Normal flower development likely requires both specific and general regulators. We have isolated an Arabidopsis mutant ask1-1 (for -Arabidopsis skp1-like1-1), which exhibits defects in both vegetative and reproductive development. In the ask1-1mutant, rosette leaf growth is reduced, resulting in smaller than normal rosette leaves, and internodes in the floral stem are shorter than normal. Examination of cell sizes in these organs indicates that cell expansion is normal in the mutant, but cell number is reduced. In the mutant, the numbers of petals and stamens are reduced, and many flowers have one or more petals with a reduced size. In addition, all mutant flowers have short stamen filaments. Furthermore, petal/stamen chimeric organs are found in many flowers. These results indicate that the ASK1 gene affects the size of vegetative and floral organs. The ask1 floral phenotype resembles somewhat that of the Arabidopsis ufo mutants in that both genes affect whorls 2 and 3. We therefore tested for possible interactions between ASK1 and UFO by analyzing the phenotypes of ufo-2 ask1-1 double mutant plants. In these plants, vegetative development is similar to that of the ask1-1 single mutant, whereas the floral defects are more severe than those in either single mutant. Interior to the first whorl, the double mutant flowers have more sepals or sepal-like organs than are found in ufo-2, and less petals than ask1-1. Our results suggest that ASK1 interacts with UFO to control floral organ identity in whorls 2 and 3. This is very intriguing because ASK1 is very similar in sequence to the yeast SKP1 protein and UFO contains an F-box, a motif known to interact with SKP1 in yeast. Although the precise mechanism of ASK1 and UFO action is unknown, our results support the hypothesis that these two proteins physically interact in vivo.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.