Gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) is a nonprotein amino acid found in a wide range of organisms including plants. Several studies have shown that GABA plays different roles in plant metabolism including carbon-nitrogen metabolism, energy balance, signaling and development. It has been suggested that the occurrence of GABA and the enzymes related to GABA biosynthesis in prokaryotes and eukaryotes may be important in evolution and diversification. However, studies of GABA biosynthesis and GABA levels in an evolutionary context are restricted to sequenced plant genomes. In this study we aimed to compare the activities of GDH and GAD enzymes and total nitrogen, and the contents of total soluble protein, succinate, glutamate, proline and GABA in plants from different phylogenetic levels including Ulva lactuca, Pseudevernia furfuracea, Nephrolepsis exaltata, Ginkgo biloba, Pinus pinea, Magnolia grandiflora, Nymphaea alba, Urtica dioica, Portulaca oleraceae, Malva sylvestris, Rosa canina, Lavandula stoechas, Washingtonia filifera, Avena barbata and Iris kaempferi. The activities of GAD and GDH enzymes differed according to the species and were not always parallel to GABA levels. The discrepancy in the contents of succinate and GABA between higher and primitive plants was also prominent. Glutamate levels were high with a few exceptions and proline contents were at similar low values as compared to other amino acids. Our results support the hypothesis that the GABA shunt plays a key role in carbon and nitrogen partitioning via linking amino acid metabolism and the tricarboxylic acid cycle which is essential for higher plant species.