This post is going to be all over the place. It is not just about a plant. It is what I found as I kept looking up stuff that led me to other stuff and so on. Here goes:
Stellarioides tenuifolia belongs to the Asparagus family. That means, a) it is going to be pretty, b) it is bulbous (not that all of them are bulbous)
The flower does not have petals but tepals with a green line that is beautifully visible in both pictures.
That takes care of the bulbous part
The tepals are not there just to look pretty, though. Remember that a stigma is like a helipad for the pollinators? This plant has evolved so that it uses its tepals as a functional helipad - in plant world, that is a big deal! Also, I have pictures:
Something else that makes this asparagasine (totally making it up) member stand out is its chromosome number. Humans have 46 chromosomes in each cell. Having so many chromosomes does not make you research-friendly and that is one of the reasons that geneticists love Arabidopsis.
The plant under today's spotlight is one of the six plants that has the lowest chromosome number i.e. 4!
Another of the low chromosome-numbered sextuplets
And another one
The award for the lowest ever goes to male ants, Myrmecia pilosula that have only one.
The highest number can be found in the fern, Ophioglossum reticulatum, which has 1260 chromosomes per cell.
Then while searching, I came across:
Don't let anyone convince you that the number of chromosomes affects the complexity of the organism, either. It's true that simple bacteria have only one chromosome, but look at these numbers: domestic cats have 19 pairs of chromosomes, and Geometrid Moths have 112 pairs. Moths are definitely not 6times more complex than cats, even though 6 x 19 equals about 112! And don't forget about the ferns with over 1,000 pairs.
I then found proof of this too! A ciliate (for simplicity's sake, a tiny organism with cilia for movement) has about 15,600 chromosomes! It is also much much smarter than us since about 96% of all genetic material is repetition and this organism filters all the garbage out, keeping only what it needs to survive on a daily basis. (It does not hurt that it has two nuclei, one of which stores all DNA - garbage and all)
Try to read the whole article, it boggles the mind how complicated this creature is!
My last foray led me to this article that just freaked me out! It talks about B chromosomes that are not part of the actual genetic makeup and are extra. The authors seemed determined to scare the shit out of me by saying stuff like:
There are also significant biological questions concerning the origin and structural organization of Bs, and the way in which these selfish elements can establish themselves by exploiting the replicative machinery of their host genome nucleus.
and, in general, it is a truism that in higher numbers they are deleterious, especially to fertility.
Like I said, freaky!
#BPotD #Botany #DNA #Chromosome #WhoCares