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Control of phyllotaxy by the cytokinin-inducible response regulator homologue ABPHYL1


Phyllotaxy describes the geometric pattern of leaves and flowers, and has intrigued botanists and mathematicians for centuries1,2. How these patterns are initiated is poorly understood, and this is partly due to the paucity of mutants3. Signalling by the plant hormone auxin appears to determine the site of leaf initiation; however, this observation does not explain how distinct patterns of phyllotaxy are initiated4. abphyl1 (abph1) mutants of maize initiate leaves in a decussate pattern (that is, paired at 180°), in contrast to the alternating or distichous phyllotaxy observed in wild-type maize and other grasses5. Here we show that ABPH1 is homologous to two-component response regulators and is induced by the plant hormone cytokinin. ABPH1 is expressed in the embryonic shoot apical meristem, and its spatial expression pattern changes rapidly with cytokinin treatment. We propose that ABPH1 controls phyllotactic patterning by negatively regulating the cytokinin-induced expansion of the shoot meristem, thereby limiting the space available for primordium initiation at the apex.

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Figure 1: abph1 phenotypes and gene isolation.
Figure 2: ABPH1 gene expression.
Figure 3: Effect of cytokinin on ABPH1 expression and shoot meristem size.

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We thank V. Chandler for Spm transposon lines, and members of the Jackson laboratory, C. Kidner, E. Vollbrecht and P. Sherwood, for comments on the manuscript. We also thank Z. Yuan and M. Krishnaswami for assistance with genetic screens, DNA isolations and Southern blotting, and T. Mulligan for help with plant propagation. Funding from the National Science Foundation (Plant and Animal Developmental Mechanisms) is also acknowledged.

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Correspondence to David Jackson.

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Supplementary Data

This file contains Supplementary Figure S1 (Molecular characterization of abph1 alleles), which shows the molecular analysis of a number of abph1 alleles. These alleles include ones from transposon screens as well as spontaneous alleles. The demonstration of a molecular lesion in the candidate locus for each indicates that this locus encodes ABPH1. Supplementary Figure S2 (in situ hybridization analysis of ABPH1 expression), which shows the expression of ABPH1 by in situ hybridization in a transverse section of a seedling apex. Expression is in an arc of cells in the position of the incipient leaf primordium. Expression throughout the ear inflorescence apical meristem is also shown. Supplementary references are also provided. (DOC 687 kb)

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Giulini, A., Wang, J. & Jackson, D. Control of phyllotaxy by the cytokinin-inducible response regulator homologue ABPHYL1. Nature 430, 1031–1034 (2004).

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