Orchid genome may save highly endangered species

Phalaenopsis equestris orchid

The genetic blueprints of the orchid Phalaenopsis equestris may help preserve highly endangered orchid species.

Li-Jun Chen and Zhong-Jian Liu

The orchid’s genetic sequence is giving scientists clues to how an alternative form of photosynthesis, called crassulacean acid metabolism, evolved. Orchids are the first plants that use this form of photosynthesis to have their genome sequenced, researchers report November 24 in Nature Genetics. The full sequence of Phalaenopsis equestris also pinpoints specific genes that may have given orchid flowers their specialized shape. The results could play a role in conserving some of the orchid species considered to be highly endangered, the researchers suggest.

photo of Ashley Yeager

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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