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Where did flowers come from?

ia State University, who is leading the research; Hong Ma and Stephan Schuster at Penn State; Douglas E. Soltis, Pamela S. Soltis and W. Brad Barbazuk at the University of Florida; Steven D. Rounsley at the University of Arizona; James Leebens-Mack at the University of Georgia; Jeffrey Palmer at Indiana University; and Susan Wessler at the University of California, Riverside. The National Science Foundation is funding the project.

The team plans to complete and publish a draft sequence of the Amborella genome this year, Albert said. To share results with scientists around the world, the group will make the genome available online.

"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 Albert, who is also a member of teams sequencing the genomes of coffee and avocado.

The Amborella project builds on another floral genetics project that dePamphilis of Penn State led. In that earlier study, he and partners including Albert sought information on the origins of flowers by comparing active genes of flowering plants including Amborella and non-flowering plants called gymnosperms.

The team published major findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in December, reporting that genetic programming found in gymnosperm cones gave rise to flowering plants.

The Amborella genome project is the natural next step: Now that we know more about how the first flowers evolved, what can we learn about how they diversified? With a fossil record dating to just over 130 million years ago, flowering plants now include as many as 400,000 species on land and in water.

Sequencing a genome involves determining the order in which nucleotide bases -- a

Contact: Charlotte Hsu
University at Buffalo

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