Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

The Old Flower

Researchers have reconstructed what they think the first flowering plant looked like, the Guardian reports. It describes the flower as "[d]elicate and upturned, with curving petals arranged in threes."

An international team of researchers traced angiosperm phylogeny using data from nearly 800 species, representing 98 percent of angiosperm orders and 86 percent of angiosperm families, as it reports in Nature Communications.

"We almost know nothing about how flowers evolved since their origin and yet this is extremely important for their ecological role and the role that plants play today on Earth," first author Hervé Sauquet from Paris-Sud University tells the Guardian. Angiosperms are thought to have arisen between 140 million to 250 million years ago.

Used three approaches, Sauquet and his colleagues inferred the ancestral states of 27 floral traits to develop a picture of what that first flower was like. In particular, they report that it was likely bisexual and had its stamens, sepals, and petals arranged in whorls. Sauquet notes that most people have thought that spirals, rather than whorls, would have been the ancestral state, adding that "many people are not going to believe us at first."

The University of Cambridge's Beverley Glover, who was not involved in the study, tells the Guardian that the findings are exciting, but notes that it's only a prediction of what the first flower might've been.

The Scan

Cancer Survival Linked to Mutational Burden in Pan-Cancer Analysis

A pan-cancer paper appearing in JCO Precision Oncology suggests tumor mutation patterns provide clues for predicting cancer survival that are independent of other prognostic factors.

Australian Survey Points to Public Support for Genetic Risk Disclosure in Relatives of At-Risk Individuals

A survey in the European Journal of Human Genetics suggests most adult Australians are in favor of finding out if a relative tests positive for a medically actionable genetic variant.

Study Links Evolution of Stony Coral Skeleton to Bicarbonate Transporter Gene

A PNAS paper focuses on a skeleton-related bicarbonate transporter gene introduced to stony coral ancestors by tandem duplication.

Hormone-Based Gene Therapy to Sterilize Domestic Cat

A new paper in Nature Communication suggests that gene therapy could be a safer alternative to spaying domestic cats.