Monkeyflowers come in many different colours, but not all species have the same colour. Chinese researchers have now identified the gene that has changed over time, preventing the flowers from producing yellow pigment.

The gene in question is the YUP gene, which is located in a part of the monkeyflower’s genome that contains three genes that aren’t found outside the species. These three genes are duplicates of other genes, and YUP is a partial duplicate of a pre-existing gene that has nothing to do with colour.

The researchers found that YUP affects the part of the plant that deals with carotenoids, the pigments that make flowers yellow. The gene produced small RNA molecules that blocked the carotenoid gene. The other two genes have similar effects on colour. The researchers have published their work in the journal Science.

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