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Implications of region-specific gene expression for development of the partially fused petunia corolla.


ABSTRACT: Angiosperm petal fusion (sympetaly) has evolved multiple times independently and is associated with increased specificity between plants and their pollinators. To uncover developmental genetic changes that might have led to the evolution of sympetaly in the asterid core eudicot genus Petunia (Solanaceae), we carried out global and fine-scale gene expression analyses in different regions of the corolla. We found that, despite several similarities with the choripetalous model species Arabidopsis thaliana in the proximal-distal transcriptome, the Petunia axillaris fused and proximal corolla tube expresses several genes that in A. thaliana are associated with the distal petal region. This difference aligns with variation in petal shape and fusion across ontogeny of the two species. Moreover, differential gene expression between the unfused lobes and fused tube of P. axillaris petals revealed three strong candidate genes for sympetaly based on functional annotation in organ boundary specification. Partial silencing of one of these, the HANABA TARANU (HAN)-like gene PhGATA19, resulted in reduced fusion of Petunia hybrida petals, with silencing of both PhGATA19 and its close paralog causing premature plant senescence. Finally, detailed expression analyses for the previously characterized organ boundary gene candidate NO APICAL MERISTEM (NAM) supports the hypothesis that it establishes boundaries between most P. axillaris floral organs, with the exception of boundaries between petals.

SUBMITTER: Preston JC 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6763366 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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