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  • AID0000680370
  • DOI10.1093/aob/mcr061

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Robustness and evolvability in the B-system of flower development

Annals of Botany
Annals of Botany
Журнал с антэкологическими публикациями.
Oxford University Press · office@annbot.com

, 2011. V. 107. No. 9. P. 1545–1556
BackgroundGene duplication has often been invoked as a key mechanism responsible for evolution of new morphologies. The floral homeotic B-group gene family has undergone a number of gene duplication events, and yet the functions of these genes appear to be largely conserved. However, detailed comparative analysis has indicated that such duplicate genes have considerable cryptic variability in their functions. In the Solanaceae, two duplicate B-group gene lineages have been retained in three subfamilies. Comparisons of orthologous genes across members of the Solanaceae have demonstrated that the combined function of all four B-gene members is to establish petal and stamen identity, but that this function was partitioned differently in each species. These observations emphasize both the robustness and the evolvability of the B-system.ScopeWe provide an overview of how the B-function genes can robustly specify petal and stamen identity and at the same time evolve through changes in protein–protein interaction, gene expression patterns, copy number variation or alterations in the downstream genes they control. By using mathematical models we explore regulatory differences between species and how these impose constraints on downstream gene regulation.ConclusionsEvolvability of the B-genes can be understood through the multiple ways in which the B-system can be robust. Quantitative approaches should allow for the incorporation of more biological realism in the representations of these regulatory systems and this should contribute to understanding the constraints under which different B-systems can function and evolve. This, in turn, can provide a better understanding of the ways in which B-genes have contributed to flower diversity.

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