Ancestors of American Indians practiced horticulture

New information about early Native Americans’ horticultural practices comes not from hieroglyphs or other artifacts, but from a suite of four gene duplicates found in wild and domesticated sunflowers.

In an upcoming issue of Current Biology, Indiana University Bloomington biologists present concrete evidence for how gene duplications can lead to diversity in organisms. In this case, the scientists learned how duplications of a gene called FLOWERING LOCUS T, or FT, could have evolved and interacted to prolong a flower’s time to grow. A longer flower growth period means a bigger sunflower — presumably an attribute of great value to the plant’s first breeders.

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