Leliaert F., Smith D.R., Moreau H., Herron M., Verbruggen H., Delwiche C.F. & De Clerck O. (2012)
Phylogeny and molecular evolution of the green algae
Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 31: 1-46


The green lineage (Viridiplantae) comprises the green algae and their descendants the land plants, and is one of the major groups of oxygenic photosynthetic eukaryotes. Current hypotheses posit the early divergence of two discrete clades from an ancestral green flagellate. One clade, the Chlorophyta, comprises the early diverging prasinophytes, which gave rise to the core chlorophytes. The other clade, the Streptophyta, includes the charophyte green algae from which the land plants evolved. Multi?marker and genome scale phylogenetic studies have greatly improved our understanding of broad?scale relationships of the green lineage, yet many questions persist, including the branching orders of the prasinophyte lineages, the relationships among core chlorophyte clades (Chlorodendrophyceae, Ulvophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae and Chlorophyceae), and the relationships among the streptophytes. Current phylogenetic hypotheses provide an evolutionary framework for molecular evolutionary studies and comparative genomics. This review summarizes our current understanding of organelle genome evolution in the green algae, genomic insights into the ecology of oceanic picoplanktonic prasinophytes, molecular mechanisms underlying the evolution of complexity in volvocine green algae, and the evolution of genetic codes and the translational apparatus in green seaweeds. Finally, we discuss molecular evolution in the streptophyte lineage, emphasizing the genetic facilitation of land plant origins.

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