The development of reproductive organs in Antirrhinum depends on the expression of an organ identity gene, plena, in the central domain of the floral meristem. To investigate the mechanism by which plena is regulated, we have characterised three mutants in which the pattern of plena expression is altered. In polypetala mutants, expression of plena is greatly reduced, resulting in a proliferation of petals in place of reproductive organs. In addition, polypetala mutants exhibit an altered pattern of floral organ initiation, quite unlike that seen in loss-of-function plena mutants. This suggests that polypetala normally has two roles in flower development: regulation of plena and control of organ primordia formation. In fistulata mutants, plena is ectopically expressed in the distal domain of petal primordia, resulting in the production of anther-like tissue in place of petal lobes. Flowers of fistulata mutants also show a reduced rate of petal lobe growth, even in a plena mutant background. This implies that fistulata normally has two roles in the distal domain of petal primordia: inhibition of plena expression and promotion of lobe growth. A weak allele of the floral meristem identity gene, floricaula, greatly enhances the effect of fistulata on plena expression, showing that floricaula also plays a role in repression of plena in outer whorls. Taken together, these results show that genes involved in plena regulation have additional roles in the formation of organs, perhaps reflecting underlying mechanisms for coupling homeotic gene expression to morphogenesis.

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