NCKU research team cracks the mysterious origins of orchids

2017/09/21 18:51:07 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Image taken from Pixabay

Image taken from Pixabay

Taipei, Sept. 21 (CNA) A research team at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) has cracked the code on the evolution of orchids, the school in southern Taiwan said Thursday.

At a press conference, NCKU President Su Huey-jen (蘇慧貞) said the key to solving the mystery of the evolution of orchids was a primitive genus called Apostasia.

In a paper published earlier this month in Nature Magazine, the NCKU research team said the Apostasia, which has been completely mapped out, provided a reference for inferring the genome content and structure of the most recent common ancestor of the modern orchid.

The Apostasia odorata is the oldest in the orchid family, having existed some 77 million years ago, though it looks nothing like the modern day orchid, the team said in the paper titled "The Apostasia genome and the evolution of orchids."

In stark contrast to the modern orchid, the Apostasia odorata lacked the uniquely shaped petals and a complete reproductive column, the team said.

Nonetheless, it was from this primitive orchid that modern day orchids evolved, from the plants whose pollination once mystified scientist Charles Darwin to the floral decorations we have around the house today, the team said.

According to team member Hsiao Yu-yun (蕭郁芸), the research identified new gene families, and gene family expansions and contractions of the orchid.

These new discoveries can be used for the cultivation and modification of orchids in the future to produce different shaped petals and make the plants more resistant to extreme environmental factors, he said.

The findings, which were a joint effort by researchers in China, Belgium, and Japan, also shed new light on the genetic mechanisms underpinning key orchid innovations, according to the NCKU team.

(By Chang Jung-hsiang and Kuan-lin Liu)
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