Identification of Mendel's White Flower Character

Roger P. Hellens, Carol Moreau, K. Lin-Wang, Kathy E. Schwinn, Susan J. Thomson, Mark W. E. J. Fiers, Tonya J. Frew, Sarah R. Murray, J. M. I. Hofer, Jeanne M. E. Jacobs, Kevin M. Davies, Andrew C. Allan, Abdelhafid Bendahmane, Clarice J. Coyne, Gail M. Timmerman-Vaughan, T. H. N. Ellis

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Background: The genetic regulation of flower color has been widely studied, notably as a character used by Mendel and his predecessors in the study of inheritance in pea.

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.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13230
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS One
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2010


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