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Billion-year revision of plant evolution timeline may stem from discovery of lignin in seaweed
Date:1/27/2009

ld be really, really amazing," says Denny. "Anything is possible, but that would be one hell of a coincidence."

The team's finding provides a new perspective on the early evolution of lignified support tissues such as wood on land, since the seaweed tissues that are most stressed by waves crashing on shore appear to contain the most lignin, possibly contributing to mechanical support, says Martone.

The new discovery may affect one of the ways land plants are distinguished from aquatic algae in textbooks by the presence of lignin. It is also of interest to biofuel researchers since lignin binds cell walls and prevents the extraction of cellulose, a key component in biofuel production.

Funded primarily by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy, Martone says the research team has started looking for billion-year-old lignin genes that might be shared among land plants and red algae, and has started exploring whether lignin exists in other aquatic algae and what role it plays in the evolution and function of aquatic plants.


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Contact: Brian Lin
brian.lin@ubc.ca
604-822-2234
University of British Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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