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Transcriptional landscapes of divergent sporophyte development in two mosses, Physcomitrium (Physcomitrella) patens and Funaria hygrometrica


Kirbis, Alexander; Waller, Manuel; Ricca, Mariana; Bont, Zoe; Neubauer, Anna; Goffinet, Bernard; Szövényi, Péter (2020). Transcriptional landscapes of divergent sporophyte development in two mosses, Physcomitrium (Physcomitrella) patens and Funaria hygrometrica. Frontiers in Plant Science, 11:747.

Abstract

Understanding the molecular basis of morphological shifts is a fundamental question of evolutionary biology. New morphologies may arise through the birth/death of genes (gene gain/loss) or by reutilizing existing gene sets. Yet, the relative contribution of these two processes to radical morphological shifts is still poorly understood. Here, we use the model system of two mosses, Funaria hygrometrica and Physcomitrium (Physcomitrella) patens, to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying contrasting sporophyte architectures. We used comparative analysis of time-series expression data for four stages of sporophyte development in both species to address this question in detail. We found that large-scale differences in sporophytic architecture are mainly governed by orthologous (i.e., shared) genes frequently experiencing temporal gene expression shifts between the two species. While the absolute number of species-specific genes expressed during sporophyte development is somewhat smaller, we observed a significant increase of their proportion in preferentially sporophyte expressed genes, suggesting a fundamental role in the sporophyte phase. However, further functional studies are necessary to determine their contribution to diverging sporophyte morphologies. Our results add to the growing set of studies suggesting that radical changes in morphology may rely on the heterochronic expression of conserved regulators.

Abstract

Understanding the molecular basis of morphological shifts is a fundamental question of evolutionary biology. New morphologies may arise through the birth/death of genes (gene gain/loss) or by reutilizing existing gene sets. Yet, the relative contribution of these two processes to radical morphological shifts is still poorly understood. Here, we use the model system of two mosses, Funaria hygrometrica and Physcomitrium (Physcomitrella) patens, to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying contrasting sporophyte architectures. We used comparative analysis of time-series expression data for four stages of sporophyte development in both species to address this question in detail. We found that large-scale differences in sporophytic architecture are mainly governed by orthologous (i.e., shared) genes frequently experiencing temporal gene expression shifts between the two species. While the absolute number of species-specific genes expressed during sporophyte development is somewhat smaller, we observed a significant increase of their proportion in preferentially sporophyte expressed genes, suggesting a fundamental role in the sporophyte phase. However, further functional studies are necessary to determine their contribution to diverging sporophyte morphologies. Our results add to the growing set of studies suggesting that radical changes in morphology may rely on the heterochronic expression of conserved regulators.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
08 Research Priority Programs > Evolution in Action: From Genomes to Ecosystems
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Plant Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Plant Science
Language:English
Date:10 June 2020
Deposited On:01 Feb 2021 13:59
Last Modified:06 Feb 2021 04:31
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1664-462X
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2020.00747
PubMed ID:32587596

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