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Ferns borrowed genes to flourish in low light

During the age of the dinosaurs, the arrival of flowering plants as competitors could have spelled doom for the ancient fern lineage. Instead, ferns diversified and flourished under the new canopy -- using a mysterious gene that helped them adapt to low-light environments. A team led by Duke University scientists has pinpointed the curious origins of this gene and determined that it was transferred to ferns from a group of unassuming moss-like plants called hornworts. The findings were announced in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Image credit: Fay-Wei Li, Duke University