Plant Science

Self-organizing floral pigmentation patterns

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Science  13 Mar 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6483, pp. 1208-1209
DOI: 10.1126/science.367.6483.1208-g

Petals of Mimulus flowers are decorated with anthocyanin spots in patterns that cue pollinators. Ding et al. show how, following the rules of a reaction-diffusion system, a self-activating transcription factor called NECTAR GUIDE ANTHOCYANIN (NEGAN) interacts with a mobile repressor to organize pigment patterns on flower petals. Among the genes regulated by NEGAN is RED TONGUE (RTO), which encodes a transcriptional repressor. RTO is transcribed in anthocyanin spot cells, but the RTO protein moves to adjacent cells, where it limits anthocyanin production. Model simulations explored how NEGAN and RTO together construct a variety of pigmentation patterns on the flower petals, which in turn affect bumble bee visitations.

Curr. Biol. 10.1016/j.cub.2019.12.067 (2020).

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