A MYB-related transcription factor (MIXTA) that controls development of conical cell form is expressed only in the inner epidermis of Antirrhinum petals. Expression of this gene throughout transgenic tobacco plants leads to excess numbers of multicellular trichomes on leaves and floral organs as well as the novel production of conical cells on leaves. These data indicate that conical cells and trichomes are produced by a common developmental pathway. The timing of MIXTA expression suggests that the choice between the cell types depends on the competence for cell division at the time at which the controlling gene is expressed. Duplication of genes and their association with different cis-regulatory regions may therefore result in the specification of novel plant cell types.