The MADS-domain transcription factor APETALA1 (AP1) is a key regulator of Arabidopsis flower development. To understand the molecular mechanisms underlying AP1 function, we identified its target genes during floral initiation using a combination of gene expression profiling and genome-wide binding studies. Many of its targets encode transcriptional regulators, including known floral repressors. The latter genes are down-regulated by AP1, suggesting that it initiates floral development by abrogat ...[more]
Project description:The floral developmental pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana is composed of several interacting regulatory genes, including the inflorescence architecture gene TERMINAL FLOWER1 (TFL1), the floral meristem identity genes LEAFY (LFY), APETALA1 (AP1), and CAULIFLOWER (CAL), and the floral organ identity genes APETALA3 (AP3) and PISTILLATA (PI). Molecular population genetic analyses of these different genes indicate that the coding regions of AP3 and PI, as well as AP1 and CAL, share similar levels and patterns of nucleotide diversity. In contrast, the coding regions of TFL1 and LFY display a significant reduction in nucleotide variation, suggesting that these sequences have been subjected to a recent adaptive sweep. Moreover, the promoter of TFL1, unlike its coding region, displays high levels of diversity organized into two distinct haplogroups that appear to be maintained by selection. These results suggest that patterns of molecular evolution differ among regulatory genes in this developmental pathway, with the earlier acting genes exhibiting evidence of adaptive evolution.