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Simple and Divided Leaves in Ferns: Exploring the Genetic Basis for Leaf Morphology Differences in the Genus Elaphoglossum (Dryopteridaceae)

1
Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 1700 University Drive, Fort Worth, TX 76107-3400, USA
2
The New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10458-5126, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(15), 5180; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21155180
Received: 1 May 2020 / Revised: 1 July 2020 / Accepted: 18 July 2020 / Published: 22 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Mechanisms of Leaf Morphogenesis)
Despite the implications leaves have for life, their origin and development remain debated. Analyses across ferns and seed plants are fundamental to address the conservation or independent origins of megaphyllous leaf developmental mechanisms. Class I KNOX expression studies have been used to understand leaf development and, in ferns, have only been conducted in species with divided leaves. We performed expression analyses of the Class I KNOX and Histone H4 genes throughout the development of leaf primordia in two simple-leaved and one divided-leaved fern taxa. We found Class I KNOX are expressed (1) throughout young and early developing leaves of simple and divided-leaved ferns, (2) later into leaf development of divided-leaved species compared to simple-leaved species, and (3) at the leaf primordium apex and margins. H4 expression is similar in young leaf primordia of simple and divided leaves. Persistent Class I KNOX expression at the margins of divided leaf primordia compared with simple leaf primordia indicates that temporal and spatial patterns of Class I KNOX expression correlate with different fern leaf morphologies. However, our results also indicate that Class I KNOX expression alone is not sufficient to promote divided leaf development in ferns. Class I KNOX patterns of expression in fern leaves support the conservation of an independently recruited developmental mechanism for leaf dissection in megaphylls, the shoot-like nature of fern leaves compared with seed plant leaves, and the critical role marginal meristems play in fern leaf development. View Full-Text
Keywords: Class I KNOX; Dryopteridaceae; Elaphoglossum; ferns; fronds; leaf diversity; leaf evolution and development; megaphyll Class I KNOX; Dryopteridaceae; Elaphoglossum; ferns; fronds; leaf diversity; leaf evolution and development; megaphyll
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Vasco, A.; Ambrose, B.A. Simple and Divided Leaves in Ferns: Exploring the Genetic Basis for Leaf Morphology Differences in the Genus Elaphoglossum (Dryopteridaceae). Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21, 5180.

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