Functional analyses of genetic pathways controlling petal specification in poppy
ABSTRACT MADS-box genes are crucial regulators of floral development, yet how their functions have evolved to control different aspects of floral patterning is unclear. To understand the extent to which MADS-box gene functions are conserved or have diversified in different angiosperm lineages, we have exploited the capability for functional analyses in a new model system, Papaver somniferum (opium poppy). P. somniferum is a member of the order Ranunculales, and so represents a clade that is evolutionarily distant from those containing traditional model systems such as Arabidopsis, Petunia, maize or rice. We have identified and characterized the roles of several candidate MADS-box genes in petal specification in poppy. In Arabidopsis, the APETALA3 (AP3) MADS-box gene is required for both petal and stamen identity specification. By contrast, we show that the AP3 lineage has undergone gene duplication and subfunctionalization in poppy, with one gene copy required for petal development and the other responsible for stamen development. These differences in gene function are due to differences both in expression patterns and co-factor interactions. Furthermore, the genetic hierarchy controlling petal development in poppy has diverged as compared with that of Arabidopsis. As these are the first functional analyses of AP3 genes in this evolutionarily divergent clade, our results provide new information on the similarities and differences in petal developmental programs across angiosperms. Based on these observations, we discuss a model for how the petal developmental program has evolved.
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ABSTRACT: DEFICIENS (DEF)- and GLOBOSA (GLO)-like proteins constitute two sister clades of floral homeotic transcription factors that were already present in the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of extant angiosperms. Together they specify the identity of petals and stamens in flowering plants. In core eudicots, DEF- and GLO-like proteins are functional in the cell only as heterodimers with each other. There is evidence that this obligate heterodimerization contributed to the canalization of the flower structure of core eudicots during evolution. It remains unknown as to whether this strict heterodimerization is an ancient feature that can be traced back to the MRCA of extant flowering plants or if it evolved later during the evolution of the crown group angiosperms.Annals of Botany 06/2014; 114(7). DOI:10.1093/aob/mcu094 · 3.30 Impact Factor
Dataset: 2012 Hu Ann Bot
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ABSTRACT: Sexual systems are highly variable in flowering plants and an important contributor to floral diversity. The ranunculid genus Thalictrum is especially well-suited to study evolutionary transitions in sexual systems. Homeotic transformation of sexual organs (stamens and carpels) is a plausible mechanism for the transition from hermaphroditic to unisexual flowers in this lineage because flowers of dioecious species develop unisexually from inception. The single-copy gene PISTILLATA (PI) constitutes a likely candidate for rapid switches between stamen and carpel identity. Here, we first characterized the expression pattern of all B class genes in the dioecious species T. dioicum. As expected, all B class orthologs are expressed in stamens from the earliest stages. Certain AP3 lineages were also expressed late in sepal development. We then tested whether orthologs of PI could potentially control sexual system transitions in Thalictrum, by knocking-down their expression in T. dioicum and the hermaphroditic species T. thalictroides. In T. dioicum, we found that ThdPI-1/2 silencing caused stamen primordia to develop into carpels, resulting in male to female flower conversions. In T. thalictroides, we found that ThtPI silencing caused stamen primordia to develop into supernumerary carpels, resulting in hermaphroditic to female flower conversions. These phenotypes illustrate the ability for homeotic mutations to bring about sudden and potentially adaptive changes by altering the function of a single gene. We propose a two-step evolutionary model where transitions from hermaphroditic to unisexual plants in Thalictrum result from two independent mutations at a B class gene locus. Our PI knockdown experiments in T. thalictroides recapitulate the second step in this model: the evolution of female plants as a result of a loss-of-function mutation in a B class gene.Frontiers in Plant Science 01/2013; 4:487. DOI:10.3389/fpls.2013.00487 · 3.64 Impact Factor