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New Phytol. 2012 Sep;195(4):923-37. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2012.04212.x. Epub 2012 Jul 11.

Highly conserved low-copy nuclear genes as effective markers for phylogenetic analyses in angiosperms.

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State Key Laboratory of Genetic Engineering, Institute of Plant Biology, Center for Evolutionary Biology, School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, 220 Handan Road, Shanghai 200433, China.


Organismal phylogeny provides a crucial evolutionary framework for many studies and the angiosperm phylogeny has been greatly improved recently, largely using organellar and rDNA genes. However, low-copy protein-coding nuclear genes have not been widely used on a large scale in spite of the advantages of their biparental inheritance and vast number of choices. Here, we identified 1083 highly conserved low-copy nuclear genes by genome comparison. Furthermore, we demonstrated the use of five nuclear genes in 91 angiosperms representing 46 orders (73% of orders) and three gymnosperms as outgroups for a highly resolved phylogeny. These nuclear genes are easy to clone and align, and more phylogenetically informative than widely used organellar genes. The angiosperm phylogeny reconstructed using these genes was largely congruent with previous ones mainly inferred from organellar genes. Intriguingly, several new placements were uncovered for some groups, including those among the rosids, the asterids, and between the eudicots and several basal angiosperm groups. These conserved universal nuclear genes have several inherent qualities enabling them to be good markers for reconstructing angiosperm phylogeny, even eukaryotic relationships, further providing new insights into the evolutionary history of angiosperms.

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