Navigation Links
Kansas state flower receives scientific attention
Date:4/9/2008

MANHATTAN, KAN. -- Anyone who has seen Kansas prairies in late summer to early fall can attest to the abundance of sunflowers decorating fields and lining roadways, giving Kansas the well deserved nickname, the Sunflower State.

Despite its beauty, the sunflower is more than just a pretty flower. To scientists, such as Mark Ungerer, assistant professor in the Division of Biology at Kansas State University, it is a prime example of the unique adaptability of plants.

In March, the National Science Foundation awarded Ungerer a $610,000 grant to continue his research on the genomic evolution of three species of hybrid sunflowers: anomalous sunflower, Desert sunflower and Pecos sunflower. The independent origins of these three hybrid species, from the same two parents, the common sunflower and Plains sunflower, raised some intriguing questions for Ungerer that inspired his grant proposal.

As Ungerer reviewed the genetic data from all five species of sunflowers he noticed something weird. The two parental species and the three hybrid species all have 34 chromosomes, but the genomes, the entire hereditary information encoded in DNA, of the hybrid species is far larger.

"What is strange is that the hybrid species have about 50-75 percent more DNA than the parental species and that doesn't make sense, given what we know about their origins. If they all have the same number of chromosomes how could they possibly have more DNA" Where did it come from"" Ungerer asked.

Given that all three hybrid species grow in extreme environments, Ungerer hypothesizes that environmental stress may have caused the activation of a typically inactive class of transposable elements of DNA, called long terminal repeat retrotransposons.

"These elements are DNA sequences related to infectious retroviruses and are capable of multiplying and inserting copies of themselves into new positions in their host genome. Because of their replicative abilities, long terminal repeat retrotransposons, when activated, can result in massive genomic expansion and restructuring," Ungerer said.

"We are trying to understand the circumstances that caused retrotransposons to become active and proliferate in these sunflowers and the evolutionary and ecological consequences of these proliferation events," Ungerer said. He also noted that retrotransposons are not just found in sunflowers but in virtually all plants and animals, even humans. In his grant proposal , Ungerer said knowledge of the causes and consequences of this activation could deeply impact our understanding of the role of these genetic elements in organism evolution.

During the course of his three year study, Ungerer will be testing his theory using the controlled greenhouse environments available at K-State to mimic possible environmental stresses on early generation hybrids from the two parental species. Ungerer also will be collecting samples from wild sunflowers in hybrid zones throughout Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.


'/>"/>

Contact: Mark Ungerer
mcungere@k-state.edu
785-532-5845
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. McPherson County Kansas to Purchase Stingers
2. Obesity and the central nervous system -- the state of the art
3. University of Minnesota study refutes belief that black men have more aggressive prostate cancer
4. Iowa State University conference examines developing bioeconomy
5. University and state agencies to forecast local health effects of climate change
6. K-State Veterinary Lab routinely tests for bluetongue virus
7. New prostate cancer research findings
8. Iowa State professors genome research published in the latest issue of Science
9. Leading researchers to reveal comprehensive dos and donts for prostate cancer
10. K-State chemistry professor to receive Masao Horiba award
11. K-State sociologists use Department of Energy grant
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/26/2017)... 2017  Crossmatch, a leading provider of security and ... at combatting fraud, waste and abuse in assistance operations ... Action on Disaster Relief conference in Panama ... agencies and foreign assistance organizations throughout Latin ... are a largely unacknowledged problem in the foreign assistance ...
(Date:1/25/2017)... , Jan. 25, 2017 The Elements of ... (IAM) lifecycle is comprised of a comprehensive set ... purpose of maintaining digital identities and providing a ... applications. There are significant number of programs opted ... to time by optimizing processes and changing policies. ...
(Date:1/24/2017)...  It sounds simple and harmless—an electronic sensor ... signs and alerts parents on their smart phones ... drops. But pediatric experts argue that such devices ... evidence of medical benefits, especially to healthy babies. ... parents of healthy babies, promising peace of mind ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/16/2017)... ... February 16, 2017 , ... ... Inc. has further extended its industry leading Biochemistry Services specifically targeting the ... cGMP techniques and methods for the biochemical and biosimilar characterization , ...
(Date:2/15/2017)... , 15. Februar 2017  Trianni, Inc. ... Biotech, Inc. (Janssen) eine Lizenzvereinbarung über die Verwendung ... Klasse führenden Plattform für die Entdeckung monoklonaler Antikörper. ... ihr neuartiges chimäres Gensegmentdesign aus, das Janssen ... humanen Antikörpern bietet und das für die schelle ...
(Date:2/15/2017)... Windtree Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... aerosolized KL4 surfactant therapies for respiratory diseases, today ... private placement of convertible preferred stock units and ... fund its operations through the AEROSURF ® ... Windtree has received gross proceeds of ...
(Date:2/15/2017)... ... February 15, 2017 , ... ... partnership that puts Diameter Health technology in the hands of Lantana analysts. The ... exchanges, quality improvement and public health entities – all those mining value from ...
Breaking Biology Technology: