Crop Biotech Update

New Study Sheds Light on Plant Evolution

February 17, 2016

A new study of evolution in a group of wild tomatoes has shed light on the importance of genetic variation in plants. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan and Indiana University, used genome-wide sequencing to reveal details about the evolutionary mechanisms that drove genetic divergence in 13 species of wild tomatoes sharing a recent common ancestor.

"The vast biodiversity we observed in tomato species is the result of a complex set of genetic resources that we can distinguish with large-scale genomic data," said James Pease, University of Michigan postdoctoral fellow and first author of the study.

The team found evidence that supports three major genetic strategies behind the tomato's ability to rapidly adapt to ecological change: the recruitment of genes from a common ancestral pool, the trading of genes between species through a form of natural crossbreeding called introgression, and the rapid accumulation of new genetic mutations.

For more details, read the news release at the University of Michigan website.