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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Endosperm Evolution by Duplicated and Neofunctionalized Type I MADS-Box Transcription Factors

Qiu, Yichun; Koehler, Claudia


MADS-box transcription factors (TFs) are present in nearly all major eukaryotic groups. They are divided into Type I and Type II that differ in domain structure, functional roles, and rates of evolution. In flowering plants, major evolutionary innovations like flowers, ovules, and fruits have been closely connected to Type II MADS-box TFs. The role of Type I MADS-box TFs in angiosperm evolution remains to be identified. Here, we show that the formation of angiosperm-specific Type I MADS-box clades of M gamma and M gamma-interacting M alpha genes (M alpha*) can be tracked back to the ancestor of all angiosperms. Angiosperm-specific M gamma and M alpha* genes were preferentially expressed in the endosperm, consistent with their proposed function as heterodimers in the angiosperm-specific embryo nourishing endosperm tissue. We propose that duplication and diversification of Type I MADS genes underpin the evolution of the endosperm, a developmental innovation closely connected to the origin and success of angiosperms.


plant reproduction; endosperm evolution; MADS-box transcription factors; gene duplication

Published in

Molecular Biology and Evolution
2021, Volume: 39, number: 1, article number: msab355Publisher: OXFORD UNIV PRESS

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      Agricultural Science

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