Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Shake Up "Family Tree" Of Green Plants

Date:
February 1, 2001
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
New research scheduled to appear as the journal Nature’s cover story on February 1 concludes that ferns and horsetails are not -- as currently believed -- lower, transitional evolutionary grades between mosses and flowering plants. In fact, ferns and horsetails, together, are the closest living relatives to seed plants.

Apparently, the lowly fern deserves more respect.

New research scheduled to appear as the journal Nature’s cover story on February 1 concludes that ferns and horsetails are not -- as currently believed -- lower, transitional evolutionary grades between mosses and flowering plants. In fact, ferns and horsetails, together, are the closest living relatives to seed plants.

"Today's systematists are using genomic tools to re-write the textbooks on animal and plant evolution," says James Rodman, program director in NSF's division of environmental biology, which funded the research. "This research is the latest major rearrangement of the plant tree of life. It will encourage others to explore ferns as model organisms for basic ecological and physiological studies."

The research calls for rethinking the "family tree" of green plants, according to scientists. Also, it uncovers a research shortcoming: All main plant model organisms used for research (such as Arabidopsis, which became the first plant to have all its genes sequenced) are recently evolved flowering plants.

This limitation could compromise scientific research. Models in the newly identified fern and horsetail lineage are needed to round out the study of plant development and evolution. This could help scientists fight invasive species, engineer genetic traits, develop better crops and prospect the botanical world for medicines.

The new research uses morphological and DNA sequence data to show that horsetails and ferns make up one genetically related group, which evolved in parallel to the other major genetically related group made up of seed plants and including flowering plants.

"Our discovery that 99 percent of vascular plants fall into two major lineages with separate evolutionary histories dating back 400 million years. It will likely have a significant impact on several disciplines, including ecology, evolutionary biology and plant developmental genetics," said Kathleen Pryer, lead author of the paper and assistant curator in botany at The Field Museum in Chicago. "Viewing these two genetically related groups as contemporaneous and ancient lineages will likely also have profound consequences on our understanding of how terrestrial ecosystems and landscapes evolved."

The work of Pryer and her colleagues builds on the Deep Green project, a collaboration of researchers dedicated to uncovering the evolution of and interrelation of all green plants. In 1999, Deep Green reported at an international botanical conference that DNA analysis indicates that all green plants -- from the tiniest single-celled algae to the grandest redwoods -- descended from a common single-celled ancestor a billion years ago. Green plants, which include some 500,000 species, are among the best-documented groups in the tree of life.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Scientists Shake Up "Family Tree" Of Green Plants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 February 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010201072033.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2001, February 1). Scientists Shake Up "Family Tree" Of Green Plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010201072033.htm
National Science Foundation. "Scientists Shake Up "Family Tree" Of Green Plants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010201072033.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
USDA Cracks Down On Imports From Foreign Puppy Mills

USDA Cracks Down On Imports From Foreign Puppy Mills

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) New USDA measures to regulate dog imports aim to crack down on buying dogs from overseas puppy mills. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bone Marrow Drug Regrows Hair In Some Alopecia Patients

Bone Marrow Drug Regrows Hair In Some Alopecia Patients

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) Researchers performed an experiment using an FDA-approved drug known as ruxolitinib. They found it to be successful in the majority of patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins