The Selaginella genome identifies genetic changes associated with the evolution of vascular plants

Science. 2011 May 20;332(6032):960-3. doi: 10.1126/science.1203810. Epub 2011 May 5.


Vascular plants appeared ~410 million years ago, then diverged into several lineages of which only two survive: the euphyllophytes (ferns and seed plants) and the lycophytes. We report here the genome sequence of the lycophyte Selaginella moellendorffii (Selaginella), the first nonseed vascular plant genome reported. By comparing gene content in evolutionarily diverse taxa, we found that the transition from a gametophyte- to a sporophyte-dominated life cycle required far fewer new genes than the transition from a nonseed vascular to a flowering plant, whereas secondary metabolic genes expanded extensively and in parallel in the lycophyte and angiosperm lineages. Selaginella differs in posttranscriptional gene regulation, including small RNA regulation of repetitive elements, an absence of the trans-acting small interfering RNA pathway, and extensive RNA editing of organellar genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • Bryopsida / genetics
  • Chlamydomonas / chemistry
  • Chlamydomonas / genetics
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant
  • Genome, Plant*
  • Magnoliopsida / chemistry
  • Magnoliopsida / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Proteome / analysis
  • RNA Editing
  • RNA, Plant / genetics
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Selaginellaceae / genetics*
  • Selaginellaceae / growth & development
  • Selaginellaceae / metabolism
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • MicroRNAs
  • Plant Proteins
  • Proteome
  • RNA, Plant

Associated data

  • GENBANK/HM173080