Methodology/Principal Findings: We used the genome sequence of model legumes, together with their known synteny to the pea genome to identify candidate genes for the A and A2 loci in pea. We then used a combination of genetic mapping, fast neutron mutant analysis, allelic diversity, transcript quantification and transient expression complementation studies to confirm the identity of the candidates.
Conclusions/Significance: We have identified the pea genes A and A2. A is the factor determining anthocyanin pigmentation in pea that was used by Gregor Mendel 150 years ago in his study of inheritance. The A gene encodes a bHLH transcription factor. The white flowered mutant allele most likely used by Mendel is a simple G to A transition in a splice donor site that leads to a mis-spliced mRNA with a premature stop codon, and we have identified a second rare mutant allele. The A2 gene encodes a WD40 protein that is part of an evolutionarily conserved regulatory complex.