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Developmental events leading to peltate leaf structure in Tropaeolum majus (Tropaeolaceae) are associated with expression domain changes of a YABBY gene


Peltate leaf architecture has evolved from conventional bifacial leaves many times in flowering plant evolution. Characteristics of peltate leaves, such as the differentiation of a cross zone and of a radially symmetric, margin-less petiole, have also been observed in mutants of genes responsible for adaxial-abaxial polarity establishment. This suggests that altered regulation of such genes provided a mechanism for the evolution of peltate leaf structure. Here, we show that evolution of leaf peltation in Tropaeolum majus, a species distantly related to Arabidopsis thaliana, was associated with altered expression of Tropaeolum majus FILAMENTOUS FLOWER (TmFIL), a gene conferring abaxial identity. In situ hybridization indicates that adaxial and abaxial domains are established in early leaf primordia as in species with bifacial leaves. Upon initiation of the cross zone by fusion of the blade margins, localized expansion of TmFIL to the upper leaf side could be seen, indicating a local loss of adaxial leaf identity. The observed changes in expression are consistent with a role of TmFIL in radialization of the petiole and circularization of the leaf blade margin by the cross zone. In addition, expression was observed in segment primordia and during expansion of the bifacial blade, suggesting additional roles for TmFIL in leaf development.

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We thank J. Bowman (Davis, USA) for initial hints on oligo design and Yuval Eshed (Rehovot, Israel) and an anonymous reviewer for suggestions. This work was funded by grants from the B3 program and the Forschungsfonds at the University of Mainz to S.G.

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Correspondence to Stefan Gleissberg.

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Communicated by G. Jürgens

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Gleissberg, S., Groot, E.P., Schmalz, M. et al. Developmental events leading to peltate leaf structure in Tropaeolum majus (Tropaeolaceae) are associated with expression domain changes of a YABBY gene. Dev Genes Evol 215, 313–319 (2005).

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  • Peltate leaves
  • Unifacial/bifacial
  • Adaxial-abaxial polarity
  • Cross zone
  • YABBY genes