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Keywords:

  • flower formation;
  • pepper (Capsicum annuum);
  • petunia (Petunia hybrida);
  • sympodial growth;
  • tomato (Solanum lycopersicum);
  • transition to flowering

Summary

  • The genetic control of the transition to flowering has mainly been studied in model species, while few data are available in crop species such as pepper (Capsicum spp.). To elucidate the genetic control of the transition to flowering in pepper, mutants that lack flowers were isolated and characterized.
  • Genetic mapping and sequencing allowed the identification of the gene disrupted in the mutants. Double mutants and expression analyses were used to characterize the relationships between the mutated gene and other genes controlling the transition to flowering and flower differentiation.
  • The mutants were characterized by a delay in the initiation of sympodial growth, a delay in the termination of sympodial meristems and complete inhibition of flower formation. Capsicum annuum S (CaS), the pepper (Capsicum annuum) ortholog of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) COMPOUND INFLORESCENCE and petunia (Petunia hybrida) EVERGREEN, was found to govern the mutant phenotype. CaS is required for the activity of the flower meristem identity gene Ca-ANANTHA and does not affect the expression of CaLEAFY. CaS is epistatic over other genes controlling the transition to flowering with respect to flower formation.
  • Comparative homologous mutants in the Solanaceae indicate that CaS has uniquely evolved to have a critical role in flower formation, while its role in meristem maturation is conserved in pepper, tomato and petunia.