Compound leaf development and evolution in the legumes

Connie E M Champagne, Thomas E. Goliber, Martin Wojciechowski, Raymond W. Mei, Brad T. Townsley, Kan Wang, Margie M. Paz, R. Geeta, Neelima R. Sinha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


Across vascular plants, Class 1 KNOTTED1-like (KNOX1) genes appear to play a critical role in the development of compound leaves. An exception to this trend is found in the Fabaceae, where pea (Pisum sativum) uses UNIFOLIATA, an ortholog of the floral regulators FLORICAULA (FLO) and LEAFY (LFY), in place of KNOX1 genes toregulate compound leaf development. To assess the phylogenetic distribution of KNOX1-independent compound leaf development, a survey of KNOX1 protein expression across the Fabaceae was undertaken. The majority of compound-leafed Fabaceae have expression of KNOX1 proteins associated with developing compound leaves. However, in a large subclade of the Fabaceae, the inverted repeat-lacking clade (IRLC), of which pea is a member, KNOX1 expression is not associated with compound leaves. These data suggest that the FLO/LFY gene may function in place of KNOX1 genes in generating compound leaves throughout the IRLC. The contribution of FLO/LFY to leaf complexity in a member of the Fabaceae outside of the IRLC was examined by reducing expression of FLO/LFY orthologs in transgenic soybean (Glycine max). Transgenic plants with reduced FLO/LFY expression showed only slight reductions in leaflet number. Overexpression of a KNOX1 gene in alfalfa (Medicago sativa), a member of the IRLC, resulted in an increase in leaflet number. This implies that KNOX1 targets, which promote compound leaf development, are present in alfalfa and are still sensitive to KNOX1 regulation. These data suggest that KNOX1 genes and the FLO/LFY gene may have played partially overlapping roles in compound leaf development in ancestral Fabaceae but that the FLO/LFY gene took over this role in the IRLC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3369-3378
Number of pages10
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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