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The evolution of the plant genome-to-morphology auxin circuit

Abstract

In his Generelle Morphologie der Organismen (1866), 150 years ago, Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) combined developmental patterns in animals with the concept of organismic evolution, and 50 years ago, a new era of plant research started when focus shifted from crop species (sunflower, maize etc.) to thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) as a model organism. In this contribution, we outline the general principles of developmental evolutionary biology sensu Haeckel and describe the evolutionary genome-to-morphology-plant hormone auxin (IAA, indole-3-acetic acid)-circuit with reference to other phytohormones and a focus on land plants (embryophytes) plus associated epiphytic microbes. Our primary conclusion is that a system-wide approach is required to truly understand the ontogeny of any organism, because development proceeds according to signal pathways that integrate and respond to external as well as internal stimuli. We also discuss IAA-regulated embryology in A. thaliana and epigenetic phenomena in the gametophyte development, and outline how these processes are connected to the seminal work of Ernst Haeckel.

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Acknowledgments

The cooperation of the authors was supported by the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung (Bonn, Germany) (AvH-Fellowship Stanford 2014/15 to UK).

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Correspondence to Ulrich Kutschera.

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This article forms part of a special issue of Theory in Biosciences in commemoration of Olaf Breidbach.

Dedicated to the memory of Olaf Breidbach (1957–2014).

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Kutschera, U., Niklas, K.J. The evolution of the plant genome-to-morphology auxin circuit. Theory Biosci. 135, 175–186 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12064-016-0231-0

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Keywords

  • Auxin
  • Gene networks
  • IAA
  • Plant evolution
  • Transcription factors