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Scientists sequence genome of 'sacred lotus,' which likely holds anti-aging secrets
Date:5/13/2013

elp from local farmers. To the researchers' surprise, more than 80 percent of the lotus seeds that were tested for viability germinated. That indicated that the plant must have a powerful genetic system capable of repairing germination defects arising from hundreds of years of aging, Shen-Miller said.

Understanding how the lotus repair mechanism works and its possible implications for human health is essentially a three-step process, said Crysten Blaby-Haas, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar in chemistry and biochemistry and co-author of the research. "Knowing the genome sequence was step one. Step two would be identifying which of these genes contributes to longevity and repairing genetic damage. Step three would be potential applications for human health, if we find and characterize those genes. The genome sequence will aid in future analysis.

"The next question is what are these genes doing, and the biggest question is how they contribute to the longevity of the lotus plant and its other interesting attributes," Blaby-Haas said. "Before this, when scientists studied the lotus, it's almost as if they were blind; now they can see. Once you know the repertoire of genes, you have a foundation to study their functions."

The genome sequence reveals that, when compared with known gene sequences of dozens of other plants, the lotus bears the closest resemblance to the ancestor of all eudicots, a broad category of flowering plants that includes the apple, peanut, tomato, cotton, cactus and tobacco plants.

The lotus forms a separate branch of the eudicot family tree; it lacks a signature triplication of the genome seen in most other members of this family, said Ray Ming, professor of plant biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who led the analysis with Shen-Miller and Shaohua Li, director of the Wuhan Botanical Garden at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Whole-genome duplications the doubling or tripli
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Contact: Stuart Wolpert
swolpert@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0511
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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