Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genes responsible for difference in flower color of snapdragons identified

09.10.2018

Two colors of snapdragons separated by sweeps and barriers -- study published in PNAS

Snapdragons are charming tall plants, and flower in a range of bright colors. In Spain, where snapdragons grow wild, these flower colors show a remarkable pattern: When driving up a road from Barcelona to the Pyrenees, snapdragons of the species Antirrhinum majus bloom in magenta at the beginning of the road, before a population of yellow flowering snapdragons takes over - separated by just a two kilometer long stretch in which flower colors mix.


Antirrhinum plants

Credit: David Field

Such hybrid zones of snapdragons are quite infrequent; only a few others are known. But why don't the snapdragons mix, with yellow and magenta flowers growing together over a wide area?

Nick Barton at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria), together with David Field, previously postdoc in Barton's group and now Assistant Professor at the University of Vienna, collaborated with molecular geneticists at the John Innes Center in Norwich to investigate the causes of this pattern. Writing in today's edition of PNAS, the scientists report that they identified the genes responsible for flower color difference from DNA sequence data.

... more about:
»DNA »DNA sequence »flower »genes »sequence »snapdragons

"DNA sequencing is becoming cheaper and cheaper. But analyzing sequence data and interpreting the patterns seen is very hard", Nick Barton explains, "In this study, we used sequence data from Antirrhinum plants to locate the individual genes which are responsible for the difference in flower color across the hybrid zone."

The researchers compared the genome sequence of 50 snapdragons of each color, and measured how much the sequences diverged between magenta and yellow snapdragon populations. By plotting a statistical measure of divergence between the two populations, they found "islands" in the genome which are more divergent between yellow and magenta snapdragons than the rest of the genome.

In the snapdragons, these islands correspond to genes responsible for flower color. The recent paper focuses on two of those genes, which determine the magenta pigment, and are located close together on the genome.

How the sharp difference between yellow and magenta populations is maintained was the subject of the PhD thesis by Tom Ellis in Nick Barton's lab. Through observations both in the field and in experiments at IST Austria, he found that bees prefer to pollinate the most common color flowers in a population: in magenta populations, bees mostly pollinate magenta flowers, in yellow populations, bees mostly pollinate yellow flowers. This selection in favour of the commonest type keeps the hybrid zone sharp, and prevents exchange of genes that are linked to the flower color genes.

In the current study, the researchers wanted to know how the two snapdragon populations become different. They found two reasons why the snapdragon populations diverge at the flower color genes. Firstly, selection has favoured new variants at the color genes that make the flowers more attractive to bees - causing these genes to sweep through the population, and leaving a sharp signal in the DNA sequences.

Secondly, the flower genes become barriers to gene exchange. Any genes located close to or even between the flower genes cannot easily be swapped between the populations, and so the region of genome around the genes that determine flower color become divergent.

"Even with abundant DNA sequence data, it is often difficult to find exactly why species are different. Our study is the culmination of years of work, combining fieldwork and population genetics with genetic crosses, and analysis of gene expression", explains Nick Barton.

###

About IST Austria

The Institute of Science and Technology (IST Austria) is a PhD-granting research institution located in Klosterneuburg, 18 km from the center of Vienna, Austria. Inaugurated in 2009, the Institute is dedicated to basic research in the natural and mathematical sciences. IST Austria employs professors on a tenure-track system, postdoctoral fellows, and doctoral students. While dedicated to the principle of curiosity-driven research, the Institute owns the rights to all scientific discoveries and is committed to promote their use. The first president of IST Austria is Thomas A. Henzinger, a leading computer scientist and former professor at the University of California in Berkeley, USA, and the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. The graduate school of IST Austria offers fully-funded PhD positions to highly qualified candidates with a bachelor's or master's degree in biology, neuroscience, mathematics, computer science, physics, and related areas. http://www.ist.ac.at

Elisabeth Guggenberger | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1801832115

Further reports about: DNA DNA sequence flower genes sequence snapdragons

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Big discoveries about tiny particles
09.10.2018 | University of Delaware

nachricht Cleaning, but safely! Cocoons protect sensitive ant brood during toxic disinfection
09.10.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers discover how fatal biofilms form

By severely curtailing the effects of antibiotics, the formation of organized communities of bacterial cells known as biofilms can be deadly during surgeries and in urinary tract infections. Yale researchers have just come a lot closer to understanding how these biofilms develop, and potentially how to stop them.

Biofilms form when bacterial cells gather and develop structures that bond them in a gooey substance. This glue can protect the cells from the outside world...

Im Focus: Flying High with VCSEL Heating

Additive manufacturing processes are booming, with the rapid growth of the formnext trade fair a clear indication of this. At formnext 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be showing a new process in which the component in the powder bed is heated with laser diodes. As a result, distortion can be reduced, taller parts generated and new materials used.

In just three years, formnext has established itself as the industry meeting place to get the latest on additive manufacturing (AM) processes. With 470...

Im Focus: Breakthrough in quantum physics: Reaction of quantum fluid to photoexcitation of dissolved particles

Researchers from Graz University of Technology have described for the first time the dynamics which takes place within a trillionth of a second after photoexcitation of a single atom inside a superfluid helium nanodroplet.

In his research, Markus Koch, Associate Professor at the Institute of Experimental Physics of Graz University of Technology (TU Graz), concentrates on...

Im Focus: Chemists of TU Dresden develop highly porous material, more precious than diamonds

World Record of Cavities

Porosity is the key to high-performance materials for energy storage systems, environmental technologies or catalysts: The more porous a solid state material...

Im Focus: New function of “kidney-gene”: WT1 plays a role in the central nervous system and controls movement

The WT1 gene fulfills a central role in the development of a healthy, proper functioning kidney. Mutations in WT1 lead to impairments in kidney development and cause Wilms tumors, a pediatric kidney cancer. Researchers of the Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI) in Jena have now discovered a further important function of WT1. It is also active outside the kidneys in the central nervous system and is involved in controlling movement. If the gene is missing in the spinal cord, locomotor aberrancies occur. The results have now been published in Life Science Alliance.

Transcription factor WT1 (Wilms tumor 1) has been known for nearly 30 years and it is significantly involved in the development of a healthy and properly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

5th International Conference on Cellular Materials (CellMAT), Scientific Programme online

02.10.2018 | Event News

Major Project: The New Silk Road

01.10.2018 | Event News

"Boston calling": TU Berlin and the Weizenbaum Institute organize a conference in USA

21.09.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Metal leads to the desired configuration

09.10.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Improving paleotemperature reconstruction: Swiss lakes as a model system

09.10.2018 | Life Sciences

Satiety in 3D

09.10.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>