Yaowu Yuan’s passion for monkeyflowers began in 2004 with a slideshow. Then a budding plant taxonomist at the University of Washington in Seattle and an avid hiker, he was amazed at the variety of wildflowers he saw on his outings in the Cascade mountains. Like Charles Darwin, he was vexed by what Darwin called an abominable mystery: How did nature generate such a diversity of flower colors and forms? During a campus seminar, Yuan encountered a plant that he thought might yield answers. University of Washington plant molecular biologist H. D. “Toby” Bradshaw and his graduate student showed slides documenting as much floral diversity within a single monkeyflower species as Yuan had seen in the meadows and streambanks of the Cascades—all generated by mutating the genome of this one Mimulus species.
Read Meet the monkeyflower, a weed that may hold the key to zebra stripes and other biological mysteries via Science | AAAS
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