A recent study aimed to comprehend the evolutionary history of the pineapple by investigating a genome sequencing for monocot comparative genomics analyses. The research revealed how this plant was able to survive a drought by using a unique process of photosynthesis which converts sunlight to chemical energy. It was made by Ray Ming, Robert VanBuren, Ching Man Wai, Haibao Tang and a group of other investigators, and published in the journal Nature Genetics.

This fruit, originated from southwestern Brazil and eastern Paraguay about 6,000 years ago, is now cultivated worldwide in more than 85 different countries. About 25 million metric tons of crops are annually produced and contribute to an international industry that is worth $9 billion.

Scientists revealed they have sequenced the genome of the pineapple, learning about the genetic underpinning of the plant’s drought tolerance and special form of photosynthesis, the process plants use to convert light into chemical energy. Credit: Greenlander

The study revealed two instances of whole-genome duplications in the history of the pineapple. Inverstigators were also able to find that this unique fruit employs a variation of the photosynthesis process known as crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) to build up its tissues even though most other plants use the type called C3. The ability of the CAM process is to boost water efficiency by using 20 to 80 percent less water than C3.

They also found that the genome of the pineapple and other grass species contains one less genome duplication compared to grass species that share its ancestry. This doubling is part of a process known as whole-genome duplications.

Plant biologist Ray Ming said, “This is the first time scientists have found a link between regulatory elements of CAM photosynthesis genes and circadian clock regulation. This makes sense because CAM photosynthesis allows plants to close the pores in their leaves during the day and open them at night,” as Tech Times reported.

Ming also alleged that the genome studied will contribute to future investigations of other cereal crops. By tracing the pathways of these duplications, investigators hope to provide important basic information on how to cultivate new crops that can resist diseases and insect infestations and help secure food supplies in the coming years. Researchers may be able to adapt certain similar crops such as rice and wheat to CAM photosynthesis and develop drought tolerance.

Source: Nature Genetics