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Genetic Analysis Of Growth-Regulator-Induced Parthenocarpy In Arabidopsis

Adam Vivian-Smith, Anna M. Koltunow

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Abstract In Arabidopsis, seedless silique development or parthenocarpy can be induced by the application of various plant growth regulators (PGRs) to unfertilized pistils. Ecotype-specific responses were observed in the Arabidopsis ecotypes Columbia and Landsberg relative to the type of PGR and level applied. The parthenocarpic response was greatest in ecotype Landsberg, and comparisons of fruit growth and morphology were studied primarily in this ecotype. Gibberellic acid application (10 μmol pistil−1) caused development similar to that in pollinated pistils, while benzyladenine (1 μmol pistil−1) and naphthylacetic acid (10 μmol pistil−1) treatment produced shorter siliques. Naphthylacetic acid primarily modified mesocarp cell expansion. Arabidopsis mutants were employed to examine potential dependencies on gibberellin biosynthesis (ga1-3,ga4-1, andga5-1) and perception (spy-4 and gai) during parthenocarpic silique development. Emasculated spy-4 pistils were neither obviously parthenocarpic nor deficient in PGR perception. By contrast, emasculated gai mutants did not produce parthenocarpic siliques following gibberellic acid application, but silique development occurred following pollination or application of auxin and cytokinin. Pollinated gai siliques had decreased cell numbers and morphologically resembled auxin-induced parthenocarpic siliques. This shows that a number of independent and possibly redundant pathways can direct hormone-induced parthenocarpy, and that endogenous gibberellins play a role in regulating cell expansion and promoting cell division in carpels.