text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text Transcoder Skip all navigation and go to page contentSkip top navigation and go to directorate navigationSkip top navigation and go to page navigation
National Science Foundation
News
design element
News
News From the Field
For the News Media
Special Reports
Research Overviews
NSF-Wide Investments
Speeches & Lectures
NSF Current Newsletter
Multimedia Gallery
Search Multimedia
Image
Video
Audio
More
Multimedia in the News
NSF Executive Staff
News Archive
 

Email this pagePrint this page
Sunflower (Helianthus anomalus)


Researchers used anomalous sunflowers to see what role chance plays in evolution

Sunflower (Helianthus anomalus).

To try and determine how much of a role chance plays in evolution, National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported evolutionary biologist Loren Rieseberg and colleagues at Indiana University conducted experiments using the anomalous sunflower Helianthus anomalus, a naturally-occurring hybrid. Anomalous sunflowers are the result of interbreeding two other sunflowers: the common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and the petioled sunflower (Helianthus petiolaris). Rieseberg and his team assumed they could interbreed the two parent species and get another flower but did not know if they would still get the anomalous sunflower or if a totally new species would develop after a few generations.

In the three trials they conducted, the anomalous sunflower reappeared within four generations. Additionally, not only did the flowers look like their counterparts, found in the Great Basin desert, but DNA testing showed that they were almost identical. The outcome was a surprising finding since much of evolutionary theory suggests that chance is a significant player in speciation.

Credit: Courtesy USDA

General Restrictions:
Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.

Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation. Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.

Also Available:
Download the high-resolution JPG version of the image. (708 KB)

Use your mouse to right-click (Mac users may need to Ctrl-click) the link above and choose the option that will save the file or target to your computer.

 



Email this pagePrint this page
Back to Top of page