Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Evolutionary Biology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Phylogeny and evolutionary history of glycogen synthase kinase 3/SHAGGY-like kinase genes in land plants

Xinshuai Qi123, André S Chanderbali34*, Gane Ka-Shu Wong567, Douglas E Soltis3 and Pamela S Soltis4

Author Affiliations

1 Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology for Endangered Wildlife of the Ministry of Education, College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

2 Laboratory of Systematic & Evolutionary Botany and Biodiversity, College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

3 Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

4 Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

5 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

6 Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

7 BGI-Shenzhen, Bei Shan Industrial Zone, Yantian District, Shenzhen, China

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2013, 13:143  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-13-143

Published: 8 July 2013

Abstract

Background

GSK3 (glycogen synthase kinase 3) genes encode signal transduction proteins with roles in a variety of biological processes in eukaryotes. In contrast to the low copy numbers observed in animals, GSK3 genes have expanded into a multi-gene family in land plants (embryophytes), and have also evolved functions in diverse plant specific processes, including floral development in angiosperms. However, despite previous efforts, the phylogeny of land plant GSK3 genes is currently unclear. Here, we analyze genes from a representative sample of phylogenetically pivotal taxa, including basal angiosperms, gymnosperms, and monilophytes, to reconstruct the evolutionary history and functional diversification of the GSK3 gene family in land plants.

Results

Maximum Likelihood phylogenetic analyses resolve a gene tree with four major gene duplication events that coincide with the emergence of novel land plant clades. The single GSK3 gene inherited from the ancestor of land plants was first duplicated along the ancestral branch to extant vascular plants, and three subsequent duplications produced three GSK3 loci in the ancestor of euphyllophytes, four in the ancestor of seed plants, and at least five in the ancestor of angiosperms. A single gene in the Amborella trichopoda genome may be the sole survivor of a sixth GSK3 locus that originated in the ancestor of extant angiosperms. Homologs of two Arabidopsis GSK3 genes with genetically confirmed roles in floral development, AtSK11 and AtSK12, exhibit floral preferential expression in several basal angiosperms, suggesting evolutionary conservation of their floral functions. Members of other gene lineages appear to have independently evolved roles in plant reproductive tissues in individual taxa.

Conclusions

Our phylogenetic analyses provide the most detailed reconstruction of GSK3 gene evolution in land plants to date and offer new insights into the origins, relationships, and functions of family members. Notably, the diversity of this “green” branch of the gene family has increased in concert with the increasing morphological and physiological complexity of land plant life forms. Expression data for seed plants indicate that the functions of GSK3 genes have also diversified during evolutionary time.

Keywords:
GSK3; Land plant evolution; Gene duplication; Gene expression