An ancient mechanism controls the development of cells with a rooting function in land plants.
Menand B., Yi K., Jouannic S., Hoffmann L., Ryan E., Linstead P., Schaefer DG., Dolan L.
Root hairs and rhizoids are cells with rooting functions in land plants. We describe two basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors that control root hair development in the sporophyte (2n) of the angiosperm Arabidopsis thaliana and rhizoid development in the gametophytes (n) of the bryophyte Physcomitrella patens. The phylogeny of land plants supports the hypothesis that early land plants were bryophyte-like and possessed a dominant gametophyte and later the sporophyte rose to dominance. If this hypothesis is correct, our data suggest that the increase in morphological complexity of the sporophyte body in the Paleozoic resulted at least in part from the recruitment of regulatory genes from gametophyte to sporophyte.