Editors' ChoicePlant biology

Distant relatives can share gene function

Sci. Signal.  10 Nov 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 402, pp. ec334
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aad8183

The plants Arabidopsis thaliana and Papaver rhoeas (poppy) shared a common ancestor approximately 140 million years ago. Because of this evolutionary distance, although many of their genes share function, the mechanisms that allow these genes to function are expected to have diverged. However, Lin et al. found that a pair of genes that prevent self-fertilization in poppy can confer the same trait when expressed in Arabidopsis. This incompatibility was much more like that of poppy than that of incompatible close relatives of Arabidopsis. Thus, similar long-distance transfer of incompatibility, a trait of interest for plant breeding, may be useful between other distantly related species.

Z. Lin, D. J. Eaves, E. Sanchez-Moran, F. C. H. Franklin, V. E. Franklin-Tong, The Papaver rhoeas S determinants confer self-incompatibility to Arabidopsis thaliana in planta. Science 350, 684–687 (2015). [Abstract] [Full Text]