Plants survived catastrophe by doubling DNA
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Some plants survived the catastrophe 65 million years ago. That they may be due to a doubling of their DNA. This is what researchers at Ghent University discovered.

Sunlight stopped
Around 65 million years ago was the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction None "instead. One or more catastrophic events (such as comet impact, increased volcanic activity, ...) caused when fires and dust clouds, which is a long held against the sunlight. Sixty percent of all plant and many animal species, including the dinosaurs, survived the change in climatic conditions not.

The species that have survived, were better adapted to new circumstances. That they may be due to DNA duplication, which gave them an evolutionary advantage. In the course of history have plants or more doubled their DNA.

The VIB-Ghent University researchers Jeffrey Fawcett, Steven Maere and Yves Van de Peer knew this doublings to date and found that the most recent duplications around 65 million years ago took place, so with the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction None " .

The scientists decide that, with a genome duplication plants best adapted to survive in what were drastically changed circumstances.

Duplications of DNA are a rather exceptional "deviation". They cause very pronounced and its properties in the same conditions rather detrimental to the species.

Previous research by Yves Van de Peer had already shown that DNA doublings in early ancestors of vertebrates and fish was crucial to the development of vertebrate animals, including humans. (belga / edp)