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UF study: 'Rules' may govern genome evolution in young plant species
Date:1/19/2012

GAINESVILLE, Fla. A new University of Florida study shows a hybrid plant species may experience rapid genome evolution in predictable patterns, meaning evolution repeats itself in populations of independent origin.

Researchers analyzed genes of a naturally occurring hybrid species, Tragopogon miscellus, and the study, published online today in Current Biology, suggests genome evolution in hybrid plants may follow a set of "rules" that determine which parental genes are lost. The research may be used to create higher and more stable yields in other hybrid polyploid plants, including agricultural crops such as wheat, corn, coffee and apples.

"The repeatability of gene loss in populations of separate origin is a really exciting result," said co-author Pam Soltis, distinguished professor and curator of molecular systematics and evolutionary genetics at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. "Scientists have often wondered if there are 'rules' that govern patterns of evolution, and data for Tragopogon polyploids suggest that such rules may actually operate at the genetic level."

Scientists analyzed about 70 of the hybrid plants commonly known as goatsbeard, a species in the daisy family that originated in the northwestern U.S. about 80 years ago. The new species formed naturally when two plants introduced from Europe mated to produce a hybrid offspring, and hybridization was accompanied by polyploidy, or whole genome duplication. Following a polyploidy event, the hybrid offspring contains twice the number of chromosomes, totaling 24.

Researchers compared the patterns of gene loss in the hybrid to patterns of gene loss in other species from the same family that experienced an ancient polyploidy event about 40 million years ago, and found similar results. The data support an evolutionary hypothesis that genes whose products interact closely with other gene products are more likely to be maintai
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Contact: Pam Soltis
psoltis@flmnh.ufl.edu
352-359-0558
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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