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Am J Bot. 1998 Jul;85(7):997.

Parallel evolution of glucosinolate biosynthesis inferred from congruent nuclear and plastid gene phylogenies.


The phytochemical system of mustard-oil glucosides (glucosinolates) accompanied by the hydrolytic enzyme myrosinase (beta-thioglucosidase), the latter usually compartmented in special myrosin cells, characterizes plants in 16 families of angiosperms. Traditional classifications place these taxa in many separate orders and thus imply multiple convergences in the origin of this chemical defense system. DNA sequencing of the chloroplast rbcL gene for representatives of all 16 families and several putative relatives, with phylogenetic analyses by parsimony and maximum likelihood methods, demonstrated instead a single major clade of mustard-oil plants and one phylogenetic outlier. In a further independent test, DNA sequencing of the nuclear 18S ribosomal RNA gene for all these exemplars has yielded the same result, a major mustard-oil clade of 15 families (Akaniaceae, Bataceae, Brassicaceae, Bretschneideraceae, Capparaceae, Caricaceae, Gyrostemonaceae, Koeberliniaceae, Limnanthaceae, Moringaceae, Pentadiplandraceae, Resedaceae, Salvadoraceae, Tovariaceae, and Tropaeolaceae) and one outlier, the genus Drypetes, traditionally placed in Euphorbiaceae. Concatenating the two gene sequences (for a total of 3254 nucleotides) in a data set for 33 taxa, we obtain robust support for this finding of parallel origins of glucosinolate biosynthesis. From likely cyanogenic ancestors, the "mustard oil bomb" was invented twice.

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