Target Genes and Pathways Regulated by OsMADSI during Rice Floret Specification and Development
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In angiosperms, specialized reproductive structures are borne in flowers to ensure their reproductive success. After the vegetative growth, plants undergo reproductive phase change to produce flowers. Floral meristems (FMs) are generated on the flanks of inflorescence and groups of specialized stem cells in the FM differentiate into four whorls of organs of a flower. In dicots, floral meristem successively gives rise to sepals, petals, stamens and carpels; after which it terminates. The fate of organs formed on FM is under the control of genetic regulators, key among which are members of MADS box transcription factor family. Their individual and combined act confers distinct identities to floral organs. Grass flowers are highly modified in structure. Rice flower, a model for grasses, is borne on a short branch called spikelet and they together from the basic structural units of the rice infloresences known as panicle. The outer whorl organs of a grass floret are bract-like structures known as lemma and palea to dicot sepals is highly dibated (see Chapter 1). In grass florets, petal homologs are a pair of highly reduced, fleshy bracts known as lodicules, while stamen and carpel homologs occupy the same position and share the same functions as their dicot counterparts. Aside from these distinct outer whorl organs, the florets are subtended by two pairs of bracts known as empty glumes and rudimentary glumes. The genetic regulators that control their unique identities and those that perform conserved functions are very intriguing and central questions in plant developmental biology. Using various contemporary and complementary technologies, we have analysed the molecular functions and downstream pathways of a MADS box transcription factor, OsMADSI during the rice floret meristem specification and organ development. Further by reverse genetics and overexpression studies, we have also functionally characterized two target genes of OsMADSI, OsETTINI and OsETTINI2 to understand their roles downstream to OsMADSI during the rice floret development.
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