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Author Topic: Have babboons selected this citrus mutation?  (Read 2699 times)

Amanda Hibbers

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Have babboons selected this citrus mutation?
« on: 20/01/2011 10:30:02 »
Amanda Hibbers  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Dear Chris,
 
I enjoy reading Naked Scientist online as was curious about a news report that appears on Mail & Guardian Online in South Africa: "Baboons discover new citrus cultivar in Western Cape."
 
http://www.mg.co.za/article/2011-01-12-baboons-discover-new-citrus-cultivar-in-western-cape
 
In the article, the production director of ALG Estates says:
 
"We were lucky that the baboons' acute sense of smell led them to this particular tree. It was clearly a case of a spontaneous mutation in the orchard, which would have gone unnoticed were it not for the baboons.
 
Is this a case of evolution in action? The tree mutated its sweetness gene so that it is favoured by the baboons and thus ensures its survival.
 
Looking forward to hearing from you.
 
Best regards,
 
Amanda Hibbers

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 20/01/2011 10:30:02 by _system »


 

Offline chris

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Have babboons selected this citrus mutation?
« Reply #1 on: 20/01/2011 13:35:59 »
I agree - this is an example of a selective pressure driving natural selection, in this case from babboons. Nice story.

Chris
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Have babboons selected this citrus mutation?
« Reply #2 on: 21/01/2011 08:40:39 »
Baboons selected it for food. People selected it for cultivation.
The people, not the baboons, ensured the success of this sub-species, so it might be evolution, but not driven by baboons.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Have babboons selected this citrus mutation?
« Reply #3 on: 21/01/2011 09:03:52 »
Quote from: Amanda Hibbers
Is this a case of evolution in action? The tree mutated its sweetness gene so that it is favoured by the baboons and thus ensures its survival.

Be careful not to anthropomorphize the tree.

The tree did not "mutate itself".  A random mutation occurred which caused early ripening of the fruit.

The baboons discovered the early ripening.  Presumably the farmers should have discovered the tree wasn't synchronized with the others around it.

In many situations, such off-season ripening could be a lethal mutation.  In South Africa, it was a benefit due to their extended growing season.

Yes...  it is mutations, evolution, and selective breeding.  However, keep in mind, as mentioned, that this is a domesticated plant, and not a wild plant, and it may not have been native to the area.
 

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Have babboons selected this citrus mutation?
« Reply #3 on: 21/01/2011 09:03:52 »

 

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