The signalling molecule auxin regulates many fundamental aspects of growth and development in plants. We review and discuss what is known about auxin-regulated development in mosses, with special emphasis on the model species Physcomitrella patens. It is well established that mosses and other early diverging plants produce and respond to auxin. By sequencing the P. patens genome, it became clear that it encodes many core proteins important for auxin homeostasis, perception, and signalling, which have also been identified in flowering plants. This suggests that the auxin molecular network was present in the last common ancestor of flowering plants and mosses. Despite fundamental differences in their life cycles, key processes such as organ initiation and outgrowth, branching, tropic responses, as well as cell differentiation, division, and expansion appear to be regulated by auxin in the two lineages. This knowledge paves the way for studies aimed at a better understanding of the origin and evolution of auxin function and how auxin may have contributed to the evolution of land plants.
Keywords: Auxin; Physcomitrella patens; development; evolution; gametophore; moss; protonema; sporophyte.
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