Whole-genome duplication (WGD), or polyploidy, followed by gene loss and diploidization has long been recognized as an important evolutionary force in animals, fungi and other organisms, especially plants. The success of angiosperms has been attributed, in part, to innovations associated with gene or whole-genome duplications, but evidence for proposed ancient genome duplications pre-dating the divergence of monocots and eudicots remains equivocal in analyses of conserved gene order. Here we use comprehensive phylogenomic analyses of sequenced plant genomes and more than 12.6 million new expressed-sequence-tag sequences from phylogenetically pivotal lineages to elucidate two groups of ancient gene duplications-one in the common ancestor of extant seed plants and the other in the common ancestor of extant angiosperms. Gene duplication events were intensely concentrated around 319 and 192 million years ago, implicating two WGDs in ancestral lineages shortly before the diversification of extant seed plants and extant angiosperms, respectively. Significantly, these ancestral WGDs resulted in the diversification of regulatory genes important to seed and flower development, suggesting that they were involved in major innovations that ultimately contributed to the rise and eventual dominance of seed plants and angiosperms.
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