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[SCAN] The whens and hows of flower making

Manuela Costa
When Jun 23, 2021
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
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Title: The whens and hows of flower making.

Speaker: Manuela Costa, Professor at the Biology Department, University of Minho - Alumna

Abstract: A key problem in evolutionary biology is the understanding of how genetic pathways diversify to give rise to new morphologies leading to the emergence of new species. In our lab, we are studying different aspects of flower development from the induction of flower meristem identity, to the development of flower organs and their final shape.

Dorsoventral asymmetry of flowers, a trait that has evolved multiple times independently, provides a good system to study how a pathway that is responsible for the establishment of a new trait has evolved. In Antirrhinum majus, dorsoventral asymmetry of the flower requires the combined activity of different transcription factors. We are currently analysing how these proteins interact to establish a basic asymmetric pre-pattern in the meristem of the flower, and exploring when these interactions were established during the evolution of land plants. We are also interested in mechanisms controlling the emergence of flowers with different sexes during the evolution of angiosperms. To address this issue we have been studying flower induction and specification of different species including the monoecious tree Quercus suber, that displays a spatial and temporal separation of the male and female flower development. Cork oak homologues of key floral regulatory genes were identified and their role in flower development accessed by performing functional studies in Arabidopsis thaliana. The expression profile of flower regulators (inducers and repressors) throughout the year, in leaves and buds, suggests that the development of male and female flowers may be preceded by temporarily separated induction events. The results portray a genetic mechanism highly dependent on environment conditions that may justify poor reproductive success in tree species with similar reproductive habits.


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