Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ancestors of land plants revealed

Date:
May 2, 2011
Source:
BioMed Central
Summary:
It was previously thought that land plants evolved from stonewort-like algae. However, new research shows that the closest relatives to land plants are actually conjugating green algae such as Spirogyra.

It was previously thought that land plants evolved from stonewort-like algae. However, new research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology shows that the closest relatives to land plants are actually conjugating green algae such as Spirogyra.

Ancestors of green plants began to colonise the land about 500 million years ago and it is generally accepted that they evolved from streptophyte algae (a group of green, fresh water algae). But this group of algae is very diverse and currently ranges from simple, one cell, flagellates to more complex, branching, algae such as stoneworts (Chara).

It was thought that Charales were the closest relatives to land plants because they share (amongst other characteristics) a similar method of fertilisation, oogamy, with a large egg and small swimming sperm. For flowering plants this sperm is contained within pollen grains. In contrast, another type of streptophytes, the Zygnematales, use conjugation, a method of reproduction where the gametes are of equal size, isogamy, and one or both crawl, amoeba-like, into a fertilization tube where they meet and fuse.

Some phylogenetic analysis had been done previously, on a smaller number of genes, which seemed to support the Charales theory. However, a multinational team, involving researchers in Germany and Canada, analysed genetic divergence in 129 genes from 40 different green plant taxa. This data showed that, despite the differences in reproductive strategy, the closest living relatives to land plants are in fact the Zygnematales.

Dr Becker explained, "It seems that Zygnematales have lost oogamy and their ability to produce sperm and egg cells, and instead, possibly due to selection pressure in the absence of free water, use conjugation for reproduction. Investigation of such a large number of genes has shown that, despite their apparent simplicity, Zygnematales have genetic traces of other complex traits also associated with green land plants. Consequently Zygnematales true place as the closest living relative to land plants has been revealed."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Sabina Wodniok, Henner Brinkmann, Gernot Glφckner, Andrew J Heidel, Hervι Philippe, Michael Melkonian and Burkhard Becker. Origin of land plants: Do conjugating green algae hold the key? BMC Evolutionary Biology, (in press) [link]

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central. "Ancestors of land plants revealed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110417214202.htm>.
BioMed Central. (2011, May 2). Ancestors of land plants revealed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110417214202.htm
BioMed Central. "Ancestors of land plants revealed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110417214202.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) — Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) — The drop in price of soy on the international market is a cause for concern in Argentina, as soybean exports are a major source of income for Latin America's third largest economy. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) — A mama bear and her two cubs climb trees, wrestle and take naps in the backyard of a Monrovia, California home. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) — Once upon a time, farming was a blissfully low-tech business on Colombia's northern plains. Duration: 02:05 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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