Desiccation tolerance evolved through gene duplication and network rewiring in Lindernia

Robert Van Buren*, Ching Man Wai, Jeremy Pardo, Valentino Giarola, Stefano Ambrosini, Xiaomin Song, Dorothea Bartels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Although several resurrection plant genomes have been sequenced, the lack of suitable dehydration-sensitive outgroups has limited genomic insights into the origin of desiccation tolerance. Here, we utilized a comparative system of closely related desiccation-tolerant (Lindernia brevidens) and -sensitive (Lindernia subracemosa) species to identify gene- and pathwaylevel changes associated with the evolution of desiccation tolerance. The two high-quality Lindernia genomes we assembled are largely collinear, and over 90% of genes are conserved. L. brevidens and L. subracemosa have evidence of an ancient, shared whole-genome duplication event, and retained genes have neofunctionalized, with desiccation-specific expression in L. brevidens. Tandem gene duplicates also are enriched in desiccation-associated functions, including a dramatic expansion of early light-induced proteins from 4 to 26 copies in L. brevidens. A comparative differential gene coexpression analysis between L. brevidens and L. subracemosa supports extensive network rewiring across early dehydration, desiccation, and rehydration time courses. Many LATE EMBRYOGENESIS ABUNDANT genes show significantly higher expression in L. brevidens compared with their orthologs in L. subracemosa. Coexpression modules uniquely upregulated during desiccation in L. brevidens are enriched with seed-specific and abscisic acid-associated cis-regulatory elements. These modules contain a wide array of seed-associated genes that have no expression in the desiccation-sensitive L. subracemosa. Together, these findings suggest that desiccation tolerance evolved through a combination of gene duplications and network-level rewiring of existing seed desiccation pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2943-2958
Number of pages16
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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