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The interrelationships of land plants and the nature of the ancestral embryophyte

Puttick, Mark N., Morris, Jennifer L. ORCID:, Williams, Tom A., Cox, Cymon J., Edwards, Dianne ORCID:, Kenrick, Paul, Pressel, Silvia, Wellman, Charles H., Schneider, Harald, Pisani, Davide and Donoghue, Philip C.J. 2018. The interrelationships of land plants and the nature of the ancestral embryophyte. Current Biology 28 (5) , 733-745.e2. 10.1016/j.cub.2018.01.063

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The evolutionary emergence of land plant bodyplans transformed the planet. However, our understanding of this formative event is mired in the uncertainty associated with the phylogenetic relationships among bryophytes (hornworts, liverworts, mosses) and tracheophytes (vascular plants). Here we attempt to clarify this problem by analysing a large transcriptomic dataset with models that allow for compositional heterogeneity between sites. Zygnematophyceae is resolved as sister to land plants, but we obtain several distinct relationships between bryophytes and tracheophytes. Concatenated sequence analyses that can explicitly accommodate site-specific compositional heterogeneity give more support for a mosses-liverworts clade, ‘Setaphyta’, as the sister to all other land plants, and weak support for hornworts as the sister to all other land plants. Bryophyte monophyly is supported by gene concatenation analyses using models explicitly accommodating lineage specific compositional heterogeneity and analyses of gene trees. Both Maximum Likelihood analyses that compare the fit of each gene tree to proposed species trees and Bayesian supertree estimation based on gene trees support bryophyte monophyly. Of the 15 distinct rooted relationships for embryophytes, we reject all but three hypotheses that differ only in the position of hornworts. Our results imply that the ancestral embryophyte was more complex than has been envisaged based on topologies recognising liverworts as the sister lineage to all other embryophytes. This requires many phenotypic character losses and transformations in the liverwort lineage, diminishes inconsistency between phylogeny and the fossil record, and prompts re-evaluation of the phylogenetic affinity of early land plant fossils, the majority of which are considered stem-tracheophytes.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
Q Science > QK Botany
Additional Information: This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license
Publisher: Elsevier (Cell press)
ISSN: 0960-9822
Funders: NERC (NE/N002067/1), Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award (Philip Donoghue), Royal Society Research Fellowship (Tom Williams), Portugal (PTDC/BIA-EVF/1499/2014) to CJC.
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 February 2018
Date of Acceptance: 22 January 2018
Last Modified: 04 May 2023 13:52

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