Convergent evolution of water conducting cells in Marchantia recruited the ZHOUPI gene promoting cell wall reinforcement and programmed cell death

Yen-Ting Lu, Jeanne Loue-Manifel, Norbert Bollier, Philippe Gadient, Freya De Winter, Philip Carella, Antoine Hoguin, Shona Grey--Switzman, Hugo Marnas, Francois Simon, Alice Copin, Shelby Fischer, Erica de Leau, Sebastian Schornack, Ryuichi Nishihama, Takayuki Kohchi, Nathalie Depège Fargeix, Gwyneth Ingram, Moritz K. Nowack*, Justin Goodrich*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

A key adaptation of plants to life on land is the formation of water-conducting cells (WCCs) for efficient long-distance water transport. Based on morphological analyses it is thought that WCCs have evolved independently on multiple occasions. For example, WCCs have been lost in all but a few lineages of bryophytes but, strikingly, within the liverworts a derived group, the complex thalloids, has evolved a novel externalized water-conducting tissue composed of reinforced, hollow cells termed pegged rhizoids. Here, we show that pegged rhizoid differentiation in Marchantia polymorpha is controlled by orthologs of the ZHOUPI and ICE bHLH transcription factors required for endosperm cell death in Arabidopsis seeds. By contrast, pegged rhizoid development was not affected by disruption of MpNAC5, the Marchantia ortholog of the VND genes that control WCC formation in flowering plants. We characterize the rapid, genetically controlled programmed cell death process that pegged rhizoids undergo to terminate cellular differentiation and identify a corresponding upregulation of conserved putative plant cell death effector genes. Lastly, we show that ectopic expression of MpZOU1 increases production of pegged rhizoids and enhances drought tolerance. Our results support that pegged rhizoids evolved independently of other WCCs. We suggest that elements of the genetic control of developmental cell death are conserved throughout land plants and that the ZHOUPI/ICE regulatory module has been independently recruited to promote cell wall modification and programmed cell death in liverwort rhizoids and in the endosperm of flowering plant seed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-807.e7
Number of pages51
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number4
Early online date30 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Water conducting cell
  • pegged rhizoid
  • programmed cell death
  • convergent evolution
  • ZHOUPI transcription factor
  • Marchantia


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