- • Specific plant cellulose synthases (CesA), encoded by a multigene family, are necessary for secondary wall synthesis in vascular tissues and are critical to wood production. We obtained full-length clones for the three CesAs that are highly expressed in developing xylem and examined their phylogenetic relationships and expression patterns in loblolly pine tissues.
- • Full-length CesA clones were isolated from cDNA of developing loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) xylem and phylogenetic inferences made from plant CesA protein sequences. Expression of the three genes was examined by Northern blot analysis and semiquantitative RT-PCR.
- • Each of three PtCesA genes is orthologous to one of the three angiosperm secondary cell wall CesAs. The PtCesAs are coexpressed in tissues of loblolly pine with tissues undergoing secondary cell wall biosynthesis showing the highest levels of expression. Phylogenetic and expression analyses suggest that functional roles for these loblolly pine CesAs are analogous to those of orthologs in angiosperm taxa.
- • Based upon evidence from this and other studies, we suggest division of seed plant CesA genes into six major paralogous groups, each containing orthologs from various taxa. Available evidence suggests that paralogous CesA genes and their distinct functional roles evolved before the divergence of gymnosperm and angiosperm lineages.