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Open Access Research article

An ancient genome duplication contributed to the abundance of metabolic genes in the moss Physcomitrella patens

Stefan A Rensing1*, Julia Ick1, Jeffrey A Fawcett23, Daniel Lang1, Andreas Zimmer1, Yves Van de Peer23 and Ralf Reski1

Author Affiliations

1 Plant Biotechnology, Faculty of Biology, University of Freiburg, Schaenzlestr. 1, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany.

2 Department of Plant Systems Biology, VIB, B-9052 Ghent, Belgium.

3 Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Genomics, Department of Molecular Genetics, Ghent University, Technologiepark 927, B-9052 Ghent, Belgium.

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2007, 7:130  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-130

Published: 2 August 2007



Analyses of complete genomes and large collections of gene transcripts have shown that most, if not all seed plants have undergone one or more genome duplications in their evolutionary past.


In this study, based on a large collection of EST sequences, we provide evidence that the haploid moss Physcomitrella patens is a paleopolyploid as well. Based on the construction of linearized phylogenetic trees we infer the genome duplication to have occurred between 30 and 60 million years ago. Gene Ontology and pathway association of the duplicated genes in P. patens reveal different biases of gene retention compared with seed plants.


Metabolic genes seem to have been retained in excess following the genome duplication in P. patens. This might, at least partly, explain the versatility of metabolism, as described for P. patens and other mosses, in comparison to other land plants.