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Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Gene in petunia knows how to control the amount of UV absorbed

A recent research published in the journal Nature genetics highlights a new gene in petunia plants which is responsible to control the amount of UV absorbed by the flower, that help to attract pollinators. The international team of researchers underwent genetic study over plant to unfold a mystery about how petunias adapt to attract different pollinators.

Mutation of the MYB-FL gene by a transposon causes the reciprocal alteration of flavonol and anthocyanin pigments in the petal causing the contrasting sector. (Source: Phy.Org)
Petunia plant is dependent on different pollinators. It is well known that plants adapt themselves to attract different pollinators, but the exact mechanism remained unknown unless this mysterious result came to display. In their experiment, the researchers focussed over genetic makeup of three different species of petunias to attract three different pollinators – bees, hawkmoths and hummingbirds.

Among the three pollinators they found that only hawkmoths absorbed the highest amount of UV. They narrowed down their investigation to the genes of the three species, which made them found about a single gene MYB-FL. Individual testing made them found that mutations in this gene allowed the flower of the plant to absorb more or less UV light by fluctuating the amount of flavonol. The researchers believe that the amount of UV absorbed allows more pollinators to attract. The deduced that naturally occurring mutations in this gene causing different pollinator to be attracted which give rise to new species.


In conclusion, they suggest that this shift was made long back ago, from bees to hawkmoths attraction leading to different species development only possible by MYB-FL mutation. The mutation gave rise to regulated amount of UV as required.

For more details: Hester Sheehan et al. MYB-FL controls gain and loss of floral UV absorbance, a key trait affecting pollinator preference and reproductive isolation, Nature Genetics (2015). DOI: 10.1038/ng.3462Gene in petunia knows how to control the amount of UV absorbed
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