The evolution of plant development

William E. Friedman, Richard C. Moore, Michael D. Purugganan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The last decade has witnessed a resurgence in the study of the evolution of plant development, combining investigations in systematics, developmental morphology, molecular developmental genetics, and molecular evolution. The integration of phylogenetic studies, structural analyses of fossil and extant taxa, and molecular developmental genetic information allows the formulation of explicit and testable hypotheses for the evolution of morphological characters. These comprehensive approaches provide opportunities to dissect the evolution of major developmental transitions among land plants, including those associated with apical meristems, the origins of the root/shoot dichotomy, diversification of leaves, and origin and subsequent modification of flower structure. The evolution of these major developmental innovations is discussed within both phylogenetic and molecular genetic contexts. We conclude that it is the combination of these approaches that will lead to the greatest understanding of the evolution of plant development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1726-1741
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • Apical meristem
  • Flower
  • Leaf
  • Origin
  • Plant systematics
  • Root
  • Shoot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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