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Development. 2007 May;134(9):1691-701. Epub 2007 Mar 21.

Control of cell and petal morphogenesis by R2R3 MYB transcription factors.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK.


Petals of animal-pollinated angiosperms have adapted to attract pollinators. Factors influencing pollinator attention include colour and overall size of flowers. Colour is determined by the nature of the pigments, their environment and by the morphology of the petal epidermal cells. Most angiosperms have conical epidermal cells, which enhance the colour intensity and brightness of petal surfaces. The MYB-related transcription factor MIXTA controls the development of conical epidermal cells in petals of Antirrhinum majus. Another gene encoding an R2R3 MYB factor very closely related to MIXTA, AmMYBML2, is also expressed in flowers of A. majus. We have analysed the roles of AmMYBML2 and two MIXTA-related genes, PhMYB1 from Petunia hybrida and AtMYB16 from Arabidopsis thaliana, in petal development. The structural similarity between these genes, their comparable expression patterns and the similarity of the phenotypes they induce when ectopically expressed in tobacco, suggest they share homologous functions closely related to, but distinct from, that of MIXTA. Detailed phenotypic analysis of a phmyb1 mutant confirmed the role of PhMYB1 in the control of cell morphogenesis in the petal epidermis. The phmyb1 mutant showed that epidermal cell shape affects petal presentation, a phenotypic trait also observed following re-examination of mixta mutants. This suggests that the activity of MIXTA-like genes also contributes to petal form, another important factor influencing pollinator attraction.

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