In the early 1990s, genetic studies performed in parallel in the distantly related eudicot species Arabidopsis thaliana and Antirrhinum majus led to the unifying and now widely known “ABC model” for the definition of the main floral organ types – sepals, petals, stamens and carpels – that form in the four concentric whorls of a typical eudicot flower.
Since that breakthrough work, the field of flower development has bloomed continuously, with new insights constantly emerging. Researchers have focused on all aspects of this process, from the mechanisms that control the initiation of flowering to those that regulate the developmental processes that occur within each floral organ type. Furthermore, they have begun to probe the universality of molecular and genetic models derived from well-studied model species and to uncover the molecular basis for the tremendous variation in floral structure to be found among the 400 000 species of flowering plants alive today.
Many of the diverse fields of study relating to flowers and flowering were represented in the latest biannual Flower Development Workshop, held last June on the Cote d’Azur. This workshop was generously supported by Annals of Botany, and a Special Issue of the journal is in preparation from manuscripts submitted by workshop participants. This Special Issue will cover a wide-range of morphological, anatomical, biochemical, molecular, genetic and genomic studies applied to diverse flowering plant species, and even to their closest living relatives, the gymnosperms. Lead participating authors include: Mohammed Bendahmane, Arezki Boudaoud, Cristel Carles, Lucia Colombo, Cristina Ferrandiz, Fabio Fornara, Maria-Helena Goldman, Lydia Gramlow, Francisco Madueno, Rainer Melzer, Naomi Nakayama, Ioan Negrutiu, Soraya Pelaz, Guenter Theissen and Michiel Vandenbussche.
To further increase the scope and impact of this special issue, we will be pleased to consider for publication further manuscripts in the field of flowering and flower development. Please contact the Annals of Botany editorial office if you would like to submit an article for publication in this Special Issue. Submissions can be accepted up until the end of January 2014.
Wild-type (left) and blind mutant (right) flowers of the model species Petunia hybrida showing homeotic conversion of petals into stamens due to a loss-of-function of the BLIND microRNA (see Cartolano et al., 2007. DOI: 10.1038/ng2056) Photos © M. Vandenbussche.
Male (left) and female (right) flowers of Amborella trichopoda, the sister to all other 400,000 species of angiosperms. Dioecy may be a derived trait in this species, as one-to-two sterile stamens, termed staminodes, typically develop in its female flowers, along with approximately five unfused carpels. Photos © A. Andrès-Robin and C. Scutt.