody plant)", " Physcomitrella patens" "(a bryophyte)", Maize"(extensive genetic information)", and " Chlamydomonas reinhardtii" "(a green alga)". The impact of such a vast amount of information on understanding common underlying developmental mechanisms can easily be realised.
Apart from EST and
genomesequences, several other tools like PCR, Yeast two hybridsystem, microarrays, RNA Interference, SAGE, QTL mappingetc. permit the rapid study of plant developmental patterns. Recently, cross-species hybridization has begun to be employed on microarray chips, to study the conservation and divergence in mRNAexpression patterns between closely related species. [cite journal | author=Lai Z | title = Microarray analysis reveals differential gene expression in hybrid sunflower species | journal=Molecular Ecology | volume=15 | issue=5 | pages=1213–1227 | year=2006 | doi = 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2006.02775.x] Techniques for analyzing this kind of data have also progressed over the past decade. We now have better models for molecular evolution, more refined analysis algorithmsand better computingpower as a result of advances in computersciences.
Evolution of plant morphology
Overview of plant evolution
Evidence suggests that an algal scum formed on the land Ma|1200, but it was not until the Ordovician period, around Ma|500, that land plants appeared. These begun to diversify in the late Silurian period, around Ma|420, and the fruits of their diversification are displayed in remarkable detail in an early
Devonianfossil assemblage known as the Rhynie chert. This chert preserved early plants in cellular detail, petrified in volcanic springs. By the middle of the Devonian period most of the features recognised in plants today are present, including roots, leaves and seeds. By the late Devonian, plants had reached a degree of sophistication that allowed them to form forests of tall trees. Evolutionary innovation continued after the Devonian period. Most plant groups were relatively unscathed by the Permo-Triassic extinction event, although the structures of communities changed. This may have set the scene for the evolution of flowering plants in the Triassic (~ma|200), which exploded the Cretaceous and Tertiary. The latest major group of plants to evolve were the grasses, which became important in the mid Tertiary, from around Ma|40. The grasses, as well as many other groups, evolved new mechanisms of metabolism to survive the low co2 and warm, dry conditions of the tropics over the last Ma|10|million years.
Evolution of meristems
The meristematic cells give rise to various organs of the plant, and keep the plant growing. The Shoot Apical Meristem (SAM) gives rise to organs like the leaves and flowers. The cells of the apical meristems - SAM and RAM (Root Apical Meristem)- divide rapidly and are considered to be indeterminate, in that they do not possess any defined end fate. In that sense, the meristematic cells are frequently compared to the
stem cellsin animals, that have an analogous behavior and function.
"Diversity in meristem architectures"
Is the mechanism of being "indeterminate" conserved in the SAM's of the plant world? The SAM contains a population of
stem cellsthat also produce the lateral meristems while the stem elongates. It turns out that the mechanism of regulationof the stem cell number might indeed be evolutionarily conserved. The "CLAVATA" gene "CLV2" responsible for maintaining the stem cell population in " Arabidopsis" is very closely related to the Maizegene "FASCIATED EAR 2"("FEA2") also involved in the same function. [cite journal | author=Taguchi-Shiobara et al | title = [http://www.genesdev.org/cgi/content/full/15/20/2755 The fasciated ear2 gene encodes a leucine-rich repeat receptor-like protein that regulates shoot meristem proliferation in maize] | journal=Genes and Dev. | volume=15 | issue=20 | pages=2755–2766 | year=2001 | doi = 10.1101/gad.208501] Similarly, in Rice, the "FON1-FON2" system seems to bear a close relationship with the CLV signaling system in " Arabidopsis". [cite journal | author=Suzaki T. | title = Conservation and Diversification of Meristem Maintenance Mechanism in Oryza sativa: Function of the FLORAL ORGAN NUMBER2 Gene | journal=Plant and Cell Physiol. | volume=47 | issue=12 | pages=1591–1602 | year=2006 | doi = 10.1093/pcp/pcl025] These studies suggest that the regulation of stem cell number, identity and differentiation might be an evolutionarily conserved mechanism in monocots, if not in angiosperms. Rice also contains another genetic system distinct from "FON1-FON2", that is involved in regulating stem cellnumber. [cite journal | author=Suzaki T. | title = Conservation and Diversification of Meristem Maintenance Mechanism in Oryza sativa: Function of the FLORAL ORGAN NUMBER2 Gene | journal=Plant and Cell Physiol. | volume=47 | issue=12 | pages=1591–1602 | year=2006 | doi = 10.1093/pcp/pcl025] This example underlines the innovationthat goes about in the living world all the time.
"Role of the KNOX-family genes"
Genetics screenshave identified genes belonging to the KNOX family in this function. These genes essentially maintain the stem cells in an undifferentiated state. The KNOX family has undergone quite a bit of evolutionary diversification, while keeping the overall mechanism more or less similar. Members of the KNOX family have been found in plants as diverse as Arabidopsis, rice, barleyand tomato. KNOX-like genes are also present in some algae, mosses, ferns and gymnosperms. Misexpression of these genes leads to formation of interesting morphological features. For example, among members of " Antirrhinae", only the species of genus " Antirrhinum" lack a structure called spurin the floral region. A spur is considered an evolutionary innovationbecause it defines pollinatorspecificity and attraction. Researchers carried out transposonmutagenesis in "Antirrhinum", and saw that some insertions led to formation of spurs that were very similar to the other members of " Antirrhinae" [ cite journal | author=Golz J.F. | title = Spontaneous Mutations in KNOX Genes Give Rise to a Novel Floral Structure in Antirrhinum | journal=Current Biol. | volume=12 | issue=7 | pages=515–522 | year=2002 | doi = 10.1016/S0960-9822(02)00721-2] , indicating that the loss of spur in wild "Antirrhinum" populations could probably be an evolutionary innovation.
The KNOX family has also been implicated in
leafshape evolution "(See below for a more detailed discussion)". One study looked at the pattern of KNOX gene expression in " A.thaliana", that has simple leaves and " Cardamine hirsuta", a plant having complex leaves. In "A.thaliana", the KNOX genes are completely turned off in leaves, but in "C.hirsuta", the expression continued, generating complex leaves. [ cite journal | author=Hay and Tsiantis | title = [http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v38/n8/abs/ng1835.html The genetic basis for differences in leaf form between Arabidopsis thaliana and its wild relative Cardamine hirsuta] | journal=Nat. Gen. | volume=38 | pages=942–947 | year=2006 | doi = 10.1038/ng1835] Also, it has been proposed that the mechanism of KNOX gene action is conserved across all vascular plants, because there is a tight correlationbetween KNOX expression and a complex leafmorphology. [ cite journal | author=Bharathan G. et al | title = Homologies in Leaf Form Inferred from KNOXI Gene Expression During Development | journal=Science | volume=296 | issue=5574 | pages=1858–1860 | year=2002 | doi = 10.1126/science.1070343]
"Evolution of the meristem architecture"
meristemarchitectures do differ between angiosperms, gymnospermsand pteridophytes. The gymnospermvegetative meristemlacks organization into distinct tunica and corpus layers. They possess large cells called Central Mother Cells in the meristem. In angiosperms, the outermost layer of cells divides anticlinally to generate the new cells, while in gymnosperms, the plane of division in the meristem differs for different cells. However, the apical cells do contain organelles like large vacuolesand starchgrains, like the angiosperm meristematic cells. Pteridophytes, like fern, on the other hand, do not possess a multicellular apical meristem. They possess a tetrahedralapical cell, which goes on to form the plant body. Any somatic mutationin this cell can lead to hereditary transmission of that mutation. [cite journal | author=Klekowski E. | title = Plant clonality, mutation, diplontic selection and mutational meltdown | journal=Biol. J. Linn. Soc. | volume=79 | issue=1 | pages=61–67 | year=2003] The earliest meristem-like organization is seen in an algalorganism from group "Charales" that has a single dividing cell at the tip, much like the pteridophytes, yet more simpler. One can thus see a clear pattern in evolution of the meristematic tissue, from pteridophytes to angiosperms. Pteridophytes, with a single meristematic cell; gymnosperms with a multicellular, but less defined organizationand finally, angiosperms, with the highest degree of organization. The genetic innovations that contributed to this evolution are yet not clearly known.
Evolution of leaves
:"For a discussion on Evolution of Photosynthesis, see
"Origins of the leaf"
Leavesare the primary photosyntheticorgans of a plant. Based on their structure, they are classified into two types - microphylls, that lack complex venation patterns and megaphylls, that are large and with a complex venation. It has been proposed that these structures arose independently. [cite journal | author=Crane and Kenrick | title = Diverted development of reproductive organs: A source of morphological innovation in land plants | journal=Plant System. and Evol. | volume=206 | issue=1 | pages=161–174 | year=1997 | doi = 10.1007/BF00987946] Megaphylls, according to the Telomehypothesis, have evolved from plants that showed a three dimensional branching architecture, through three transformations - planation, which involved formation of a planararchitecture, webbing, or formation of the outgrowths between the planar branches and fusion, where these webbed outgrowths fused to form a proper leaflamina. Studies have revealed that these three steps happened multiple times in the evolution of today's leaves. [cite journal | author=Piazza P, et al | title = [http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1469-8137.2005.01466.x Evolution of leaf developmental mechanisms] | journal=New Phytol. | volume=167 | pages=693–710 | year=2005]
It has been proposed that the before the evolution of
leaves, plants had the photosyntheticapparatus on the stems. Today's megaphyll leaves probably became commonplace some 360mya, about 40my after the simple leafless plants had colonized the land in the early Devonianperiod. This spread has been linked to the fall in the atmospheric carbon dioxideconcentrations in the Late Paleozoicera associated with a rise in density of stomataon leaf surface. This must have allowed for better transpirationrates and gas exchange. Large leaves with less stomata would have gotten heated up in the sun's heat, but an increased stomatal density allowed for a better-cooled leaf, thus making its spread feasible [cite journal | author=Beerling D. et al | title = Evolution of leaf-form in land plants linked to atmospheric CO2 decline in the Late Palaeozoic era | journal=Nature | volume=410 | pages=352–354 | year=2001 | doi = 10.1038/35066546] [ [http://www.corante.com/loom/archives/004766.html A perspective on the CO2 theory of early leaf evolution] ] .
"Factors influencing leaf architectures"
Various physical and physiological forces like
lightintensity, humidity, temperature, wind speedsetc. are thought to have influenced evolution of leaf shape and size. It is observed that high trees rarely have large leaves, owing to the obstruction they generate for winds. This obstruction can eventually lead to the tearing of leaves, if they are large. Similarly, trees that grow in temperateor taigaregions have pointed leaves, presumably to prevent nucleation of ice onto the leaf surface and reduce water loss due to transpiration. Herbivory, not only by large mammals, but also small insectshas been implicated as a driving force in leaf evolution, an example being plants of the genus "Aciphylla", that are commonly found in New Zealand. The now extinct Moasfed upon these plants, and its seen that the leaves have spines on their bodies, which probably functioned to discourage the moas from feeding on them. Other members of "Aciphylla" that did not co-exist with the moas, do not have these spines. [cite journal | author=Brown V, et al | title = Herbivory and the Evolution of Leaf Size and Shape | journal=Phil. Transac.: Biol. Soc. | volume=333 | issue=1267 | pages=265–272 | year=1991 | doi = 10.1098/rstb.1991.0076]
"Genetic evidences for leaf evolution"
At the genetic level, developmental studies have shown that repression of the KNOX genes is required for initiation of the
leaf primordium. This is brought about by "ARP" genes, which encode transcription factors. Genes of this type have been found in many plants studied till now, and the mechanism i.e. repression of KNOX genes in leaf primordia, seems to be quite conserved. Interestingly, expression of KNOX genes in leaves produces complex leaves. It is speculated that the "ARP" function arose quite early in vascular plantevolution, because members of the primitive group Lycophytesalso have a functionally similar gene. Other players that have a conserved role in defining leaf primordia are the phytohormone auxin, gibberelinand cytokinin.
One interesting feature of a plant is its
phyllotaxy. The arrangement of leaves on the plant body is such that the plant can maximally harvest light under the given constraints, and hence, one might expect the trait to be genetically robust. However, it may not be so. In maize, a mutation in only one gene called "abphyl" "(ABNORMAL PHYLLOTAXY)" was enough to change the phyllotaxy of the leaves. It implies that sometimes, mutational tweaking of a single locus on the genomeis enough to generate diversity. The "abphyl" gene was later on shown to encode a cytokininresponse regulator protein. [cite journal | author=Jackson D., Hake S. | title = Control of Phyllotaxy in Maize by the ABPHYL1 Gene | journal=Development | volume=126 | pages=315–323 | year=1999]
Once the leaf primordial cells are established from the SAM cells, the new
axesfor leaf growth are defined, one important (and more studied) among them being the abaxial-adaxial (lower-upper surface) axes. The genes involved in defining this, and the other axes seem to be more or less conserved among higher plants. Proteins of the "HD-ZIPIII" family have been implicated in defining the adaxial identity. These proteins deviate some cells in the leaf primordiumfrom the default abaxialstate, and make them adaxial. It is believed that in early plants with leaves, the leaves just had one type of surface - the abaxial one. This is the underside of today's leaves. The definition of the adaxial identity occurred some 200 million years after the abaxial identity was established [cite journal | author=Cronk Q. | title = [http://www.nature.com/nrg/journal/v2/n8/abs/nrg0801_607a.html Plant evolution and development in a post-genomic context] | journal=Nat. Rev. Gen. | volume=2 | pages=607–619 | year=2001] . One can thus imagine the early leaves as an intermediate stage in evolution of today's leaves, having just arisen from spiny stem-like outgrowths of their leafless ancestors, covered with stomataall over, and not optimized as much for light harvesting.
How the infinite variety of plant leaves is generated is a subject of intense research. Some common themes have emerged. One of the most significant is the involvement of KNOX genes in generating
compound leaves, as in tomato"(see above)". But this again is not universal. For example, peauses a different mechanism for doing the same thing [cite journal | author=Tattersall et al | title = [http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1087985 The Mutant crispa Reveals Multiple Roles for PHANTASTICA in Pea Compound Leaf Development] | journal=Plant Cell | volume=17 | issue=4 | pages=1046–1060 | year=2005] [cite journal | author=Bharathan and Sinha | title = [http://www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/content/full/127/4/1533#B18 The Regulation of Compound Leaf Development] | journal=Plant Physiol. | volume=127 | issue=4 | pages=1533–1538 | year=Dec 2001] . Mutations in genes affecting leaf curvaturecan also change leaf form, by changing the leaf from flat, to a crinky shape, [cite journal | author=Nath U et al | title = Genetic Control of Surface Curvature | journal=Science | volume=299 | issue=5611 | pages=1404–1407 | year=2003 | doi = 10.1126/science.1079354] like the shape of cabbageleaves. There also exist different morphogengradients in a developing leaf which define the leaf's axis. Changes in these morphogen gradients may also affect the leaf form. Another very important class of regulators of leaf development are the microRNAs, whose role in this process has just begun to be documented. The coming years should see a rapid development in comparative studies on leaf development, with many EST sequences involved in the process coming online.
Evolution of flowers
"For a more ecological discussion on the evolution of flowers, go to Flower or Evolutionary history of plants"
floweris, arguably, one of the most beautiful products of evolution. Flower-like structures first appear in the fossilrecords some ~130 mya, in the Cretaceousera [cite journal | author=Lawton-Rauh A. et al | title = [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VJ1-40D6284-X&_user=1111158&_coverDate=04%2F01%2F2000&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000051676&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=1111158&md5=c9e34ee50c60723d79efd0441b1be815 Molecular evolution of flower development] | journal=Trends in Ecol. and Evol. | volume=15 | issue=4 | pages=144–149 | year=2000] .
The flowering plants have long been assumed to have evolved from within the
gymnosperms; according to the traditional morphological view, they are closely allied to the gnetales. However, recent molecular evidence is at odds to this hypothesis,cite journal
author = Chaw, S.M.
coauthors = Parkinson, C.L.; Cheng, Y.; Vincent, T.M.; Palmer, J.D.
year = 2000
title = Seed plant phylogeny inferred from all three plant genomes: Monophyly of extant gymnosperms and origin of Gnetales from conifers
journal = Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
volume = 97
issue = 8
pages = 4086
doi = 10.1073/pnas.97.8.4086] cite journal
author = Soltis, D.E.
coauthors = Soltis, P.S.; Zanis, M.J.
year = 2002
title = Phylogeny of seed plants based on evidence from eight genes
journal = American Journal of Botany
volume = 89
issue = 10
pages = 1670
url = http://amjbot.org/cgi/content/abstract/89/10/1670
accessdate = 2008-04-08
doi = 10.3732/ajb.89.10.1670
format = abstract] and further suggests that gnetales are more closely related to some gymnosperm groups than angiosperms,cite journal
author = Bowe, L.M.
coauthors = Coat, G.; Depamphilis, C.W.
year = 2000
title = Phylogeny of seed plants based on all three genomic compartments: Extant gymnosperms are monophyletic and Gnetales' closest relatives are conifers
journal = Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
volume = 97
issue = 8
pages = 4092
doi = 10.1073/pnas.97.8.4092] and that gymnosperms form a distinct clade to the angiosperms,.
Molecular clockanalysis predicts the divergence of flowering plants(anthophytes) and gymnospermsto ~Ma|300|myacite journal | url=http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/20/9/1435 |title=Antiquity and Evolution of the MADS-Box Gene Family Controlling Flower Development in Plants | journal=Mol. Biol. Evol. | volume=20 | issue=9 | pages=1435–1447 | year=2003 | doi = 10.1093/molbev/msg152 |author=Nam, J.]
The main function of a flower is
reproduction, which, before the evolution of the flower and angiosperms, was the job of microsporophylls and megasporophylls. A flower can be considered a powerful evolutionary innovation, because its presence allowed the plant world to access new means and mechanisms for reproduction.
"Origins of the flower"
The family "
Amborellaceae" is regarded as the sister family of all living flowering plants. That means members of this family were most likely the first flowering plants.
It seems that on the level of the organ, the
leafmay be the ancestor of the flower, or at least some floral organs. When we mutatesome crucial genes involved in flower development, we end up with a cluster of leaf-like structures. Thus, sometime in history, the developmental program leading to formation of a leaf must have been altered to generate a flower. There probably also exists an overall robust framework within which the floral diversity has been generated. A example of that is a gene called "LEAFY (LFY)", which is involved in flower development in " Arabidopsis". The homologsof this gene are found in angiospermsas diverse as tomato, snapdragon, pea, maizeand even gymnosperms. Interestingly, expression of "Arabidopsis" LFY in distant plants like poplarand citrusalso results in flower-production in these plants. The "LFY" gene regulates the expression of some gene belonging to the MADS-boxfamily. These genes, in turn, act as direct controllers of flower development.
"Evolution of the MADS-box family"
The members of the
MADS-boxfamily of transcription factors play a very important and evolutionarily conserved role in flower development. According to the ABC Model of flower development, three zones - A,B and C - are generated within the developing flower primordium, by the action of some transcription factors, that are members of the MADS-boxfamily. Among these, the functions of the B and C domain genes have been evolutionarily more conserved than the A domain gene. Many of these genes have arisen through gene duplications of ancestral members of this family. Quite a few of them show redundant functions.
The evolution of the
MADS-boxfamily has been extensively studied. These genes are present even in pteridophytes, but the spread and diversity is many times higher in angiosperms[cite journal | author=Medarg NG and Yanofsky M | title = [http://www.nature.com/nrg/journal/v2/n3/full/nrg0301_186a.html Function and evolution of the plant MADS-box gene family] | journal=Nat Rev Gen | volume=2 | pages=186–195 | month=March | year=2001] . There appears to be quite a bit of pattern into how this family has evolved. Consider the evolution of the C-region gene "AGAMOUS (AG)". It is expressed in today's flowers in the stamens, and the carpel, which are reproductive organs. It's ancestor in gymnospermsalso has the same expression pattern. Here, it is expressed in the strobili, an organ that produces pollensor ovules [cite journal | author=Jager et al | title = [http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/20/5/842 MADS-Box Genes in Ginkgo biloba and the Evolution of the AGAMOUS Family] | journal=Mol. Biol. and Evol. | volume=20 | issue=5 | pages=842–854| year=2003 | doi = 10.1093/molbev/msg089] . Similarly, the B-genes' "(AP3 and PI)" ancestors are expressed only in the male organs in gymnosperms. Their descendants in the modern angiosperms also are expressed only in the stamens, the male reproductive organ. Thus, the same, then-existing components were used by the plants in a novel manner to generate the first flower. This is a recurring pattern in evolution.
"Factors influencing floral diversity"
How is the enormous diversity in the shape, color and sizes of flowers established? There is enormous variation in the developmental program in different plants. For example,
monocotspossess structures like lodicules and palea, that were believed to be analogous to the dicotpetals and carpels respectively.It turns out that this is true, and the variation is due to slight changes in the MADS-box genes and their expression pattern in the monocots. Another example is that of a plant called " Linaria vulgaris", which has two kinds of flower symmetries- radialand bilateral. These symmetries are due to epigeneticchanges in just one gene called "CYCLOIDEA". [cite journal | author=Lawton-Rauh A. et al | title = [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VJ1-40D6284-X&_user=1111158&_coverDate=04%2F01%2F2000&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000051676&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=1111158&md5=c9e34ee50c60723d79efd0441b1be815 Molecular evolution of flower development] | journal=Trends in Ecol. and Evol. | volume=15 | issue=4 | pages=144–149 | year=2000] "Arabidopsis" has a gene called "AGAMOUS" that plays an important role in defining how many petalsand sepalsand other organs are generated. Mutations in this gene give rise to the floral meristemobtaining an indeterminate fate, and many floral organs keep on getting produced. We have flowers like roses, carnationsand morning glory, for example, that have very dense floral organs. These flowers have been selected by horticulturists since long for increased number of petals. Researchers have found that the morphology of these flowers is because of strong mutationsin the "AGAMOUS" homolog in these plants, which leads to them making a large number of petals and sepals. [cite journal | author=Kitahara K and Matsumoto S. | title = [http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/els/01689452/2000/00000151/00000002/art00206 Rose MADS-box genes ‘MASAKO C1 and D1’ homologous to class C floral identity genes] | journal=Plant Science | volume=151| pages=121 | year=2000] Several studies on diverse plants like petunia, tomato, Impatiens, maizeetc have suggested that the enormous diversity of flowers is a result of small changes in genescontrolling their development [cite journal | author=Kater M et al | title = [http://www.plantcell.org/cgi/content/full/10/2/171 Multiple AGAMOUS Homologs from Cucumber and Petunia Differ in Their Ability to Induce Reproductive Organ Fate] | journal=Plant Cell | volume=10| pages=171–182 | year=1998 | doi = 10.1105/tpc.10.2.171] .
Some of these changes also cause changes in expression patterns of the developmental genes, resulting in different
phenotypes. The Floral Genome Projectlooked at the EST data from various tissues of many flowering plants. The researchers confirmed that the ABC Model of flower developmentis not conserved across all angiosperms. Sometimes expression domains change, as in the case of many monocots, and also in some basal angiosperms like " Amborella". Different models of flower development like the "The fading boundaries model", or the "Overlapping-boundaries model" which propose non-rigid domains of expression, may explain these architectures. [cite journal | author=Soltis D et al | title = [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6TD1-4P77GFC-2&_user=1111158&_coverDate=08%2F31%2F2007&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000051676&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=1111158&md5=36555b3b2c6bcb8eae785961b010f2c9 The floral genome: an evolutionary history of gene duplication and shifting patterns of gene expression] | journal=Trends in Plant Sci. | volume=12 | issue=8 | pages=358–367 | year=2007] There is a possibility that from the basal to the modern angiosperms, the domains of floral architecture have gotten more and more fixed through evolution.
Another floral feature that has been a subject of
natural selectionis flowering time. Some plants flower early in their life cycle, others require a period of vernalizationbefore flowering. This decision is based on factors like temperature, light intensity, presence of pollinatorsand other environmental signals. We know that genes like "CONSTANS (CO)", "FLC" and "FRIGIDA" regulate integration of environmental signals into the pathway for flower development. Variations in these loci have been associated with flowering time variations between plants. For example, " Arabidopsis thaliana" ecotypes that grow in the cold, temperateregions require prolonged vernalization before they flower, while the tropicalvarieties, and the most common lab strains, don't. We now know that this variation is due to mutations in the "FLC" and "FRIGIDA" genes, rendering them non-functional. [cite journal | author=Putterhill et al | title = [http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/107640082/ABSTRACT It's time to flower: the genetic control of flowering time] | journal=BioEssays | volume=26 | issue=4 | pages=353–363 | year=2004]
Quite a few players in this process are conserved across all the plants studied. Sometimes though, despite genetic conservation, the mechanism of action turns out to be different. For example,
riceis a short-day plant, while " Arabidopsis" is a long-day plant. Now, in both plants, the proteins "CO" and "FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT)" are present. But in "Arabidopsis", "CO" enhances "FT" production, while in rice, the "CO" homolog represses "FT" production, resulting in completely opposite downstream effects [cite journal | author=Blazquez et al | title = [http://www.nature.com/embor/journal/v2/n12/full/embor267.html Flowering on time: genes that regulate the floral transition ] | journal=EMBO Reports | volume=2 | issue=12 | pages=1078–1082 | year=2001] .
"Theories of flower evolution"
There are many theories that propose how flowers evolved. Some of them are described below.
The "Anthophyte Theory" was based upon the observation that a gymnospermic group Gnetales has a flower-like
ovule. It has partially developed vessels as found in the angiosperms, and the megasporangiumis covered by three envelopes, like the ovarystructure of angiosperm flowers. However, many other lines of evidence show that Gnetales is not related to angiosperms.cite journal|url=http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/97/24/12939
doi = 10.1073/pnas.97.24.12939
title = Progress in understanding angiosperm history, success, and relationships: Darwin's abominably "perplexing phenomenon"
year = 2000
author = Crepet, W. L.
journal = Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
volume = 97
pages = 12939]
The "Mostly Male Theory" has a more genetic basis. Proponents of this theory point out that the gymnosperms have two very similar copies of the gene "LFY" while angiosperms just one.
Molecular clockanalysis has shown that the other "LFY" paralog was lost in angiosperms around the same time as flower fossils become abundant, suggesting that this event might have led to floral evolution. [cite journal | author=Lawton-Rauh A. et al | title = The Mostly Male Theory of Flower Evolutionary Origins: from Genes to Fossils | journal=Sys.Botany | volume=25 | issue=2 | pages=155–170 | year=2000 | doi = 10.2307/2666635] According to this theory, loss of one of the "LFY" paralogled to flowers that were more male, with the ovulesbeing expressed ectopically. These ovules initially performed the function of attracting pollinators, but sometime later, may have been integrated into the core flower.
One theory also suggests that humans have been one of the reasons for the diversity of flowers. This theory suggests that since the early settlers found flowers beautiful, they may have started selecting for them artificially. [cite journal | author=Haviland-Jones J. et al | title = An Environmental Approach to Positive Emotion: Flowers | journal=Evol. Psychology | volume=3 | pages=104–132 | year=2005] The flowers may have evolved to exploit the ecological niche being opened because of humans finding them attractive. The validity of this theory, however, is debatable, not least because flowers started diversifying long before they came into contact with humans.
Evolution of secondary metabolism
Although we know a lot of
secondary metabolitesproduced by plants, the extent of the same is still unfathomable. Secondary metabolites are essentially low molecular weightcompounds, sometimes having complex structures. They function in processes as diverse as immunity, anti-herbivory, pollinatorattraction, communicationbetween plants, maintaining symbioticassociations with soil flora, enhancing the rate of fertilizationetc, and hence are significant from the evo-devo perspective. The structural and functional diversity of these secondary metabolites across the plant kingdom is so huge that it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of enzymes might be involved in this process in the entire of the plant kingdom, with about 15-25% of the coding genome coding for these enzymes. Despite this, every species has its unique arsenal of secondary metabolites. [cite journal | author=Pichersky E. and Gang D. | title = [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6TD1-41FCH6C-S&_user=1111158&_coverDate=10%2F01%2F2000&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000051676&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=1111158&md5=9ed55aafae5e064b9217accec3a18258 Genetics and biochemistry of secondary metabolites in plants: an evolutionary perspective] | journal=Trends in Plant Sci | volume=5 | issue=10 | pages=439–445 | year=2000] Many of these metabolites are of enormous medical significance to humans.
What is the purpose of having so many secondary metabolites being produced, with a significant chunk of the
metabolomedevoted to this activity? It is hypothesized that most of these chemicals help in generating immunity, and in consequence, the diversity of these metabolites is a result of a constant war between plants and their parasites. There is evidence that this may be true in many cases. The big question here is the reproductive cost involved in maintaining such an impressive inventory. Various models have been suggested that probe into this aspect of the question, but a consensus on the extent of the cost is lacking. [cite journal | author=Nina Theis and Manuel Lerdau | title = [http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/IJPS/journal/issues/v164nS3/164708/164708.html The evolution of function in plant secondary metabolites] | journal=Int. J.Plant. Sci | volume=164 | issue=S3 | pages=S93–S102 | year=2003] We still cannot predict whether a plant with more secondary metabolites would be better-off than other plants in its vicinity.
Secondary metabolite production seems to have arose quite early during evolution. Even
bacteriapossess the ability to make these compounds. But they assume more significant roles in life from fungionwards to plants. In plants they seem to have spread out using different mechanisms like gene duplications, evolution of novel genes etc. Furthermore, studies have shown that diversity in some of these compounds may be positively selected for.
Although the role of novel gene evolution in the evolution of secondary metabolism cannot be denied, there are several examples where new metabolites have been formed by small changes in the reaction. For example,
cyanogen glycosideshave been proposed to have evolved multiple times in different plant lineages. There are several such instances of convergent evolution. For example, we now know that enzymes for synthesis of limonene- a terpene- are more similar between angiosperms and gymnosperms than to their own terpenesynthesis enzymes. This suggests independent evolution of the limonenebiosynthetic pathway in these two lineages. [cite journal | author=Bohlmann J. et al | title = [http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/95/8/4126 Plant terpenoid synthases: molecular and phylogenetic analysis] | journal=Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci. | volume=95 | pages=4126–4133 | year=1998]
Mechanisms and players in evolution
While environmental factors are significantly responsible for evolutionary change, they act merely as agents for
natural selection. Change is inherently brought about via phenomena at the genetic level - mutations, chromosomal rearrangements and epigeneticchanges. While the general types of mutationshold true across the living world, in plants, some other mechanisms have been implicated as highly significant. Polyploidyis a very common feature in plants. It is believed that at least half "(and probably all)" plants are or have been polyploids. Polyploidy leads to genome doubling, thus generating functional redundancy in most genes. The duplicated genes may attain new function, either by changes in expression pattern or changes in activity. Polyploidy and gene duplicationare believed to be among the most powerful forces in evolution of plant form. It is not know though, why genomedoubling is such a frequent process in plants. One probable reason is the production of large amounts of secondary metabolitesin plant cells. Some of them might interfere in the normal process of chromosomal segregation, leading to polypoidy.
In recent times, plants have been shown to possess significant
microRNAfamilies, which are conserved across many plant lineages. In comparison to animals, while the number of plant miRNA families are lesser than animals, the size of each family is much larger. The miRNAgenes are also much more spread out in the genome than those in animals, where we find them clustered. It has been proposed that these miRNA families have expanded by duplications of chromosomal regions. [cite journal | author=Li A and Mao L. | title = Evolution of plant microRNA gene families | journal=Cell Research| volume=17 | pages=212–218 | year=2007] Many miRNA genes involved in regulation of plant developmenthave been found to be quite conserved between plants studied. Domesticationof plants like maize, rice, barley, wheatetc has also been a significant driving force in their evolution. Some studies have tried to look at the origins of the maizeplant and it turns out that maize is a domesticated derivative of a wild plant from Mexicocalled teosinte. Teosintebelongs to the genus"Zea", just as maize, but bears very small inflorescence, 5-10 hard cobs and a highly branched and spread out stem. Interestingly, crosses between a particular teosinte variety and maize yields fertile offsprings that are intermediate in phenotypebetween maize and teosinte. QTLanalysis has also revealed some loci that when mutated in maize yield a teosinte-like stem or teosinte-like cobs. Molecular clockanalysis of these genes estimates their origins to some 9000 years ago, well in accordance with other records of maize domestication. It is believed that a small group of farmers must have selected some maize-like natural mutant of teosinte some 9000 years ago in Mexico, and subjected it to continuous selection to yield the maize plant as we know today. [cite journal | author=Doebley J.F. | title = [http://arjournals.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.genet.38.072902.092425 The genetics of maize evolution] | journal=Ann. Rev. Gen| volume=38 | pages=37–59| year=2004]
Another interesting case is that of
cauliflower. The edible cauliflower is a domesticated version of the wild plant " Brassica oleracea", which does not possess the dense undifferentiated inflorescencecalled the curd, that cauliflower possesses. Wikispecies|BrassicaceaeCauliflower possesses a single mutation in a gene called "CAL", controlling meristemdifferentiation into inflorescence. This causes the cells at the floral meristem to gain an undifferentiated identity, and instead of growing into a flower, they grow into a lump of undifferentiated cells. [cite journal | author=Purugannan et al | title = Variation and Selection at the CAULIFLOWER Floral Homeotic Gene Accompanying the Evolution of Domesticated Brassica olerace | journal=Genetics| volume=155 | pages=855–862| year=2000] This mutation has been selected through domestication at least since the Greek empire.
Evolutionary developmental biology
Evolutionary history of plants
1) [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VS4-44VDKVN-B&_user=1111158&_coverDate=02%2F01%2F2002&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000051676&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=1111158&md5=882ad06a2be1c297e6d642dba55436be The Genetics of plant morphological evolution]
2) [http://www.nature.com/nrg/journal/v2/n8/abs/nrg0801_607a.html Plant evolution and development in a post-genomic context]
3) [http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1469-8137.2005.01466.x Evolution of leaf developmental mechanisms]
4) [http://www.cplbookshop.com/contents/C1460.htm Developmental genetics and plant evolution] ISBN 0415257913
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