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.

Related Articles


"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 December 19, 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 December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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