SUNFLOWER’S GENETIC SECRETS UNFURLED: A STUDY ABOUT THE FLOWERS OF FALL

Fall fields turn yellow in color, with the outburst of sunflowers. Many biological questions like sunflower evolution paths and genetic convergence can be answered studying the petals of common sunflowers. Since sunflowers are widely used for commercial purposes like oil production as well as direct seed consumption by humans and birds alike.

The current form of sunflowers were gained by it travelling to Euro, specifically Russia in the 1800’s even though it is a plant of North American origin. Following this event the division between wild and domestic sunflowers originated, both belonging to the same species (H. annuus.) with wild flowers having many flowering heads on each plant where as smaller when compared to the domestic ones.

In the interview with Ken Whitney, he mentioned that they are studying sunflowers to analyze whether the plant species are diverging or converging in their evolution. Different ecological factors like; range of habitat lead to sunflowers speciation in different parts of the North America, having adapted to different environmental conditions during the course of their radiation.

Sunflower hybridization sometimes leads to the ability to better adapt to changing environmental conditions leading to the creation of more subspecies. This form of hybridization allows the sunflower species to further expand their range to harsher ecosystems.

The research done here allows us to study how hybridization can lead to rapid speciation. New hybrid sunflower subspecies with extra set of chromosomes that are fully fertile, occupy new habitats where neither of the parent species are present.

Speciation by hybridization plays a major role in plant diversification.

http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=132980&org=NSF

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