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Secrets in a seed: Clues into the evolution of the first flowers
Date:9/14/2009

Approximately 120-130 million years ago, one of the most significant events in the history of the Earth occurred: the first flowering plants, or angiosperms, arose. In the late 1800s, Darwin referred to their development as an "abominable mystery." To this day, scientists are still challenged by this "mystery" of how angiosperms originated, rapidly diversified, and rose to dominance. (See the January 2009 issue of the American Journal of Botany at www.amjbot.org/content/vol96/issue1.)

Studies of key features of angiosperm evolution, such as the evolution of the flower and development of the endosperm, have contributed to our current understanding of relationships among the early families of flowering plants. Examining the development of seeds and embryos among early angiosperms may help to improve our understanding of how flowering plants evolved from the nonflowering gymnosperms.

A recent study by Dr. Paula Rudall and colleagues published in the September issue of the AJB (www.amjbot.org/cgi/content/full/96/9/1581) explores a piece of this mystery: the microscopic anatomy of seed development in Trithuria, a genus in the plant family Hydatellaceae, thought to be one of the earliest families of angiospermsthe so-called "basal angiosperms."

Rudall and colleagues' observations of the development of the embryo and endosperm (tissue that surrounds the embryo and provides nutrition) in Trithuria suggest that double fertilization occurs. Double fertilization is a unique feature of flowering plants where one sperm nucleus unites with the egg, producing the embryo, while another sperm nucleus unites with a separate nucleus from the female, producing the endosperm. The endosperm is divided into two regionsthe micropylar and chalazal regions.

In Trithuria, the cells of the micropylar region divide man
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Contact: Richard Hund
rhund@botany.org
314-577-9557
American Journal of Botany
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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