The CRC orthologue from Pisum sativum shows conserved functions in carpel morphogenesis and vascular development

Ann Bot. 2014 Nov;114(7):1535-44. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcu129. Epub 2014 Jul 2.


Background and aims: CRABS CLAW (CRC) is a member of the YABBY family of transcription factors involved in carpel morphogenesis, floral determinacy and nectary specification in arabidopsis. CRC orthologues have been functionally characterized across angiosperms, revealing additional roles in leaf vascular development and carpel identity specification in Poaceae. These studies support an ancestral role of CRC orthologues in carpel development, while roles in vascular development and nectary specification appear to be derived. This study aimed to expand research on CRC functional conservation to the legume family in order to better understand the evolutionary history of CRC orthologues in angiosperms.

Methods: CRC orthologues from Pisum sativum and Medicago truncatula were identified. RNA in situ hybridization experiments determined the corresponding expression patterns throughout flower development. The phenotypic effects of reduced CRC activity were investigated in P. sativum using virus-induced gene silencing.

Key results: CRC orthologues from P. sativum and M. truncatula showed similar expression patterns, mainly restricted to carpels and nectaries. However, these expression patterns differed from those of other core eudicots, most importantly in a lack of abaxial expression in the carpel and in atypical expression associated with the medial vein of the ovary. CRC downregulation in pea caused defects in carpel fusion and style/stigma development, both typically associated with CRC function in eudicots, but also affected vascular development in the carpel.

Conclusions: The data support the conserved roles of CRC orthologues in carpel fusion, style/stigma development and nectary development. In addition, an intriguing new aspect of CRC function in legumes was the unexpected role in vascular development, which could be shared by other species from widely diverged clades within the angiosperms, suggesting that this role could be ancestral rather than derived, as so far generally accepted.

Keywords: CRABS CLAW; CRC orthologues; Flower development; Medicago truncatula; Pisum sativum; YABBY transcription factors; carpel evolution; carpel vasculature; floral determinacy; gynoecium, nectary.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Arabidopsis / cytology
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis / physiology
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Flowers / genetics*
  • Flowers / growth & development
  • Flowers / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Medicago truncatula / cytology
  • Medicago truncatula / genetics*
  • Medicago truncatula / growth & development
  • Medicago truncatula / physiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Pisum sativum / cytology
  • Pisum sativum / genetics*
  • Pisum sativum / growth & development
  • Pisum sativum / physiology
  • Plant Leaves / genetics
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development
  • Plant Leaves / physiology
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Plant Vascular Bundle / genetics
  • Plant Vascular Bundle / growth & development
  • Plant Vascular Bundle / physiology
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Plant Proteins
  • Transcription Factors