Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Gene networks controlling plant reproduction

A multicontinental collaboration has shed light on how crop plants control reproduction, particularly the development of seeds and fruits that feed the world's population.
Gene networks controlling plant reproduction
Many agricultural crops provide nutrition through their seeds (e.g. rice or wheat) or fruits (e.g. tomatoes). Since these are products of reproduction in flowering plants, understanding how reproduction is controlled may improve seed and fruit yields.

The EU-funded EVOCODE (Evolutionary conservation of regulatory network controlling flower development) initiative used cutting-edge genetic tools to discover genes that control seed and fruit development in crops.

Researchers analysed a gene regulatory network that controls reproduction in a well-characterised model plant called Arabidopsis. They then compared the genes that control flower development in Arabidopsis with those of other crop species.

Researchers identified several 'master regulators' within this network that control genes involved in key aspects of reproduction. These include the development of ovules (the 'egg' of a flowering plant), seed coats that protect the developing embryo and fruits that protect the seed.

Importantly, they discovered how these regulators coordinate reproductive organs formation. Further analyses also revealed regulators that control the master regulators, in a complex web of gene interactions.

Understanding which components of these gene networks are shared among different crop species will be extremely useful for crop breeders aiming to improve their yields.

Related information


Gene networks, plant reproduction, seeds development and quality, evolutionary conservation, flower development transcription factors
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