Garden asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) is a dioecious species with male and female flowers on separate unisexual individuals. Since B- and C-functional MADS-box genes specify male and female reproductive organs, it is important to characterize these genes to clarify the mechanism of sex determination in monoecious and dioecious species. In this study, we isolated and characterized AODEF gene, a B-functional gene in the development of male and female flowers of A. officinalis. Southern hybridization identified a single copy of AODEF gene in asparagus genome. Northern blot analysis showed that this gene was specifically expressed in flower buds and not in vegetative tissues. In situ hybridization showed that during early hermaphrodite stages, AODEFgene was expressed in the inner tepal and stamen whorls (whorls 2 and 3, respectively), but not in the outer tepals (whorl 1), in both male and female flowers. In late unisexual developmental stages, the expression of AODEF gene was still detected in the inner tepals and stamens of male flowers, but the expression was reduced in whorls 2 and 3 of female flowers. Our results suggest that AODEF gene is probably not involved in tepal development in asparagus and that the expression of AODEF gene is probably controlled directly or indirectly by sex determination gene in the late developmental stages.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 7, 2004
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