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Curr Biol. 2010 Dec 21;20(24):2217-22. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.11.035. Epub 2010 Dec 9.

Multigene phylogeny of the green lineage reveals the origin and diversification of land plants.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Laboratory of Molecular Biology, University of Wisconsin, 1525 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


The Viridiplantae (green plants) include land plants as well as the two distinct lineages of green algae, chlorophytes and charophytes. Despite their critical importance for identifying the closest living relatives of land plants, phylogenetic studies of charophytes have provided equivocal results [1-5]. In addition, many relationships remain unresolved among the land plants, such as the position of mosses, liverworts, and the enigmatic Gnetales. Phylogenomics has proven to be an insightful approach for resolving challenging phylogenetic issues, particularly concerning deep nodes [6-8]. Here we extend this approach to the green lineage by assembling a multilocus data set of 77 nuclear genes (12,149 unambiguously aligned amino acid positions) from 77 taxa of plants. We therefore provide the first multigene phylogenetic evidence that Coleochaetales represent the closest living relatives of land plants. Moreover, our data reinforce the early divergence of liverworts and the close relationship between Gnetales and Pinaceae. These results provide a new phylogenetic framework and represent a key step in the evolutionary interpretation of developmental and genomic characters in green plants.

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