The transition from vegetative growth to flower formation is critical for the survival of flowering plants. The plant-specific transcription factor LEAFY (LFY) has central, evolutionarily conserved roles in this process, both in the formation of the first flower and later in floral patterning. We performed genome-wide binding and expression studies to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which LFY executes these roles. Our study reveals that LFY directs an elaborate regulatory network in control of floral homeotic gene expression. LFY also controls the expression of genes that regulate the response to external stimuli in Arabidopsis. Thus, our findings support a key role for LFY in the coordination of reproductive stage development and disease response programs in plants that may ensure optimal allocation of plant resources for reproductive fitness. Finally, motif analyses reveal a possible mechanism for stage-specific LFY recruitment and suggest a role for LFY in overcoming polycomb repression.
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