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The origin of flowers: Decoding the genome of a tropical plant provides insight into the evolution of flowering plants

Three articles published on December 20 in the journal "Science" include the full description of the genomic analyzes performed by the project's scientists, as well as the implications of the discovery for research on the evolution of flowering plants as a whole.

Emborla. From Wikipedia
Emborla. From Wikipedia

A new deciphering of the genome sequence of a plant called Amborella answers what is known as Darwin's "Abominable Mystery" - the question of why flowers suddenly proliferated on Earth millions of years ago.

The genome sequence sheds new light on an important event in the history of life on Earth: the origin of flowering plants, including of course the main food crops. Three articles published on December 20 in the journal "Science" include the full description of the genomic analyzes performed by the project's scientists, as well as the implications of the discovery for research on the evolution of flowering plants as a whole.

Amborella (trichopoda Amborella) is unique because it is the only remnant of an ancient evolutionary lineage leading to the last common ancestor of all flowering plants. The plant is a small tree found only on the central island of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Scientists from Penn State University, the University at Buffalo, the University of Florida, the University of Georgia, and the University of California at Riverside are collaborating in the effort to decipher the Hamborella genome. The research reveals evidence of evolutionary processes that paved the way for the amazing diversity of more than 300,000 species of flowering plants that we enjoy today.

This unique heritage provides the umbrola with a special role in the study of flowering plants. "In the same way that the duck genome sequence - a survivor of an ancient lineage - can help us learn about the evolution of all mammals, the Amborella genome sequence can help us learn about the evolution of all flowering plants," said Victor Albert of the University at Buffalo.

According to the scientists, the Amborella genome sequence provides conclusive evidence that the ancestor of all flowering plants, including Amborella, evolved following a "genome duplication event" that occurred about 200 million years ago. Some duplicated genes were lost over time, but others took on new functions, including helping to develop organs that eventually became flowers.

"Genome duplication may, therefore, offer an explanation for what is known as 'Darwin's hideous mystery' - the apparently sudden appearance of new species and flowering plants in the Cretaceous fossil record," said Penn State University's Claude DePamphilis. "Generations of scientists have researched to find a solution to this puzzle," he added.

Comparative analyzes of the Hamborella genome are already providing scientists with a new perspective on the genetic origins of important traits in all flowering plants, including all major food plant species. "Because of the central phylogenetic position of Amborella, the genome provides us with an evolutionary reference and allows us to better understand the genome changes in these later-evolving flowering plants, including the genome evolution of our many crop plants - and hence, it will help to improve crops," emphasized Doug Soltis of the University of Florida .

As another example of the importance of the Hamborella genome, Joshua Derr of Penn State points out: "We estimate that at least 14,000 protein-coding genes are present in the last common ancestor of all flowering plants. Many of these genes are unique to flowering plants, and many of them play an important role in flower production, as well as other structures and other processes specific to flowering plants."

"This study provides for the first time insight into how flowering plants are genetically different from all other plants on Earth," said Brad Barbazouk of the University of Florida, "and it provides new clues as to how seed plants differ genetically from plants that reproduce without seeds?"

Jim Liebens-Mack from the University of Georgia noted that the sequence of the Hamborella genome allows for the reconstruction of the gene order in the core eudicots group, a huge group that makes up about 75% of all seed coats. This group includes tomatoes, apples and legumes, and trees such as oak and poplar trees. As an evolutionary outsider to this diverse group, the Amborella genome allowed the researchers to assess the linear order of the genes in the genome of the ancestors of this group and to understand what were the specific changes in this lineage that occurred during the over 120 million years of evolution of the core eudicots.

At the same time, Amborella appears to have acquired some unusual genomic features as it diverged from the other flowering plants in the evolutionary tree. For example, DNA sequences that can change positions or duplicate themselves within the genome (transposable elements) are seen that have stabilized in the Amborella genome. Most plants show evidence of recent bursts of this mobile DNA activity, "but Amborella is unique in that it has not acquired new mobile sequences in the last few million years," said Sue Wassler of the University of California, Riverside. "The addition of some mobile components can affect the expression and function of protein-coding genes, so it is possible that stopping the activity of mobile DNA slowed the rate of evolution of both genome structure and gene function."

In addition to the service of the Hamborella plant in retrospective studies of the evolution of flowering plants, the research will also help the conservation of the plant itself, which is in danger of extinction and exists only in clusters of 18 populations in the mountainous areas of New Caledonia.

Sequencing individual Amborella plants will make it possible to identify the genetic diversity of these species between populations, and in addition to the conservation implications, the process will also provide us with a way to track the genetic variation of the plants, similar to the genetic variation created when humans migrated from Africa and created the modern populations in Eurasia.

to the notice of the researchers


32 תגובות

  1. skeptic,
    Now I also saw your comment:

    You are right there in only one thing (and the phrasing you chose is completely wrong and does not describe what you probably wanted to express, so I will rephrase) that alongside any evolutionary explanation for the phenomena in question, an alternative explanation can be provided by means of an intelligent devil. Science does not pretend to prove that Satan as such does not exist, all science does is to offer an explanation as simple as possible that also fits reality as we discover it. It could be that there really is an intelligent devil who runs the world. It may be that the same Satan really created an "old" world in six days. But note that the same devil can "explain" anything, but literally anything! After all, who are you and I to decide for that devil what he can and cannot do? So do you understand now why this "explanation" is fundamentally bad? Do you realize now that if anything can be said that the devil did it then it is just like saying we know nothing about it? Tell me which of the following sentences about the formation of the chicken gives us the most information:
    1) God did it.
    2) Satan did it.
    3) Zeus did it.
    4) We don't know who did it.
    5) Thor did it.
    6) Nature did it.

  2. This is the way of creationists.
    We treat the word random. It is taken out of context.
    Then they come up with a claim as if the whole issue of evolution is a random accumulation of things.
    Of course, then you encounter a situation that is impossible and the obvious conclusion is that there is an intelligent planner.
    Let's go back and clarify:
    Random is just what happens once in a random way. These are the mutations.
    Everything else is not random at all.
    Everything is governed by the laws of nature.
    Just like the course of water is not random. Water always strives for a state of minimum potential energy.
    Likewise, all chemical processes related to biology are not random.
    These are processes driven by the laws of nature.

  3. skeptic,
    1) A chicken is a type of chicken.
    2) Birds evolved evolutionarily from reptiles (a certain branch of dinosaurs in this case called Theropoda -
    3) The fossil evidence shows that the dinosaurs already laid eggs with a shell.

    Therefore the egg (with a shell) preceded the chicken. The exact position on the evolutionary branch where the creature you agree is similar enough to be called a chicken is less important, what is important is that whatever that point may be, that creature hatched from an egg. Is this hard for you to understand? Zebsach, this is the only description that is in line with the factual knowledge we have today and there is no problem with it in principle, but only in the minds of certain people... If you don't like it, you are welcome to follow Feynman's recommendation:

    You can insist on being a nudge and ask what came before what - the dinosaur or the egg. The answer is quite simple - the egg preceded the dinosaur. To the best of our knowledge, the "concept" of an egg, that is, a relatively large cell filled with nutrients and in which the embryo develops after fertilization (, is very ancient in the living world, but really ancient, long before there were dinosaurs in the world. The ancient egg cells (which are still common today in some animals) had one outer membrane while in many other animals evolutionarily and gradually additional membranes developed such as for example the egg shell that we know from birds, reptiles (dinosaurs and even in some mammals). This shell is a cool (and relatively simple) development added to the "patents" of the egg that already existed before. Many do not know that the egg shell is secreted only near the time of laying, while most of the time the egg is not covered by a shell inside the female's body (see here for example: Just like eyes, hard shells for eggs have evolved several times independently during evolution (as in arthropods for example) as an adaptation to drier conditions that prevail in an aquatic environment (you are welcome to read more about it here:, but as mentioned, even in an aquatic environment, the eggs are still covered in a shell (for example, in fish or reptiles) and this is not at all surprising and is well explained within the framework of the theory of evolution.

    The failed creationist argument, of course, both on a factual and logical level (because all chickens lay eggs, but not all egg-layers are birds, let alone chickens) is a good example of the two basic fallacies in their entire way of thinking - one is that if something doesn't make sense to them Or they don't understand how something can happen (usually due to ignorance) then the same thing necessarily cannot happen, and the second is that if something certain cannot happen in their opinion then this is *proof* of the existence of some God, or an intelligent planner to use the washed and included pronoun of some of the babies imprisoned in the religious prison.

  4. skeptic
    My only mistake is I thought you were at least somewhat intelligent.
    You are a pathetic troll and nothing more.
    Read the previous sentence again until you understand it.

  5. Miracles,

    You have a problem with reading comprehension...
    Think how a chicken can "evolve" with random mutations,
    When she cannot lay an egg, since the egg has not yet evolved simultaneously with random mutations...

  6. skeptic
    The chicken did not develop from an egg. The chicken evolved from a dinosaur. Dinosaurs, in part, reproduced by laying eggs. If it interests you, you can learn about the development of the egg-laying mechanism that evolved from another mechanism (such as the hydra).

    And I thought for a moment that you knew something about evolution (that's how you stated…)…… No wonder you come to such wrong conclusions.

  7. miracles,

    I'm not arguing, just trying to help you think…
    How did a chicken evolve with random little mutations,
    When she had to reproduce by laying an egg?
    After all, the egg had to be perfectly developed (in advance) to allow the chicken to continue the next generation...

  8. skeptic
    Let's agree not to argue.

    I don't quite understand the egg thing. The hen's egg is the result of 3.5 billion years of evolution. It is not at all the result of a random process. On the contrary - the process of evolution is directed at every tiny step. This is a deterministic process.

    I have to tell you something. At my workplace I often run a program based on random processes. The program always converges, and the results in each run are the same.

    Does it follow that because we do not know all the stages in the egg's development that it has inextricable complexity?

  9. miracles,
    Regarding the comment before the last one,

    Aren't chicken and egg biological systems? Is this not an example?

  10. Miracles,
    You're trying to drag me into an argument.
    does not interest me.

    Just for the information of the members here,
    I was also brought up on the knees of Darwin's "scientific theory".
    It took me many years to dispute it and thoroughly check the conclusion that it is wrong...

    So don't despair...

  11. The architect
    There are no proofs in science - only evidence. There is lots and lots of evidence for evolution by natural selection. Evolution itself is not random - only the mutations are random.

    On the other hand - there is no evidence for the existence of a creator, so there is no point in talking about something like that. Just like Santa Claus….

    The examples you gave do not belong to the topic. I asked for an example of a biological system that could not have been formed by evolution. This is the claim that stems from the idea of ​​complex discharge. You gave beautiful examples, but for something else...

    Further - the theory of relativity has nothing to do with probabilities at all. The theory of relativity is a mathematical model that describes the world. It gives amazing explanations for what we see, and until a better model is invented - science stays with this model.

    Contrary to your opinion - we have no other explanation for the observations except the Big Bang.

  12. miracles,

    I'm sorry,
    You don't understand what I'm talking about...
    An egg could not have evolved by random mutations,
    And at the same time create perfect chicks…

  13. ב
    This is not true. Primary organic molecules (for example - amino acids) do not undergo evolution. Evolution needs several conditions, such as reproduction, competition and inheritance. Without these there is no evolution. Simple molecules do not necessarily fulfill these 3 conditions.

  14. Evolution explains the formation of life starting from the beginning of the path starting with the most elementary organic molecules.

  15. Darwin wrote:
    I have now recapitulated the chief facts and considerations which have thoroughly convinced me that species have been modified, during a long course of descent, by the preservation or the natural selection of many successive slight favorable variations. I cannot believe that a false theory would explain, as it seems to me that the theory of natural selection does explain, the several large classes of facts specified above. It is no valid objection that science as yet throws no light on the far higher problem of the essence or origin of life. Who can explain what is the essence of the attraction of gravity? No one now objects to following out the results consequent on this unknown element of attraction; notwithstanding that Leibnitz formerly accused Newton of introducing "occult qualities and miracles into philosophy

    Note (or ask dad to translate for you) that Darwin emphasizes that his theory does not explain the formation of life.

  16. skeptic
    Life did not start from an egg. They started from something much simpler. Today, we do not know how life began but there are several hypotheses.
    Evolution did not start life. She explains how they continued to evolve into what we see today.

  17. Anonymous, the one who refuses to understand is you.
    How did the chicken breed before the "random" formation of the egg?

  18. skeptic
    It's not that you don't understand... you *refuse* to understand.
    The egg was not created by random mutations. She was created from a chicken.
    And the chicken was created from the egg.
    The fact that the hen is such an unintelligent planner...what to do? "Hidden" ways of evolution

  19. miracles,

    Is this not evidence?

    How was an egg created from random mutations?

    After all, without everything being planned in advance, how is there zero of zero chance that it will "work"?

  20. To the skeptics, the miracles, my father and the other readers: we have no unequivocal proof that evolution as a whole is random just as we have no proof that it is random. Just like we don't have proof that there is a creator of the universe and we also don't have proof that it doesn't have a creator. That is, instead of being modest and saying: "We don't know", people take a stand and argue in vain.
    And just a note for miracles and enlightenment for others: you write to the skeptic: "Bring one piece of evidence that there is a certain process in evolution that cannot exist randomly...etc". Well, what about crossbreeding dogs and other animals, including plant clones, etc. that are done by man in which new varieties are created that would not explicitly have been created "just like that" in "nature"? And in general, what about pairings between humans, isn't there also some non-random participation with some intentional hand...including in vitro fertilization (where even the randomness of a certain sperm fertilizing the egg does not exist). That is, it is clearly obvious that this is a combination of the two phenomena (random and intentional) and hence the conclusion: we do not know exactly what is happening and we have to admit that.
    The same goes for the big bang "theories" (which are based on a backward simulation of the expansion of the universe, i.e. on one assumption out of many possible) and many other areas in the so-called "church of science". Even the fact that the theory of relativity relies on speculation and probabilities suggests that all we know is that we don't know. In short, it's time to humble ourselves and admit the fact that we probably still don't know anything with complete certainty, that is, we don't know.

  21. miracles,
    As I have already written before,
    I'm not going to get dragged into idle arguments...

    Suffice it to mention the matter of the chicken and the egg...

  22. Avi,
    You are trying "by force" to prove that evolution was random,
    without any deliberate reason.

    The facts are simple:
    There are thousands of evidences that certain processes in evolution,
    No hoi can occur randomly.

    Conversely, any explanation of a "random process" in evolution,
    It can be explained by "intelligent intention".

    in order to maintain your dignity,
    Stop preaching "random evolution" because it is wrong...

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