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Development. 2009 Jul;136(13):2265-76. doi: 10.1242/dev.032938.

Orthologs of Arabidopsis thaliana stomatal bHLH genes and regulation of stomatal development in grasses.

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  • 1Biology Department, 371 Serra Mall, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5020, USA.


Stomata are adjustable pores in the plant epidermis that regulate gas exchange between the plant and atmosphere; they are present on the aerial portions of most higher plants. Genetic pathways controlling stomatal development and distribution have been described in some detail for one dicot species, Arabidopsis, in which three paralogous bHLH transcription factors, FAMA, MUTE and SPCH, control discrete sequential stages in stomatal development. Orthologs of FAMA, MUTE and SPCH are present in other flowering plants. This observation is of particular interest when considering the grasses, because both the morphology of guard cells and their tissue distributions differ substantially between Arabidopsis and this group. By examining gene expression patterns, insertional mutants and cross-species complementation studies, we find evidence that FAMA function is conserved between monocots and dicots, despite their different stomatal morphologies, whereas the roles of MUTE and two SPCH paralogs are somewhat divergent.

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