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Where Did All The Flowers Come From?

September 9, 2009
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Long after Darwin’s death in 1882, the history of flowers continued to vex scientists.
But scientists are also finding a wealth of clues in living flowers and their genes.
They are teasing apart the recipes encoded in plant DNA for building different kinds of flowers. Their research indicates that flowers evolved into their marvelous diversity in much the same way as eyes and limbs have: through the recycling of old genes for new jobs.
All flowers, from Amborella on, have the same basic anatomy. Just about all of them have petals or petal-like structures that surround male and female organs.
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If Dr. Irish is right, flowers have evolved in much the same way our own anatomy evolved.

“I think it is pretty cool that animals and plants have used similar strategies,” Dr. Irish said, “albeit with different genes.”

Once the sex organs were gathered together, they underwent a change invisible to the naked eye that might have driven flowers to their dominant place in the plant world.

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