Sexual and asexual offspring germination in a tropical liverwort is mediated by phytochromes

Conner M. Lay, Morgan Sindall, Sheldon K. McLetchie, D. Nicholas McLetchie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Phytochromes are important in allowing plants to sense and react to environmental changes. We investigated the similarities and differences of sexual and asexual offspring of a tropical liverwort (Marchantia inflexa). We expected that both types of dispersing offspring will have similar germination responses to ensure that the resulting individual will be established in a viable microhabitat. This expectation contrasts with the different germination responses found in M. polymorpha offspring. Sexual (spores) and asexual (gemmae) offspring of M. inflexa were subjected to differing light qualities and quantities to test for phytochrome involvement in germination. Proportions of offspring germinated were then compared within each type of offspring. We also compared the DNA and protein of the phytochrome and the phytochrome-interacting factor of M. polymorpha with M. inflexa to test for similarity. Sexual and asexual offspring of M. inflexa germination responses were consistent with being phytochrome-mediated, which will likely result in both germinating in similar microhabitats. Interestingly, this pattern differs from reports for M. polymorpha spores where germination is mediated by photosynthesis. The two species provide novel insights into the evolution of phytochrome functionality within a genus. Between the two species the DNA and protein of the phytochrome was conserved but the DNA and protein of the phytochrome-interacting factor less so.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-336
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was initiated by a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Sustaining Excellence-2014 grant (#52008116) awarded to the University of Kentucky (V.M. Cassone, PI). We thank the University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment for greenhouse space; The Wildlife Section, Forestry Division. Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources of Trinidad and Tobago for collection and export permits; The Water and Sewage Authority for access to the research sites. We thank the Plant Group in the Biology Department at UKy for discussions on the study and two anonymous reviewers for improving the manuscript. CL, MS and DNM conceived the project and designed the methodology. CL built the apparatus and collected the data. SM completed bioinformatics. CL wrote an initial draft and CL, MS SM and DNM edited the manuscript. All authors read and gave final approval of the manuscript for publication. All data associated with this study are deposited on Figshare figshare.16641466.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright ©2022 by The American Bryological and Lichenological Society, Inc.


  • Bryophytes
  • gemmae
  • liverwort
  • Marchantia polymorpha
  • phyA
  • phytochrome-interacting factor
  • red:far-red ratios
  • spores

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Sexual and asexual offspring germination in a tropical liverwort is mediated by phytochromes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this