Identification of Mendel’s White Flower Character

Identification of Mendel’s White Flower Character.
Hellens RP, Moreau C, Lin-Wang K, Schwinn KE, Thomson SJ, et al. (2010)
PLoS ONE 5(10): e13230. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013230

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.

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