Understanding how flowers develop from undifferentiated stem cells has occupied developmental biologists for decades. Key to unraveling this process is a detailed knowledge of the global regulatory hierarchies that control developmental transitions, cell differentiation and organ growth. These hierarchies may be deduced from gene perturbation experiments, which determine the effects on gene expression after specific disruption of a regulatory gene. Here, we tested experimental strategies for gene perturbation experiments during Arabidopsis thaliana flower development. We used artificial miRNAs (amiRNAs) to disrupt the functions of key floral regulators, and expressed them under the control of various inducible promoter systems that are widely used in the plant research community. To be able to perform genome-wide experiments with stage-specific resolution using the various inducible promoter systems for gene perturbation experiments, we also generated a series of floral induction systems that allow collection of hundreds of synchronized floral buds from a single plant. Based on our results, we propose strategies for performing dynamic gene perturbation experiments in flowers, and outline how they may be combined with versions of the floral induction system to dissect the gene regulatory network underlying flower development.
Keywords: Arabidopsis thaliana; artificial miRNAs; flower development; gene perturbation; gene regulatory network; inducible promoter systems; technical advance.
© 2015 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.