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)

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 April 16, 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 April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) — The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

AFP (Apr. 14, 2014) — To curb the growing numbers of feral cats in the US capital, the Washington Humane Society is encouraging residents to set traps and bring the animals to a sterilization clinic, after which they are released.. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
After Attack, Officials Kill 5 Bears in Florida

After Attack, Officials Kill 5 Bears in Florida

AP (Apr. 14, 2014) — Florida wildlife officials say they have killed five bears following an attack on a woman in a suburban subdivision in central Florida. Forty-five year-old Terri Frana was attacked by a large bear in her driveway Saturday. (April 14) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Uruguay Opens Its First Cannabis Library

Uruguay Opens Its First Cannabis Library

AFP (Apr. 13, 2014) — Uruguay opened its first Cannabis Library in Montevideo on Saturday, where people can come and read books on cannabis or take classes on how to grow the plant or even how to cook with it. Duration: 01:20 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:
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