Kingdom-wide comparison reveals conserved diurnal gene expression in Archaeplastida
Plants have adapted to the diurnal light-dark cycle by establishing elaborate transcriptional programs that coordinate innumerable metabolic, physiological, and developmental responses to the external environment. These transcriptional programs have been studied in only a few species, and their function and conservation across algae and plants is currently unknown. We performed a comparative transcriptome analysis of the diurnal cycle of nine members of Archaeplastida, and we observed that, despite large phylogenetic distances and dramatic differences in morphology and lifestyle, diurnal transcriptional programs of these organisms are similar. However, the establishment of multicellularity coincided with the uncoupling of cell division from the diurnal cycle and decreased diurnal control of the expression of the biological pathways. Hence, our study provides evidence for the universality of diurnal gene expression and elucidates its evolutionary history among different photosynthetic eukaryotes.