Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Reveal Dwarf Aquatic Plants' Hidden Ancestry

Date:
March 19, 2007
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
A team of University of British Columbia researchers has re-classified an ancient line of aquatic plants previously thought to be related to grasses and rushes. The discovery clarifies what may be one of the biggest misunderstandings in botanical history.

Hydatella inconspicua (Hydatellaceae) from Lake Kai Iwi in New Zealand, 2006.
Credit: Justin Goh, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

A team of UBC researchers has re-classified an ancient line of aquatic plants previously thought to be related to grasses and rushes. The discovery clarifies what may be one of the biggest misunderstandings in botanical history.

"It's a classic case of mistaken identity," says Sean Graham, an associate professor and researcher with the UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. "And it took DNA sequence evidence coupled with a critical re-examination of anatomy to assign these plants to their proper place in the plant evolutionary family tree."

Graham and his PhD students Hardeep Rai and Jeffery Saarela, who is now a research scientist at the Canadian Museum of Nature, show that Hydatellaceae are actually closely related to water lilies. Their findings are published in this week's edition of the journal Nature.

Due to their narrow, pointed leaves, botanists had long viewed Hydatellaceae as monocots, a large and diverse group of flowering plants that includes the grasses, gingers and palms. By analyzing the plants at the molecular level, Graham's team has now determined that these moss-size plants are instead part of an older line of flowering plants that includes the water lilies. This ancient line split off the main trunk of the family tree of flowering plants soon after they began to diversify, at least 135 million years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs.

Fully grown individuals in the Hydatellaceae family can be as small as 1-2 centimetres in height, and have dozens of minute flowers clustered into each compact flower head.

Native to Australia, New Zealand and India, they thrive in seasonal freshwater pools and swamps, and may blossom underwater at depths of up to one metre, or as the pools dry out.

"For more than a century, scientists have been piecing together the details of the rapid rise and early diversification of flowering plants," says Graham. "Discovering this living plant's ancient heritage makes us re-evaluate our understanding of early flowering-plant evolution. For botanists, this is like finding something you thought was a lizard is actually a living dinosaur."

Graham led the project with researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, Australia, the University of Zurich, Harvard University, and the University of California, Davis.

"This provides a major piece in the puzzle of flowering-plant origins -- something Charles Darwin once termed an 'abominable mystery' -- by revealing that some of the earliest evolutionary branches were more diverse then we once thought."

The project was also supported by the UBC Dept. of Botany and UBC Biodiversity Research Centre.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Researchers Reveal Dwarf Aquatic Plants' Hidden Ancestry." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070314153209.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2007, March 19). Researchers Reveal Dwarf Aquatic Plants' Hidden Ancestry. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070314153209.htm
University of British Columbia. "Researchers Reveal Dwarf Aquatic Plants' Hidden Ancestry." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070314153209.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) 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