Single-copy genes as molecularmarkers for phylogenomic studies in seed plants

Zhen Li, Amanda R. De La Torre, Lieven Sterck, Francisco M. Cánovas, Concepcíon Avila, Irene Merino, José Antonio Cabezas, María Teresa Cervera, Pär K. Ingvarsson, Yves Van De Peer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Phylogenetic relationships among seed plant taxa, especially within the gymnosperms, remain contested. In contrast to angiosperms, for which several genomic, transcriptomic and phylogenetic resources are available, there are few, if any,molecularmarkers that allow broad comparisons among gymnosperm species. With few gymnosperm genomes available, recently obtained transcriptomes in gymnosperms are a great addition to identifying single-copy gene families as molecular markers for phylogenomic analysis in seed plants. Taking advantage of an increasing number of available genomes and transcriptomes, we identified singlecopy genes in a broad collection of seed plants and used these to infer phylogenetic relationships between major seed plant taxa. This study aims at extending the current phylogenetic toolkit for seed plants, assessing its ability for resolving seed plant phylogeny, and discussing potential factors affecting phylogenetic reconstruction. In total, we identified 3,072 single-copy genes in 31 gymnosperms and 2,156 single-copy genes in 34 angiosperms. All studied seed plants shared 1,469 single-copy genes, which are generally involved in functions likeDNAmetabolism, cell cycle, and photosynthesis.Aselected set of 106 single-copy genes provided good resolution for the seed plant phylogeny except for gnetophytes. Although some of our analyses support a sister relationship between gnetophytes and other gymnosperms, phylogenetic trees from concatenated alignments without 3rd codon positions and amino acid alignments under theCAT+GTRmodel, support gnetophytes as a sister group to Pinaceae.Our phylogenomic analyses demonstrate that, in general, single-copy genes can uncover both recent and deep divergences of seed plant phylogeny.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1130-1147
Number of pages18
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Angiosperms
  • Gymnosperms
  • Phylogenomics
  • Seed plants
  • Single-copy genes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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