The University at Buffalo will be a key partner in a $7.3 million collaboration that will research the origins of flowers by sequencing the genome of Amborella.
The Amborella is unique species of flower which is only found in one place on earth, the Pacific Islands of New Caledonia. It is an understory shrub or small tree and was shown to be a direct descendant of the common ancestor of all flowering plants. The plant is the single known living species on the earliest branch of the family tree of flowering plants.
The plant is a living fossil and can be used to study the evolution of all living flowers. Researchers will compare the genetics of the Amborella to that of newer species and will gain information about various characteristics of plants. Some of the things they will be able to learn are how resistant they are to drought, how fruits mature, and how critical crops fruits might respond in global warming.
“The Amborella genome and the strategies we are using to obtain and analyze the genome will provide not only a unique scientific resource with broad impacts on plant biology, but it also will provide excellent opportunities to demonstrate the utility of an evolutionary perspective across the biological sciences,” said Victor Albert, UB Empire Innovation Professor in biological sciences and a co-principal investigator on the Amborella genome project.
Albert and his team plan to complete and publish a draft sequence of the Amborella genome this year. They want to share this information with scientists around the world and will put the information online.
The group plans to compare the Amborella genes to rice, cucumbers, tomatoes, and potatoes. By doing these studies they will hopefully learn more about whole-genome duplication. Besides the research the project will also allow for a creation of education, training and mentoring opportunities for high school students, undergrads, and graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.
To see an interview with Albert you can visit youtube.