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Open Access Research article

A novel allele of FILAMENTOUS FLOWER reveals new insights on the link between inflorescence and floral meristem organization and flower morphogenesis

Nitsan Lugassi1, Naomi Nakayama23, Rachel Bochnik1 and Moriyah Zik1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Life Sciences, Ben Gurion University, Beer - Sheva 84105, Israel

2 Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, 06520-8104, USA

3 Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern, 3013 Bern, Switzerland

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BMC Plant Biology 2010, 10:131  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-131

Published: 28 June 2010

Abstract

Background

The Arabidopsis FILAMENTOUS FLOWER (FIL) gene encodes a YABBY (YAB) family putative transcription factor that has been implicated in specifying abaxial cell identities and thus regulating organ polarity of lateral organs. In contrast to double mutants of fil and other YAB genes, fil single mutants display mainly floral and inflorescence morphological defects that do not reflect merely a loss of abaxial identity. Recently, FIL and other YABs have been shown to regulate meristem organization in a non-cell-autonomous manner. In a screen for new mutations affecting floral organ morphology and development, we have identified a novel allele of FIL, fil-9 and characterized its floral and meristem phenotypes.

Results

The fil-9 mutation results in highly variable disruptions in floral organ numbers and size, partial homeotic transformations, and in defective inflorescence organization. Examination of meristems indicates that both fil-9 inflorescence and floral meristems are enlarged as a result of an increase in cell number, and deformed. Furthermore, primordia emergence from these meristems is disrupted such that several primordia arise simultaneously instead of sequentially. Many of the organs produced by the inflorescence meristems are filamentous, yet they are not considered by the plant as flowers. The severity of both floral organs and meristem phenotypes is increased acropetally and in higher growth temperature.

Conclusions

Detailed analysis following the development of fil-9 inflorescence and flowers throughout flower development enabled the drawing of a causal link between multiple traits of fil-9 phenotypes. The study reinforces the suggested role of FIL in meristem organization. The loss of spatial and temporal organization of fil-9 inflorescence and floral meristems presumably leads to disrupted cell allocation to developing floral organs and to a blurring of organ whorl boundaries. This disruption is reflected in morphological and organ identity aberrations of fil-9 floral organs and in the production of filamentous organs that are not perceived as flowers. Here, we show the role of FIL in reproductive meristem development and emphasize the potential of using fil mutants to study mersitem organization and the related effects on flower morphogenesis.