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Science

Tree's Leaves Genetically Different From Its Roots 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the different-parts dept.
ananyo writes "Black cottonwood trees (Populus trichocarpa) can clone themselves to produce offspring that are connected to their parents by the same root system. Now, after the first genome-wide analysis of a tree, it turns out that the connected clones have many genetic differences, even between tissues from the top and bottom of a single tree. 'When people study plants, they'll often take a cutting from a leaf and assume that it is representative of the plant's genome,' says Brett Olds, a biologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who was involved in the study. 'That may not be the case. You may need to take multiple tissues.' The finding also challenges the idea that evolution only happens in a population rather than at an individual level. As one tree contains many different genomes, natural selection and evolution could happen within a single organism."
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Tree's Leaves Genetically Different From Its Roots

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  • Cancer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:38AM (#40973725)

    That's essentially what cancer is, a genetic mutation in a cell that evolves it into an undying, eternally reproducing organism that parasitically gets its nutrients from its host organism/ancestor.

  • Re:Uh... Howzat? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13, 2012 @02:12PM (#40975719)

    While that is a good point, that an active immune system would prevent genetic diversification within an individual, the diversification alone is not sufficient for evolution within an individual. For example, if you had some chimeric human where your arm had genetic differences from the rest of you, regardless of how viable or not the abilities of your arm are, that genetic material will not get passed on (some slashdotters should have experimentally figured out by now that hand-person relationships do not produce viable offspring). The only impact the genetic material in the arm could have is to promote or restrict the genome possessed by the reproductive organs.

    In principle, a tree branch can compete with another branch in the same tree for light, nutrients, and be capable of producing its own seeds. Or at least it could produce more branches from its side of the tree, unlike say an organ in more complex animals being able to produce more organs if successful enough.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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