Orchid gives up the secrets of its success


Breaking

The orchid was found at Wutongshan Mountain in Shenzhen, ChinaImage copyright Zhong-Jian Liu and Li-Jun Chen
Image caption The orchid was found at Wutongshan Mountain in Shenzhen, China

The orchid is known for its beauty and once changed hands for vast sums.

Now, scientists are gaining an insight into how the plant prized for its beauty colonised almost every habitat on Earth.

A team in China has unpicked the genetic blueprint of an orchid that grows wild in the mountains of southeast China.

The orchid in question, from the subfamily, Apostasiodea, split off from modern species millions of years ago.

Researchers led by the Orchid Conservation and Research Centre of Shenzhen sequenced the genome of the orchid and compared it with more modern species.

Image copyright Zhong-Jian Liu and Li-Jun Chen
Image caption The whole genome of another orchid was re-sequenced for this study

The data, published in the journal, Nature, “provides a reference for studying orchid evolution” and suggests distinctive features found only in orchids played a key role “in the tremendous radiation of the group”, they say.

The orchid is one of the biggest families of flowering plants. Many are grown for their beautiful flowers, while others are of economic importance, such as the source of the food flavouring, vanilla.

Commenting on the study, Dr Trevor Dines, of the wild plant conservation charity, Plantlife, said orchids have a host of unique features that make them special and instantly recognisable.

“Whether you’re looking at a big, blousy Moth orchid from the supermarket or a tiny rare Bog orchid on a remote Snowdonia hillside, the flowers have the same underlying blueprint,” he said.

“This research reveals that elements of this blueprint appeared right at the very start of the evolution of the orchid family, and may well have helped in their spectacular subsequent evolution into the 26,500-28,000 species we know of today.”

Image copyright Zhong-Jian Liu and Li-Jun Chen
Image caption The flowers of Apostasia shenzhenica

Some of the unique features of orchids include masses of pollen, known as pollonia, exceptionally light seeds and the ability to grow upon other plants, using them for support.

All these features are found in the 50 or more species of wild, native orchids in the UK, from the Lady’s-slipper orchid to the Bog orchid.

View the original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-41257104

Follow Helen on Twitter.

In the same category are

Trump puts elephant trophy imports on hold Image copyright SPL Image caption The US Fish and Wildlife Service argues hunting "will enhance the survival of the African elephant" President Do...
Review: Bryan Cranston stars in Network at The National Theatre ★★★☆☆ To say Ivo van Hove's stage adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky's 1976 movie Network is a bit gimmicky, would be like describing a mass murderer as a bit ...
Strictly Come Dancing: Behind the scenes in Blackpool Image caption The dancers rehearse their circus-themed group routine There's a fibreglass donkey in the corridor, and someone's moving a glittery ...
Social care: MPs seek cross-party group to ‘sustain’ NHS Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The MPs argue that only a cross-party approach can deliver a sustainable settlement Ninety MPs have sig...
Budget 2017: Tax on takeaway boxes to be considered Image copyright Getty Images A tax on takeaway boxes is to be considered in a bid to tackle the problem of plastic waste.In Wednesday's Budget, Chan...
King’s Cross fire: ‘I was screaming in pain’ Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionThirty-one people were killed by the fire, which started beneath a wooden escalatorIn its ...

Dont forget to “Like” us on Facebook


Need something to share, visit our sister site for the

‘News in the last 30 days”

in a clear concise package ….

 

If you are an artist or interested in art, visit our art website and read about todays artscene and browse some of our artist profiles

 

Comment on this story