Highly conserved low-copy nuclear genes as effective markers for phylogenetic analyses in angiosperms

Ning Zhang, Liping Zeng, Hongyan Shan, Hong Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Organismal phylogeny provides a crucial evolutionary framework for many studies and the angiosperm phylogeny has been greatly improved recently, largely using organellar and rDNA genes. However, low-copy protein-coding nuclear genes have not been widely used on a large scale in spite of the advantages of their biparental inheritance and vast number of choices. Here, we identified 1083 highly conserved low-copy nuclear genes by genome comparison. Furthermore, we demonstrated the use of five nuclear genes in 91 angiosperms representing 46 orders (73% of orders) and three gymnosperms as outgroups for a highly resolved phylogeny. These nuclear genes are easy to clone and align, and more phylogenetically informative than widely used organellar genes. The angiosperm phylogeny reconstructed using these genes was largely congruent with previous ones mainly inferred from organellar genes. Intriguingly, several new placements were uncovered for some groups, including those among the rosids, the asterids, and between the eudicots and several basal angiosperm groups. These conserved universal nuclear genes have several inherent qualities enabling them to be good markers for reconstructing angiosperm phylogeny, even eukaryotic relationships, further providing new insights into the evolutionary history of angiosperms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)923-937
Number of pages15
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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