Leliaert F., Verbruggen H. & Zechman F.W. (2011)
Into the deep: New discoveries at the base of the green plant phylogeny
BioEssays 33: 683-692


Recent data has provided evidence for an unrecognized ancient lineage of green plants, which persist in marine deep-water environments. The green plants are a major group of photosynthetic eukaryotes that have played a prominent role in the global ecosystem for millions of years. A schism early in their evolution gave rise to two major lineages, one of which diversified in the world’s oceans and gave rise to a large diversity of green algae (Chlorophyta) while the other gave rise to a smaller number of freshwater green algae from which the land plants emerged (Streptophyta). It is generally believed that the earliest diverging Chlorophyta were motile planktonic unicells, but the discovery of an ancient group of deep-water seaweeds shakes up our understanding of the basal branches of the green plant phylogeny. In this review, we discuss current insights into the origin and diversification of the green lineage.

Additional resources

full text