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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2007 Feb;10(1):32-8. Epub 2006 Nov 30.

Evolutionary complexity of MADS complexes.

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  • 1Department of Plant Genetics, IWWR, Radboud University Nijmegen, Toernooiveld 1, 6525 ED Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Developmental programs rely on the timely and spatially correct expression of sets of interacting factors, many of which appear to be transcription factors. Examples of these can be found in the MADS-box gene family. This gene family has greatly expanded, particularly in plants, by a range of duplications that have enabled the genes to diversify in structure and function. MADS-box genes appear to have been instrumental in shaping one of the great evolutionary innovations, the true flower, which originated around 120-150 million years ago and led to the enormous radiation of the angiosperms. We propose a shift from analyzing individual gene functions towards studying MADS-box gene function at the subfamily level. This will enable us to distinguish subfunctionalization events from the evolutionary changes that defined floral morphology.

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