Main article: Evolutionary history of plants#Seeds A whole genome duplication event in the ancestor of seed plants occurred about 319 million years ago.[1] This gave rise to a series of evolutionary changes that resulted in the origin of seed plants. A middle Devonian precursor to seed plants from Belgium has been identified predating the earliest seed plants by about 20 million years. Runcaria, small and radially symmetrical, is an integumented megasporangium surrounded by a cupule. The megasporangium bears an unopened distal extension protruding above the mutlilobed integument. It is suspected that the extension was involved in anemophilous pollination. Runcaria sheds new light on the sequence of character acquisition leading to the seed. Runcaria has all of the qualities of seed plants except for a solid seed coat and a system to guide the pollen to the seed.[2]

Relationships and nomenclature[edit]
Further information: Gnetophyta#Classification Seed-bearing plants were traditionally divided into angiosperms, or flowering plants, and gymnosperms, which includes the gnetophytes, cycads, ginkgo, and conifers. Older morphological studies believed in a close relationship between the gnetophytes and the angiosperms,[3] in particular based on vessel elements. However, molecular studies (and some more recent morphological[4] and fossil[5] papers) have generally shown a clade of gymnosperms, with the gnetophytes in or near the conifers. For example, one common proposed set of relationships is known as the gne-pine hypothesis and looks like:[6][7][8] angiosperms (flowering plants) gymnosperm s cycads [9] Ginkgo

Pinaceae (the pine family) gnetophytes other conifers However, the relationships between these groups should not be

the flowering plants References[edit] • Jump up 
 ^ Jiao Y. Runcaria.considered settled. American Association for the Advancement of Science. the ginkgo Pinophyta. Ayyampalayam S. or Angiospermopsida A more modern classification ranks these groups as separate divisions (sometimes under the Superdivision Spermatophyta): • • • • • Cycadophyta. the gnetophytes Magnoliophyta. Wickett NJ. the ginkgo Pinopsida. Soltis DE. a Middle Devonian Seed Plant Precursor. ("Coniferopsida") Gnetopsida. Ma H. Liang H. ^ Jump up to: 
 a b Jeffrey D. Tomsho LP. 2011. the cycads Ginkgoopsida. Chase (2004). Schuster SC. Hu Y. Palmer. Clifton SW. Nature • Jump up 
 ^ "Science Magazine". Soltis and Mark W. the gnetophytes Magnoliopsida. Douglas E. the conifers Gnetophyta. the cycads Ginkgophyta. the flowering plants. Landherr L. Leebens-Mack J. 2011. Depamphilis CW (2011) Ancestral polyploidy in seed plants and angiosperms. the conifers. Schlarbaum SE. Retrieved March 22. Soltis PS. Chanderbali AS. with classes for our five groups: • Division Spermatophyta Cycadopsida.[3][10] Other classifications group all the seed plants in a single division. "The plant tree of life: an overview and some . Ralph PE.