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New Phytol. 2017 Jul;215(2):840-850. doi: 10.1111/nph.14553. Epub 2017 May 4.

Multiple innovations underpinned branching form diversification in mosses.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Life Sciences Building, 24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, BS8 1TQ, UK.
Institute of Systematics, Evolution and Biodiversity, CNRS, Natural History Museum Paris, UPMC Sorbonne University, EPHE, 57 rue Cuvier, 75005, Paris, France.
Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EA, UK.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20a Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR, UK.
UMR 3330, UMIFRE 21, French Institute of Pondicherry, CNRS, 11 Saint Louis Street, Pondicherry, 605001, India.


Broad-scale evolutionary comparisons have shown that branching forms arose by convergence in vascular plants and bryophytes, but the trajectory of branching form diversification in bryophytes is unclear. Mosses are the most species-rich bryophyte lineage and two sub-groups are circumscribed by alternative reproductive organ placements. In one, reproductive organs form apically, terminating growth of the primary shoot (gametophore) axis. In the other, reproductive organs develop on very short lateral branches. A switch from apical to lateral reproductive organ development is proposed to have primed branching form diversification. Moss gametophores have modular development and each module develops from a single apical cell. Here we define the architectures of 175 mosses by the number of module classes, branching patterns and the pattern in which similar modules repeat. Using ancestral character state reconstruction we identify two stages of architectural diversification. During a first stage there were sequential changes in the module repetition pattern, reproductive organ position, branching pattern and the number of module classes. During a second stage, vegetative changes occurred independently of reproductive fate. The results pinpoint the nature of developmental change priming branching form diversification in mosses and provide a framework for mechanistic studies of architectural diversification.


branching; convergent evolution; modularity; mosses; plant architecture; pleurocarpy

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