New Phytol. 232 (2) 595-609 [2021-10-00; online 2021-08-19]
Previous studies of plant circadian clock evolution have often relied on clock models and genes defined in Arabidopsis. These studies identified homologues with seemingly conserved function, as well as frequent gene loss. In the present study, we aimed to identify candidate clock genes in the liverwort Marchantia polymorpha using a more unbiased approach. To identify genes with circadian rhythm we sequenced the transcriptomes of gemmalings in a time series in constant light conditions. Subsequently, we performed functional studies using loss-of-function mutants and gene expression reporters. Among the genes displaying circadian rhythm, a homologue to the transcriptional co-repressor Arabidopsis DE-ETIOLATED1 showed high amplitude and morning phase. Because AtDET1 is arrhythmic and associated with the morning gene function of AtCCA1/LHY, that lack a homologue in liverworts, we functionally studied DET1 in M. polymorpha. We found that the circadian rhythm of MpDET1 expression is disrupted in loss-of-function mutants of core clock genes and putative evening-complex genes. MpDET1 knock-down in turn results in altered circadian rhythm of nyctinastic thallus movement and clock gene expression. We could not detect any effect of MpDET1 knock-down on circadian response to light, suggesting that MpDET1 has a yet unknown function in the M. polymorpha circadian clock.