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Summary

Molecular and genetic analyses have demonstrated that the Arabidopsis thaliana gene BELL1 (BEL1) is required for proper morphogenesis of the ovule integuments. Several lines of evidence suggest that BEL1 may act, at least in part, to repress the function of the organ identity gene AGAMOUS (AG) during ovule development. To study the relative roles of BEL1 and AG, plants homozygous for ag, bel1 or both were constructed in an ap2 mutant background where ovules form even in the absence of AG function. The loss of either BEL1 or AG led to a decrease in the number of mature ovules, accompanied by an increase in primordial outgrowths. These data suggest that BEL1 and AG gene products act early in ovule development in a partially redundant manner to direct ovule identity. Development of the abnormal integuments characteristic of the Bel1 mutant phenotype was found to be dependent on AG function. Finally, BEL1 appears to be required for embryo sac development independent of both other aspects of ovule morphogenesis and AG function. This study therefore suggests that both BEL1 and AG are required for several distinct aspects of ovule morphogenesis.