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Open Access Research article

Structure and evolution of the plant cation diffusion facilitator family of ion transporters

Jeffery L Gustin13*, Michael J Zanis2 and David E Salt1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University, 625 Agricultural Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2010, USA

2 Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, 915 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2054, USA

3 Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida, 1117 Fifield Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611-0690, USA

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2011, 11:76  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-76

Published: 24 March 2011

Abstract

Background

Members of the cation diffusion facilitator (CDF) family are integral membrane divalent cation transporters that transport metal ions out of the cytoplasm either into the extracellular space or into internal compartments such as the vacuole. The spectrum of cations known to be transported by proteins of the CDF family include Zn, Fe, Co, Cd, and Mn. Members of this family have been identified in prokaryotes, eukaryotes, and archaea, and in sequenced plant genomes. CDF families range in size from nine members in Selaginella moellendorffii to 19 members in Populus trichocarpa. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that the CDF family has expanded within plants, but a definitive plant CDF family phylogeny has not been constructed.

Results

Representative CDF members were annotated from diverse genomes across the Viridiplantae and Rhodophyta lineages and used to identify phylogenetic relationships within the CDF family. Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of CDF amino acid sequence data supports organizing land plant CDF family sequences into 7 groups. The origin of the 7 groups predates the emergence of land plants. Among these, 5 of the 7 groups are likely to have originated at the base of the tree of life, and 2 of 7 groups appear to be derived from a duplication event prior to or coincident with land plant evolution. Within land plants, local expansion continues within select groups, while several groups are strictly maintained as one gene copy per genome.

Conclusions

Defining the CDF gene family phylogeny contributes to our understanding of this family in several ways. First, when embarking upon functional studies of the members, defining primary groups improves the predictive power of functional assignment of orthologous/paralogous genes and aids in hypothesis generation. Second, defining groups will allow a group-specific sequence motif to be generated that will help define future CDF family sequences and aid in functional motif identification, which currently is lacking for this family in plants. Third, the plant-specific expansion resulting in Groups 8 and 9 evolved coincident to the early primary radiation of plants onto land, suggesting these families may have been important for early land colonization.