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Nature. 1999 May 13;399(6732):144-8.

Evolution of genetic mechanisms controlling petal development.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8104, USA.


Molecular genetic studies in Arabidopsis thaliana and other higher-eudicot flowering plants have led to the development of the 'ABC' model of the determination of organ identity in flowers, in which three classes of gene, A, B and C, are thought to work together to determine organ identity. According to this model, the B-class genes APETALA3 (AP3) and PISTILLATA (PI) act to specify petal and stamen identity. Here we test whether the roles of these genes are conserved throughout the angiosperms by analysing the expression of AP3 and PI orthologues in the lower eudicot subclass Ranunculidae. We show that, although expression of these orthologues in the stamens is conserved, the expression patterns in the petals differ from those found in the higher eudicots. The differences between these expression patterns suggest that the function of AP3 and PI homologues as B-class organ-identity genes is not rigidly conserved among all angiosperms. These observations have important implications for understanding the evolution of both angiosperm petals and the genetic mechanisms that control the identities of floral organs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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