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Mechanisms of development

Evolutionary, genetic, environmental and hormonal-induced plasticity in the fate of organs arising from axillary meristems in Passiflora spp.


PMID 22659398

Abstract

Tendrils can be found in different plant species. In legumes such as pea, tendrils are modified leaves produced by the vegetative meristem but in the grape vine, a same meristem is used to either form a tendril or an inflorescence. Passiflora species originated in ecosystems in which there is dense vegetation and competition for light. Thus climbing on other plants in order to reach regions with higher light using tendrils is an adaptive advantage. In Passiflora species, after a juvenile phase, every leaf has a subtending vegetative meristem, and a separate meristem that forms both flowers and a tendril. Thus, flowers are formed once a tendril is formed yet whether or not this flower will reach bloom depends on the environment. For example, in Passiflora edulis flowers do not develop under shaded conditions, so that tendrils are needed to bring the plant to positions were flowers can develop. This separate meristem generally forms a single tendril in different Passiflora species yet the number and position of flowers formed from the same meristem diverges among species. Here we display the variation among species as well as variation within a single species, P. edulis. We also show that the number of flowers within a specific genotype can be modulated by applying Cytokinins. Finally, this separate meristem is capable of transforming into a leaf-producing meristem under specific environmental conditions. Thus, behind what appears to be a species-specific rigid program regarding the fate of this meristem, our study helps to reveal a plasticity normally restrained by genetic, hormonal and environmental constraints.

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