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Plant Cell. 1994 Dec;6(12):1731-1745.

LEAFY COTYLEDON1 Is an Essential Regulator of Late Embryogenesis and Cotyledon Identity in Arabidopsis.

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  • 1Section of Plant Biology, Division of Biological Sciences, University of California, Davis, California 95616.


LEAFY COTYLEDON1 (LEC1) is an embryo defective mutation that affects cotyledon identity in Arabidopsis. Mutant cotyledons possess trichomes that are normally a leaf trait in Arabidopsis, and the cellular organization of these organs is intermediate between that of cotyledons and leaves from wild-type plants. We present several lines of evidence that indicate that the control of late embryogenesis is compromised by the mutation. First, mutant embryos are desiccation intolerant, yet embryos can be rescued before they dry to yield homozygous recessive plants that produce defective embryos exclusively. Second, although many genes normally expressed during embryonic development are active in the mutant, at least one maturation phase-specific gene is not activated. Third, the shoot apical meristem is activated precociously in mutant embryos. Fourth, in mutant embryos, several genes characteristic of postgerminative development are expressed at levels typical of wild-type seedlings rather than embryos. We conclude that postgerminative development is initiated prematurely and that embryonic and postgerminative programs operate simultaneously in mutant embryos. The pleiotropic effects of the mutation indicate that the LEC1 gene plays a fundamental role in regulating late embryogenesis. The role of LEC1 and its relationship to other genes involved in controlling late embryonic development are discussed.

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