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Genes prevent inbreeding in petunias

by webdev

November 05, 2010

Recent research from Penn State University has stumbled upon a series of genes that prevent petunias from inbreeding, helping the flowers generate genetic diversity, reports

Scientists led by Tehhui Kao discovered multiple genes, called self-incompatible taxa, that inhibit the petunia plant from breeding with itself or with its close relatives. Findings were published today in the academic journal Science.

The petunia's self-incompatibility characteristic allows its pistil to recognize and reject self-pollen and accept non-self pollen.

Inbreeding negatively affects the flowers much like it does humans and can cause the plant to be generated with a genetic disease or inferior health.

"Humans have mechanisms to prevent inbreeding that are in part cultural. But a plant can't just get up and move to the next town to find a suitable, unrelated mate. Some other system must be at work," Kao told the news source.

Petunias posess both male and female reproductive organs that are located in close proximity to each other, making it easy for its pollen to land on itself, resulting in self-fertilization.

One of the most popular flowers for gift bouquets, the petunia flower meaning conveys the message that "your presence sooths me," according to


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