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Possible role of the CYC2c gene in the cornflower-like ray floret phenotype of Gaillardia cultivars


Gaillardia plants have been widely cultivated in China and have become an important component of garden landscaping. Different from the common ligulate ray floret, the cornflower-like (funnel-shaped) ray floret is a special phenotype variation in Gaillardia species. Previous studies revealed that CYC-like genes could shape the floret phenotype in Compositae. To reveal the molecular mechanism of the cornflower-like phenotype, we checked the capitulum transcriptomes of several cultivars of Gaillardia that possess different ray florets. As a result, we identified 11 CYC-like genes, of which five included complete coding region sequences. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that all five genes were CYC2-like genes. Relative expression analysis of RNA-resequencing reads, qRT-PCR comparison, and gene-silencing treatment all showed that the CYC2c gene is the main genetic mechanism responsible for the shaping of the cornflower-like ray floret phenotype in Gaillardia cultivars. This study expounded our understanding of flower morphology evolution and provides useful insights for improving Compositae breeding.

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The authors declare that all data supporting the findings of this study are provided in full in the results section of this paper.


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We would like to thank Miss Xin Xu, Hongyan Liu, and Shuting Yue for assistance with seed collection and transcriptome sampling. We thank Editage ( for English language editing.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (32070246).

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YB designed the study. PS, YB, YJZ, NH, and XRW performed the experiments. YJZ and ZYW cultivated the plant materials. PS and YB analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ying Bao.

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Sun, P., Bao, Y., Zhu, Y. et al. Possible role of the CYC2c gene in the cornflower-like ray floret phenotype of Gaillardia cultivars. J Plant Res 135, 465–472 (2022).

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  • Blanket flower
  • CYCLOIDEA gene
  • Funnel-shaped florets