About this Research Topic
For many years, a main focus of plant evolutionary developmental biology was studying the expression and phylogenetic history of genes implicated in developmental pathways. This approach has been enormously successful in identifying potentially conserved gene regulatory circuits that underlie major pattern formation processes in plants. Importantly, hypotheses were often generated on how changes in these gene regulatory circuits led to the evolution of different plant forms. However, for quite some time, experimental testing of many of these hypotheses proved difficult, simply because the adequate molecular biology toolkit was not available across many plant lineages. This situation has changed dramatically in recent years. The advent of next generation sequencing considerably facilitated sequencing genomes and transcriptomes of plants throughout the phylogeny. Virus induced gene silencing and the establishment of transformation methods for non-model plants enabled direct testing of gene functions on a wide phylogenetic spectrum, and elaborate biophysical techniques are increasingly applied to analyze changes in protein function during evolution. Furthermore, bioinformatics as well as systems biology are used to integrate the available data and to approach at a more coherent understanding of one of the most interesting questions in plant evolution: What are the molecular underpinnings of the evolution of different plant forms? Among the many facets this question touches are the transition to land, the emergence of vascular plants, the origin of the seed and the origin and diversification of floral form, to mention but a few.
In this research topic we highlight emerging model systems across the land plant phylogeny as well as exciting current approaches, including genomics, biophysics, gene networks and transgenesis of plants from diverse lineages. We aim to bring to the forefront the most salient and original plant systems and approaches within an inclusive phylogenetic context that encompasses representatives of the major lineages of land plants.
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