Genomes Gone Wild
Published 01 January 2014
What do cells, genes, mutations, transposons, RNA silencing, and DNA recombination have in common? All were discovered first in plants.
It sounds grandiose, but it’s true, and plant biologists delight in reminding others of these plant-derived breakthroughs. The first cell observed under a microscope, back in the mid-1660s by physicist Robert Hooke, was a plant cell in a slice of cork. Botanist Robert Brown first named the nucleus after observing opaque spots inside orchid cells. The saintly father of genetics, Gregor Mendel, defined the laws of inheritance by studying pea plants. The list goes on.