Reproductive meristem fates in Gerbera

Teemu H Teeri, Anne Uimari, Mika Kotilainen, Roosa Laitinen, Hanna Help, Paula Elomaa, Victor A Albert
Journal of Experimental Botany 2006, 57 (13): 3445-55
Flowering plants go through several phases between regular stem growth and the actual production of flower parts. The stepwise conversion of vegetative into inflorescence and floral meristems is usually unidirectional, but under certain environmental or genetic conditions, meristems can revert to an earlier developmental identity. Vegetative meristems are typically indeterminate, producing organs continuously, whereas flower meristems are determinate, shutting down their growth after reproductive organs are initiated. Inflorescence meristems can show either pattern. Flower and inflorescence development have been investigated in Gerbera hybrida, an ornamental plant in the sunflower family, Asteraceae. Unlike the common model species used to study flower development, Gerbera inflorescences bear a fixed number of flowers, and the architecture of the flowers differ in that Gerbera ovaries are inferior (borne below the perianth). This architectural difference has been exploited to show that floral meristem determinacy and identity are spatially and genetically distinct in Gerbera, and we have shown that a single SEPALLATA-like MADS domain factor controls both flower and inflorescence meristem fate in the plant. Although these phenomena have not been directly observed in Arabidopsis, the integrative role of the SEPALLATA function in reproductive meristem development may be general for all flowering plants.

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