Control of floret symmetry by RAY3, SvDIV1B and SvRAD in the capitulum of Senecio vulgaris

Helena Garces, Victoria Spencer, Minsung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


All members of Asteraceae, the largest flowering family, have a unique compressed inflorescence known as a capitulum, which resembles a solitary flower. The capitulum often consists of bilateral (zygomorphic) ray florets and radial (actinomorphic) disc florets. In Antirrhinum majus, floral zygomorphy is established by the interplay between dorsal petal identity genes, CYCLOIDEA (CYC) and RADIALIS (RAD), and a ventral gene DIVARICATA (DIV). To investigate the role of CYC, RAD, and DIV in the development of ray and disc florets within a capitulum, we isolated homologs of these genes from an Asteraceae species, Senecio vulgaris (common groundsel). After initial uniform expression of RAY3 (CYC), SvRAD, and SvDIV1B in ray florets only, RAY3 and SvRAD were exclusively expressed in the ventral petals of the ray florets. Our functional analysis further showed that RAY3 promotes and SvDIV1B represses petal growth, confirming their roles in floral zygomorphy. Our results highlight that while floral symmetry genes such as RAY3 and SvDIV1B appear to have a conserved role in petal growth in both Senecio and Antirrhinum, the regulatory relationships and expression domains are divergent, allowing ventral petal elongation in Senecio versus dorsal petal elongation in Antirrhinum. In S. vulgaris, diversification of CYC genes has led to novel interactions; SvDIV1B inhibits RAY3 and SvRAD, and may activate RAY2. This highlights how recruitment of floral symmetry regulators into dynamic networks was crucial for creating a complex and elaborate structure such as the capitulum.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2055-2068
Number of pages14
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number3
Early online date12 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


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