Evolution of the life cycle in land plants

  title={Evolution of the life cycle in land plants},
  author={Yin Long Qiu and Alexander Taylor and Hilary A. McManus},
  journal={Journal of Systematics and Evolution},
Abstract  All sexually reproducing eukaryotes have a life cycle consisting of a haploid and a diploid phase, marked by meiosis and syngamy (fertilization). Each phase is adapted to certain environmental conditions. In land plants, the recently reconstructed phylogeny indicates that the life cycle has evolved from a condition with a dominant free‐living haploid gametophyte to one with a dominant free‐living diploid sporophyte. The latter condition allows plants to produce more genotypic… 

Conflicting Phylogenies for Early Land Plants are Caused by Composition Biases among Synonymous Substitutions

Despite the similarity among land–plant life cycles, they differ in one significant aspect: in the three bryophyte groups, the haploid gametophytic stage is the dominant vegetative stage, whereas in vascular plants the diploid sporophyte dominates.

Did meiosis evolve before sex and the evolution of eukaryotic life cycles?

It is proposed that the fundamental difference between life cycles is where and when multicellularity is expressed, and that sexual reproduction, which predominates in all eukaryotic clades, has many different advantages among which is that it produces variability among offspring and thus reduces sibling competition.

Evolution of the plant body plan.

Changing expressions: a hypothesis for the origin of the vascular plant life cycle

  • P. Kenrick
  • Environmental Science
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2017
Fossils from the 407-Ma Rhynie chert reveal unanticipated diversity, including new variants of meiotic cell division and leafless gametophytes with mycorrhizal-like symbioses, rhizoids, vascular tissues and stomata, putting in place the critical components that regulate transpiration and forming a physiological platform of primary importance to the diversification of vascular plants.

Pollen Developmental Arrest: Maintaining Pollen Fertility in a World With a Changing Climate

An overview of how DA and pollen viability are controlled and how the environment affects them is provided and areas where a deeper understanding is needed are made.

Sex and the Single Gametophyte: Revising the Homosporous Vascular Plant Life Cycle in Light of Contemporary Research

Research is reviewed on a variety of mechanisms, including genetic load, asynchronous production of eggs and sperm, and pheromonal control of gamete production, that actively promote heterozygosity in ferns and lycophytes.

Why did heterospory evolve?

Heterospory is a kind of re‐invention of anisogamy within the context of a sporophyte‐dominant land plant life cycle, and models of optimal resource allocation suggest that an evolutionary increase in spore size could reach a threshold at which small spores yielding small, sperm‐producing gametophytes would return greater fitness per unit of resource investment than would large spores and bisexual gamets.

Shape analysis of moss (Bryophyta) sporophytes: Insights into land plant evolution.

The results suggest that natural selection in different microhabitats results in the diversity of sporangium shape found in mosses, and that many increasing shifts in speciation rate result in changes in sporangia shape across their 480 million year history.

How land plant life cycles first evolved

The site near the village of Rhynie in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, is exceptional because fossilization occurred in microcrystalline silica (chert), preserving organisms to the cellular level and shedding light on community structure and interactions among the plants, arthropods, fungi, algae, and cyanobacteria.

Ferns: the missing link in shoot evolution and development

This review compares and contrasts the current understanding of shoot development in different land plant lineages with the aim of highlighting the potential role that the fern C. richardii could play in shedding light on the evolution of underlying genetic regulatory mechanisms.



Chapter Four: Life Cycles in Major Lineages of Photosynthetic Eukaryotes, with a Special Reference to the Origin of Land Plants

This review summarizes the types of life cycles found in photosynthetic eukaryotes, focusing on those lineages that exhibit an alternation of generations and the adaptive advantages such life cycles may confer.

The evolution of life cycles with haploid and diploid phases

The current state of knowledge in this field of eukaryotes is reviewed, and the many questions that remain unanswered are touched upon.

Life history biology of early land plants: deciphering the gametophyte phase.

  • T. TaylorH. KerpH. Hass
  • Environmental Science
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 2005
The gametophyte phase of early land plants can now be considered within an ecological and evolutionary framework that can be used to develop hypotheses about some aspects of the population dynamics and growth of these earlyLand plants.

The Strategy of the Red Algal Life History

The unusual triphasic life history of the red algae is explained as an evolutionary compensation related to the lack of motility of gametes in the division and the presumed relatively infrequent

Early evolution of life cycles in embryophytes: A focus on the fossil evidence of gametophyte/sporophyte size and morphological complexity

All the fossil evidence supports the Antithetic Theory and indicates that the gametophyte generation/sporophytic generation size and complexity ratios show a gradual decrease along the land plant phylogenetic tree.


The current data on the phylogeny and reproduction of unicellular eukaryotes are insufficient to determine whether it evolved several times or just once, and theoretically, gradual origin of amphimixis from apomixis, with each step favored by natural selection, is feasible.

The origin of plants: body plan changes contributing to a major evolutionary radiation.

  • L. GrahamM. CookJ. S. Busse
  • Environmental Science, Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 2000
Comparative analysis, based on molecular phylogenetic information, identifies fundamental body plan features that originated during radiation of charophycean algae and were inherited by plants.

Vegetative and reproductive innovations of early land plants: implications for a unified phylogeny.

Development and structural innovations suggest the three bryophyte groups diverged prior to elaboration of this generation, and phylogenetic analysis of three different data sets is the most comprehensive to date and points to a single phylogenetic solution for the evolution of basal embryophytes.


Comparative analysis of ontogenetic sequences suggests that the seven-celled female gametophyte (two modules) evolved by duplication and ectopic expression of an ancestral Nuphar-like developmental module within the chalazal domain of the female gamETophyte.

Phylogeny and evolution of charophytic algae and land plants

  • Y. Qiu
  • Biology, Environmental Science
  • 2008
P phylogenetic results will facilitate evolutionary developmental studies of these key traits of the plant life cycle, multicellularity, and gravitropism, which will help to gain mechanistic understanding on how plants adapted to environmental challenges when they colonized the land during one of the major transitions in evolution of life.