Monkeyflowers are famous for growing in harsh soils where other plants can’t. They are also famously diverse in shape and color. And monkeyflowers provide a textbook example of how a single-gene change can make a new species. In a recent issue of the journal Science, UConn botanists explained what happened genetically 5 million years ago that caused monkeyflowers to jettison yellow pigment — which was later recovered by a descendant species, leading to production of red flowers that attracted hummingbirds instead of bees for pollination, isolating the red flowers genetically and creating a new species.

University photographer Peter Morenus, with an assist from UConn Magazine art director Christa Yung, captured the photo of monkeyflowers that appeared on the cover of the Feb. 10 issue of Science magazine.

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Further Reading:

Yellow Evolution: Unique Genes Led to New Species of Monkeyflower

UConn Today

Photos by Peter Morenus


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