To help understand the process of carpel morphogenesis, the roles of three carpel development genes have been partitioned genetically. Mutants of CRABS CLAW cause the gynoecium to develop into a wider but shorter structure, and the two carpels are unfused at the apex. Mutants of a second gene, SPATULA, show reduced growth of the style, stigma, and septum, and the transmitting tract is absent. Double mutants of crabs claw and spatula with homeotic mutants that develop ectopic carpels demonstrate that CRABS CLAW and SPATULA are necessary for, and inseparable from, carpel development, and that their action is negatively regulated by A and B organ identity genes. The third carpel gene studied, AGAMOUS, encodes C function that has been proposed to fully specify carpel identity. When AGAMOUS function is removed together with the A class gene APETALA2, however, the organs retain many carpelloid properties, suggesting that other genes are also involved. We show here that further mutant disruption of both CRABS CLAW and SPATULA function removes remaining carpelloid properties, revealing that the three genes together are necessary to generate the mature gynoecium. In particular, AGAMOUS is required to specify the identity of the carpel wall and to promote the stylar outgrowth at the apex, CRABS CLAW suppresses radial growth of the developing gynoecium but promotes its longitudinal growth, and SPATULA supports development of the carpel margins and tissues derived from them. The three genes mostly act independently, although there is genetic evidence that CRABS CLAW enhances AGAMOUS and SPATULA function.

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