Model changes

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 At the beginning of January this year, the annual grass species Brachypodium distachyon was split into three separate species which were described and published in the Annals of Botany. It had been known for some time that there were variants of  B. distachyon which had different numbers of chromosomes but now an international group of scientists has identified them as distinct species.

Those with 10 chromosomes will keep the name B. distachyon, those with 20 chromosomes are named B. stacei and those with 30 chromosomes originated as a cross between the other two species and are named B. hybridium. The species B. stacei is found on the Balearic Islands and is named in honour of Clive A. Stace (Emeritus Professor of Botany at the University of Leicester) who started the research into the evolutionary relationships of plants in the Brachypodium genus.

This little plant is interesting as it is a model species used by research scientists for experiments into topics such as grain filling. Brachypodium distachyon is small and easy to grow, has a short life-cycle and a small and fully sequenced genome. This makes it a lot easier to work with than related and economically important grasses such as wheat and switchgrass. The model plant most often used for research into broad-leaved plants is called Arabidopsis thaliana and there’s a picture of it on this previous blog post:

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