Genomic footprints of repeated evolution of CAM photosynthesis in tillandsioid bromeliads

Marylaure de la Harpe, Margot Paris, Jaqueline Hess, Michael H.J. Barfuss, Martha L. Serrano-Serrano, Arindam Ghatak, Palak Chaturvedi, Wolfram Weckwerth, Walter Till, Nicolas Salamin, Ching Man Wai, Ray Ming, Christian Lexer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The adaptive radiation of Bromeliaceae (pineapple family) is one of the most diverse among Neotropical flowering plants. Diversification in this group was facilitated by several ´key innovations´ including the transition from C3 to CAM photosynthesis. We used a phylogenomic approach complemented by differential gene expression (RNA-seq) and targeted metabolite profiling to address the patterns and mechanisms of C3/CAM evolution in the extremely species-rich bromeliad genus Tillandsia and related taxa. Evolutionary analyses at a range of different levels (selection on protein-coding genes, gene duplication and loss, regulatory evolution) revealed three common themes driving the evolution of CAM: response to heat and drought, alterations to basic carbohydrate metabolism, and regulation of organic acid storage. At the level of genes and their products, CAM/C3 shifts were accompanied by gene expansion of a circadian regulator, re-programming of ABA-related gene expression, and adaptive sequence evolution of an enolase, effectively linking carbohydrate metabolism to ABA-mediated stress response. These changes include several pleiotropic regulators, which facilitated the evolution of correlated adaptive traits during a textbook adaptive radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Dec 13 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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