R2R3-MYB genes control petal pigmentation patterning in Clarkia gracilis ssp. sonomensis (Onagraceae).
Petal pigmentation patterning is widespread in flowering plants. The genetics of these pattern elements has been of great interest for understanding the evolution of phenotypic diversification. Here, we investigate the genetic changes responsible for the evolution of an unpigmented petal element on a colored background. We used transcriptome analysis, gene expression assays, cosegregation in F2
plants and functional tests to identify the gene(s) involved in petal coloration in Clarkia gracilis ssp. sonomensis. We identified an R2R3-MYB transcription factor (CgsMYB12) responsible for anthocyanin pigmentation of the basal region ('cup') in the petal of C. gracilis ssp. sonomensis. A functional mutation in CgsMYB12 creates a white cup on a pink petal background. Additionally, we found that two R2R3-MYB genes (CgsMYB6 and CgsMYB11) are also involved in petal background pigmentation. Each of these three R2R3-MYB genes exhibits a different spatiotemporal expression pattern. The functionality of these R2R3-MYB genes was confirmed through stable transformation of Arabidopsis. Distinct spatial patterns of R2R3-MYB expression have created the possibility that pigmentation in different sections of the petal can evolve independently. This finding suggests that recent gene duplication has been central to the evolution of petal pigmentation patterning in C. gracilis ssp. sonomensis.
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