Sacred Lotus Genome SequencedMay 15, 2013
Researchers from the University of Illinois, University of California Los Angeles, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have sequenced the genome of the sacred lotus, a plant known to symbolize longevity because its seeds can survive up to 1,300 years. The sequence reveals that the sacred lotus has the closest resemblance to the ancestor of all eudicots, a broad category of flowering plants including apple, cabbage, cactus, coffee, cotton, grape, melon, peanut, poplar, soybean, sunflower, tobacco, and tomato.
The research team found that the lineage of the sacred lotus is a separate branch of the eudicot family tree, and lacks a signature triplication of the genome seen in most members of this family. According to University of Illinois professor Ray Ming, whole-genome duplications - the doubling, tripling (or more) of an organism's entire genetic endowment – are important events in plant evolution. Despite lacking the 100 million-year-old triplication of its genome seen in most other eudicots, the sacred lotus experienced a separate, whole-genome duplication about 65 million years ago, said the researchers, and that a large proportion of the duplicated genes (about 40 percent) have been retained.
The researchers also found that the sacred lotus has a slow mutation rate relative to other plants. These traits make lotus an ideal reference plant for the study of other eudicots, Professor Ming said.
Results of their study has been published in the journal Genome Biology, with the following link: http://genomebiology.com/2013/14/5/R41/abstract. The news release is available at http://www.news.illinois.edu/news/13/0510lotus_genome_RayMing.html.
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