Expression of rolB in apomictic Hieracium piloselloides Vill. causes ectopic meristems in planta and changes in ovule formation, where apomixis initiates at higher frequency

Planta. 2001 Dec;214(2):196-205. doi: 10.1007/s004250100612.


The effects of the Agrobacterium rhizogenes rolB oncogene on apomixis were examined in the facultative apomictic plant Hieracium piloselloides because the oncogene has been shown to alter plant growth, morphogenesis and cellular sensitivity to auxin. Introduction of rolB under the control of either its own promoter or the CaMV35S promoter induced ectopic meristem formation from the inflorescence, confirming in planta a meristem-inducing role for this oncogene previously observed only in tissue culture. These ectopic meristems formed vegetative rosettes and floral plant organs. Upon immersion in water these meristems generated roots, suggesting that meristem commitment towards the generation of a specific organ type is a separate and later event that is dependent upon the developmental context. Ovule identity and form was altered in ectopically induced florets in plants expressing the CaMV35S::rolB construct. In contrast to the ovules of untransformed apomictic plants, the sexual process ceased earlier, prior to meiosis, yet surprisingly, apomixis initiated from a greater number of cells, and embryos and endosperm continued to develop in the structurally altered ovules. The alternative possibilities that the effects on reproduction might result from rolB influencing cellular response to auxin, or from alterations in cell signaling caused by changes in ovule morphology that are induced because of the expression of the oncogene are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asteraceae / genetics
  • Asteraceae / growth & development*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Indoleacetic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Meiosis / genetics
  • Meristem / genetics
  • Meristem / growth & development*
  • Plant Structures / genetics
  • Plant Structures / growth & development*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Reproduction / drug effects
  • Reproduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction
  • beta-Glucosidase / genetics*
  • beta-Glucosidase / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Indoleacetic Acids
  • RolB protein, Agrobacterium rhizogenes
  • beta-Glucosidase