Chloroplast DNA Evidence on the Ancient Evolutionary Split in Vascular Land Plants

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Science  27 Mar 1992:
Vol. 255, Issue 5052, pp. 1697-1699
DOI: 10.1126/science.255.5052.1697


Two groups of extant plants, lycopsids and psilopsids, alternatively have been suggested to be the living representatives of the earliest diverging lineage in vascular plant evolution. The chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) gene order is known to contain an inversion in bryophytes and tracheophytes relative to one another. Characterization of tracheophyte cpDNAs shows that lycopsids share the gene order with bryophytes, whereas all other vascular plants share the inverted gene order. The distribution of this character provides strong support for the fundamental nature of the phylogenetic separation of lycopsids and marks the ancient evolutionary split in early vascular land plants.

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