GAINESVILLE, Fla. University of Florida researchers are part of a nationwide team preparing to open a door into better understanding plant evolution by sequencing the genome of the single living sister species to all other flowering plants.
The information on Amborella trichopoda, a large shrub found only on the South Pacific island of New Caledonia, will help researchers understand how flowering plants diversified over time and provide insight into the key processes that have driven the formation of the world's ecosystems.
A consortium of five universities will share the complex task of unlocking the plant's genetic secrets as part of the $7.3 million project funded by the National Science Foundation. The work at UF is a collaborative effort among researchers at the Florida Museum of Natural History, the department of biology and the UF Genetics Institute.
"This plant shares a common ancestor with the first flowering plants, which places it in a unique evolutionary position," said Pam Soltis, project co-investigator and distinguished professor and curator of molecular systematics and evolutionary genetics at UF's Florida Museum. "The information from the project will allow researchers to determine whether a specific gene or process is unique to a particular plant or goes back to the beginnings of angiosperm evolution. This will enhance efforts to improve agriculture and forestry by giving plant biologists a reference point for understanding all other flowering plant genomes."
The Pennsylvania State University is the lead institution on the four-year project, which also involves the University of Arizona, the University at Buffalo and the University of Georgia.
Over the relatively short time span of 130 million years, angiosperms, or flowering plants, have diversified into more than 300,000 species, covering nearly all terrestrial habitats and many aquatic ones.
"This genome will tell us about the e
|Contact: Pam Soltis|
University of Florida