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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2012 Aug;15(4):415-23. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2012.05.005. Epub 2012 Jun 8.

Making new molecules - evolution of pathways for novel metabolites in plants.

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  • 1Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA. kliebenstein@ucdavis.edu


Plants have adapted to their environments by diversifying in various ways. This diversification is reflected at the phytochemical level in their production of numerous specialized secondary metabolites that provide protection against biotic and abiotic stresses. Plant speciation is therefore intimately linked to metabolic diversification, yet we do not currently have a deep understanding of how new metabolic pathways evolve. Recent evidence indicates that genes for individual secondary metabolic pathways can be either distributed throughout the genome or clustered, but the relative frequencies of these two pathway organizations remain to be established. While it is possible that clustering is a feature of pathways that have evolved in recent evolutionary time, the answer to this and how dispersed and clustered pathways may be related remain to be addressed. Recent advances enabled by genomics and systems biology are beginning to yield the first insights into network evolution in plant metabolism. This review focuses on recent progress in understanding the evolution of clustered and dispersed pathways for new secondary metabolites in plants.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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