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How ancient plants began to use water when they moved to land

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“Plants, whether huge or microscopic, are the basis of all life, including ourselves.” This was the introduction of David Attenborough. Green planetThe latest BBC natural history series.


Over the last 500 million years, plants have been woven into every aspect of our lives. plant support All other life On earth today. Not only do they provide oxygen for people to breathe, they also clean the air and cool the earth’s temperature. but, water, The plant will not survive.Originally discovered Aquatic environmentIt is estimated that there are about 500,000 species of land plants that emerge from a single ancestor floating in the water.

In our recent paper, New botanistLearn how plants use and manipulate water, from the first small moss-like plants that inhabited land in the Cambrian (about 500 million years ago) to the giant trees that form complex forests. We will investigate at the genetic level. Today’s ecosystem.

How the plant evolved

By comparing more than 500 genomes (biological DNA), our results show that different parts of the plant’s anatomy involved in water transport, namely pores, Vascular tissue, Roots-was linked to different methods of gene evolution. This is important because it tells us how and why plants have evolved at clear moments in history.

The relationship between plants and water has changed dramatically over the last 500 million years. The ancestors of land plants had very limited ability to regulate water, but the offspring of land plants adapted to live in drier environments.The plant First colonized land, They needed a new way to access nutrients and water without soaking in it.The next challenge is increase of Size and height.Eventually, the plant evolved to live in a dry environment Desert etc...These evolutions gene It was important for the plant to survive, but how did it help the plant adapt first and then prosper on land?

The stomata, which are the fine pores on the surface of the leaves and stems, are open to absorb carbon dioxide and closed to minimize water loss. Our study found that the first land plants have genes involved in stomatal development. This indicates that the first land plants were equipped with genetic tools to build stomata, an important adaptation to life on land.

speed Pore ​​reactions vary Between species. For example, daisy stomata close faster than fern stomata.Our study suggests that the stomata of the first land plants were closed, but this ability speeded up over time. Gene duplication As the seeds are reproduced. Gene duplication leads to two copies of a gene, one of which allows them to perform their original function and the other to allow them to evolve a new function. These new genes allow the stomata of plants growing from seeds (rather than propagating through spores) to open and close faster, making them more adaptable to environmental conditions.

How ancient plants began to use water when they moved to land – new research

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Old genes and new tricks

Vascular tissue is a plant plumbing system that can transport water internally and grow in size and height. If you have seen a ring of chopped wood, this is the remnant of the growth of vascular tissue.

It was found that vascular tissue does not evolve with new genes, but emerges in the process of tinkering with genes. Here, the old gene was reused to get a new function. This shows that evolution does not always occur in new genes, but old genes can learn new tricks.

Prior to land migration, plants were found in freshwater and marine habitats such as algae. Spirogyra.. They floated and absorbed the water around them. The Root evolution It provided a scaffolding for plants to access water from deeper into the soil. We have discovered that several important new genes have emerged in the ancestors of land-dwelling and seed-bearing plants in response to root hair and root development. This demonstrates the importance of complex rooting systems that give ancient plants access to previously unavailable water.

The development of these features at all major stages of plant history highlights the importance of water as a driving force for plant evolution. Our analysis sheds new light on the genetic basis of global greening and highlights different ways of genetic evolution in the diversification of the plant kingdom.

Tree planting for the future

This work not only helps us understand the past, but it is also important for the future.By understanding the method plant As it has evolved, we can begin to understand the limiting factors for their growth. Once researchers can identify the function of these important genes, they can begin to improve the water use and drought resilience of crop species. This is especially important for food security.

Plants may also hold the key to solving some of the most pressing questions. Facing humanityReduced reliance on fertilizers, improved food sustainability, Greenhouse gas emissions..

By identifying the mechanisms that control plant growth, researchers can begin developing more resilient and efficient crop species. These crops require less space, water and nutrients and are more sustainable and reliable.When Declining natureIt is important to find a way to live more in harmony on our green planet.


Scientists discovered how plants evolved and colonized the land over 500 million years ago.


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How ancient plants began to use water when they moved to land

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