Hong Ma, Professor of Biology
Huck Distinguished Research Professor of Plant Molecular Biology
Associate Dean for Research and Innovation
Pennsylvania State University
Topic: Nuclear phylogenomics and WGD analyses of Rosaceae and other angiosperm families and implication on fruit type evolution
Fruits are the defining structures of flowering plants and are important to both ecology and agriculture. There are many dry and fleshy types of fruits, whose evolutionary histories are of interests to many, yet the understanding of fruit type evolution has been hindered by uncertainties in the phylogenetic relationships among angiosperms. We use nuclear genomic and transcriptomic datasets to obtain gene sequences for reconstructing angiosperm phylogenies and to investigate whole genome duplications (WGDs) in major angiosperm families, such as the rose family, which includes apple, pear, peach, cherry, plum, strawberry and raspberry, in addition to many ornamental flowers. Ancestral character reconstruction supports independent origins of fleshy fruits from dry fruits and WGDs are detected that coincide with the origins of some fleshy fruits, with retention of gene duplicates implicated in fruit development. The results support the idea that gene duplication from WGDs might have enabled fleshy fruit evolution, contributing to increased biodiversity.
Host Lab: Davis