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, 13 (2), 51-9

MADS About the Evolution of Orchid Flowers

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MADS About the Evolution of Orchid Flowers

Mariana Mondragón-Palomino et al. Trends Plant Sci.

Abstract

Orchids have unique flowers involving three types of perianth organs: outer tepals, lateral inner tepals, and a lip. Expression studies indicate that the identity of these organs is specified by the combinatorial interaction of four different DEFICIENS-like MADS-box genes. We suggest that clarifying the evolution of these genes provides a rational framework for reconstructing the enigmatic origin and unique diversification of the orchid flower. For example, two rounds of gene duplications during early orchid evolution might have generated the genes that were probably recruited to distinguish the different types of perianth organs. This hypothesis suggests intriguing, experimentally testable mechanisms by which gene duplications followed by sub- and neo-functionalization events might have contributed to the evolutionary origin of morphological novelties in orchids - and well beyond.

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