"We were surprised at the speed at which patterns seemed to form in which genes show loss versus retention," said lead author Richard Buggs of Queen Mary University of London, who worked on the study as a postdoctoral researcher at the Florida Museum.
Soltis said one possible mechanism of gene loss may be linked with changes in chromosome structure, an occurrence documented in a study published Jan. 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. By further researching the connection between specific gene losses and chromosomal changes, researchers hope to better understand how these patterns affect fertility and physical characteristics of hybrid plants.
"Hybridization and chromosome doubling have played a major role in the evolution of flowering plants, and Tragopogon miscellus gives us an amazing window into this process," said study co-author Doug Soltis, a distinguished professor in UF's biology department.
The polyploid's two parent species, Tragopogon dubius and Tragopogon pratensis, were introduced to the U.S. in the 1920s. Because their flowers only bloom for a few hours in the morning, Tragopogon plants are often referred to as "John-go-to-bed-at-noon." It looks like a daisy except for being yellow in color.
Researchers analyzed genes from five natural populations of T. miscellus, as well as polyploid plants re-created in UF greenhouses. The DNA was extracted from the leaf tissue.
"Although Tragopogon miscellus is perfectly positioned to allow examination of genome evolution after hybridization, it is not a traditional research model organism and virtually none of the tools and resources that allow these types of studies had been developed for it," said co-author Brad Barbazuk, a UF associate professor in biol
|Contact: Pam Soltis|
University of Florida