A genotype hitchhike along British railways

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Science  20 May 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6288, pp. 950-951
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6288.950-f

Mutation allows plants to grow along herbicide treated railways.


Triazine herbicides were widely used along British railways in the second half of the 20th century. A mutation in a chloroplast-encoded photosynthesis gene in the weed Arabidopsis thaliana confers resistance to the herbicide. Flood et al. show that resistant A. thaliana plants are found exclusively beside railway tracks. The resistance mutation in the chloroplast genome is associated with a single nuclear haplotype. This “genetic hitchhiking” of the whole nuclear genome probably results from the intense herbicide selection and high levels of inbreeding in A. thaliana. Thus, anthropogenic-driven selection can play a significant role in genome evolution.

Curr. Biol., 10.1016/j.cub.2016.03.027 (2016).

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