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Tree of life for flowering plants reveals relationships among major groups
Date:11/26/2007

istory is an abominable mystery.

One of the reasons why it has been hard to understand evolutionary relationships among the major groups of flowering plants is because they diversified over such a short time frame, said Jansen.

But by analyzing DNA sequences from completely sequenced chloroplast genomes, the scientists brought some clarity to the evolutionary picture.

Jansen and his colleagues at The University of Texas at Austin analyzed DNA sequences of 81 genes from the chloroplast genome of 64 species of plants, while the Florida researchers analyzed 61 genes from 45 species. The two groups also performed a combined analysis, which produced evolutionary trees that included all of the major groups of flowering plants.

As for the diversifications cause, it remains mysterious, Pam and Doug Soltis said.

Its possible it was spurred by some major climatic event. Its also possible that a new evolutionary trait a more efficient water-conducting cell that transfers water up plant stemsproved so effective that it spurred massive plant growth. This cell type is not present in the first three flowering plant lineages, said Doug Soltis, professor of botany at Florida.


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Contact: Robert Jansen
jansen@mail.utexas.edu
512-232-5667
University of Texas at Austin  
Source:Eurekalert

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