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Identifying the genetic mechanisms that underpin the evolution of new organ and tissue systems is an aim of evolutionary developmental biology. Comparative functional genetic studies between angiosperms and bryophytes can define those genetic changes that were responsible for developmental innovations. Here, we report the generation of a transcriptome atlas covering most phases in the life cycle of the model bryophyte Physcomitrella patens, including detailed sporophyte developmental progression. We identified a comprehensive set of sporophyte-specific transcription factors, and found that many of these genes have homologs in angiosperms that function in developmental processes such as flowering and shoot branching. Deletion of the PpTCP5 transcription factor results in development of supernumerary sporangia attached to a single seta, suggesting that it negatively regulates branching in the moss sporophyte. Given that TCP genes repress branching in angiosperms, we suggest that this activity is ancient. Finally, comparison of P. patens and Arabidopsis thaliana transcriptomes led us to the identification of a conserved core of transcription factors expressed in tip-growing cells. We identified modifications in the expression patterns of these genes that could account for developmental differences between P. patens tip-growing cells and A. thaliana pollen tubes and root hairs.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Plant

Publication Date





205 - 220


Physcomitrella patens, TCP, branching, land plant evolution, tip growth, transcriptome atlas, Bryopsida, Evolution, Molecular, Gene Expression Regulation, Plant, Plant Proteins, Transcriptome