New Horizons in Science

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Bursts of color on the tree of life: The turbulent evolution of flowers

Topic: Plant Evolution
Blocks of multicolored and multispecies flowers
Amanda, Jonathan & hannes Grobe
Monday, November 4, 2013 -
3:45pm to 4:30pm
Location: 
Century Ballroom A

Even if your name is Rose or Daisy, to an evolutionary geneticist you’re a pale imitation of a flower. Flowering plants frequently go through whole-genome doubling and other radical events rare in the animal kingdom. The fossil and phylogenetic record of plants is full of bursts of speciation and radiation and turbulent periods of rapid evolutionary experimentation. As a result, a number of today’s crops and flowering species have large and remarkable toolkits allowing surprising adaptations. Doug and Pam Soltis are sequencing the complete genome of the oldest known flowering plant, Amborella, and have created synthetic tetraploids to observe genome dynamics in the lab. Combining phylogenetic information with herbarium records and ecological models, they are also collaborating to predict the adaptation of Florida’s flora to climate change.

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