Reconstructing the genome of the most recent common ancestor of flowering plants


We describe here the reconstruction of the genome of the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of modern monocots and eudicots, accounting for 95% of extant angiosperms, with its potential repertoire of 22,899 ancestral genes conserved in present-day crops. The MRCA provides a starting point for deciphering the reticulated evolutionary plasticity between species (rapidly versus slowly evolving lineages), subgenomes (pre- versus post-duplication blocks), genomic compartments (stable versus labile loci), genes (ancestral versus species-specific genes) and functions (gained versus lost ontologies), the key mutational forces driving the success of polyploidy in crops. The estimation of the timing of angiosperm evolution, based on MRCA genes, suggested that this group emerged 214 million years ago during the late Triassic era, before the oldest recorded fossil. Finally, the MRCA constitutes a unique resource for scientists to dissect major agronomic traits in translational genomics studies extending from model species to crops.

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Figure 1: Most recent common ancestor of modern flowering plants.
Figure 2: Partitioned evolutionary plasticity since the MRCA.


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The authors would like to thank C. Lanaud (CIRAD, France), C. Huneau (INRA, France) and C. Scutt (ENS, France) for assistance with obtaining the plant photos used in the illustrations. This work was supported by a grant from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR Blanc-PAGE, ref: ANR-2011-BSV6-00801) and the 'Région Auvergne, Allocation de Recherche Territoire, Agriculture, Alimentation, Nutrition et Santé Humaine' (contract 23000720).

Author information

F.M., A.A., C.P., C.K. and J.S. performed the analysis and wrote the manuscript. J.S. coordinated the scientific project.

Correspondence to Jérôme Salse.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Text and Figures

Supplementary Figures 1–13 and Supplementary Table 5 (PDF 3637 kb)

Supplementary Table 1

AGK gene repertoire. (XLSX 682 kb)

Supplementary Table 2

AEK gene repertoire. (XLSX 442 kb)

Supplementary Table 3

AMK gene repertoire. (XLS 1014 kb)

Supplementary Table 4

MRCA gene repertoire. (XLS 358 kb)

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