Researchers reveal how an explosion of new genes clarify the origin of land plants
The new investigation, led by researchers from the universities of Bristol and Essex and published today in Current Biology, challenge the established perspective on the origin of plants on land and uncover that contrasted with the origin of creatures, plants are better at designing new genes during periods of evolution.
Plants constitute one of the significant lineages of life and are the premise of practically all ecosystems, being a significant source of food and oxygen. During development, all organisms gain new genes, lose old ones, or just recycle genes.
The research group set out to comprehend which changes, at the genetic level, occurred during the evolutionary transition of plants by contrasting more than 200 genomes, one of the biggest datasets ever collected to handle the evolution of the plant kingdom.
Utilizing modern PC methods empowered the scientists to travel back in time 470 million years before discovering which genes were available in the first land-based plants as they advanced from living in water to land.
Dr. Jordi Paps, Lecturer from Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences and lead scientist, clarified: “After comparing over 200 genomes of the plant kingdom, we discovered that the origin of land plants is associated with two explosions of new genes, an unprecedented level of genomic novelty. Our findings challenge previous views of this transition being more gradual at the genetic level.
“The first burst predates the origin of land plants, before they left their aquatic environments, and comprises genes that explain why plants are multicellular. The second coincides with the origin of land plants, and involved genes related to adaptations to challenges found in terrestrial environments.”
The group currently plans to utilize a similar way to deal with recognize drought-safe genes in crops.
Dr. Paps included: “We now plan to use the same approach to further explore the genes involved in drought tolerance. Most crops are sensitive to drought conditions, using our methods we can find genes involved in drought resistance that we can potentially introduce in desiccation-sensitive plants.”