Evo-physio: On Stress Responses And The Earliest Land Plants
Embryophytes (land plants) can be found in almost any habitat on the Earth’s surface. All of this ecologically diverse embryophytic flora arose from algae through a singular evolutionary event. Traits that were, by their nature, indispensable for the singular conquest of land by plants were those that are key for overcoming terrestrial stressors. Not surprisingly, the biology of land plant cells is shaped by a core signaling network that connects environmental cues, such as stressors, to the appropriate responses—which, thus, modulate growth and physiology. When did this network emerge? Was it already present when plant terrestrialization was in its infancy? A comparative approach between land plants and their algal relatives, the streptophyte algae, allows us to tackle such questions and resolve parts of the biology of the earliest land plants. Exploring the biology of the earliest land plants might shed light on exactly how they overcame the challenges of terrestrialization. Here, we outline the approaches and rationale underlying comparative analyses towards inferring the genetic toolkit for the stress response that aided the earliest land plants in their conquest of land.