A new study has made new exiting revelations about the bladderwort plant. According to the study, it may appear a simple plant just like others at first glance, but it carries a small structure of tiny genome inside that is packed with more genes than even larger and more well-known plant species.
A group of researchers at the University of Buffalo made the realization recently while studying the genomic structure of a plant, called Utricularia gibba.
Bladderwort, which resides in the ocean, has been fascinating the scientists’ community for long. It is a unique plant species having no roots and floats on the water surface and inside with the help of its tiny branches, which is also used in trapping and capturing its prey.
But the new findings at the genomic level have made the plant even more fascinating for the scientists. The scientists said the plant’s genome is small, but it continues to possess a lot of genes. The number of genes in bladderwort plant is even more than found in more complex plants, such as coffee, grapes and papaya.
The study showed that the genome of the bladderwort has approximately 80 million base pairs of DNA, along with 28,500 genes. Comparatively, the grape only possesses nearly 26,000 genes.
Victor Albert, Professor of Biological Sciences at the University at Buffalo, said, “The bladderwort has habitually gained and shed oodles of DNA throughout its history. With a shrunken genome…we might expect to see a minimal DNA complement: a plant that has relatively few genes – only those required to make a simple plant. But that’s not what we see.”
The researchers observed that the genome of bladderwort contains very small quantity of “junk DNA”, the genes having no specifically outlined purpose. Comparatively, the human body has 90 percent junk DNA.
For the study, the researchers conducted a comparative analysis of the genome of bladderwort to other related plants and found that the bladderwort was engaged in constantly taking on new genes and shedding others.
The study showed the bladderwort went under three gene duplication episodes that further led to the production of multiple copies of every gene. Scientists say this is a common DNA occurrence. But the difference with the bladderwort is that it instantly omitted much of its superfluous DNA, leaving behind only useful genes, specifically those responsible for controlling the breaking down of its food and genes that maintain the strength of its cell walls in the aquatic environment.