Genes for control of plant stature and form

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Here we summarize progress in identification of three classes of genes useful for control of plant architecture: those affecting hormone metabolism and signaling; transcription and other regulatory factors; and the cell cycle. We focus on strong modifiers of stature and form that may be useful for directed modification of plant architecture, rather than the detailed mechanisms of gene action. Gibberellin (GA) metabolic and response genes are particularly attractive targets for manipulation because many act in a dose-dependent manner; similar phenotypic effects can be readily achieved in heterologous species; and induced pleiotropic effects - such as on nitrogen assimilation, photosynthesis, and lateral root production - are usually positive with respect to crop performance. Genes encoding transcription factors represent strong candidates for manipulation of plant architecture. For example, AINTEGUMENTA, ARGOS (auxin-regulated gene controlling organ size), and growth-regulating factors (GRFs) are strong modifiers of leaf and/or flower size. Plants overexpressing these genes had increased organ size and did not display negative pleiotropic effects in glasshouse environments. TCP-domain genes such as CINCINNATA, and the associated regulatory miRNAs such as miRJAW, may provide useful means to modulate leaf curvature and other foliage properties. There are considerable opportunities for comparative and translational genomics in nonmodel plant systems. © The Authors (2008).

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New Phytologist