|"From the genome to the tree of life"|
|NSF Proposal Body||Bibliography||Initial Core Participant's statements|
|1.||Results from Prior Support||5.||Examples: Research Integrating Genomics / Phylogenetics|
|2.||Background: Phylogenetics / Evolution||6.||Proposed Coordination Activities|
|3.||Background: Genomics||7.||Management / Coordination Mechanisms|
|4.||Theme: Research Coordination Group||8.||Significance|
Section 1: Results from Prior Support
DOE/NSF/USDA Panel on Collaborative Research in Plant
Background on "Deep Green" and its goals
The green plants represent one of the six large clades of the crown eukaryotes -- more than 1/2 million species -- a clade at least 1 billion years old. Their morphological and chemical diversity, ecological dominance, and importance in human affairs are paramount among life's lineages. Reconstruction of the broad-scale phylogenetic relationships of green plants is important to our understanding of major evolutionary events such as the origin of multicellularity, diversification of life-history strategies, and the conquest of land (Graham, 1985; Mishler and Churchill, 1985). In addition, availability of a well-supported framework of relationships is necessary for practical purposes such as predicting useful chemicals for pharmacology, selecting promising genes for biotechnology studies, carrying out comparative functional and genomic studies, and setting conservation priorities.
The Green Plant Phylogeny Research Coordination Group (GPPRCG or "Deep Green"), through a series of meetings, workshops, and massive collaborative analyses, was organized to facilitate the production of a detailed phylogeny for this major branch of the tree of life. Considerable progress in understanding the phylogeny of green plants has been made, based on classical morphological characters, newly described ultrastructural features, and nucleotide sequence data from the nuclear, chloroplast, and mitochondrial genomes. The success of this effort has in turn generated exciting new opportunities for both applied and basic research and training. The more robust parts of the current cladogram, though clearly in need of support from future studies sampling more examplars and more character systems (morphological as well as molecular), can serve as a framework for some evolutionary interpretations currently, and also pinpoint key areas in need of further work. Addressing a phylogenetic study of this enormous scale has necessitated improvements in data handling and analysis that have broad applicability to phylogenetic studies of other organisms.
Coordination activities of the GPPRCG
Considerable preliminary data were available, and we were clearly poised back in 1994 for rapid progress in this area as a result of recent technological, theoretical, and computational improvements. However, several obstacles remained. No mechanism existed for attacking this major effort in a cooperative, coordinated manner. Certain groups were over-studied, other groups nearly unknown. Data sets derived from different molecules and different morphological character systems rarely included the same basic taxa, thus they could not be compared. Current analytical software, and the concepts behind it, needed improvements to handle analyses of this size and complexity, as did data storage and retrieval software. Standards for maintaining and adding to phylogenetic data bases, both morphological and molecular, needed to be discussed and then implemented. The GPPRCG was formed in 1994 in order to remedy these shortcomings by facilitating interactions between distinct research groups. A full account of the previous meetings and progress of the GPPRCG can be found at: http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/bryolab/greenplantpage.html. The following is a brief synopsis.
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