With the characterisation of the NOZZLE gene we aim at a better understanding of the molecular and genetic mechanism underlying pattern formation and growth control during floral organogenesis. Our data indicate that NOZZLE links these processes during ovule development. In the ovule primordium NOZZLE plays a central role in the formation of the nucellus through antagonizing the activities of BELL, AINTEGUMENTA and INNER NO OUTER, all encoding putative transcription factors, in the prospective nucellar region. We provide evidence that NOZZLE and BELL are chalaza identity genes that share overlapping functions in establishing the prospective chalaza of the ovule. In addition, NOZZLE plays a role in controlling the cell number and by this means the length of the funiculus, again through antagonizing AINTEGUMENTA and INNER NO OUTER function. NOZZLE is also required for the development of the integuments. We show that during the initial phase of this process NOZZLE is transcriptionally regulated by AINTEGUMENTA and INNER NO OUTER. NOZZLE thus represents a downstream target of these two genes in the integument development pathway.

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