Aerial plant architecture is predominantly determined by shoot branching and leaf morphology, which are governed by apparently unrelated developmental processes, axillary meristem formation, and leaf dissection. Here, we show that in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), these processes share essential functions in boundary establishment. Potato leaf (C), a key regulator of leaf dissection, was identified to be the closest paralog of the shoot branching regulator Blind (Bl). Comparative genomics revealed that these two R2R3 MYB genes are orthologs of the Arabidopsis thaliana branching regulator REGULATOR OF AXILLARY MERISTEMS1 (RAX1). Expression studies and complementation analyses indicate that these genes have undergone sub- or neofunctionalization due to promoter differentiation. C acts in a pathway independent of other identified leaf dissection regulators. Furthermore, the known leaf complexity regulator Goblet (Gob) is crucial for axillary meristem initiation and acts in parallel to C and Bl. Finally, RNA in situ hybridization revealed that the branching regulator Lateral suppressor (Ls) is also expressed in leaves. All four boundary genes, C, Bl, Gob, and Ls, may act by suppressing growth, as indicated by gain-of-function plants. Thus, leaf architecture and shoot architecture rely on a conserved mechanism of boundary formation preceding the initiation of leaflets and axillary meristems.
Busch, BL. Schmitz, G. Rossmann, S. Piron, F. Ding, J. Bendahmane, A. Theres, K.
The Plant cell.