This course aims to give students an advanced and updated perspective of plant evolution. It begins with an introduction on phylogenetic concepts, and then gives an update on phylogeny of photosynthetic life forms: eubacteria, archaea, algae, and land plants. The main parts of the course are to discuss evolution of plants in three perspectives: evolutionary genomics, evolutionary developmental biology, and evolutionary ecology.
Evolutionary genomics will cover both organellar and nuclear genomes. For organellar genomics, the theories of endosymbiotic origins of mitochondria and plastids, as well as those theories of origins of algae via secondary or tertiary endosymbiosis, will be presented. For nuclear genome evolution, the following aspects will be covered: the composite origin of the genome at the beginning of eukariotic evolution; roles of transposons and introns in genome evolution in eukaryotes in general; the role of polyploidization in plant genome evolution; and syteny in angiosperm genomes.
The evo-devo part will be devoted to gaining an understanding of how chemistry, physiology, morphology, and ecology of plants have evolved, and to aspects of chemical defense adaptation to different physical environments; development of different mating systems; and evolution of different pollination and seed dispersal strategies.
Finally, interaction of plants and their biotic and abiotic environments will be examined from a historical and phylogenetic perspective. For plant-other organism interactions, three types are to be looked at: positive, neutral, and negative (all from the plant's perspective). The part on change of abiotic environment will focus on evolution of substrate, atmosphere, and geography.