Journal Article

MADS goes genomic in conifers: towards determining the ancestral set of MADS-box genes in seed plants

Lydia Gramzow, Lisa Weilandt and Günter Theißen

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Published in print January 2014 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online May 2014 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcu066
MADS goes genomic in conifers: towards determining the ancestral set of MADS-box genes in seed plants

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

MADS-box genes comprise a gene family coding for transcription factors. This gene family expanded greatly during land plant evolution such that the number of MADS-box genes ranges from one or two in green algae to around 100 in angiosperms. Given the crucial functions of MADS-box genes for nearly all aspects of plant development, the expansion of this gene family probably contributed to the increasing complexity of plants. However, the expansion of MADS-box genes during one important step of land plant evolution, namely the origin of seed plants, remains poorly understood due to the previous lack of whole-genome data for gymnosperms.

Methods

The newly available genome sequences of Picea abies, Picea glauca and Pinus taeda were used to identify the complete set of MADS-box genes in these conifers. In addition, MADS-box genes were identified in the growing number of transcriptomes available for gymnosperms. With these datasets, phylogenies were constructed to determine the ancestral set of MADS-box genes of seed plants and to infer the ancestral functions of these genes.

Key Results

Type I MADS-box genes are under-represented in gymnosperms and only a minimum of two Type I MADS-box genes have been present in the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of seed plants. In contrast, a large number of Type II MADS-box genes were found in gymnosperms. The MRCA of extant seed plants probably possessed at least 11–14 Type II MADS-box genes. In gymnosperms two duplications of Type II MADS-box genes were found, such that the MRCA of extant gymnosperms had at least 14–16 Type II MADS-box genes.

Conclusions

The implied ancestral set of MADS-box genes for seed plants shows simplicity for Type I MADS-box genes and remarkable complexity for Type II MADS-box genes in terms of phylogeny and putative functions. The analysis of transcriptome data reveals that gymnosperm MADS-box genes are expressed in a great variety of tissues, indicating diverse roles of MADS-box genes for the development of gymnosperms. This study is the first that provides a comprehensive overview of MADS-box genes in conifers and thus will provide a framework for future work on MADS-box genes in seed plants.

Keywords: MADS-box gene; flower development; gymnosperm; conifer; seed plant; spruce; pine; Picea; Pinus; ancestral gene set; most recent common ancestor; MRCA

Journal Article.  12952 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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