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Development. 1998 Feb;125(4):733-42.

Genetic control of branching pattern and floral identity during Petunia inflorescence development.

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Department of Genetics, Vrije Universiteit, Instiute for Molecular Biological Sciences, BioCentrum Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


A main determinant of inflorescence architecture is the site where floral meristems are initiated. We show that in wild-type Petunia bifurcation of the inflorescence meristem yields two meristems of approximately equal size. One terminates into a floral meristem and the other maintains its inflorescence identity. By random transposon mutagenesis we have generated two mutants in which the architecture of the inflorescence is altered. In the extra petals- (exp) mutant the inflorescence terminates with the formation of a single terminal flower. Phenotypic analysis showed that exp is required for the bifurcation of inflorescence meristems. In contrast, the aberrant leaf and flower- (alf) mutant is affected in the specification of floral meristem identity while the branching pattern of the inflorescence remains unaltered. A weak alf allele was identified that, after bifurcation of the inflorescence meristem, yields a 'floral' meristem with partial inflorescence characteristics. By analysing independent transposon dTph1 insertion alleles we show that the alf locus encodes the Petunia FLORICAULA/LEAFY homolog. In situ hybridisation shows that alf is expressed in the floral meristem and also in the vegetative meristem. Differences and similarities between these Petunia mutants and mutations affecting inflorescence architecture in other species will be discussed.

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