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The origin of flowers: DNA of storied plant provides insight into the evolution of flowering plants
Date:12/19/2013

he 'core eudicots,' a huge group that comprises about 75 percent of all angiosperms. This group includes tomato, apple and legumes, as well as timber trees such as oak and poplar." As an evolutionary outsider to this diverse group, the Amborella genome allowed the researchers to estimate the linear order of genes in an ancestral eudicot genome and to infer lineage-specific changes that occurred over 120 million years of evolution in the core eudicot.

At the same time, Amborella seems to have acquired some unusual genomic characteristics since it split from the rest of the flowering plant tree of life. For example, DNA sequences that can change locations or multiply within the genome (transposable elements) seem to have stabilized in the Amborella genome. Most plants show evidence of recent bursts of this mobile DNA activity, "But Amborella is unique in that it does not seem to have acquired many new mobile sequences in the past several million years," stated Sue Wessler of the University of California-Riverside. "Insertion of some transposable elements can affect the expression and function of protein-coding genes, so the cessation of mobile DNA activity may have slowed the rate of evolution of both genome structure and gene function."

In addition to its utility in retrospective studies of the evolution of flowering plants, the Amborella genome sequence offers insights into the history and conservation of Amborella populations. There are only 18 known populations of this very special angiosperm in mountainous regions New Caledonia.

"Resequencing of individual Amborella plants across the species' range reveals geographic structure with conservation implications plus evidence of a recent, major genetic bottleneck," noted Pam Soltis of the University of Florida. A similar narrowing of genetic variation occurred when humans migrated from Africa to found modern-day Eurasian populations.


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Contact: Barbara K. Kennedy
science@psu.edu
814-863-4682
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3 4

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