Saturday, November 12, 2016

Japanese Researchers Successfully Decoded Morning Glories Entire Genome

The Morning Glory is a popular flower in Japan and is used as a traditional garden plant that blooms in the summer. The plants have something in their DNA known as "jumping genes" called transposons, which are mutants that frequently appear in the flowers. These mutations have been making the morning glories flowers and leaves have strangle shapes since the Edo period (200 years ago). These strangle shapes make the flowers more appreciated by the Japanese and have developed into a unique Japanese gardening culture. The popularity of the mutant morning glories, a lot of natural mutants have been collected. By analyzing the flowers mutants closely, the research team found the genes that cause the leaf shapes and flower color and patterns. 

Researchers in Japan have studied the Japanese Morning Glory and successfully decoded the flower's entire genome, obtaining a high-quality nearly complete genome sequence. This lead to the identification of the coding sequences in morning glory's 43,000 genes. Researchers also discovered the the number and distribution of transposons. The research group used the flowers entire genome to identify the mutants including dwarfism categorized by dark green, thick wrinkled leaves as well as the gene for plant biosynthesis that is disrupted by the transposons in the mutants.

One of the researchers said that after the morning glory's genome was decoded, the value of using the flower as a model organism has sky rocketed and could possibly used by researchers all around the world. The leader of the research said The genome sequence of the Japanese morning glory helped us to better understand the flower itself, as well as used to better understand related crops such as sweet potatoes. 

I think it's astonishing that flowers have have genes that make them different just like humans and animals do. This was the first time I've heard of transposons. It sparks an interest in me to learn more about how genes are transmitted. I hope to eventually see more studies similar to this one in the future. These studies can lead to way to more genetic discoveries. 

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