Thursday, 15 November 2012

Photo finish

Japanese botanists have created blooming hybrid orchids after they succeeded in crossbreeding a species that photosynthesises with another that does not, according to the press.

In 2006, the team artificially crossbred Cymbidium ensifolium (pictured right) which does photosynthesise, and Cymbidium macrorhizon (pictured left), which does not. They grew the seeds in glass bottles and guessing that the hybrids will photosynthesise, although the results are not yet available.

This autumn, it produced large flowers, three to four cms wide, with light yellow-green petals with red-purple dots.

This is the first time two fundamentally different nutritional regimes have merged into one, claimed Tomohisa Yukawa, a botanist at the museum's Tsukuba Botanical Garden in Ibaraki Prefecture.

If you recall your school biology, most plants convert the energy from the sun into chemical energy to generate nourishment – this is photosynthesis. But some orchid variants and some vascular plant species have ceased this process. Cymbidium macrorhizon, found in Japan and Southeast Asia, has no leaves and is parasitic to russulae and other fungi.

To see the final result, click here.

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