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How did the monkeyflower Get its spots?


The monkeyflower, or Mimulus, though possessing a relatively simple genome, is able to produce a stunning array of pigmentation patterns. A team of researchers is one step closer to understanding exactly how this genus of wildflowers is able to achieve such remarkable diversity, as shown by their research published today in Current Biology.

Visual variations such as spots or stripes can act as camouflage and potentially as a means of communication between species throughout nature. The mechanisms that give rise to these variations have stumped not only biologists, but also mathematicians for centuries.

“Patterns are everywhere in nature, not just colour patterns but even how leaves are arranged on a stem, really anything with periodicity. Explaining these patterns could be similar in principle, and that is what we’re hoping to do,” says UConn Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Yaowu Yuan. MORE

Header image: Postdoctoral Researcher Dr. Baoqing Ding with different varieties of the monkeyflower on Jan. 15, 2020. Credit: Sean Flynn/UConn Photo.

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