A distributive ‘50% rule’ determines floral initiation rates in the Brassicaceae

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The spatio-temporal production of flowers is key to determining reproductive fitness in most flowering plants and yield in many crop species, but the mechanisms regulating this ‘reproductive architecture’ are poorly characterized. Here, we show that in members of the Brassicaceae, total flower number is largely independent of inflorescence number and that the proportion of flowers initiated on the secondary inflorescences represents ~50% of total floral production, irrespective of secondary inflorescence number. This ‘50% rule’ acts as a coordinating principle for reproductive development in Brassicaceae, and similar principles may operate in other species. Our findings suggest that inflorescences continue to compete with each other for a fixed pool of meristematic potential after their activation.

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Fig. 1: Flower number is regulated independently of inflorescence number in Arabidopsis.
Fig. 2: A conserved floral distribution mechanism regulates floral initiation across the Brassicaceae and beyond.

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All data associated with this study are presented in the figures. Data are available on request without restriction from the corresponding author.


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The C. hirsuta seeds were the kind gift of A. Hay, and the C. rubella and C. grandiflora seeds were the kind gift of M. Lenhard.

Author information

C.H.W. and T.B. designed and performed experiments, collected and analysed data and wrote the manuscript.

Correspondence to Tom Bennett.

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Supplementary Fig. 1 and Supplementary Tables 1–2.

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