Differential expression of NAM gene underlies diverse leaf forms in Achillea

This paper provides an important case study in the large family Asteraceae that contains almost one-tenth of all flowering plants and has an enormous diversity of leaf forms.

The genus Achillea (Asteraceae) shows a great diversity in leaf dissection patterns. Leaf shape is one of the most variable traits of plants, and the transcription factor NAM is known to regulate development of leaf serration in Arabidopsis.

Plant species under study.
Plant species under study. Leaf forms are shown in the right-hand pictures. (A, B) Achillea acuminata; (C, D) A. asiatica. Scale bars = 1 cm.

Sha et al. investigate whether NAM also underpins leaf dissection in Achillea, and whether modification of its activity is responsible for changes to leaf form in this genus. The NAM gene was isolated from A. acuminata with serrate leaves and A. asiatica with 3-pinnatisect leaves, and in situ mRNA hybridization and quantitative PCR was conducted to determine the gene’s expression in their leaves. Both methods showed altered NAM expression dynamics in serrate versus pinnate leaves. This study provides important insights into the genetic factors leading to changes of leaf forms in processes of speciation.

Reference List

Sha, S., Chen, D., Liu, M., Li, K.-L., Jiang, C.-K., Wang, D.-H., & Guo, Y.-P. (2017). To be serrate or pinnate: diverse leaf forms of yarrows (Achillea) are linked to differential expression patterns of NAM genes. Annals of Botany, 121(2), 255–266. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcx152