Non-vascular bryophytes live in colonies that cover the ground and resemble tiny forests. In a real forest, plants compete for light in different layers of the canopy. If a plant does not receive enough sunlight, it stops lateral branching and instead grows vertically to reach the sunlight. Researchers from the Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology (GMI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences discovered that the liverwort Marchantia polymorpha, whose plant body is fundamentally different from those of vascular plants, also adapts its architecture in response to shade. These new insights into the evolution of genetic pathways governing branching were published in Current Biology.