The newly-discovered plant can provide more insight into the evolution of non-photosynthetic plants
Non-photosynthetic plants have long been a topic of scientific interest. But the biggest problem is that these plants are extremely rare and come in very small size. In addition, they are found in the dark understory of forest, which makes it even more difficult to access.
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Recently, a researcher from Kobe University came across one such species of plant while documenting non photosynthetic or mycoheterotrophic plants in Kuroshima, Japan. By analyzing a specimen, researcher found that it was indeed a completely new species. Further investigation revealed that the plant is extremely unusual. The new plant species, named G. kuroshimensis, is totally mycoheterotrophi, meaning it does not get its nutrients from photosynthesis or by converting the sunlight into food as many other plants does. Instead, it relies on its host fungi for fulfilling its needs. Moreover, it produces flowers that never bloom, which is a sign of a cleistogamous plant.
Plant discovered that neither photosynthesizes nor blooms @tugutuguk @Phytotaxa Press release here >> https://t.co/IAwab6CPdu #KobeU pic.twitter.com/t7rOaeJmot— Kobe University (@KobeU_Global) October 14, 2016
Cleistogamy refers to a reproductive mechanism that promotes self-pollination which results in the failure of the flowers to open.
“Cleistogamous flowers are considered a bet-hedging strategy, since they require less resources than chasmogamous flowers and because they can provide reproductive assurance by setting seeds in the absence of pollinators and under disadvantageous environmental conditions.” Researcher Kenji Suetsugu wrote.
However, the evolution of cleistogamous flowers is still a mystery, mainly because of the limited availability of these plants. The discovery of G. kuroshimensis, therefore, provides a great opportunity to understand the evolutionary history of complete cleistogamy and genetic mechanisms underlying its evolution.