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. 2020 Mar;225(6):2283-2300.
doi: 10.1111/nph.16240. Epub 2019 Nov 2.

Phytochrome Evolution in 3D: Deletion, Duplication, and Diversification

Free PMC article

Phytochrome Evolution in 3D: Deletion, Duplication, and Diversification

Nathan C Rockwell et al. New Phytol. .
Free PMC article


Canonical plant phytochromes are master regulators of photomorphogenesis and the shade avoidance response. They are also part of a widespread superfamily of photoreceptors with diverse spectral and biochemical properties. Plant phytochromes belong to a clade including other phytochromes from glaucophyte, prasinophyte, and streptophyte algae (all members of the Archaeplastida) and those from cryptophyte algae. This is consistent with recent analyses supporting the existence of an AC (Archaeplastida + Cryptista) clade. AC phytochromes have been proposed to arise from ancestral cyanobacterial genes via endosymbiotic gene transfer (EGT), but most recent studies instead support multiple horizontal gene transfer (HGT) events to generate extant eukaryotic phytochromes. In principle, this scenario would be compared to the emerging understanding of early events in eukaryotic evolution to generate a coherent picture. Unfortunately, there is currently a major discrepancy between the evolution of phytochromes and the evolution of eukaryotes; phytochrome evolution is thus not a solved problem. We therefore examine phytochrome evolution in a broader context. Within this context, we can identify three important themes in phytochrome evolution: deletion, duplication, and diversification. These themes drive phytochrome evolution as organisms evolve in response to environmental challenges.

Keywords: endosymbiosis; evolution; light harvesting; photosynthesis; shade avoidance.

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