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Water lily may provide a 'missing link' in the evolution of flowering plants

id endosperm, with one set of chromosomes each from the mother and the father. Thus, the diploid water lily endosperm may represent an intermediate form between haploid gymnosperms and triploid angiosperms.

Understanding the origin and genetic constitution of endosperm is critical to improving the worlds food supply. Two-thirds of the calories that people consume come from endosperm filled seeds of wheat, corn, rice and barley all of which are flowering plants.

Humans co-opted endosperm from its original purpose of nourishing the plant embryo to one that essentially feeds the world, notes Friedman. Williams adds, Every major civilization (except for that of the Maoris, a people indigenous to New Zealand) originated on the back of triploid endosperm.


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Contact: Andrea M. Dietrich
adietric@nsf.gov
703-292-8070
National Science Foundation
30-Jan-2002


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