Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A-maize-ing double life of a genome

15.07.2014

Early maize farmers selected for genes that improved the harvesting of sunlight, a new detailed study of how plants use 'doubles' of their genomes reveals. The findings could help current efforts to improve existing crop varieties.

Oxford University researchers captured a 'genetic snapshot' of maize as it existed 10 million years ago when the plant made a double of its genome – a 'whole genome duplication' event.

They then traced how maize evolved to use these 'copied' genes to cope with the pressures of domestication, which began around 12,000 years ago. They discovered that these copied genes were vital to optimising photosynthesis in maize leaves and that early farmers selecting for them 'fuelled' the transformation of maize into a high-yield crop.

A report of the research is published this week in the journal Genome Research.

'Although whole genome duplication events are widespread in plants finding evidence of exactly how plants use this new 'toolbox' of copied genes is very difficult,' said Dr Steve Kelly of Oxford University's Department of Plant Sciences, lead author of the report.

'With crops like wheat it's not yet possible for us to unravel the 'before and after' of the associated genetic changes, but with maize we can chart how these gene copies were first acquired, then put to work, and finally 'whittled down' to create the modern maize plant farmed today.'

It is particularly useful for such genetic detective work that close relatives of maize did not duplicate their genomes 10 million years ago: those that retained a single copy went on to become the plant we now know as sorghum. This enabled the researchers to compare genetic data from these 'duplicated' and 'non-duplicated' descendants of ancient maize, something that is not yet possible with other duplicated crops like wheat.

In the wild plants have to overcome the challenges posed by pathogens and predators in order to survive. However, once domestication by humans began plants grown as crops had to cope with a new set of artificial selection pressures, such as delivering a high yield and greater stress tolerance.

'Whole genome duplication events are key in allowing plants to evolve new abilities,' said Dr Kelly. 'Understanding the complete trajectory of duplication and how copied genes can transform a plant is relevant for current efforts to increase the photosynthetic efficiency of crops, such as the C4 Rice Project [c4rice.irri.org/].

Our study is great evidence that optimising photosynthesis is really important for creating high-yield crops and shows how human selection has 'sculpted' copies of genes to create one of the world's staple food sources.'

University of Oxford News Office | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.ox.ac.uk

Further reports about: Genome crops domestication farmers genes leaves maize photosynthesis pressures

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht No chance for house dust mites
06.05.2015 | Hohenstein Institute

nachricht Expedition Genomics Lab: the mobile revolution in genetic analysis
06.05.2015 | MUSE Museo delle Scienze

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spray drying the precision particle under the virtual magnifying glass

Spray drying is a common manufacturing process, used in the production of ceramic granulate for technical components or dental prostheses as well as dissolvable medicinal substances, food additives and in the processing of milk into powder. Using computer simulation methodology developed by scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM, a more comprehensible understanding can now be gained of the behavior of particles in solvent during the spray drying process. This allows powder and granulate manufacturers to specifically adjust the properties of their products while reducing waste.

Previously, it was unusual for granule and powder producers to use granulation simulations to improve their products. For new product development or process...

Im Focus: The random raman laser: A new light source for the microcosmos

Texas A&M University researchers demonstrate how a narrow-band strobe light source for speckle-free imaging has the potential to reveal microscopic forms of life

In modern microscope imaging techniques, lasers are used as light sources because they can deliver fast pulsed and extremely high-intensity radiation to a...

Im Focus: Pulsar with widest orbit ever detected

Discovered by high school research team

A team of highly determined high school students discovered a never-before-seen pulsar by painstakingly analyzing data from the National Science Foundation's...

Im Focus: Erosion, landslides and monsoon across the Himalaya

Scientists from Nepal, Switzerland and Germany was now able to show how erosion processes caused by the monsoon are mirrored in the sediment load of a river crossing the Himalaya.

In these days, it was again tragically demonstrated that the Himalayas are one of the most active geodynamic regions of the world. Landslides belong to the...

Im Focus: Through the galaxy by taxi - The Dream Chaser Space Utility Vehicle

A world-class prime systems integrator and electronic systems provider known for its rapid, innovative, and agile technology solutions, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is currently developing a new space transportation system called the Dream Chaser.

The ultimate aim is to construct a multi-mission-capable space utility vehicle, while accelerating the overall development process for this critical capability...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Green Summit 2015: the summit of the essential

05.05.2015 | Event News

HHL Energy Conference on May 11/12, 2015: Students Discuss about Decentralized Energy

23.04.2015 | Event News

“Developing our cities, preserving our planet”: Nobel Laureates gather for the first time in Asia

23.04.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Expedition Genomics Lab: the mobile revolution in genetic analysis

06.05.2015 | Life Sciences

How noise changes the way the brain gets information

06.05.2015 | Life Sciences

A model approach for sustainable phosphorus recovery from wastewater

06.05.2015 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>