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Citation for Study 26590

About Citation title: "Dispelling the Mirage of C4 Driven Drought Tolerance: A Phylogenomic Study.".
About Study name: "Dispelling the Mirage of C4 Driven Drought Tolerance: A Phylogenomic Study.".
About This study is part of submission 26590 (Status: Published).


Nissenbaum M., Burke S.V., Orton L.M., Holthuijzen W.A., & Duvall M.R. 2020. Dispelling the Mirage of C4 Driven Drought Tolerance: A Phylogenomic Study. American Journal of Botany, .


  • Nissenbaum M. (submitter) Phone 8477022727
  • Burke S.V.
  • Orton L.M.
  • Holthuijzen W.A.
  • Duvall M.R.


Premise of the Study: Climate change is a key driver for adaptations in water use efficiency (WUE). Perceptions persist that C4 photosynthesis indicates drought tolerance. Here, we examined the interaction and evolution of WUE within Poaceae as it pertains to photosynthetic pathway. Unique to this study is the magnitude of taxa sampled, degree of intrageneric sampling, and complete plastid genomes (plastomes) used for phylogenomic analyses. Methods: 310 species were sampled including 26 new plastomes (assembled de novo from next-generation sequencing methods). Additional plastomes were downloaded (, increasing taxonomic and molecular sampling. A literature review classified the WUE of taxa, supported by critical leaf water potentials for 88 taxa. Plastomes were analyzed with maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference methods. Character state transitions were determined using Mesquite software, and analyzed to determine the relationship between photosynthetic pathway and WUE using Pagelís Correlation Method. Key results: The ancestral condition of Poaceae was determined to be drought intolerant + C3. We found no statistically significant correlation between C4 photosynthesis and increased WUE within the major lineage including C4 grasses. Analyses across Poaceae indicated both variables were significantly correlated regardless of the dependent variable. We found 66 occurrences of WUE state transitions, state reversals accounted for >70%. Conclusions: Our analyses indicated that though correlated, WUE is not a driver of C4 photosynthesis, nor vice versa. Instead, both more likely arose due to similar tertiary evolutionary pressure(s). Multiple state transitions in WUE among lineages also suggests a degree of plasticity of this character.


Drought tolerance, Grasses, Grass, Poaceae, C4 photosynthesis

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