Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Flowering plant study 'catches evolution in the act'

Date:
March 18, 2011
Source:
University of Florida
Summary:
A new study shows when two flowering plants are crossed to produce a new hybrid, the new species' genes are reset, allowing for greater genetic variation.

A new UF study published March 17, 2011 in Current Biology uses this hybrid species, Tragopogon miscellus, to understand evolutionary patterns of flowering plants. Sometimes referred to as "John-go-to-bed-at-noon," the flower of the plant only blooms for a few hours in the morning.
Credit: Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Jeff Gage

A new University of Florida study shows when two flowering plants are crossed to produce a new hybrid, the new species' genes are reset, allowing for greater genetic variation.

Related Articles


Researchers say the study, to be published March 17 in Current Biology, could lead to a better understanding of how to best grow more stable and higher yielding agricultural crops.

"We caught evolution in the act," said Doug Soltis, a distinguished professor in UF's biology department and study co-author. "New and diverse patterns of gene expression may allow the new species to rapidly adapt in new environments."

The study shows the new plant species had relaxed control of gene expression in its earliest generations. But today, after 80 years of evolution, control has been regained, allowing for the production of different patterns of gene expression in different plants. The new species was remade in UF greenhouses as well as studied in its natural habitat.

Researchers analyzed Tragopogon miscellus, a species in the daisy family that originated naturally through hybridization in the northwest U.S. about 80 years ago. The new species formed when two species introduced from Europe mated to produce a hybrid offspring. The species mated before in Europe, but the hybrids were never successful. However, in America something new happened -- the number of chromosomes in the hybrid spontaneously doubled, and at once it became larger than its parents and quickly spread.

"No one had extended this to natural populations and the rapidity at which this can occur, and that's pretty astonishing," said Jonathan Wendel, professor and chairman of the department of ecology, evolution, and organismal biology at Iowa State University. "That species is such a beautiful model for that."

Hybridization with chromosome doubling is a prominent mode of species formation and through this study scientists can better understand how different plant groups originated.

"Understanding the impacts this process has on genome structure may help understand how best to breed crops for high and stable yields," said study co-author Pat Schnable, director of the Center for Plant Genomics at Iowa State University.

Before discovering their relaxed gene expression, the team had expected the artificial hybrids to exhibit a combination of the parents' genes, said study co-author Pam Soltis, curator of molecular systematics and evolutionary genetics at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.

"What we found was a surprise," said lead author Richard Buggs of Queen Mary University of London, who worked on the study as a postdoctoral researcher at the Florida Museum. "It's as if hybridization and chromosome doubling hit a reset button on gene expression, turning them all on -- this could allow subsequent generations to experiment by switching off different genes."

The expression of the hybrid plant's genes in all tissues at all times allowed natural selection to shape what would emerge generations later, Pam Soltis said. With this form of hybridization, there is the opportunity for parental patterns to be equalized, as if the hybrid has a fresh chance to exhibit a wide variety of genetic expressions over time.

Its two parent species, Tragopogon dubius and Tragopogon pratensis, were introduced to the U.S. in the 1920s. The researchers started making the artificial hybrids in 2004 and the plants take about one year to grow from seed to being able to produce seeds, Pam Soltis said.

"Tragopogon miscellus is unique because we actually know when it originated," Pam Soltis said. "Museum collections tell us when the parent species were introduced, allowing us to infer the age of the hybrid species."

The researchers studied 144 duplicated gene pairs from the 40-generation-old Tragopogon miscellus, whose common name is goatsbeard. Because the flower of the plant only blooms for a few hours in the morning, it is often referred to as "John-go-to-bed-at-noon." It looks like a daisy except for being either purple or yellow in color.

"The Soltises are showing at the genetic level how this really important process of genome doubling generates new biological diversity," Wendel said. "This leads to new questions and the design of new experiments that can help us understand the ecological and evolutionary consequences of the genetic changes they're observing."

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and co-authors include Linjing Zhang of Shanxi Normal University, formerly with UF; Jennifer Tate of Massey University, formerly with UF; Nicholas Miles and Brad Barbazuk of UF; and Lu Gao, Wu Wei and Patrick Schnable of Iowa State University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Florida. The original article was written by Danielle Torrent. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Richard J.A. Buggs, Linjing Zhang, Nicholas Miles, Jennifer A. Tate, Lu Gao, Wu Wei, Patrick S. Schnable, W. Brad Barbazuk, Pamela S. Soltis, and Douglas E. Soltis. Transcriptomic Shock Generates Evolutionary Novelty in a Newly Formed, Natural Allopolyploid Plant. Current Biology, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.02.016

Cite This Page:

University of Florida. "Flowering plant study 'catches evolution in the act'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110317131034.htm>.
University of Florida. (2011, March 18). Flowering plant study 'catches evolution in the act'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110317131034.htm
University of Florida. "Flowering plant study 'catches evolution in the act'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110317131034.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
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