The renaissance and enlightenment of Marchantia as a model system

Bowman JL, Arteaga-Vazquez M, Berger F, Briginshaw LN, Carella P, Aguilar-Cruz A, Davies KM, Dierschke T, Dolan L, Dorantes-Acosta AE, Fisher TJ, Flores-Sandoval E, Futagami K, Ishizaki K, Jibran R, Kanazawa T, Kato H, Kohchi T, Levins J, Lin S-S, Nakagami H, Nishihama R, Romani F, Schornack S, Tanizawa Y, Tsuzuki M, Ueda T, Watanabe Y, Yamato KT and Zachgo S

The Plant Cell


The liverwort Marchantia polymorpha has been utilized as a model for biological studies since the 18th century. In the past few decades, there has been a Renaissance in its utilization in genomic and genetic approaches to investigating physiological, developmental, and evolutionary aspects of land plant biology. The reasons for its adoption are similar to those of other genetic models, e.g. simple cultivation, ready access via its worldwide distribution, ease of crossing, facile genetics, and more recently, efficient transformation, genome editing, and genomic resources. The haploid gametophyte dominant life cycle of M. polymorpha is conducive to forward genetic approaches. The lack of ancient whole-genome duplications within liverworts facilitates reverse genetic approaches, and possibly related to this genomic stability, liverworts possess sex chromosomes that evolved in the ancestral liverwort. As a representative of one of the three bryophyte lineages, its phylogenetic position allows comparative approaches to provide insights into ancestral land plants. Given the karyotype and genome stability within liverworts, the resources developed for M. polymorpha have facilitated the development of related species as models for biological processes lacking in M. polymorpha.