Origin of angiosperms and the puzzle of the Jurassic gap (Nature Plants)

Understanding the origin and evolution of flowering plants is key to explaining the development of major terrestrial ecosystems. The rapid diversification of angiosperms into over 360,000 extant species was famously termed ‘an abominable mystery’ by Charles Darwin. Here, Li et al reconstruct the angiosperm phylogeny based on 80 genes from 2881 plant plastomes, providing the most comprehensive taxonomic sampling to date. The findings show high similarity to the recent Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG IV) report which is based on a consensus of published phylogenetic studies. Dating analysis revealed that angiosperms originated around 209 million years ago (Ma) which is distinct from the oldest fossilised evidence of flowering plants at approximately 135 Ma. The difference between age estimates based on molecular data and the fossil record is coined the Jurassic angiosperm gap. (Summary by Alex Bowles) Nature Plants 10.1038/s41477-019-0421-0