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Villarreal A. J.C.,Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh 20A Inverleith Row Edinburgh EH3 5LR UK | Crandall-Stotler B.J.,Southern Illinois University Carbondale | Hart M.L.,Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh 20A Inverleith Row Edinburgh EH3 5LR UK | Long D.G.,Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh 20A Inverleith Row Edinburgh EH3 5LR UK | Forrest L.L.,Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh 20A Inverleith Row Edinburgh EH3 5LR UK
New Phytologist | Year: 2015

We present a complete generic-level phylogeny of the complex thalloid liverworts, a lineage that includes the model system Marchantia polymorpha. The complex thalloids are remarkable for their slow rate of molecular evolution and for being the only extant plant lineage to differentiate gas exchange tissues in the gametophyte generation. We estimated the divergence times and analyzed the evolutionary trends of morphological traits, including air chambers, rhizoids and specialized reproductive structures. A multilocus dataset was analyzed using maximum likelihood and Bayesian approaches. Relative rates were estimated using local clocks. Our phylogeny cements the early branching in complex thalloids. Marchantia is supported in one of the earliest divergent lineages. The rate of evolution in organellar loci is slower than for other liverwort lineages, except for two annual lineages. Most genera diverged in the Cretaceous. Marchantia polymorpha diversified in the Late Miocene, giving a minimum age estimate for the evolution of its sex chromosomes. The complex thalloid ancestor, excluding Blasiales, is reconstructed as a plant with a carpocephalum, with filament-less air chambers opening via compound pores, and without pegged rhizoids. Our comprehensive study of the group provides a temporal framework for the analysis of the evolution of critical traits essential for plants during land colonization. © 2015 New Phytologist Trust. Source

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