Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Water Lily May Provide A "Missing Link" In The Evolution Of Flowering Plants

Date:
January 31, 2002
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
One of the great mysteries of evolutionary biology is how, 150 or more million years ago, modern-day angiosperms (flowering plants) diverged from their closest relatives, the gymnosperms (seed-bearing plants without flowers, such as pine trees with pine cones). A developmental study of the water lily, Nuphar polysepalum, may provide an important clue.

One of the great mysteries of evolutionary biology is how, 150 or more million years ago, modern-day angiosperms (flowering plants) diverged from their closest relatives, the gymnosperms (seed-bearing plants without flowers, such as pine trees with pine cones). A developmental study of the water lily, Nuphar polysepalum, may provide an important clue.

Joseph Williams and William Friedman of the University of Colorado report their National Science Foundation (NSF) supported findings in the January 31 issue of the journal Nature. “This is a significant first-time discovery because now we are a big step closer to understanding the evolution of flowering plants,” says Erik Nilsen, the NSF project officer.

An established and distinguishing feature of flowering plants is that each seed consists of two parts:

1) an embryo that is similar to that of all other plants, and

2) a unique tissue called the “endosperm”, which functions to nourish the embryo and which most people know as “grain”.

Virtually all angiosperms have endosperm that is “triploid”, that is, it contains three copies of each chromosome: two from the mother and one from the father’s sperm. This triploid endosperm contrasts dramatically with the seeds of gymnosperms, in which the nourishing tissue is “haploid” containing a single copy of each chromosome. “The question of how endosperm originated, in an evolutionary sense, has perplexed biologists for over a century,” states Friedman.

Williams and Friedman focused on the water lily family because fossil records and recent molecular analyses place it among the most ancient of flowering plants.

They measured DNA contents of embryo and endosperm cells using fluorescence microscopy to discover that the water lily has a diploid endosperm, with one set of chromosomes each from the mother and the father. Thus, the diploid water lily endosperm may represent an intermediate form between haploid gymnosperms and triploid angiosperms.

Understanding the origin and genetic constitution of endosperm is critical to improving the world’s food supply. Two-thirds of the calories that people consume come from endosperm filled seeds of wheat, corn, rice and barley – all of which are flowering plants.

“Humans co-opted endosperm from its original purpose of nourishing the plant embryo to one that essentially feeds the world,” notes Friedman. Williams adds, “Every major civilization (except for that of the Maoris, a people indigenous to New Zealand) originated on the back of triploid endosperm.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Water Lily May Provide A "Missing Link" In The Evolution Of Flowering Plants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020131074924.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2002, January 31). Water Lily May Provide A "Missing Link" In The Evolution Of Flowering Plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020131074924.htm
National Science Foundation. "Water Lily May Provide A "Missing Link" In The Evolution Of Flowering Plants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020131074924.htm (accessed August 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) The discovery of a bear cub in the Pyrenees mountains made headlines in April 2014. Despire several attempts to find the animal's mother, the cub remained alone. Now, the Pyrenees Conservation Foundation has constructed an enclosure. Duration: 00:31 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Health officials are working to fast-track a vaccine — the West-African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 700. But why didn't we already have one? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) A rare whale fossil has been pulled from a Southern California backyard. The 16- to 17-million-year-old baleen whale fossil is one of about 20 baleen whale fossils known to exist. (Aug. 1) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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