GPC Members Login
If you have any problems or have forgotten your login please contact [email protected]

Flowers' genome duplication contributes to their spectacular diversity

The evolution of plants has been punctuated by major innovations, none more striking among living plants than the flower.

The discovery that all flowering plants underwent a doubling of their genome at some point during their evolution has led to speculation that this duplication event triggered the diversification of this spectacular lineage, but the timing of this event has remained difficult to pin down.

Genome duplications provide a second copy of every single gene on which selection can act, potentially leading to new forms and greater diversity.

This process leads to the formation of large families of genes -- we can examine the history of duplication in gene families in the genomes of all major groups of plants and then look to the rate of change in their DNA sequences in relation to the evidence presented by the plant fossil record. This provides us with a 'molecular clock', with which we can date evolutionary events.

James Clark from the University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences, led the research.

He said: "We have found that, based on the signal of these gene families, the timing of this duplication does not support a direct role as a 'trigger' for flowering plant evolution.

"Rather, the duplication seems to have occurred at least 50 million years prior to the diversification of flowering plants.

"These results suggest that if the duplication had any impact on flowering plant evolution, then it may have been more of a 'long fuse' that may have paved the way for later innovations and diversification, rather than directly causing them."

Genome duplication undoubtedly had some role to play in the evolution of plants, and these findings highlight the need to carefully consider exactly when each duplication occurred.

Professor Philip Donoghue, also from the University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences, co-authored the research.

He said: "Genome duplications are rare events, but they have often occurred at major turning points in evolutionary history, including in our own deep evolutionary history.

"Our approach will allow us and other scientists to get to the bottom of the relationship between genome duplication and evolutionary success."

Read the paper: Constraining the timing of whole genome duplication in plant evolutionary history.

Article source: University of Bristol.

Image credit: University of Bristol


Climate change risk for half of plant and animal species in biodiversity hotspots

Up to half of plant and animal species in the world's most naturally rich areas, such as the Amazon and the Galapagos, could face local extinction by the turn of the century due to climate change if carbon emissions continue to rise unchecked.

Flood, drought and disease tolerant -- one gene to rule them all

An international collaboration between researchers at the University of Copenhagen, Nagoya University and the University of Western Australia has resulted in a breakthrough in plant biology. Since 2014, the researchers have worked on identifying the genetic background for the improved flood tolerance observed in rice, wheat and several natural wetland plants. In a New Phytologist, article, the researchers describe the discovery of a single gene that controls the surface properties of rice, rendering the leaves superhydrophobic.

Plants overcome hunger with the aid of autophagy

Researchers at Tohoku University have found that plants activate autophagy in their leaf cells to derive amino acids that are used for survival under energy-starved "hunger" conditions. The findings show that amino acid utilization in plants can be controlled by the manipulation of autophagy.