The structure of flowers


19 May 2014. A new genetic pathway has been discovered that determines the flower arrangement in plants, which opens the way to better flower crops.


The three-dimensional arrangement of flowers is called the inflorescence architecture.  This plays a critical role in controlling the reproductive success of the plant, because it determines the effectiveness of the interaction between the flowers with pollinators and wind. Therefore the inflorescence architecture is a critical agronomic trait that determines crop yield. Now the team led by Professor YU Hao from Department of Biological Sciences NUS has discovered a novel genetic pathway that determines inflorescence architecture across flowering plants, including dicots (e.g. Arabidopsis) and monocots (e.g. rice). The regulation occurs through a key developmental gene involving gene looping and chromatin conformational change mediated by redundant transcription factors (see Figure).

These findings provide vital insights into gene resources and regulatory modes.  They can be used for either classical breeding or genetic engineering of crops in the field of agriculture, horticulture, and plant breeding.


Comparison of inflorescence architectures in wild-type and mutant plants [Image credit: YU Hao]


Liu C, Teo ZWN, Bi Y, Song S, Xi W, Yang X, Yin Z, Yu H. "A conserved genetic pathway determines inflorescence architecture in Arabidopsis and rice". Developmental Cell 24 (2013) 612