Phototrophic eukaryotes are among the most successful organisms on Earth due to their unparalleled efficiency at capturing light energy and fixing carbon dioxide to produce organic molecules. A conserved and efficient network of light-dependent regulatory modules could be at the bases of this success. This regulatory system conferred early advantages to phototrophic eukaryotes that allowed for specialization, complex developmental processes and modern plant characteristics. We have studied light-dependent gene regulatory modules from algae to plants employing integrative-omics approaches based on gene co-expression networks. Our study reveals some remarkably conserved ways in which eukaryotic phototrophs deal with day length and light signaling. Here we describe how a family of Arabidopsis transcription factors involved in photoperiod response has evolved from a single algal gene according to the innovation, amplification and divergence theory of gene evolution by duplication. These modifications of the gene co-expression networks from the ancient unicellular green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to the modern brassica Arabidopsis thaliana may hint on the evolution and specialization of plants and other organisms.
Romero-Campero, F. J., Lucas-Reina, E., Said, F. E., Romero, J. M., & Valverde, F. (2013). A contribution to the study of plant development evolution based on gene co-expression networks. Frontiers in Plant Science, 4. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2013.00291