The banyan fig tree is famous for grows aerial roots from the branches and finally they hit the earth.
The tree has a uniquely intimate relationship with a wasp that it uses to produce its flowers.
In a new study, researchers have identified regulatory regions along the banyan fig’s genome that facilitate the growth of aerial roots and the fig’s ability to signal its pollinator.
The research paper published in Cell describes another biological area essential for sex determination in a similar fig tree, Ficus hispida. Unlike F, aspens have male and female trees that grow aerial roots and carry male and female flowers. but is either male or female with no aerial origin.
The study of Ficus species and the pollination of wasps is significant, since their ability to produce large fruits in a variety of habitats makes them a key species in many tropical forests, said Ray Ming, a professor of plant biology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Fig trees are found to provide the protection and shelter for several hundred species of birds and mammals.
Fig trees have been among the first domesticated crops and have had a spiritual value in many different religions for centuries.
The species of fig and wasp present a fascinating scientific challenge.
Similar to the fruits, wasps are shaped and sized similarly to figs. Each species produces a specific scent to attract different wasp pollinators.
In order to better understand the evolutionary history of this particular fig, Ming and his colleagues studied the genomes of the tree and its pollinator.
“When we sequenced the genomes of the trees, we found more segmental duplications in the genome of the banyan tree than in F. hispida, the fig without aerial roots,” Ming said. “These duplicated regions account for about 27 percent of the genome.”
The duplications lead to an increase in the amount of auxins generated and transported within a plant’s system.
These duplicated regions also included genes involved in the development of volatile organic compounds and the production of immunity in plants.
“Auxin levels in aerial roots are five times higher than in leaves of trees with or without aerial roots,” Ming concluded.
The elevated levels of auxin stimulated the development of aerial roots.
The duplicated regions contain genes that trigger auxin development to be accelerated.
When the research team compared the fig wasp’s genome to that of other related wasps, they discovered that the wasps retain and preserve genes for olfactory receptors which recognize the same compounds that fig trees produce.
The researchers report that these genomes indicate coevolution between the fig trees and the wasps.
Researchers have found a Y-chromosome-specific gene only expressed in males in plants of F. the species with only female flowers and the species with only male flowers, a disorder known as anemophily.
The gene had been duplicated more times in dioecious plants than in either hermaphrodite or monoecious species.
But Ficus species that are capable of bearing both male and female flowers on one tree are capable of only possessing one copy of this gene. This research “This strongly suggests that this gene is a dominant factor affecting sex determination.” that this gene is the secret to deciding sex.
Reference: “Genomes of the Banyan Tree and Pollinator Wasp Provide Insights into Fig-Wasp Coevolution” by Xingtan Zhang, Gang Wang, Shengcheng Zhang, Shuai Chen, Yibin Wang, Ping Wen, Xiaokai Ma, Yan Shi, Rui Qi, Yang Yang, Zhenyang Liao, Jing Lin, Jishan Lin, Xiuming Xu, Xuequn Chen, Xindan Xu, Fang Deng, Lihua Zhao, Yi-lun Lee, Rong Wang, Xiao-Yong Chen, Yann-rong Lin, Jisen Zhang, Haibao Tang, Jin Chen, and Ray Ming, 8 October 2020, Cell. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell. .08.94
Ming is a science researcher at the Carlson Research Center.
Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Iowa. of “I”.
This research was conducted with funding from Fuzhou Agricultural University of China, National Science Foundation, and National Natural Science Foundation of China.