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article imageIs the tulip the least evolved plant?

By Tim Sandle     Apr 20, 2013 in Environment
The genetic material of the tulip tree appears to be the least evolved of any flowering plant yet analysed. The tulip could serve as a tool in understanding the evolution of flowering plants.
According to a research paper, publish in the journal BMC Biology, the mitochondrial genome of the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), which is known to be one of the slowest evolving plant genomes, has been shown to retain many of the ancestral traits lost by other flowering plants over the last 200 million years of evolution.
Liriodendron tulipifera is known by a variety of names, including the tulip tree, American tulip tree, tuliptree, tulip poplar, whitewood, fiddle-tree and yellow poplar. The tulip tree is the state tree of Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
For the study, scientists compared genomes of two flowering plants: Magnolia stellate and Calycanthus floridus, with that of the slow-to-evolve L. tulipifera . This allowed the researchers to reconstruct the frequency of genetic changes in flowering plants in general. This analysis confirmed the Liriodendron mitochondrial genome’s very slow slow rate of evolution.
Commenting on this, lead author Jeffrey Palmer said in a press release: "Based on this, it appears that the genome has been more-or-less frozen in time for millions and millions of years."
The authors of the paper go on to state that the finding should advance understanding of the evolution and development of plants.
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