Functional and morphological evolution in gymnosperms: A portrait of implicated gene families

Amanda R. De La Torre, Anthony Piot, Bobin Liu, Benjamin Wilhite, Matthew Weiss, Ilga Porth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Gymnosperms diverged from their sister plant clade of flowering plants 300 Mya. Morphological and functional divergence between the two major seed plant clades involved significant changes in their reproductive biology, water-conducting systems, secondary metabolism, stress defense mechanisms, and small RNA-mediated epigenetic silencing. The relatively recent sequencing of several gymnosperm genomes and the development of new genomic resources have enabled whole-genome comparisons within gymnosperms, and between angiosperms and gymnosperms. In this paper, we aim to understand how genes and gene families have contributed to the major functional and morphological differences in gymnosperms, and how this information can be used for applied breeding and biotechnology. In addition, we have analyzed the angiosperm versus gymnosperm evolution of the pleiotropic drug resistance (PDR) gene family with a wide range of functionalities in plants' interaction with their environment including defense mechanisms. Some of the genes reviewed here are newly studied members of gene families that hold potential for biotechnological applications related to commercial and pharmacological value. Some members of conifer gene families can also be exploited for their potential in phytoremediation applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-227
Number of pages18
JournalEvolutionary Applications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • PDR gene family
  • biotechnology
  • functional evolution
  • gene families
  • gymnosperms
  • reproductive biology
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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