A University of Kentucky professor is among a group of international scientists that recently became the first to sequence Marchantia polymorpha, or the common liverwort.
Genetic sequencing allows scientists to analyze the order of nucleotides in a species' DNA. UK Plant and Soil Sciences assistant professor Tomokazu Kawashima said scientists compared the results of the liverwort sequencing with the DNA of other known species.
Kawashima said liverworts are among the earliest plants to live on land and understanding the plant's genome will provide an insight to how plants became resistant to droughts and "conquered the land."
“We found that those components that we already know from flowering plants--genes that are involved in moisture control--were initiated in Marchantia so we found kind of a hint of how plants became tolerant to drought,” Kawashima said.
The findings were published this month in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Cell. Scientists in Australia and Japan led the genome sequencing project and studied the plant’s reproductive system, hormone signaling pathways and regulatory pathways. Kawashima said his role in the research was finding epigenetic genes and comparing them to those of other species.