The Arabidopsis floral homeotic gene AGAMOUS (AG) is a regulator of early flower development. The ag mutant phenotypes suggest that AG has two functions in flower development: (1) specifying the identity of stamens and carpels, and (2) controlling floral meristem determinacy. To dissect these two AG functions, we have generated transgenic Arabidopsis plants carrying an antisense AG construct. We found that all of the transgenic plants produced abnormal flowers, which can be classified into three types. Type I transgenic flowers are phenocopies of the ag-1 mutant flowers, with both floral meristem indeterminacy and floral organ conversion; type II flowers are indeterminate and have partial conversion of the reproductive organs; and type III flowers have normal stamens and carpels, but still have an indeterminate floral meristem inside the fourth whorl of fused carpels. The existence of type III flowers indicates that AG function can be perturbed to affect only floral meristem determinacy, but not floral organ identity. Furthermore, the fact that floral meristem determinacy is affected in all transformants, but floral organ identity only in a subset of them, suggests that the former may required a higher level of AG activity than the latter. This hypothesis is supported by the levels of AG'mRNA detected in different transformants with different frequencies of distinct types of abnormal antisense AG transgenic flowers. Finally, since AG inhibits the expression of another floral regulatory gene AP1, we examined AP1 expression in antisense AG flowers, and found that AP1 is expressed at a relatively high level in the center of type II flowers, but very little or below detectable levels in the inner whorls of type III flowers. These results provide further insights into the interaction of AG and AP1 and how such an interaction may control both organ identity and floral meristem determinacy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Plant Science