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  1. Summary

    Style length is a major determinant of breeding strategies in flowering plants and can vary dramatically between and within species. However, little is known about the genetic and developmental control of style elongation.

    We characterized the role of two classes of leaf adaxial–abaxial polarity factors, SUPPRESSOR OF GENE SILENCING3 (SGS3) and the YABBY family transcription factors, in the regulation of style elongation inMimulus lewisii. We also examined the spatiotemporal patterns of auxin response during style development.

    Loss ofSGS3function led to reduced style length via limiting cell division, and downregulation ofYABBYgenes by RNA interference resulted in shorter styles by decreasing both cell division and cell elongation. We discovered an auxin response minimum between the stigma and ovary during the early stages of pistil development that marks style differentiation. Subsequent redistribution of auxin response to this region was correlated with style elongation. Auxin response was substantially altered when bothSGS3andYABBYfunctions were disrupted.

    We suggest that auxin signaling plays a central role in style elongation and that the way in which auxin signaling controls the different cell division and elongation patterns underpinning natural style length variation is a major question for future research.

     
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  2. Abstract

    Fusion of petals to form a corolla tube is considered a key innovation contributing to the diversification of many flowering plant lineages. Corolla tube length often varies dramatically among species and is a major determinant of pollinator preference. However, our understanding of the developmental dynamics underlying corolla tube length variation is very limited. Here we examined corolla tube growth in theMimulus lewisiispecies complex, an emerging model system for studying the developmental genetics and evo‐devo of pollinator‐associated floral traits. We compared developmental and cellular processes associated with corolla tube length variation among the bee‐pollinatedM. lewisii, the hummingbird‐pollinatedMimulus verbenaceus, and the self‐pollinatedMimulus parishii. We found that in all three species, cell size is non‐uniformly distributed along the mature tube, with the longest cells just distal to the stamen insertion site. Differences in corolla tube length among the three species are not associated with processes of organogenesis or early development but are associated with variation in multiple processes occurring later in development, including the location and duration of cell division and cell elongation. The tube growth curves of the small‐floweredM. parishiiand large‐floweredM. lewisiiare essentially indistinguishable, except thatM. parishiitubes stop growing earlier at a smaller size, suggesting a critical role of heterochrony in the shift from outcrossing to selfing. These results not only highlight the developmental process associated with corolla tube variation among species but also provide a baseline reference for future developmental genetic analyses of mutants or transgenic plants with altered corolla tube morphology in this emerging model system.

     
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  3. Abstract Floral traits often show correlated variation within and among species. For species with fused petals, strong correlations among corolla tube, stamen, and pistil length are particularly prevalent, and these three traits are considered an intra-floral functional module. Pleiotropy has long been implicated in such modular integration of floral traits, but empirical evidence based on actual gene function is scarce. We tested the role of pleiotropy in the expression of intra-floral modularity in the monkeyflower species Mimulus verbenaceus by transgenic manipulation of a homolog of Arabidopsis PRE1. Downregulation of MvPRE1 by RNA interference resulted in simultaneous decreases in the lengths of corolla tube, petal lobe, stamen, and pistil, but little change in calyx and leaf lengths or organ width. Overexpression of MvPRE1 caused increased corolla tube and stamen lengths, with little effect on other floral traits. Our results suggest that genes like MvPRE1 can indeed regulate multiple floral traits in a functional module but meanwhile have little effect on other modules, and that pleiotropic effects of these genes may have played an important role in the evolution of floral integration and intra-floral modularity. 
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