Although it is generally accepted that auxin is important for the patterning of the female reproductive organ, the gynoecium, the flow as well as the temporal and spatial actions of auxin have been difficult to show during early gynoecial development. The primordium of the Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) gynoecium is composed of two congenitally fused, laterally positioned carpel primordia bisected by two medially positioned meristematic regions that give rise to apical and internal tissues, including the ovules. This organization makes the gynoecium one of the most complex plant structures, and as such, the regulation of its development has remained largely elusive. By determining the spatiotemporal expression of auxin response reporters and localization of PINFORMED (PIN) auxin efflux carriers, we have been able to create a map of the auxin flow during the earliest stages of gynoecial primordium initiation and outgrowth. We show that transient disruption of polar auxin transport (PAT) results in ectopic auxin responses, broadened expression domains of medial tissue markers, and disturbed lateral preprocambium initiation. Based on these results, we propose a new model of auxin-mediated gynoecial patterning, suggesting that valve outgrowth depends on PIN1-mediated lateral auxin maxima as well as subsequent internal auxin drainage and provascular formation, whereas the growth of the medial domains is less dependent on correct PAT. In addition, PAT is required to prevent the lateral domains, at least in the apical portion of the gynoecial primordium, from obtaining medial fates.
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