Abstract Detail

Characteristics of nectar, nectaries, and nectar spurs

Ballerini, Evangeline [1], Min, Ya [2], Edwards, Molly [3], Kramer, Elena [4], Hodges, Scott [5].

POPOVICH, encoding a C2H2 zinc-finger transcription factor, plays a central role in the development of a key innovation, floral nectar spurs, in Aquilegia.

The evolution of novel features that allow organisms to explore and exploit their environment in new ways, such as eyes or wings, can lead to increased diversification rates. Therefore, understanding the genetic and developmental mechanisms involved in the evolution of these key innovations has long been of interest to evolutionary biologists. In flowering plants, floral nectar spurs are a prime example of a key innovation, with the independent evolution of spurs associated with increased diversification rates in multiple angiosperm lineages through their ability to exert reproductive isolation via pollinator specialization. As none of the traditional plant model taxa have nectar spurs, little is known about the genetic and developmental basis of this trait. Nectar spurs are a defining feature of the genus Aquilegia (Ranunculaceae, or columbine), a lineage that has experienced a relatively recent and rapid radiation and for which a number of genetic, genomic, and developmental tools have been developed. We used a combination of genetic mapping, gene expression analyses, and functional assays to identify a gene crucial for nectar spur development, POPOVICH (POP), which encodes a C2H2 zinc-finger transcription factor. POP plays a central role in maintaining mitosis in the Aquilegia petal during the early phase (phase I) of spur development and also appears to be necessary for the subsequent development of nectaries. The identification of POP opens up numerous avenues for continued scientific exploration, including further establishing the genetic pathway of which it is a part, determining its role in the initial evolution of the Aquilegia nectar spur, and examining its potential role in the subsequent evolution of diverse spur morphologies across the genus.

1 - California State University, Sacramento, Biological Sciences, 6000 J St. , TSC 4015, Sacramento, CA, 95819, United States
2 - Harvard University, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, 16 Divinity Ave, Cambridge, MA, 02138, USA
3 - Harvard University, Biolabs Room 1119, 16 Divinity Ave, Cambridge, MA, 02138, United States
4 - Harvard Univ., OEB, 16 Divinity Avenue, BL 1119, Cambridge, MA, 02138, United States
5 - Department Of Ecology & Marine Biology, Department Of Ecology & Marine Biology, University Of California, Santa Barbara, CA, 93106, United States

nectar spur
key innovation

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Session: COL02, Characteristics of nectar, nectaries and nectar spurs
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2020
Time: 1:15 PM
Number: COL02011
Abstract ID:91
Candidate for Awards:Margaret Menzel Award

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