Evolution of the PEBP gene family in plants: functional diversification in seed plant evolution

Plant Physiol. 2011 Aug;156(4):1967-77. doi: 10.1104/pp.111.176206. Epub 2011 Jun 3.


The phosphatidyl ethanolamine-binding protein (PEBP) gene family is present in all eukaryote kingdoms, with three subfamilies identified in angiosperms (FLOWERING LOCUS T [FT], MOTHER OF FT AND TFL1 [MFT], and TERMINAL FLOWER1 [TFL1] like). In angiosperms, PEBP genes have been shown to function both as promoters and suppressors of flowering and to control plant architecture. In this study, we focus on previously uncharacterized PEBP genes from gymnosperms. Extensive database searches suggest that gymnosperms possess only two types of PEBP genes, MFT-like and a group that occupies an intermediate phylogenetic position between the FT-like and TFL1-like (FT/TFL1-like). Overexpression of Picea abies PEBP genes in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) suggests that the FT/TFL1-like genes (PaFTL1 and PaFTL2) code for proteins with a TFL1-like function. However, PaFTL1 and PaFTL2 also show highly divergent expression patterns. While the expression of PaFTL2 is correlated with annual growth rhythm and mainly confined to needles and vegetative and reproductive buds, the expression of PaFTL1 is largely restricted to microsporophylls of male cones. The P. abies MFT-like genes (PaMFT1 and PaMFT2) show a predominant expression during embryo development, a pattern that is also found for many MFT-like genes from angiosperms. P. abies PEBP gene expression is primarily detected in tissues undergoing physiological changes related to growth arrest and dormancy. A first duplication event resulting in two families of plant PEBP genes (MFT-like and FT/TFL1-like) seems to coincide with the evolution of seed plants, in which independent control of bud and seed dormancy was required, and the second duplication resulting in the FT-like and TFL1-like clades probably coincided with the evolution of angiosperms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Flowers / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant / genetics*
  • Multigene Family / genetics*
  • Phosphatidylethanolamine Binding Protein / genetics*
  • Phosphatidylethanolamine Binding Protein / metabolism
  • Phylogeny
  • Picea / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Seeds / genetics*


  • Phosphatidylethanolamine Binding Protein
  • Plant Proteins