The transition from vegetative to reproductive phases during Arabidopsis development is the result of a complex interaction of environmental and endogenous factors. One of the key regulators of this transition is LEAFY (LFY), whose threshold levels of activity are proposed to mediate the initiation of flowers. The closely related APETALA1 (AP1) and CAULIFLOWER (CAL) meristem identity genes are also important for flower initiation, in part because of their roles in upregulating LFY expression. We have found that mutations in the FRUITFULL (FUL) MADS-box gene, when combined with mutations in AP1 and CAL, lead to a dramatic non-flowering phenotype in which plants continuously elaborate leafy shoots in place of flowers. We demonstrate that this phenotype is caused both by the lack of LFY upregulation and by the ectopic expression of the TERMINAL FLOWER1 (TFL1) gene. Our results suggest that the FUL, AP1 and CAL genes act redundantly to control inflorescence architecture by affecting the domains of LFY and TFL1 expression as well as the relative levels of their activities.
Fruit morphogenesis is a process unique to flowering plants, and yet little is known about its developmental control. Following fertilization, fruits typically undergo a dramatic enlargement that is accompanied by differentiation of numerous distinct cell types. We have identified a mutation in Arabidopsis called fruitfull (ful-1), which abolishes elongation of the silique after fertilization. The ful-1 mutation is caused by the insertion of a DsE transposable enhancer trap element into the 5′ untranslated leader of the AGL8 MADS-box gene. beta-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene expression in the enhancer trap line is observed specifically in all cell layers of the valve tissue, but not in the replum, the septum or the seeds, and faithfully mimics RNA in situ hybridization data reported previously. The lack of coordinated growth of the fruit tissues leads to crowded seeds, a failure of dehiscence and, frequently, the premature rupture of the carpel valves. The primary defect of ful-1 fruits is within the valves, whose cells fail to elongate and differentiate. Stomata, which are frequent along the epidermis of wild-type valves, are completely eliminated in the ful mutant valves. In addition to the effect on fruit development, ful cauline leaves are broader than those of wild type and show a reduction in the number of internal cell layers. These data suggest that AGL8/FUL regulates the transcription of genes required for cellular differentiation during fruit and leaf development.