1Instituto Superior de Agronomia (ISA), Lisboa, Portugal and 2Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica (ITQB), Oeiras, Portugal.
According to their symmetry, flowers are classified as radially symmetrical or bilaterally symmetrical. Bilateral symmetry, which is thought to have evolved from radial symmetry, results from establishment of asymmetry relative to a dorsoventral axis of flowers. Here we consider developmental genetic mechanisms underlying the generation of this asymmetry and how they relate to controls of petal shape and growth in Antirrhinum. Two genes, CYC and DICH, are expressed in dorsal domains of the Antirrhinum flower and determine its overall dorsoventral asymmetry and the asymmetries and shapes of individual floral organs, by influencing regional growth. Another gene, DIV, influences regional asymmetries and shapes in ventral regions of the flower through a quantitative effect on growth. However, DIV is not involved in determining the overall dorsoventral asymmetry of the flower and its effects on regional asymmetries depend on interactions with CYC/DICH. These interactions illustrate how gene activity, symmetry, shape and growth may be related.