Debate blooms over anatomy of the world’s first flower
An ambitious effort to reconstruct the world’s first flower has seeded a debate over what forms a blossom can and cannot take.
The project, called eFLOWER, combined an unparalleled database of plant traits, reams of molecular data on evolutionary relationships, and complex statistical models to determine what the ancestor of all modern flowering plants might have looked like. When its results were published last August1, they drew intense interest from academics and the media.
But since then, researchers have raised questions about some of eFLOWER’s predictions. On 31 January, plant morphologist Dmitry Sokoloff of Moscow State University and his colleagues published a reanalysis of the data that suggests a different arrangement of key female reproductive structures in the first flower2.