1,100 Words

Mimulus decorus

Seeds of (In)Compatibility

In the Cascades of western North America, researchers in the lab of Duke biologist John Willis have been studying a group of wildflowers that look almost identical, but differ genetically and often fail to produce viable seeds. By cross-pollinating these plants and looking inside the resulting seeds to analyze the tissues within, Willis and Duke Ph.D. Jenn Coughlan tried to figure out why some hybrid seeds germinate and others don’t. Their results suggest that combinations of genes from both parent plants influence how hybrid seeds develop -- findings that help researchers better understand how one species becomes two.