Proper flower and leaf development tied to the same gene

Jan 12, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A group of Dartmouth researchers have discovered a new role for an important plant gene. Dartmouth Biology Professor Tom Jack and his colleagues have learned that a gene regulator called miR319a (micro RNA 319a) is important for proper flower development, particularly the development of petals.

“In my lab, we are particularly interested in genes that are necessary for the petals and stamens in the flower to develop properly,” says Jack. “We isolated a mutant plant that had defects in petal development, and we then went on to identify the gene that was defective in the mutant plant, which turned out to be miR319a, which had previously, through the work of others, been implicated in leaf development.”

The researchers then found that one of the targets of miR319a is a gene called TCP4, one of many similar genes that functions in leaves and flowers to control cell growth and proliferation.

The study was published Dec. 29, 2009, in the journal , and Jack’s co-authors on the study are Anwesha Nag and Stacey King, a graduate student and research technician, respectively, at Dartmouth.
When the petals or flowers of don’t grow properly, they risk not being able to reproduce. In other words, they don’t attract pollinators.

are very important to humans because most plant food products are derived from fruits and seeds which are produced by the flower,” says Jack.

Jack’s lab will continue to investigate the genetic pathways controlled by miR319a and TCP4. “Addressing how these genes control petal size and shape is one of the goals of our future research.,” says Jack.

Explore further: Synthetic biology on ordinary paper, results off the page

More information: www.pnas.org/

Related Stories

How size matters: The beauty of nature explained

Dec 12, 2007

The beauty of nature is partly due to the uniformity of leaf and flower size in individual plants, and scientists have discovered how plants arrive at these aesthetic proportions.

Study sheds light on microscopic flower petal ridges

Dec 22, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Microscopic ridges contouring the surface of flower petals might play a role in flashing that come-hither look pollinating insects can't resist. Michigan State University scientists and colleagues ...

Probing Question: Why are flowers beautiful?

Jan 24, 2008

In the 1930s, American artist Georgia O'Keefe wrote: "What is my experience of the flower if it is not color?" O'Keefe is best known for her vibrantly colorful close-ups of petals and stamens on large canvases.

Recommended for you

Team advances genome editing technique

Oct 21, 2014

Customized genome editing – the ability to edit desired DNA sequences to add, delete, activate or suppress specific genes – has major potential for application in medicine, biotechnology, food and agriculture.

User comments : 0