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Nat Genet. 2016 Feb;48(2):159-66. doi: 10.1038/ng.3462. Epub 2015 Dec 14.

MYB-FL controls gain and loss of floral UV absorbance, a key trait affecting pollinator preference and reproductive isolation.

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  • 1Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
  • 2Cologne Biocenter, Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences, Mass Spectrometry Platform, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.
  • 3UMR 5667, ENS de Lyon, CNRS, INRA, UCBL, Ecole Normale SupĂ©rieure de Lyon, Lyon, France.
  • 4Laboratory of Molecular Evolution, Department of Genetics, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil.


Adaptations to new pollinators involve multiple floral traits, each requiring coordinated changes in multiple genes. Despite this genetic complexity, shifts in pollination syndromes have happened frequently during angiosperm evolution. Here we study the genetic basis of floral UV absorbance, a key trait for attracting nocturnal pollinators. In Petunia, mutations in a single gene, MYB-FL, explain two transitions in UV absorbance. A gain of UV absorbance in the transition from bee to moth pollination was determined by a cis-regulatory mutation, whereas a frameshift mutation caused subsequent loss of UV absorbance during the transition from moth to hummingbird pollination. The functional differences in MYB-FL provide insight into the process of speciation and clarify phylogenetic relationships between nascent species.

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