Li, Fay-Wei , Pryer, Kathleen M .
Massive horizontal gene transfer of a chimeric photoreceptor within ferns.
Ferns are well known for their shade-dwelling habits. Their ability to thrive under such low-light conditions has been linked to the evolution of a novel chimeric photoreceptor—neochrome—that fuses red-sensing phytochrome and blue-sensing phototropin modules into a single gene, thereby optimizing phototropic responses. Despite its potential importance in conferring a distinct evolutionary advantage to ferns living under dense canopies, the origin of neochrome has remained a mystery. We recently traced the origin of neochrome to hornworts, and showed that ferns acquired neochrome from hornworts via horizontal gene transfer (HGT). Subsequent phylogenetic analyses further revealed a large-scale discordance between the fern neochrome gene tree and the fern species tree, suggesting additional HGT occurred among ferns. Here we present new genomic evidence supporting rampant fern-to-fern HGT of neochrome. Our finding provides the first evidence that plant-to-plant HGT can have a profound evolutionary impact, and also has implications for the evolution of photosensory systems in plants.
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1 - Duke University, Department of Biology, Box 90338, Durham, NC, 27708, USA
horizontal gene transfer
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Location: Pines North/Boise Centre
Date: Monday, July 28th, 2014
Time: 9:30 AM
Candidate for Awards:Edgar T. Wherry award