Tomato cousin’s coolest quirk

If you’ve ever seen tomatillos in a supermarket, you’ve probably noticed the dry, papery husk surrounding them. Groundcherries, a miniature relative of the tomatillo, also have this husk. It’s called an inflated calyx, and it could have significant implications for the field of plant genetics.

Peeling back the genetic layers of groundcherry’s inflated calyx may help reveal the underlying processes driving plant evolution. This time-lapse video, narrated by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Professor and HHMI Investigator Zachary Lippman, provides an inside look. In less than two minutes, you can see the inflated calyx transform from a tiny bundle of leaves into a full-blown husk.

The process takes less than two weeks but speaks to evolutionary traits that were millennia in the making. 


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