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Physiol Plant. 2004 May;121(1):163-173.

Flowering genes in Metrosideros fit a broad herbaceous model encompassing Arabidopsis and Antirrhinum.

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Institute of Molecular BioSciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11 222, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


Molecular studies were conducted on Metrosideros excelsa to determine if the current genetic models for flowering with regard to inflorescence and floral meristem identity genes in annual plants were applicable to a woody perennial. MEL, MESAP1 and METFL1, the fragments of LEAFY (LFY), APETALA1 (AP1) and TERMINAL FLOWER1 (TFL1) equivalents, respectively, were isolated from M. excelsa. Temporal expression patterns showed that MEL and MESAP1 exhibited a bimodal pattern of expression. Expression exhibited during early floral initiation in autumn was followed by down-regulation during winter, and up-regulation in spring as floral organogenesis occurred. Spatial expression patterns of MEL showed that it had greater similarity to FLORICAULA (FLO) than to LFY, whereas MESAP1 was more similar to AP1 than SQUAMOSA. The interaction between MEL and METFL1 was more similar to the interaction between FLO and CENTRORADIALIS than that between LFY and TFL1. Consequently, the three genes from M. excelsa fit a broader herbaceous model encompassing Antirrhinum as well as Arabidopsis, but with differences, such as the bimodal pattern of expression seen with MEL and MESAP1. In mid-winter, at the time when both MEL and MESAP1 were down-regulated, GA(1) was below the level of detection in M. excelsa buds. Even though application of gibberellin inhibits flowering in members of the Myrtaceae, MEL was responsive to gibberellin with expression in juvenile plants up-regulated by GA(3). However, MESAP1 was not up-regulated indicating that meristem competence was also probably required to promote flowering in M. excelsa.

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