Abstract Detail

Evolution of Plant Chemical Diversity: Renaissance of comparative biochemistry

PIRES , JOSEPH CHRIS [1], Smith, Stacey D. [2].

Evolution of Plant Chemical Diversity: Renaissance of comparative biochemistry.

Plants produce an immense diversity of specialized metabolites, from pigments to defense compounds, which are integral to their ecology and evolution. These molecules serve many functions in plants including defense against stress, plant–microbe communication, and pollinator attraction. These compounds are also important to humans for agriculture, medicine, and many other aspects of our culture.  Understanding the biochemical diversity of metabolites has a long history of study in botany. Indeed, comparative biochemical data were an early source of information for phylogenetic inference in the early molecular era prior to DNA sequencing. Although biochemical diversity is no longer commonly used for inferring relationships, the field of comparative biochemistry is experiencing a renaissance with recent advances in functional genomics, metabolic profiling, and systems biology. New comparative biochemical studies have uncovered patterns of deep conservation of some metabolic pathways across plant lineages, and dynamic lineage-specific evolution of others. Many metabolites restricted to specific plant lineages and are referred to as “specialized” metabolites. The specialized metabolic repertoire of plants can vary even within and between closely related species, in terms of the number and classes of specialized metabolites as well as their chemical structuresal variants.  Coupled with genomic data from diverse plant species, it is increasingly feasible to connect these chemical andis functional variations with the underlying genetic and evolutionary processes, such as gene duplication and horizontal gene transfer. Given that specialized metabolites play central roles in myriad aspects of plant biology, this integrative understanding of the evolution of plant specialized metabolism has broad implications for identifying the mechanisms underlying plant adaptation and diversification. Relevance: In this symposium, we have assembled a set of speakers at the forefront of the emerging synthesis of functional genomics, biochemistry, and comparative metabolomics. Importantly, this work is grounded in a phylogenetic framework, making it possible to address the polarity of evolutionary novelties and the extent of convergence at the molecular level. While this is a new area of research, it builds on traditions in plant biosystematics and chemical ecology where biochemical markers were used as taxonomic characters. Our speakers represent a wide range of experimental approaches, taxonomic groups, and evolutionary timescales. The group also spans speakers of diverse backgrounds and multiple career stages.  Thus, this symposium provides a unique opportunity for interchange of ideas that may lead to new collaborations and synergies.

1 - University of Missouri, Biological Sciences, Columbia, MO, 65211
2 - University of Colorado, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Boulder, CO, USA

Specialized metabolism

Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation
Abstract ID:21
Candidate for Awards:None

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