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Plant Physiol. 2007 May;144(1):6-17. Epub 2007 Mar 16.

Increases in the number of SNARE genes parallels the rise of multicellularity among the green plants.

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  • 1Department of Plant Biology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.


The green plant lineage is the second major multicellular expansion among the eukaryotes, arising from unicellular ancestors to produce the incredible diversity of morphologies and habitats observed today. In the unicellular ancestors, secretion of material through the endomembrane system was the major mechanism for interacting and shaping the external environment. In a multicellular organism, the external environment can be made of other cells, some of which may have vastly different developmental fates, or be part of different tissues or organs. In this context, a given cell must find ways to organize its secretory pathway at a level beyond that of the unicellular ancestor. Recently, sequence information from many green plants have become available, allowing an examination of the genomes for the machinery involved in the secretory pathway. In this work, the SNARE proteins of several green plants have been identified. While little increase in gene number was seen in the SNAREs of the early secretory system, many new SNARE genes and gene families have appeared in the multicellular green plants with respect to the unicellular plants, suggesting that this increase in the number of SNARE genes may have some relation to the rise of multicellularity in green plants.

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