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Monday, May 23, 2022

Research may explain plant infertility

<p>A flower head of the plant species that was studied by UF researchers, Tragopogon miscellus, sits in a field.</p>

A flower head of the plant species that was studied by UF researchers, Tragopogon miscellus, sits in a field.

Results from a UF research project on young plants might help make the nation's agriculture more fertile.

A UF research team set out more than 10 years ago to study the chromosomes of a Northwest plant species. During the process, the team discovered its research may help reduce issues with plants that have a hard time reproducing.

Lead author and UF postdoctoral researcher Michael Chester said the research team studied the changing chromosomes in a plant species that formed in the last century — a veritable baby in plant terms.

He said the research team, led by the Florida Museum of Natural History's Pam Soltis, did not set out to impact agriculture research.

Chester and the research team studied polyploidy, which is a process during which chromosomes multiply. According to a UF news release, the researchers studied about 70 Tragopogon miscellus plants, which are flower variations.

Polyploidy can inhibit the plants' ability to reproduce, and it's common in many important agricultural crops in the U.S., including coffee, corn and apples, according to the news release.

The research might explain why some agricultural plant varieties are infertile, Chester said.

He said the research has not yet been applied to agriculture.

Research like this is what keeps UF faculty on top of the latest innovations, said Win Phillips, senior vice president and chief operating officer for UF's Office of Research.

If UF didn't emphasize research, he said, "then we would simply keep repeating the same stuff."

A flower head of the plant species that was studied by UF researchers, Tragopogon miscellus, sits in a field.

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