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Defying the Laws of Mendelian Inheritance
Two articles published in F1000Research support controversial claims that could redefine what we know about Mendelian inheritance in single Arabidopsis thaliana plants

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM -- (Marketwire) -- 02/04/13 -- In 2005, Susan Lolle and colleagues from Purdue University published a paper in Nature, concluding that Arabidopsis thaliana plants do not obey the laws of Mendelian inheritance (the idea that all genes are inherited from their parents). Instead, Lolle found that these plants were demonstrating genetic traits from older generations, which shouldn't be possible according to our current understanding of how genes are passed on.

At the time of publishing, the paper was recommended by 20 F1000Prime Faculty Members, and it is still one of the all-time top 10 papers on the site despite also being dissented. In the wider scientific community the paper was met with some criticism, alternative theories to explain the findings were offered, and there were calls for more evidence. Many believed the findings to be the result of contamination from other seeds, the introduction of unrelated genetic material into the breeding line (out-crossing), or another novel DNA-based genetic phenomenon.

Lolle and new colleagues from the University of Waterloo have now published a follow-up paper on F1000Research, having spent several years conducting numerous experiments that they believe provide further evidence to support the original findings and disprove some of the other suggested theories. In Lolle et al.'s paper, "De novo genetic variation revealed in somatic sectors of single Arabidopsis plants", they have used DNA markers to demonstrate the presence of multiple genetic traits in single Arabidopsis plants. The article has now been approved by three independent leading names in the field, Andy Pereira (University of Arkansas), Igor Kovalchuk (University of Lethbridge), and David Oppenheimer (University of Florida), who provided formal referee reports and it will now be indexed in PubMed, Scopus and other major indexers. All peer review for F1000Research is conducted post-publication; referees' comments are openly published and can be viewed (and commented on by others) at the bottom of each article, and authors have the opportunity then to modify their article and publish a new version as appropriate.

A separate article by Carina Barth and her former group at West Virginia University (Barth is now with ConRuhr North America) has been published at the same time on F1000Research, and may go some way to supporting Lolle's findings, although the referees were more mixed in their reaction to this study. In their article "The novel Arabidopsis thaliana svt2 suppressor of the ascorbic acid-deficient mutant vtc1-1 exhibits phenotypic and genotypic instability", Barth et al. attempted to isolate Arabidopsis plants that could in some way compensate for a diminished capacity to synthesize vitamin C in order to better understand the genetic regulation of this process in those plants that do perform the function. They found that a number of their plants compensated by apparently reverting back to an ancestral genome containing the trait responsible for successful biosynthesis of vitamin C, even though they had been bred from plants with a defect in this trait. They conclude that this kind of genetic instability could be explained by hidden information somewhere in the organism's genome, perhaps even Lolle's RNA cache theory.

These papers could have significant implications for plant biology, genetics and agriculture. If confirmed, the findings will completely alter our understanding of how organisms inherit their genes. In addition, the findings could have practical implications for the future. These theories could be adapted to help us better understand how plants (and crops) cope with environmental stress, with relevance to global warming, the moving crop belts and global food security.

To find out more about these two papers and read our referees' reports, see

Read the full articles:

De novo genetic variation revealed in somatic sectors of single Arabidopsis 
plants (v1; ref status: indexed,                       
Marianne T Hopkins, Aaron M Khalid, Pei-Chun Chang, Karen C Vanderhoek,     
Dulcie Lai, Meghan D Doerr, Susan J Lolle                                                              
The novel Arabidopsis thaliana svt2 suppressor of the ascorbic acid-        
deficient mutant vtc1-1 exhibits phenotypic and genotypic instability (v1;  
ref status: indexed,                                   
Chase F Kempinski, Samuel V Crowell, Caleb Smeeth, Carina Barth    

For more information, visit

About F1000Research

F1000Research is the first Open Science journal for life scientists, which guarantees:

1.  No Publication Delay:  All articles, including research findings,
    analyses of scientific developments, opinions, and comments should be
    made visible without delay. 
2.  All Data Included: Reports of findings of new research should always be
    accompanied by the complete dataset on which they are based, provided in
    a form enabling confirmation or reuse of the data by other researchers. 
3.  Post-publication Peer Review:  Refereeing of reports of new research is
    important and should be carried out after publication to prevent delay. 
4.  Open Refereeing: All referee reports and commentary should be published
    with the names and affiliations of the referees and commenters visible. 
5.  Full Open Access: All articles must be published without any restriction
    of access.

F1000Research accepts all scientifically sound articles. In addition to traditional articles, F1000Research accepts articles ranging from single findings, datasets, short articles, case reports, protocols, replications, and null or negative results to opinion pieces and reviews.

More information can be found in our online information pack:

Eleanor Howell
+44 (0)20 7631 9129

About Marketwired .
Copyright © 2009 Marketwired. All rights reserved. All the news releases provided by Marketwired are copyrighted. Any forms of copying other than an individual user's personal reference without express written permission is prohibited. Further distribution of these materials is strictly forbidden, including but not limited to, posting, emailing, faxing, archiving in a public database, redistributing via a computer network or in a printed form.

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