Monday, May 15, 2006


Flowering Plants: Darwin's Abominable Mystery

Penn State News Release: Researchers from the Floral Genome Project at Penn State University, with an international team of collaborators, have proposed an answer to Charles Darwin's "abominable mystery:" the inexplicably rapid evolution of flowering plants immediately after their first appearance some 140 million years ago. By developing new statistical methods to analyze incomplete DNA sequences from thirteen strategically selected plant species, the researchers uncovered a previously hidden "paleopolyploidy" event, an ancient whole-genome duplication that preceded the appearance of the ancestral flowering plant.

Claude dePamphilis, associate professor of biology at Penn State, is the principal investigator of the Floral Genome Project and the senior author of the paper. "We found a concentration of duplicated genes that suggests a whole-genome duplication event in the earliest flowering plants," he says. "A polyploidy event early in the history of flowering plants could explain their sudden evolution." The results appear in a June issue of Genome Research.


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