DOI: 10.1111/nph.19242 ISSN:

Genome evolution in plants and the origins of innovation

James W. Clark
  • Plant Science
  • Physiology


Plant evolution has been characterised by a series of major novelties in their vegetative and reproductive traits that have led to greater complexity. Underpinning this diversification has been the evolution of the genome. When viewed at the scale of the plant kingdom, plant genome evolution has been punctuated by conspicuous instances of gene and whole‐genome duplication, horizontal gene transfer and extensive gene loss. The periods of dynamic genome evolution often coincide with the evolution of key traits, demonstrating the coevolution of plant genomes and phenotypes at a macroevolutionary scale. Conventionally, plant complexity and diversity have been considered through the lens of gene duplication and the role of gene loss in plant evolution remains comparatively unexplored. However, in light of reductive evolution across multiple plant lineages, the association between gene loss and plant phenotypic diversity warrants greater attention.

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