Due to the natural diversity of floral forms, the Zingiberales provide an ideal model system to test the role of candidate floral development genes in the formation of diverse morphologies found in these plants. We are looking at the role of identified genes important in floral development of Arabidopsis in the development and evolution of novel floral structures (such as the labellum) within Zingiberales. Techniques include RNA-Seq and transcriptome analysis, in situ hybridization and RT-PCR to analyze gene expression patterns of candidate genes during defined stages of early and late stage floral development, and Virus Induced Gene Silencing (VIGS) to create effective gene knock-downs. To date we have projects focusing on CYC-like genes and floral symmetry (Bartlett and Specht 2011), RAD/DIV and their interacting factors and how they influence floral symmetry evolution (R. Bruenn), the PISTILLATA/GLOBOSA-like gene lineage of B-class genes (Bartlett and Specht 2010), AP3/DEF lineage of B-class genes (A. Almeida), AGAMOUS lineage of C-class genes (A. Almeida), and the SEP genes (Yockteng et al. MBE). We are also interested in polarity genes (e.g. YABBY) and their role in the evolution of laminarity (A. Almeida; K. Morioka) and are investigating the role of meristem genes in branching pattern evolution of umbeliferous inflorescences across Allium and other Asparagales (J. Martinez-Gomez & M.R. Dadpour).
MADS box genes and stamen whorl evolution- funded by NSF IOS
Floral symmetry & cycloidea- funded by NSF DDIG to Madelaine Bartlett
Evolution of B & C class genes - funded by NSF DDIG to Ana Almeida