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Understanding the development and evolution of novel floral form in Aquilegia


Flowers of the lower eudicot Aquilegia (columbine) possess morphological innovations, namely elaborate petal spurs and a fifth distinct organ identity, the staminodium, that are well suited to the investigation of key questions in developmental evolution. The recent evolution of these characteristics combined with a growing set of genetic and genomic resources has provided insight into how the traits arose and diversified. The petal spur appears to represent a key innovation that diversified largely via modification of specific aspects of cell expansion. In the case of the staminodium, gene duplication has played a role in allowing a novel organ identity to be carved out of the traditional ABC program.

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