A team of researchers used the sequencing of 260 oak species to understand the evolution of this complex plant, which is very important from an environmental, economic and cultural point of view.
A study published in New Phytologist by an international team led by Andrew Hipp, a scientist from the Morton Arboretum, confirms that these plants have diversified several times around the world in response to the different environments they have had to face and the different environmental opportunities they have been offered.
This is “the most detailed report to date on the evolutionary history of oaks,” which is freely available online as of today, according to a press release presenting the study. The oak genome is so diverse that it is considered a mosaic that characterizes the evolutionary history of the plant itself.
Different oak lines have repeatedly diversified even in the same area: red oaks, white oaks, cork oaks and so on all rapidly grew in Eurasia and America, and various species were repeatedly crossed and hybridized, which led to even greater diversification.
This plant turned out to be very important in the history of mankind, because it gave the wood necessary for the construction of houses, ships, containers, such as barrels, and furniture, and was home to many species of insects, mushrooms and birds, as well as mammals and with its tonnage provided a lot of repairs for animals. This does not take into account how important it is to maintain forests at the hydrogeological level.
“The history of the evolution of oak is particularly interesting because of the ecological and morphological convergence in the different oak lines that coexist on the same continent,” says Antoine Kremer of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, one of the authors of the study.
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