US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — The process of turning a “peaceful” plant into a predator was investigated using the example of pemphigus humpback (Utricularia gibba), a predatory plant that uses special bubble traps for small water insects. But Gorbatka not always been carnivorous. What happened?
Scientists have determined that significant changes have occurred in the pemphigus genome during evolution (this plant generally has a very dynamic genome) – many genes have been removed, and those that have survived have made Utricularia gibba a “predator”.
At the same time, the plant has undergone at least two duplications of the entire genome from the moment its predecessors separated from the lines that led to the appearance of grapes, tomatoes, etc.
Duplicate genes protect the plant from death, because if important genes are mutated, the body can simply die. But an overabundance of such duplicates threatens to reduce the adaptability and survival of the plant. But pemphigus, as scientists found out, learned to quickly get rid of such duplicates.
Among other things, experts identified tandem repeats in the pemphigus genome. Their presence, despite the purifying pressure of natural selection, indicates that these genes give the plant some evolutionary advantage. It is also important that these genes have several copies. Unlike mechanisms that are sensitive to the dose of protein products, there are processes that, on the contrary, proceed more efficiently because they are served by several identical genes.
Scientists concluded that repeats in the pemphigus genome included DNA responsible for the synthesis of proteins such as, for example, protease. The latter cleave other proteins and, apparently, take part in the decomposition of the organics that make up the victim’s tissue. In addition, researchers discovered DNA that is involved in the transport of peptides from one plant cell to another. This entire set of genes is especially active in trap bubbles, indicating their great role in the digestion of the victim.
Thus, scientists have shown that the appearance of extra copies of genes plays a crucial role in the formation of predator plants.
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