The poetry of reproduction: the role of LEAFY in Arabidopsis thaliana flower formation
Review | Published: 10 February 2012
Nirodhini S. Siriwardana1,2 and Rebecca S. Lamb*,1,2
1Plant Cellular and Molecular Biology Graduate Program and 2Department of Molecular Genetics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
For successful reproduction, angiosperms must form fertile flowers at the appropriate positions and at the appropriate times. The reproductive transition is especially important for monocarpic plants that only flower once. In the model annual plant Arabidopsis thaliana, this transition is controlled through regulation of a group of genes termed floral meristem identity genes, of which LEAFY (LFY) is arguably the most important. LFY orthologs are found throughout land plants and are essential for angiosperm reproduction. These genes have also been implicated in reproductive development in gymnosperms. LFY encodes a plant-specific transcription factor that can act as either an activator or repressor depending on context, including what co-factors it is interacting with. It controls multiple aspects of floral morphogenesis, including phyllotaxis, organ number, organ identity and determinacy. Much progress has been made in elucidating the molecular mechanisms through which LFY and its orthologs contribute to a precise switch to flowering. We discuss the current state of knowledge in Arabidopsis, with an emphasis on known target genes and co-factors of LFY.