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Strange New Flowering Plant That Neither Photosynthesizes nor Blooms Discovered in Japan

Oct 15, 2016 02:36 PM EDT
Red indian pipes
Mycoheterotrophic plants or non-photosynthetic mycorrhizal plants are extremely rare and, until today, little is known about the precise taxonomy of this plant group.Pictured above is a photo of red Indian Pipes taken in the Exeter Forest, in Exeter, NH.
(Photo : Magellan nh/Wikimedia Commons)

A researcher from Kobe University has discovered a rare flowering plant in Kuroshima Island on the southern coast of Kagoshima prefecture. Tagged as Gastrodia kuroshimensis, this plant neither photosynthesizes nor blooms -- but why?

According to the study published in the journal Phytotaxa, Kenju Suetsugu, a project associate professor from Kobe University, found the rare mycoheterotrophic plant while traveling in the subtropical Japanese island. He then stumbled upon the strange species and collected the samples for further lab examination.

Mycoheterotrophic plants or non-photosynthetic mycorrhizal plants are extremely rare and, until today, little is known about the precise taxonomy of this plant group. Science Daily notes that these plants are usually small in size. They like hiding in the dark and are usually discovered only during their flowering or fruiting period.

Apart from belonging to an extremely rare plant group, G. kuroshimensis also has another unique character -- it's completely cleistogmous, which means that it can self-fertilize and produce flowers in its own. However, flowers bloomed could not be seen externally as the plant has closed buds, Tech Time reports.

The new discovery of G. kuroshimensis opens doors to further understanding the possible application of this plant as it has so much potential due to its ability to thrive even in less-ideal environments.

"Chasmogamous flowers are an important factor in the success of most plants as even a small degree of outcrossing can result in a relatively rapid decline in linkage disequilibrium across the genome, and is sufficient to overcome the negative effects associated with an absence of effective recombination, such as the accumulation of deleterious mutations and a slowdown in the rate of adaptation.," the study wrote.

Suestsugu, who has been fascinated about mycoheterotrophic, also discovered another member of the said group back in February called Sciaphila yakushimensis.

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