Selasa, 04 Maret 2008

Stinky flower's roots revealed

Friday, January 12, 2007

A longstanding ??? and particularly odious ??? botanic mystery has been resolved by scientists.

They have discovered that the plant that produces the world???s largest flowers belongs to the same family as Irish bells and poinsettias. A genetic analysis of the rafflesia plant ??? which has flowers that measure about 1 metre in diameter and smell like rotting flesh ??? reveals that it belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. The findings appear in Science magazine.

Figuring out exactly where the rafflesia plant fits into the evolutionary tree presented a special challenge for three reasons. First, it lacks the genes most commonly used to trace plant ancestry. Secondly, rafflesia is a parasitic plant, lacking leaves and stems. Lastly, the plant has modified flowers that make it hard to compare with daintier relatives.

The plants heritage has baffled experts since its discovery in the Sumatran rainforest some 180 years ago.

So while researchers may have figured out where the flower fits into the evolutionary tree, the fact that they took this long to do so suggests that our ability to classify plants still stinks.
Roxanne Khamsi, online reporter (Image: Jeremy Holden/Science)

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