Tulip trees are ‘molecular fossils’

April 16, 2013
By

Trunk and foliage of old tulip tree (Image: BBC)The genetic data gives biologists a glimpse into the distant past when flowering plants first appeared

The “extraordinary level of conservation” of genetic data in the tulip tree remains largely unchanged since the dinosaurs, a study suggests.

The species’ genomic change is about 2,000 times slower than in humans, making it a “molecular fossil”, a team of US researchers said.

The new information has affected our understanding of flowering plants’ evolution, they added.

The findings have been published in the open access journal BMC Biology.

The team from the universities of Indiana and Arkansas sequenced the mitochondrial genome of the species (Liriodendron tulipifera), only to discover it had one of the slowest silent mutation rates (a process that does not affect gene function).

They added that the sequencing showed that many of the genes that had been lost during 200 million years of flowering plants’ (angiosperms) evolution had been preserved.

“Based on this, it appears that the genome has been more-or-less frozen in time for millions and millions of years,” explained co-author Prof Jeffrey Palmer.

Prehistoric powerhouses

Mitochondria are found within organisms’ cells and their job is to generate power. They do this by converting food stuffs into chemical energy that the organism uses to function.

Continue reading the main story

In detail: Tulip tree

Tulip tree leaves and flower (Image: Gary Cot/Radford University)

  • Scientific name: Liriodendron tulipifera
  • Average height: 20m-30m
  • Native to the eastern US, and is considered to be one of the region’s tallest native trees
  • Generally flowers in mid-summer
  • Distinctive-shaped leaves, which are said to resemble dinosaur footprints
  • Popular parkland species, as its flowers look similar to tulips
  • Seeds are wind dispersed, often travelling up to seven times the distance of the mother tree
  • The timber has a reputation of being resistant to termites

In an accompanying commentary, Prof Ian Small from the University of Western Australia – who was not involved in the research – said the vast variations between the genetic data of angiosperms gleaned from mitochondrial genome sequencing made “untangling their evolutionary histories difficult“.

However, he added, the paper by Prof Palmer et al turned out to be ” an extremely useful window into the past”.

Prof Small said the species was a member of an “early branching lineage” that was distinct from other groups that housed most of the world’s crop plants, which had been the target of most sequencing efforts around the globe.

As a result of the slow mutation rate, he explained: “This ‘fossilised’ genome gives us some important clues as to what mitochondrial looked like (and how they functioned) as flowering plants evolved and took over the land in the time of the dinosaurs.”

He added that the increasing cost-effectiveness of the sequencing process was making it easier to choose strategically informative species rather than focusing on economically important ones, ie food crops.

He explained that data gaps remained: “The coverage of early diverging plants is still from optimal, with many large and important groups still badly sampled – for example, gymnosperms and ferns.”

He concluded: “I look forward to being able to analyse the next molecular ‘fossil’ to roll off the sequencing machines.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22151864#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa The feed :

Tags:

Sponsored By:

The Deeter Group

Deeter Electronics Ltd. | Deeter Electronics Inc | Deeter Group Asia | Deeter Group Germany | Deeter Group Corporate

Head & Registered Office:
Deeter Electronics Ltd.
Deeter House,
Valley Road,
Hughenden Valley,
Bucks. HP14 4LW

Tel: +44 (0) 1494 566 046
Fax: +44 (0) 1494 563 961
E-mail: [email protected]


The Deeter Group with products ranging from: , , , continuous , 4-20mA , , , , , , , a , wireless sensor and much more.

If you want a standard or a custom level switch, float switch, level sensor, or wireless sensor, contact us via email [email protected] or call us now on 01494 566 046.

Company Name: The Deeter Group

Location: Hughenden Valley, UK

Deeter Electronics USA
Deeter Electronics USA
Wireless sensor system | Radio telemetry | Level switches | Level sensors | Liquid level sensor | Float switches | Controllers & indicators | Industrial weighing equipment | Electronic circuit design & manufacture | Software design | Reed relays | Ultrasonic level flow sludge & proximity sensors | Proximity sensors & switches | Reed switches | Litz wire | Wago Terminals | Mechanical & magnetic floats | Boiler control |

Deeter Electronics UK
Wireless sensor system | Radio telemetry | Level switches | Level sensors | Liquid level sensor | Float switches | Controllers & indicators | Industrial weighing equipment | Electronic circuit design & manufacture | Software design | Reed relays | Ultrasonic level flow sludge & proximity sensors | Proximity sensors & switches | Reed switches | Litz wire | Wago Terminals | Mechanical & magnetic floats | Boiler control |

Deeter Electronics Europe
Wireless sensor system | Radio telemetry | Level switches | Level sensors | Liquid level sensor | Float switches | Controllers & indicators | Industrial weighing equipment | Electronic circuit design & manufacture | Software design | Ultrasonic level flow sludge & proximity sensors | Proximity sensors & switches | Reed switches | Litz wire | Wago Terminals | Mechanical & magnetic floats | Boiler control |

Sensor Magazine Websites
Explosion Proof Sensors UK | Explosion Proof Sensors | Water Level Measurement | Liquid Level Sensing | Liquid Level Measurement | Liquid Level Sensors UK | Liquid Level Sensors Europe | Wireless Sensors | Sensor Magazine | Industrial Sensors



Water use