Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Evolution experiments with flowers

Date:
December 30, 2009
Source:
NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research)
Summary:
Evolution uses every chance it gets to try something new. Researchers have now investigated how petunia flowers are formed and discovered that nature is even more varied than the naked eye can spot. The genes involved in flower formation can function differently in different species. Evolution has discovered a system that works, but within that system it continues to innovate.

A flowerbed of petunias. Although the petunia flower structure is similar to that of Arabidopsis thaliana, there are considerable differences in how the flowers of these plants are formed.
Credit: iStockphoto

Evolution uses every chance it gets to try something new. Dutch researcher Anneke Rijpkema investigated how petunia flowers are formed and discovered that nature is even more varied than the naked eye can spot. The genes involved in flower formation can function differently in different species. Evolution has discovered a system that works, but within that system it continues to innovate.

Up until now, research into the regulation of flower formation focused mostly on two model species: Arabidopsis and Anthirrhinum. Yet according to Rijpkema that is not enough to gain a complete picture. She investigated Petunia hybrida, related to plants such as the tomato and potato. Although the petunia flower structure is similar to that of Arabidopsis thaliana, there are considerable differences in how the flowers of these plants are formed. The result is more or less the same, yet in the process preceding this there are considerable differences. So there is even more variation in the natural world than the naked eye can spot.

Rijpkema analysed which genes are responsible for the flower formation in petunia. She did this, for example, by examining mutants: flowers in which a gene no longer functions, as a result of which they acquire a different appearance. This enabled her to determine the exact function of each gene. The developmental biologist discovered, for example, that gene duplication -- the process in which two or more copies of a gene are made -- plays a major role in the development of variation in flower development.

Petunias, tomatoes and gerberas

Besides unveiling how evolution works in plants, Rijpkema's research also reveals how plants function now. This is particularly interesting for breeders. Knowledge of flower formation can enable them to change a plant. Furthermore, knowledge about the petunia can also provide insights about related plant species such as the potato and tomato.

Rijpkema carried out her research at Radboud University Nijmegen with a grant from NWO. In 2008, she received a Rubicon grant from NWO to carry out research at the University of Helsinki. This time she is working on gerberas.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). "Evolution experiments with flowers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029150610.htm>.
NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). (2009, December 30). Evolution experiments with flowers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029150610.htm
NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). "Evolution experiments with flowers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029150610.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A U.S. doctor has tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus, as the worst-ever outbreak continues to grow. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The New York Times has officially endorsed the legalization of marijuana, but why now, and to what end? 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:
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