Sicilian word enters British genetic language
A scientific team from the John Innes Centre and University of St Andrews has identified a key gene that was transferred from a Sicilian plant into a close relative in Britain, showing how genetic cross-talk between species can be important for evolution. The researchers unravelled the remarkable history of an Italian interloper, a close relative of the common British weed Groundsel, that was first brought to the UK 300 years ago. In an amazing piece of genetic detective work, to be published in Science on Friday, they tracked down a small region of DNA in the British weed that came from its Sicilian relative.
This region of DNA modifies the flowers, making the weed more attractive to pollinators. The results demonstrate how natural genetic exchanges can allow important traits to be transferred between species, much as a word from one human language might be usefully incorporated into another.
This goes against the typical view of evolution as a one-way street in which each species evolves as a separate, independent genetic lineage. Instead, hybridisation between closely related forms may allow evolutionary cross-talk in which valuable genes can be exchanged and preserved. The result is greater flexibility and potential for diversity during evolution.
Source: Norwich BioScience Institutes
- Change in temperature uncovers genetic cross talk in plant immunityMon, 15 Nov 2010, 17:34:16 EST
- UF researcher: Flowering plant study 'catches evolution in the act'Thu, 17 Mar 2011, 12:44:13 EDT
- New genetic model predicts plant flowering in different environmentsThu, 15 Jan 2009, 14:50:07 EST
- Scientific breakthrough in genetic studies of animal domesticationWed, 10 Mar 2010, 13:30:46 EST
- Plant biologists dissect genetic mechanism enabling plants to overcome environmental challengeWed, 3 Aug 2011, 10:34:55 EDT
- Genetic cross-talk: Sicilian enters British genetic languagefrom Scientific BloggingSun, 16 Nov 2008, 12:56:13 EST