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Simulation of Organ Patterning on the Floral Meristem Using a Polar Auxin Transport Model

van Mourik S, Kaufmann K, van Dijk ADJ, Angenent GC, Merks RMH, Molenaar J. (2012). Simulation of Organ Patterning on the Floral Meristem Using a Polar Auxin Transport Model. PLoS ONE 7(1): e28762. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028762

An intriguing phenomenon in plant development is the timing and positioning of lateral organ initiation, which is a fundamental aspect of plant architecture. Although important progress has been made in elucidating the role of auxin transport in the vegetative shoot to explain the phyllotaxis of leaf formation in a spiral fashion, a model study of the role of auxin transport in whorled organ patterning in the expanding floral meristem is not available yet. We present an initial simulation approach to study the mechanisms that are expected to play an important role. Starting point is a confocal imaging study of Arabidopsis floral meristems at consecutive time points during flower development. These images reveal auxin accumulation patterns at the positions of the organs, which strongly suggests that the role of auxin in the floral meristem is similar to the role it plays in the shoot apical meristem. This is the basis for a simulation study of auxin transport through a growing floral meristem, which may answer the question whether auxin transport can in itself be responsible for the typical whorled floral pattern. We combined a cellular growth model for the meristem with a polar auxin transport model. The model predicts that sepals are initiated by auxin maxima arising early during meristem outgrowth. These form a pre-pattern relative to which a series of smaller auxin maxima are positioned, which partially overlap with the anlagen of petals, stamens, and carpels. We adjusted the model parameters corresponding to properties of floral mutants and found that the model predictions agree with the observed mutant patterns. The predicted timing of the primordia outgrowth and the timing and positioning of the sepal primordia show remarkable similarities with a developing flower in nature. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028762

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