YABBY Genes in the Development and Evolution of Land Plants
International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Mounting evidence from genomic and transcriptomic studies suggests that most genetic networks regulating the morphogenesis of land plant sporophytes were co-opted and modified from those already present in streptophyte algae and gametophytes of bryophytes sensu lato. However, thus far, no candidate genes have been identified that could be responsible for "planation", a conversion from a three-dimensional to a two-dimensional growth pattern. According to the telome theory, "planation" was
... anation" was required for the genesis of the leaf blade in the course of leaf evolution. The key transcription factors responsible for leaf blade development in angiosperms are YABBY proteins, which until recently were thought to be unique for seed plants. Yet, identification of a YABBY homologue in a green alga and the recent findings of YABBY homologues in lycophytes and hornworts suggest that YABBY proteins were already present in the last common ancestor of land plants. Thus, these transcriptional factors could have been involved in "planation", which fosters our understanding of the origin of leaves. Here, we summarise the current data on functions of YABBY proteins in the vegetative and reproductive development of diverse angiosperms and gymnosperms as well as in the development of lycophytes. Furthermore, we discuss a putative role of YABBY proteins in the genesis of multicellular shoot apical meristems and in the evolution of leaves in early divergent terrestrial plants.