The deep phylogeny of land plants inferred from a full analysis of nucleotide base changes in terms of mutation and selection

Yosuke Kawai, Jinya Otsuka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The occurrence frequencies of nucleotide bases are biased to those of T and A bases even at third codon positions for conserved amino acid residues with fourfold degeneracy in the chloroplasts of land plants. Regarding this bias as the result of selection, the base changes at these positions are fully analyzed theoretically in terms of mutation and selection. Although the degree of bias is considerably different depending on the lineages of land plants, the theoretical curves considering the influence of selection in the respective lineages provide a reasonable set of evolutionary distances for the relative base change probabilities estimated empirically from base changes enumerated in the comparison of rbcL genes. By using the fossil records of earliest seed plants in the Late Devonian and of uniaperturate and triaperturate pollen types in the early stage of the Cretaceous as calibration points, the divergence of Marchantiidae and a common ancestor of other land plants is estimated to have occurred 509 Mya, together with the estimation of a mutation rate of 1.45 × 10-9 year-1 per site. The other bryophytes such as Bryopsida, Anthocerotopsida, and Jungermanniidae are sister groups to tracheophytes, the divergence of bryophytes and tracheophytes being estimated to have occurred 483 Mya. The evolutionary distance of Gnetopsida from Coniferopsida and Magnoliophyta is concluded to be decisively longer than the distance between Coniferopsida and Magnoliophyta, i.e., the former divergence corresponds to 286 Mya and the latter to 211 Mya.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-489
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Apr 1


  • Base composition bias
  • Bryophytes
  • Land plant phylogeny
  • Lineage specificity
  • Mutation
  • Seed plants
  • Selection
  • Third codon positions
  • Tracheophytes
  • rbcL genes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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