Evolution and domestication of seed structure shown to use same genetic mutation

Jul 07, 2011

For the first time, scientists have identified a mutation in plants that was selected twice - during both natural evolution and domestication.

The mutation has been identified as the source of variation in the evolution of fruit morphology in Brassica plants and it was also the source of key changes during the domestication of rice.

"We have shown that the genetic source of both natural and man-made changes was the same," said one of the authors on the findings, Dr Robert Sablowski from the John Innes Centre, which is strategically funded by the BBSRC.

"These insights indicate that may have more to offer plant breeders than previously anticipated," he said.

scatters its seeds easily to maximise dispersal, so an important part of domestication was to select for cultivars that retain seeds that can then be harvested. Previous studies identified the mutation - a single nucleotide change - that reduced . John Innes Centre scientists were surprised to find that the same nucleotide change was behind variation in the evolution of fruit morphology in the Brassica plants.

The Brassica family and rice are separated by 140 million years of evolution and the anatomies of their fruit are very different. However, this work, published in the journal , shows that the same are applicable over a large evolutionary distance and that evolution can offer insights into the tools that might be useful to breeders.

"Ever since Darwin used domestication as a model for evolution there has been debate over whether the same type of variation is relevant to both domestication and natural evolution," said Dr Sablowski.

"In this study we have shown that the same type of variation is relevant to both processes. In addition, we saw that a surprisingly simple is enough to explain differences between the fruits of different Brassica relatives. Now further examples will be needed to show whether the simplicity of the regulatory change in our case is exceptional."

Explore further: Water 'thermostat' could help engineer drought-resistant crops

Provided by Norwich BioScience Institutes

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

What plant genes tell us about crop domestication

Jul 07, 2010

Anyone who has seen teosinte, the wild grass from which maize (corn) evolved, might be forgiven for assuming many genetic changes underlie the transformation of one plant to the other.

Research identifies wild ancestor genes for crop improvement

Feb 22, 2011

Using the genetic variation found in wild and exotic rice species, researchers are providing breeders with genomics tools and knowledge to develop higher yielding, stress-tolerant varieties, a Cornell researcher reported ...

Miscanthus adapts

Jun 06, 2011

An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology Bioenergy finds that natural populations of Miscanthus are promising candidates as second-generation energy sources because they have genetic variation that may in ...

Wild about the evolution of domesticated yeast

Feb 12, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- It lives all around us and is probably one of the earliest domesticated organisms. Humans have been using it for tens of thousands of years. There is evidence that the Ancient Egyptians used it for baking ...

Snapdragons take the evolutionary high-road

Aug 17, 2006

Roses are red, violets are blue, but why aren't snapdragons orange? Norwich scientists from the John Innes Centre (JIC) and the University of East Anglia (UEA) in collaboration with the Université Paul Sabatier ...

Recommended for you

Biotech firm's GM mosquitoes to fight dengue in Brazil

22 hours ago

It's a dry winter day in southeast Brazil, but a steamy tropical summer reigns inside the labs at Oxitec, where workers are making an unusual product: genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue fever.

User comments : 0