Studying genetics of leaf shape variation in Arabidopsis lyrata
Abstract: The relationship between leaf and its environment has resulted in a tremendous diversification of leaf shape within and between plants species, which is important to cope with the differing environmental conditions. Arabidopsis lyrata is a prime model plant that shows leaf shape variation within species and between related species. In Cardamine and Capsella, the RCO genes (homeodomain leucine zipper family transcription factors) are involved in shaping leaves, yielding more complex shaped leaves (leaflets). In A. thaliana, over the course of evolution, the RCO-A and RCO-B paralogous genes have been deleted that led to the loss of lobes (leaf simplification). Based on previous quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping results, these gene family members are thought to control leaf shape variation also in A. lyrata. Since the paralog involved in leaf shape variation is unknown, both copies of the RCO genes (AL6G13350 and AL6G13360) were sequenced. The study aimed to identify whether DNA sequence variation exists in the two paralogous RCO genes, which could explain the phenotype variation both within population and between A. lyrata populations, along with related species A. arenosa. The results showed limited variation in the coding regions in the form of indels, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and amino acid substitutions resulting in no significant difference in phenotype between genotype (p>0.139). The most variants were rare and increasing the number of individuals within the populations, to cover the full phenotypic spectrum, may lead to different results. Not being able to obtain the nucleotide sequence of the promotor region, further analysis is required since it is an important region for gene expression, which could explain phenotype variation for leaf shape in Arabidopsis lyrata.
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