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Scientists uncover drivers of phenotypic innovation and diversification in gymnosperms



Scientists uncover drivers of phenotypic innovation and diversification in gymnosperms

Transcriptome-based species tree of gymnosperms showing major genomic events. Credit: KIB

Identifying the main drivers of species diversity and phenotypic innovation across the Tree of Life is one of the greatest challenges in evolutionary biology.

Facilitated by the Wild Species Germplasm Bank of the Kunming Botanical Institute (KIB) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), KIB’s Prof. Yi Tingshuang and Prof. Li Dezhu conducted new research on gymnosperm diversification with an international team. researchers.

This work provides critical insight into the processes underlying diversification and phenotypic evolution in gymnosperms, with important broader implications for the main drivers of both micro and macro evolution in plants.

The results were published online today. Nature Plants “Gene duplications and phylogenomic conflict underlie the major thrusts of phenotypic evolution in gymnosperms”.

In green plants, it is well understood that whole genome duplication (WGD or polyploidization) is an important evolutionary force. However, scientists clearly did not understand the role of WGD in shaping large-scale evolutionary patterns in plants, especially when combined with WGD’s adaptive radiation and other processes resulting from climate change or new ecological opportunities.

Scientists uncover drivers of phenotypic innovation and diversification in gymnosperms

Graphs showing the overlapping spikes of gene duplication and phenotypic innovation of major gymnosperm branches. Credit: KIB

Similarly, current gymnosperm lineages clearly illustrate a complex history of ancient radiations, great extinctions, extraordinary stasis, and recent diversification. However, the correlates and causes of the main stages of gymnosperm evolution are also not well understood.

Using a new transcriptome dataset as well as several comparative datasets, the researchers analyzed the relationship between various aspects of genomic evolution, including gene and genome duplication, genome size and chromosome number, and macroevolutionary patterns of phenotypic novelty, species diversification, and climatic occupancy in Gymnosperms.

The scientists showed that spikes in gene duplication typically coincide with large spikes in phenotypic innovation, representing one of the first demonstrations of a direct relationship between gene duplication and phenotypic innovation on a macroevolutionary scale.

Scientists uncover drivers of phenotypic innovation and diversification in gymnosperms

Graphs showing overlapping spikes of gene tree conflict and phenotypic evolutionary rates of gymnosperms. Credit: KIB

They also found that most shifts in gymnosperm diversification since the rise of angiosperms were separated from WGD events and were instead associated with increased rates of climatic occupancy evolution under cooler and/or drier climatic conditions.

This suggests that ecological opportunity, especially in the late Cenozoic, led to a resurgence of gymnosperm diversity combined with environmental heterogeneity.


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More information:
Gene duplication and phylogenomic conflict underlie the major thrusts of phenotypic evolution in gymnosperms. Nature Plants (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41477-021-00964-4, www.nature.com/articles/s41477-021-00964-4

Provided by the Chinese Academy of Sciences

Quotation: Scientists uncover drivers of phenotypic novelty and diversification in gymnosperms (2021, July 19), on July 19, 2021 https://phys.org/news/2021-07-scientists-uncover-drivers-phenotypic-diversification.html

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