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Title: Parallel evolution of storage roots in Morning Glories (Convolvulaceae)

item ESERMAN, LAUREN - University Of Georgia
item Jarret, Robert - Bob
item LEEBENS-MACK, JIM - University Of Georgia

Submitted to: BMC Plant Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/8/2018
Publication Date: 5/29/2018
Citation: Eserman, L., Jarret, R.L., Leebens-Mack, J.H. 2018. Parallel evolution of storage roots in Morning Glories (Convolvulaceae). Biomed Central (BMC) Plant Biology. 18:95. 10.1186/s12870-018-1307-4.

Interpretive Summary: It is well known that sweetpotato produces storage roots. However, many species of morning glory – related to the common sweetpotato, also produce storage roots, while other do not. By staining and examining sections of roots from those morning glory species that produce storage roots with those that do, and by comparing RNA profiles of those same species, it was determined that the ability to form storage roots arose independently multiple times during the evolution of these (morning glory) species.

Technical Abstract: Storage roots are an ecologically and agriculturally important plant trait. In morning glories, storage roots are well characterized in the crop species sweetpotato. Storage roots have evolved numerous times across the morning glory family. This study aims to understand whether this was through parallel or convergent evolution. Pairs of species where one forms storage roots and the other does not were sampled from two tribes in the morning glory family, the Ipomoeeae and Merremieae. Root anatomy and transcriptome profiles were examined in storage roots and fine roots. Anatomical results reveal that storage roots of species in the Ipomoeeae tribe accumulate starch differently than Merremieae species. More genes were found to be upregulated in storage roots compared to fine roots in both storage root forming species. Fifty-seven orthologous genes were differentially expressed between storage roots and fine roots in both storage root forming species. These genes primarily function in starch biosynthesis, regulation of starch biosynthesis, and transcription factor activity. These results demonstrate that storage roots of species from both morning glory tribes are anatomically different but utilize a common core set of genes in storage root formation. This is consistent with a pattern of parallel evolution.