Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

DNA sequencing unlocks relationships among flowering plants

24.02.2010
The origins of flowering plants from peas to oak trees are now in clearer focus thanks to the efforts of University of Florida researchers.

A study appearing online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences unravels 100 million years of evolution through an extensive analysis of plant genomes. It targets one of the major moments in plant evolution, when the ancestors of most of the world’s flowering plants split into two major groups.

Together the two groups make up nearly 70 percent of all flowering plants and are part of a larger clade known as Pentapetalae, which means five petals. Understanding how these plants are related is a large undertaking that could help ecologists better understand which species are more vulnerable to environmental factors such as climate change.

Shortly after the two groups split apart, they simultaneously embarked upon a rapid burst of new species that lasted 5 million years. This study shows how those species are related and sheds further light on the emergence of flowering plants, an evolutionary phenomenon described by Charles Darwin as an abominable mystery.

“This paper and others show flowering plants as layer after layer of bursts of evolution,” said Doug Soltis, study co-author and UF distinguished professor of biology. “Now it’s falling together into two big groups.”

Pentapetalae has enormous diversity and contains nearly all flowering plants. Its two major groups, superrosids and superasterids, split apart between 111 million and 98 million years ago and now account for more than 200,000 species. The superrosids include such familiar plants as hibiscus, oaks, cotton and roses. The superasterids include mint, azaleas, dogwoods and sunflowers.

Earlier studies were limited by technology and involved only four or five genes. Those studies hinted at the results found in the new study but lacked statistical support, said study co-author Pam Soltis, distinguished professor and Florida Museum of Natural History curator of molecular systematics and evolutionary genetics.

The new study at UF’s Florida Museum of Natural History analyzed 86 complete plastid genome sequences from a wide range of plant species. Plastids are the plant cell component responsible for photosynthesis.

Previous genetic analyses of Pentapetalae failed to untangle the relationships among living species, suggesting that the plants diverged rapidly over 5 million years. Researchers selected genomes to sequence based on their best guess of genetic relationships from the previous sequencing work.

Genome sequencing is more time-consuming for plants than animals because plastid DNA is about 10 times larger than the mitochondrial DNA used in studying animal genomes. But continual improvements in DNA sequencing technology are now allowing researchers to analyze those larger amounts of data more quickly.

The study provides an important framework for further investigating evolutionary relationships by providing a much clearer picture of the deep divergence that led to the split within flowering plants, which then led to speciation in the two separate branches.

Eventually, researchers hope to match these evolutionary bursts with geological and climatic events in the earth’s history. “I think we’re starting to get to a point with a dated tree where we could start looking at what was happening at some of those time frames,” Pam Soltis said.

Pam Soltis | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Plant mothers talk to their embryos via the hormone auxin
17.07.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

nachricht Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides
16.07.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Subaru Telescope helps pinpoint origin of ultra-high energy neutrino

16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides

16.07.2018 | Life Sciences

New research calculates capacity of North American forests to sequester carbon

16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>