Angiospermae: They're all around us. Look out almost any window and you'll see hundreds of them - the grass, the trees, the scraggly little weeds that force their way up between pavers. Our lives are shaped by them. In fact, we would never exist without them. They feed us, clothe us, inspire us. But where did they come from? At one point, researchers thought they had a pretty good idea of the origins of flowering plants, but in the past two decades molecular data have cruelly conspired to make our understanding far more shaky than it once was. They may rule the planet now, but they might as well have come from outer space. Where to next?
"Insect-attracting strobili such as found in Bennettitales could have quite easily given rise to the first flowers. Developmental genetics has confirmed the theory put forward many years previously that petals and sepals represent modified leaves, and by affecting the expression of the genes involved it has proved possible to make leaves grow instead of petals, and petals grow instead of leaves (Goto et al., 2001). So while we have still not entirely solved what Darwin so overquotedly referred to as the 'abominable mystery', the answer has drawn tantalisingly close." The Origin of flowers
Storyteller: Christoper Taylor
Storyreteller: Larry Moran, Department of Biochemistry, University of Toronto
The Evolution of flowering plants
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