The process of organ positioning has been addressed, using the pin-formed 1 (pin1) mutant as a tool. PIN1 is a transmembrane protein involved in auxin transport in Arabidopsis. Loss of function severely affects organ initiation, and pin1 mutants are characterised by an inflorescence meristem that does not initiate any flowers, resulting in the formation of a naked inflorescence stem. This phenotype, combined with the proposed role of PIN1 in hormone transport, makes the mutant an ideal tool to study organ formation and phyllotaxis, and here we present a detailed analysis of the molecular modifications at the shoot apex caused by the mutation. We show that meristem structure and function are not severely affected in the mutant. Major alterations, however, are observed at the periphery of the pin1 meristem, where organ initiation should occur. Although two very early markers of organ initiation, LEAFY and AINTEGUMENTA, are expressed at the periphery of the mutant meristem, the cells are not recruited into distinct primordia. Instead a ring-like domain expressing those primordium specific genes is observed around the meristem. This ring-like domain also expresses a boundary marker, CUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON 2, involved in organ separation, showing that the zone at the meristem periphery has a hybrid identity. This implies that PIN1 is not only involved in organ outgrowth, but that it is also necessary for organ separation and positioning. A model is presented in which PIN1 and the local distribution of auxin control phyllotaxis.

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