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Dr. Victor Albert, University at Buffalo - The Amborella and Plant Evolution


Albany, NY – In today's Academic Minute, Dr. Victor Albert of the University at Buffalo introduces us to the amborella and uncovers the roots of plant evolution.

Dr. Albert is the Empire Innovation Professor at the University at Buffalo where he uses genomic, developmental, and genetic approaches to understand problems in plant evolutionary biology. His current research is focused on the sequencing and characterization of the avocado and amborella genomes.

About Dr. Albert

Dr. Victor Albert- The Amborella and Plant Evolution

Amborella is like the platypus of flowering plants. It's the single living descendant of the common ancestor of all other flowering plants, so it's sort of like the platypus, which itself represents the sister lineage to all other living mammals.

The genome of Amborella is very important because it provides an evolutionary perspective for understanding modern crops. All modern crops come from flowering plants everything from lettuce, the leaves of lettuce, to crops that come from the flowers themselves, such as rice, soybeans, maize, avocado, coffee... You name it.

So in order to compare, say, rice with soybeans, normally people would just look sideways in a linear comparison, comparing one with the other. But having the Amborella genome allows us to basically go back into time and put an evolutionary perspective on that comparison.

This evolutionary perspective is of great importance to understanding things like resistance to drought of crops and adaptation to global warming. Our project's funded by the National Science Foundation in particular, the Plant Genome Research Program. Those involved include UB, of course, and University of Georgia, University of Florida, Indiana University, and Penn State University, which is leading the study.

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