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Plant Cell. 2005 Jun;17(6):1674-84. Epub 2005 Apr 22.

Mechanisms of derived unitegmy among Impatiens species.

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  • 1Section of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.


Morphological transitions associated with ovule diversification provide unique opportunities for studies of developmental evolution. Here, we investigate the underlying mechanisms of one such transition, reduction in integument number, which has occurred several times among diverse angiosperms. In particular, reduction in integument number occurred early in the history of the asterids, a large clade comprising approximately one-third of all flowering plants. Unlike the vast majority of other eudicots, nearly all asterids have a single integument, with the only exceptions in the Ericales, a sister group to the other asterids. Impatiens, a genus of the Ericales, includes species with one integument, two integuments, or an apparently intermediate bifid integument. A comparison of the development of representative Impatiens species and analysis of the expression patterns of putative orthologs of the Arabidopsis thaliana ovule development gene INNER NO OUTER (INO) has enabled us to propose a mechanism responsible for morphological transitions between integument types in this group. We attribute transitions between each of the three integument morphologies to congenital fusion via a combination of variation in the location of subdermal growth beneath primordia and the merging of primordia. Evidence of multiple transitions in integument morphology among Impatiens species suggests that control of underlying developmental programs is relatively plastic and that changes in a small number of genes may have been responsible for the transitions. Our expression data also indicate that the role of INO in the outgrowth and abaxial-adaxial polarity of the outer integument has been conserved between two divergent angiosperms, the rosid Arabidopsis and the asterid Impatiens.

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