Navigation Links
Study of flower petals shows evolution at the cellular level
Date:11/17/2011

A new study of flower petals shows evolution in action, and contradicts more that 60 years of scientific thought.

The findings are reported by a scientist from UC Santa Barbara and a research team from Harvard University in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B this week.

Columbine flowers, known as Aquilegia, evolved several lengths of petal spurs that match the tongue lengths of their pollinators, including bees, hummingbirds, and hawkmoths. The petal spurs are shaped like a tubular pocket and contain nectar at the tip. The spurs grow from 1 to 16 centimeters in length, depending on the species.

The research team discovered that longer spurs result from the lengthening of cells in one direction, called anisotropy, and not from an increased number of cells. This finding contradicts decades of scientific thinking that assumed the elongated petals form via continued cell divisions.

"When we went in and looked at this in detail, we found that even the super-long-spurred flower doesn't differ much in cell number from the short-spurred one," said Scott A. Hodges, professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at UCSB.

He said that most studies of shape, particularly of leaves and of some flower parts, have focused their attention primarily on genes controlling cell division. "What this study is saying is that you don't want to just look at those kinds of characteristics; here's this whole other way to produce a tremendous amount of shape diversity without involving cell divisions," said Hodges.

In long-spurred plants, the spurs reach the same length at the same point in time as the short-spurred flowers, but they keep on growing, said Hodges. The rest of the flower has to wait for the spurs to lengthen. Until then, the pollen can't be released and the ovules are not ready to be fertilized. The flower has to stop that part of development while the spurs grow. Then, almost a week later, those flowers become reproductive, after the spurs have grown longer.

The evolution of petal spurs in columbines is considered a textbook example of adaptive radiation. Like Darwin's finches, over time, the columbines evolved a variety of species to exploit different ecological niches. The short-spurred columbines can be easily pollinated by bees. Hummingbirds have long beaks and tongues and can pollinate flowers with spurs of medium length. Hawkmoths have very long tongues and can pollinate columbines with the longest spurs, such as Aquilegia longissima.


'/>"/>

Contact: Gail Gallessich
gail.g@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Long-term study shows effect of climate change on animal diversity
2. £2 million study to reveal workings of dementia genes
3. New study looks to define evangelicals and how they affect polling
4. CU-Boulder study suggests air quality regulations miss key pollutants
5. Researchers study acoustic communication in deep-sea fish
6. Study reveals homeowner perceptions in fire-prone areas
7. Researchers study how pistachios may improve heart health
8. Study: urban black bears live fast, die young
9. New study indicates link between weight gains during pregnancy and dieting history
10. Study reveals specific gene in adolescent men with delinquent peers
11. Sweat it out: UH study examines ability of sweat patches to monitor bone loss
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/14/2017)... 14, 2017  Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center today ... chief executive officer (CEO). Freischlag joins the medical center ... McConnell , M.D., who last year announced that he ... Center, after leading it since 2008.   ... Wake Forest Baptist,s academic health system, which includes Wake ...
(Date:2/13/2017)... 2017 Former 9/11 Commission border counsel and ... Janice Kephart of Identity Strategy Partners, LLP, today ... "Executive Order: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist ... "As President Trump,s ,Travel Ban, Executive Order gains ... banned the travel ban, it is important that our ...
(Date:2/9/2017)... -- The biomass boiler market report by Transparency Market ... globally in terms of revenue (US$ Mn) based on ... biomass boilers has been segmented on the basis of ... market based on feedstock type, has been segmented into ... crops, urban residues, and others. On the basis of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/20/2017)... ... February 20, 2017 , ... Cancer diagnostics and ... Oncology™” (Crosswalk), a unique precision medicine knowledge visualization and decision support platform. ... Inspirata’s diagnostic cockpit and is downloadable as an app for any mobile device ...
(Date:2/20/2017)... , ... February 20, 2017 ... ... therapeutic success among radiotherapy patients, prevent chest wall collapses in pre-term infants ... alignments will receive a total of $600,000 in funding through the ninth ...
(Date:2/20/2017)... NFL players who had repeated head injuries may not have ... a preliminary study released today that will be presented at ... Boston , April 22 to 28, 2017.   ... and nerves work together, like walking, kicking and writing. ... Repeated head ...
(Date:2/20/2017)... Fla. , Feb. 20, 2017  Atrius Health ... today entered into an agreement to develop a ... experience. By providing a holistic view of the ... determinants, Watson Cognitive Insights could be designed to ... Atrius Health is an innovative nonprofit healthcare organization ...
Breaking Biology Technology: