Multiple innovations underpinned branching form diversification in mosses

Yoan Coudert, Neil Bell, Claude Edelin, C Jill Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
446 Downloads (Pure)


•Broad scale evolutionary comparisons have shown that branching forms arose by convergence in vascular plants and bryophytes, but the trajectory of branching form diversification in bryophytes is unclear. Mosses are the most species rich bryophyte lineage and two sub-groups are circumscribed by alternative reproductive organ placements. In one, reproductive organs form apically, terminating growth of the primary shoot (gametophore) axis. In the other, reproductive organs develop on very short lateral branches. A switch from apical to lateral reproductive organ development is proposed to have primed branching form diversification.
•Moss gametophores have modular development and each module develops from a single apical cell. Here we define the architectures of 175 mosses by the number of module classes, branching patterns and the pattern in which similar modules repeat. Using ancestral character state reconstruction we identify two stages of architectural diversification.
•During a first stage there were sequential changes in the module repetition pattern, reproductive organ position, branching pattern and number of module classes. During a second stage, vegetative changes occurred independently of reproductive fate.
•The results pinpoint the nature of developmental change priming branching form diversification in mosses and provide a framework for mechanistic studies of architectural diversification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)840-850
Number of pages11
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number2
Early online date4 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • Branching
  • Modularity
  • convergent evolution
  • Mosses
  • Plant architecture
  • Pleurocarpy


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