Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Discover Gene That Could Be Key In Evolution Of Hardwoods

Date:
July 12, 2001
Source:
Michigan Technological University
Summary:
Researchers at Michigan Technological University have discovered a gene that may have played a key role in the evolution of hardwood trees such as oaks and maples. Their work is featured on the cover of the July 11 issue of The Plant Cell.

Researchers at Michigan Technological University have discovered a gene that may have played a key role in the evolution of hardwood trees such as oaks and maples. Their work is featured on the cover of the July 11 issue of The Plant Cell.

Related Articles


Millions of years ago, gymnosperms--including conifers such as pines and redwoods--were the only type of plants on earth. Then angiosperms--the flowering plants--appeared, among them hardwood trees.

While angiosperms are considered more advanced than gymnosperms, their origins largely remain a mystery. At least a part of that mystery may now be solved, thanks to the work of the lead author, Dr. Laigen Li, and researchers at the Plant Biotechnology Research Center in Michigan Tech’s School of Forestry and Wood Products.

The Michigan Tech researchers, including Dr. Vincent Chiang, the center’s director, have described the genetic pathway used to create syringyl lignin, a type of lignin that is unique to angiosperms. Lignin is found in all trees and is the substance that makes them stiff. But in gymnosperms, also known as softwoods, only guaiacyl lignin is present. In hardwoods, both guaiacyl and syringyl lignin are found.

The researchers identified and, for the first time, cloned a gene from aspen, an angiosperm, which they suspected was responsible for producing syringyl lignin. They introduced the gene into E. coli bacteria, and found that it produced a protein with a very specific purpose: It assembled hardwoods' syringyl lignin.

For years, most scientists have believed that another gene controlled the production of both lignin types. "But we thought it didn't make sense for plants to evolve new proteins and still use the old gene," Chiang said. "Our discovery of a syringyl-specific gene overturns that traditional model; it's been very exciting."

The researchers also have identified two characteristics of syringyl lignin that could give hardwoods an evolutionary advantage. Before angiosperms appeared, the function of lignin in plants was primarily to conduct water and other nutrients. In angiosperms, however, syringyl lignin took on an important mechanical role, serving as the "skeleton" for angiosperm trees. In addition, Chiang notes, the syringyl lignin molecule includes additional methoxyl (H3CO) groups that the researchers suspect increase its toxicity. A tree with this type of lignin could be less vulnerable to disease, Chiang said.

###The article, "The Last Step of Syringyl Monolignol Biosynthese in Angiosperms Is Regulated by a Novel Gene Encoding Sinapyl Alcohol Dehydrogenase," is the first on the subject of a tree species to appear in The Plant Cell since the journal was first published twelve years ago. In addition to Li and Chiang, the coauthors are Dr. Xio Fei Cheng and Dr. Scott Harding of Michigan Tech, Dr. Jacqueline Leshkevich, formerly of Michigan Tech, and Toshiaki Umezawa of Kyoto University.

For more information, see ... The Plant Cell Web Site: http://www.plantcell.org


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan Technological University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan Technological University. "Researchers Discover Gene That Could Be Key In Evolution Of Hardwoods." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 July 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/07/010712080539.htm>.
Michigan Technological University. (2001, July 12). Researchers Discover Gene That Could Be Key In Evolution Of Hardwoods. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/07/010712080539.htm
Michigan Technological University. "Researchers Discover Gene That Could Be Key In Evolution Of Hardwoods." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/07/010712080539.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins