Plant Biology

It's Just a Phase

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Science  24 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5534, pp. 1403
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5534.1403c

The tiny plant Arabidopsis normally goes through phases as it matures. It first develops a rosette of leaves, and after a period of vegetative growth makes a transition to the flowering phase when its shoot grows up from the basal rosette. This transition is regulated by about 40 genes. Two genes, Embryonic Flower (EMF) 1 and 2, affect the timing of this transition and also the initiation of flower development. Plants lacking EMF function skip the leafy rosette phase entirely, going straight from embryo to flower development.

Aubert et al. have now cloned the EMF1 gene, and find that EMF1 is a single-copy gene similar to a gene found in rice. The EMF1 protein is predicted to contain nuclear localization signals, phosphorylation sites, and a motif implicated in binding of hormone complexes to nuclear receptors. The protein is expressed throughout the plant, but its function may be more finely regulated by subcellular localization or by binding with partner components. In crop plants, the phenomena regulated by EMF1—shoot architecture, time for development to flowering, and growth pattern—are all useful traits to manipulate. — PJH

Plant Cell13, 1865 (2001).

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