Evolution of cytosolic and organellar invertases empowered the colonization and thriving of land plants

Hongjian Wan, Youjun Zhang, Limin Wu, Guozhi Zhou, Luzhao Pan, Alisdair R. Fernie*, Yong Ling Ruan*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    The molecular innovation underpinning efficient carbon and energy metabolism during evolution of land plants remains largely unknown. Invertase-mediated sucrose cleavage into hexoses is central to fuel growth. Why some cytoplasmic invertases (CINs) function in the cytosol, whereas others operate in chloroplasts and mitochondria, is puzzling. We attempted to shed light on this question from an evolutionary perspective. Our analyses indicated that plant CINs originated from a putatively orthologous ancestral gene in cyanobacteria and formed the plastidic CIN (α1 clade) through endosymbiotic gene transfer, while its duplication in algae with a loss of its signal peptide produced the β clade CINs in the cytosol. The mitochondrial CINs (α2) were derived from duplication of the plastidic CINs and coevolved with vascular plants. Importantly, the copy number of mitochondrial and plastidic CINs increased upon the emergence of seed plants, corresponding with the rise of respiratory, photosynthetic, and growth rates. The cytosolic CIN (β subfamily) kept expanding from algae to gymnosperm, indicating its role in supporting the increase in carbon use efficiency during evolution. Affinity purification mass spectrometry identified a cohort of proteins interacting with α1 and 2 CINs, which points to their roles in plastid and mitochondrial glycolysis, oxidative stress tolerance, and the maintenance of subcellular sugar homeostasis. Collectively, the findings indicate evolutionary roles of α1 and α2 CINs in chloroplasts and mitochondria for achieving high photosynthetic and respiratory rates, respectively, which, together with the expanding of cytosolic CINs, likely underpin the colonization of land plants through fueling rapid growth and biomass production.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1227-1243
    Number of pages17
    JournalPlant Physiology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


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