Science Interviews

Interview

Thu, 4th Oct 2012

Gene of the month - Superman

Kat Arney

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Stop bugging me! The genetics of bedbugs and other insects

And finally, our gene of the month is Superman! This time, the name comes from the world of plant genetics, as the gene was first discovered in Arabidopsis - a type of cress that’s often used as a model plant. Flowers from plants with a faulty version of Superman have extra male parts - the pollen-producing stamens - and fewer carpels, the female seed-producing bits. Superman is switched on very early on in flower development, and it plays an important part in distinguishing these different organs. In 2002 there was an interesting plot twist, when researchers in the US discovered another gene that switched off Superman in plant cells. What else could they name it but Kryptonite? And finally, there’s one more related gene - a weaker version of the Superman gene, dubbed - of course - Clark Kent.

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