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Article|16 May 2023|OPEN
Phenoloxidases: catechol oxidase – the temporary employer and laccase – the rising star of vascular plants
Jugou Liao1 , Xuemei Wei2 , Keliang Tao3 , Gang Deng4 , Jie Shu3 , Qin Qiao4 , Gonglin Chen1 , Zhuo Wei1 , Meihui Fan1 , Shah Saud5 , Shah Fahad6 , and Suiyun Chen,1 ,
1School of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Yunnan University; Biocontrol Engineering Research Center of Crop Diseases & Pests, Yunnan Province, Kunming 650091, China
2School of Engineering, Dali University, Dali, Yunnan Province, 671003, China
3School of Life Science, Yunnan University, Yunnan Province, Kunming 650091, China
4College of Horticulture and Landscape, Yunnan Agricultural University, Yunnan Province, Kunming 650091, China
5College of Life Science, Linyi University, Linyi, Shandong 276000, China
6Department of Agronomy, Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 23200, Pakistan
*Corresponding author. E-mail:,

Horticulture Research 10,
Article number: uhad102 (2023)
Views: 122

Received: 04 Feb 2023
Revised: 16 May 2023
Accepted: 05 May 2023
Published online: 16 May 2023


Phenolics are vital for the adaptation of plants to terrestrial habitats and for species diversity. Phenoloxidases (catechol oxidases, COs, and laccases, LACs) are responsible for the oxidation and polymerization of phenolics. However, their origin, evolution, and differential roles during plant development and land colonization are unclear. We performed the phylogeny, domain, amino acids, compositional biases, and intron analyses to clarify the origin and evolution of COs and LACs, and analysed the structure, selective pressure, and chloroplast targeting to understand the species-dependent distribution of COs. We found that Streptophyta COs were not homologous to the Chlorophyta tyrosinases (TYRs), and might have been acquired by horizontal gene transfer from bacteria. COs expanded in bryophytes. Structural-functionality and selective pressure were partially responsible for the species-dependent retention of COs in embryophytes. LACs emerged in Zygnemaphyceae, having evolved from ascorbate oxidases (AAOs), and prevailed in the vascular plants and strongly expanded in seed plants. COs and LACs coevolved with the phenolic metabolism pathway genes. These results suggested that TYRs and AAOs were the first-stage phenoloxidases in Chlorophyta. COs might be the second key for the early land colonization. LACs were the third one (dominating in the vascular plants) and might be advantageous for diversified phenol substrates and the erect growth of plants. This work provided new insights into how phenoloxidases evolved and were devoted to plant evolution.