MADS boxes, flower development, and evolution

I've been writing a fair amount about early pattern formation in animals lately, so to do penance for my zoocentric bias, I thought I'd say a little bit about homeotic genes in plants. Homeotic genes are genes that, when mutated, can transform one body part into another—probably the best known example is antennapedia in Drosophila, which turns the fly's antenna into a leg.

Plants also have homeotic genes, and here is a little review of flower anatomy to remind everyone of what 'body parts' we're going to be talking about. The problem I'll be pursuing is how four different, broadly defined regions of the flower develop, and what that tells us about their evolution.

flower anatomy

Continue reading "MADS boxes, flower development, and evolution" (on Pharyngula)