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Switching on Flowers: Transient LEAFY Induction Reveals Novel Aspects of the Regulation of Reproductive Development in Arabidopsis

Wagner, Doris and Meyerowitz, Elliot M. (2011) Switching on Flowers: Transient LEAFY Induction Reveals Novel Aspects of the Regulation of Reproductive Development in Arabidopsis. Frontiers in Plant Science, 2 . Art. No. 60. ISSN 1664-462X. PMCID PMC3355602. doi:10.3389/fpls.2011.00060.

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Developmental fate decisions in cell populations fundamentally depend on at least two parameters: a signal that is perceived by the cell and the intrinsic ability of the cell to respond to the signal. The same regulatory logic holds for phase transitions in the life cycle of an organism, for example the switch to reproductive development in flowering plants. Here we have tested the response of the monocarpic plant species Arabidopsis thaliana to a signal that directs flower formation, the plant-specific transcription factor LEAFY (LFY). Using transient steroid-dependent LEAFY (LFY) activation in lfy null mutant Arabidopsis plants, we show that the plant’s competence to respond to the LFY signal changes during development. Very early in the life cycle, the plant is not competent to respond to the signal. Subsequently, transient LFY activation can direct primordia at the flanks of the shoot apical meristem to adopt a floral fate. Finally, the plants acquire competence to initiate the flower-patterning program in response to transient LFY activation. Similar to a perennial life strategy, we did not observe reprogramming of all primordia after perception of the transient signal, instead only a small number of meristems responded, followed by reversion to the prior developmental program. The ability to initiate flower formation and to direct flower patterning in response to transient LFY upregulation was dependent on the known direct LFY target APETALA1 (AP1). Prolonged LFY or activation could alter the developmental gradient and bypass the requirement for AP1. Prolonged high AP1 levels, in turn, can also alter the plants’ competence. Our findings shed light on how plants can fine-tune important phase transitions and developmental responses.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Meyerowitz, Elliot M.0000-0003-4798-5153
Additional Information:© 2011 Wagner and Meyerowitz. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with. Received: 29 August 2011; Paper pending published: 06 September 2011; Accepted: 13 September 2011; Published online: 11 October 2011. Edited by: Elena M. Kramer, Harvard University, USA Reviewed by: Pablo Daniel Jenik, Franklin and Marshall College, USA; Levi Yant, Harvard University, USA. We thank Ayako Yamaguchi and Scott Poethig from comments on this manuscript. This work was supported by National Science Foundation grant IOS-0849298 to Doris Wagner and Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences grant DE-FG02-88ER13873 to Elliot M. Meyerowitz.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-FG02-88ER13873
Subject Keywords:LEAFY, flower development, reproductive competence
PubMed Central ID:PMC3355602
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20161212-152522938
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Official Citation:Wagner D and Meyerowitz EM (2011) Switching on flowers: transient LEAFY induction reveals novel aspects of the regulation of reproductive development in Arabidopsis. Front. Plant Sci. 2:60. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2011.00060
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:72732
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:12 Dec 2016 23:44
Last Modified:11 Nov 2021 05:05

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