The genome of the seagrass Zostera marina reveals angiosperm adaptation to the sea

Seagrasses colonized the sea on at least three independent occasions to form one of the most productive and widespread coastal ecosystems on the planet. The genome of Zostera marina (L.), the first marine angiosperm to be fully sequenced, reveals unique insights into the genomic losses and gains involved in achieving the structural and physiological adaptations required for its marine lifestyle, arguably the most severe habitat shift ever accomplished by flowering plants. Key angiosperm innovations that were lost include the entire repertoire of stomatal genes, genes involved in the synthesis of terpenoids and ethylene signaling, and genes for UV protection and phytochromes for far-red sensing. Seagrasses have also regained functions enabling them to adjust to full salinity. Their cell walls contain all of the polysaccharides typical of land plants but also polyanionic, low-methylated pectins and sulfated galactans, a feature shared with the cell walls of all macroalgae and important for ion homoeostasis, nutrient uptake and O2/CO2 exchange through leaf epidermal cells. The Z. marina genome resource will significantly advance a wide range of functional ecological studies from adaptation of marine ecosystems under climate warming to unravelling the mechanisms of osmoregulation under high salinities that may further inform our understanding of the evolution of salt-tolerance in crop plants.

Olsen, J.L., Rouzé, P., Verhelst, B., Lin, Y.-C., Bayer, T., Collen, J., Dattolo, E., De Paoli, E., Dittami, S., Maumus, F., Michel, G., Kersting, A.R., Lauritano, C., Lohaus, R., T?pel, M., Tonon, T., Vanneste, K., Amirebrahimi, M., Brakel, J., Bostr?m, C., Chovatia, M., Grimwood, J., Jenkins, B., J?terbock, A., Mraz, A., Stam, W.T., Tice, H., Bornberg-Bauer, E., Green, P.J., Pearson, G.A., Procaccini, G., Duarte, C.M., Schmutz, J., Reusch, T.B.H., Van de Peer, Y. (2016) The genome of the seagrass Zostera marina reveals angiosperm adaptation to the sea. Nature 530(7590):331-5.









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