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Volume 574 Issue 7780, 31 October 2019

Roots of diversity

The cover shows an example of the ‘entangled bank’ of interacting species that Darwin described in the conclusion of On the Origin of Species. Shown are ferns (Dryopteris intermedia) and mosses (Polytrichum commune and Thuidium delicatum), just three of nearly half-a-million species that make up the remarkable diversity of green plants. In this week’s issue, James Leebens-Mack, Gane Ka-Shu Wong and colleagues from the One Thousand Plant Transcriptomes initiative report the vegetative transcriptomes of 1,124 species that span plant diversity, including green plants, glaucophytes and red algae. The authors construct a phylogenomic framework, which they use to infer the evolutionary relationships between species and to plot the timing of genomic changes and diversification events during the history of green plants. They find that large expansions of gene families preceded the origins of land plants and vascular plants, whereas whole-genome duplications seem to have occurred repeatedly throughout the evolution of flowering plants and ferns.

Cover image: Alaina R. Petlewski (Boyce Thompson Institute)

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