In March of 2012, plant biologists at The University of Georgia in Athens discovered the gene which caused the mutation in the sunflowers in some of Van Gogh’s paintings. When we think of sunflowers most of us think of yellow petals surrounding a big dark center, but in Van Gogh’s sunflower series, a number of the flowers look more like a chrysanthemum than a sunflower. He was known for faithfully painting what he saw, so some of Van Gogh’s iconic sunflower paintings raised questions as to the variations he had captured.
John Burke and his colleagues at the University of Georgia have traced the unusual floral arrangement in Van Gogh’s painting to mutations found in a single gene.
Read more about the discovery in the post at Nature.com and here at Wired Science.
Understand more of the differences between Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and real sunflowers.