How did life evolve?
Anything that puts together the puzzles of how life evolved is of interest to Biology and Palnts are a major part of this question. As I will explain in the final paragragh, plants played an ssentail role in driving evolution forward! But what are wee trying to find oiut and what have we not yet found?! For example, It is a commonly held belief that life first emerged from the Oceans and that Eucaryotic life itself emerged via some massive step from Archaea! More sophisticted Archaea are being found all the time now but to date NO amoebae-like organsim has been isolated from Hot Thermal Vents It would great to find such an organsim that descended from such an ancient Proto-amoeba to sequence?
To understand how complex life evolved on the pristine but barren Earth over 550 million years ago we should study ancient organisms that can be traced back that far! Hence my enthusiasm to sequence Lichens and Sponges!
Lichens are essentially plants constituted by symbiotic partners of a fungi and often a photosynthetic bacteria called a Cyanobacteria. The latter have been on earth for over 3.5 billion years and helped the generating of a Oxygenated atmosphere and thus life itself in its many diverse forms! Without it, complex life, even multi-celluarity would not have been possible. But how did the symbiotic partners that form a Lichen evolve together? Sequencing will allow us to see what DNA was swapped, lost or even modified over time.That is why we should sequence a Lichen!
Plants are hugely important for the environment – eg oxygen production, absorption of carbon dioxide, food source (for wild animals and for agricultural food production), source of medicinal compounds.
Sequencing plants that are used in farming can help increase yields and help fight diseases that may affect these plants.