Literature Review: Plant Development

by Carl Strang

As autumn slides into winter, it’s time to start looking back at selected scientific literature from the past year. Today’s focus is on two studies of plant development. Developmental biology has gotten a big boost in recent years by its powerful alliance with genetics and evolutionary biology. Most of that work to date has been done with animals, so it was refreshing to see these studies of plant development.

Daffodils. The following study looked at the genetic controls of the trumpet-like corona on the front of the flower.

Daffodils. The following study looked at the genetic controls of the trumpet-like corona on the front of the flower.

Mark T Waters, Anna M M Tiley, Elena M Kramer, Alan W Meerow, Jane A Langdale, Robert W Scotland. The corona of the daffodil Narcissus bulbocodium shares stamen-like identity and is distinct from the orthodox floral whorls. The Plant Journal, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12150 As described in a ScienceDaily article. This was a genetics-development study that focused on the trumpet-like projection on the daffodil flower. Though petal-like in appearance, it develops independently out of the flower platform. It is closer to stamens than petals in the genes that control its development, but is a separate structure rather than a modification of stamens.

Sauret-Güeto S, Schiessl K, Bangham A, Sablowski R, Coen E (2013). JAGGED Controls: Arabidopsis Petal Growth and Shape by Interacting with a Divergent Polarity Field. PLoS Biol, 2013 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001550 They examined the development of leaf and petal shape, and found that certain proteins influence the directionality of cell growth and reproduction. One protein influences cells to orient toward the tip, producing a pointed shape, while another influences cells to orient toward the edge, producing a rounded shape. The proteins, of course, are produced under the direction of genes involved in tissue development. Plants need somewhat different developmental controls than animals, because their cells cannot migrate through the organism. This is why the shapes of plants are less variable than those of animals.

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