Blind homologous R2R3 Myb genes control the pattern of lateral meristem initiation in Arabidopsis

Dörte Müller, Gregor Schmitz, Klaus Theres
Plant Cell 2006, 18 (3): 586-97
In seed plants, shoot branching is initiated during postembryonic development by the formation of secondary meristems. These new meristems, which are established between the stem and leaf primordia, develop into vegetative branches or flowers. Thus, the number of axillary meristems has a major impact on plant architecture and reproductive success. This study describes the genetic control of axillary meristem formation in Arabidopsis thaliana by a group of three R2R3 Myb genes, which are homologous to the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) Blind gene and were designated REGULATORS OF AXILLARY MERISTEMS (RAX). rax mutants show new phenotypes that are characterized by defects in lateral bud formation in overlapping zones along the shoot axis. RAX genes are partially redundant in function and allow a fine-tuning of secondary axis formation. As revealed by monitoring of SHOOT MERISTEMLESS transcript accumulation, the RAX genes control a very early step of axillary meristem initiation. The RAX1 and RAX3 expression domains specifically mark a cell group in the center of the leaf axil from which the axillary meristem develops. Double mutant combinations of lateral suppressor and rax1-3 as well as expression studies suggest that at least two pathways control the initiation of axillary meristems in Arabidopsis.

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