Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Selaginella genome adds piece to plant evolutionary puzzle

Date:
May 6, 2011
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
A sequencing of the Selaginella moellendorffii (spikemoss) genome -- the first for a non-seed vascular plant -- is expected to give scientists a better understanding of how plants of all kinds evolved over the past 500 million years and could open new doors for the identification of new pharmaceuticals.

Jody Banks led the effort to sequence the genome of Selaginella, seen through a shade screen that allows it to be grown in greenhouses here. Selaginella is the first plant of its kind, a lycophyte, to have its genome sequenced.
Credit: Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell

A Purdue University-led sequencing of the Selaginella moellendorffii (spikemoss) genome -- the first for a non-seed vascular plant -- is expected to give scientists a better understanding of how plants of all kinds evolved over the past 500 million years and could open new doors for the identification of new pharmaceuticals.

Jody Banks, a professor of botany and plant pathology, led a team of about 100 scientists from 11 countries to sequence the genome of Selaginella, a lycophyte. Lycophytes, which are the oldest living vascular plants, shed spores to reproduce and have a single vascular vein through their leaves, as opposed to more complex vascular plants.

"There are only three families and about 1,000 species of lycophytes remaining. Selaginella has been on Earth about 200 million years," said Banks, whose findings were published in the journal Science. "This plant is a survivor. It has a really long history and it hasn't really changed much over time. When you burn coal, you're burning the Carboniferous relatives of these plants."

Banks said the Selaginella genome, with about 22,300 genes, is relatively small. Scientists also discovered that Selaginella is the only known plant not to have experienced a polyploidy event, in which it creates one or more extra sets of chromosomes.

Selaginella also is missing genes known in other plants to control flowering, phase changes from juvenile plants to adults and other functions.

"It does these in a totally unknown way," Banks said.

Banks said Selaginella's genome would help scientists understand how its genes give the plant some of its unique characteristics. The genome also will help them understand how Selaginella and other plants are evolutionarily connected.

In comparing this genome sequence with others, researchers were able to identify genes that are present only in vascular plants and genes present only in flowering plants. These genes likely played important roles in the early evolution of vascular and flowering plants, respectively. Many of these genes have unknown functions, but it is likely that those genes that are present only in flowering plants may function in the development of fruits and seeds, which are important to agriculture.

"For many plant genes, we have no idea what their function is," Banks said. "Knowing this gives us ideas. It's an important piece of the puzzle in understanding how plants evolved."

Banks also noted that Selaginella and Arabidopsis thaliana, a plant widely used in research, use significantly different genes to control creation of secondary metabolites, molecules that are responsible for creating scents, seed dispersal functions, defense and other tasks. Those secondary metabolites also are used to create pharmaceuticals.

"These metabolic genes evolved independently in Selaginella and flowering plants, so the metabolites they make are likely to be very different," Banks said. "This means Selaginella could be a huge resource for new pharmaceuticals."

Banks said the genome sequence would now be mined for more information as scientists learn more about plant evolution and applications for Selaginella's genes.

The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and several international organizations funded the research. The Joint Genome Institute of the U.S. Department of Energy sequenced the genome.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Purdue University. The original article was written by Brian Wallheimer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Banks et al. The Selaginella Genome Identifies Genetic Changes Associated with the Evolution of Vascular Plants. Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1126/science.1203810

Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Selaginella genome adds piece to plant evolutionary puzzle." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110505160956.htm>.
Purdue University. (2011, May 6). Selaginella genome adds piece to plant evolutionary puzzle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110505160956.htm
Purdue University. "Selaginella genome adds piece to plant evolutionary puzzle." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110505160956.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dolphins and Turtles Under Threat in Pakistan

Dolphins and Turtles Under Threat in Pakistan

AFP (Oct. 2, 2014) — The turtles and Dolphins of Pakistan's Indus river - both protected by law - are in a fight for their survival as man's activities threatens their futures. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Harvest Break' Endures in Maine Potato Fields

'Harvest Break' Endures in Maine Potato Fields

AP (Oct. 2, 2014) — Educators and farmers are clinging to a tradition aimed at giving farmers much-needed help in getting potatoes out of the fields and into storage before the ground freezes in the nation's northeast corner. (Oct. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. 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:

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