J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2023, Vol. 65 ›› Issue (2): 283-298.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.13351

• Invited Expert Reviews •     Next Articles

The origin and evolution of carpels and fruits from an evo-devo perspective

Hongyan Liu1,2†, Jun Li1,2†, Pichang Gong1 and Chaoying He1,2,3*   

  1. 1. State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China;
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China;
    3. The Innovative Academy of Seed Design, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    These authors contributed equally to this work.
    *Correspondence: Chaoying He (chaoying@ibcas.ac.cn)
  • Received:2022-07-09 Accepted:2022-08-24 Online:2022-08-28 Published:2023-02-01

Abstract: The flower is an evolutionary innovation in angiosperms that drives the evolution of biodiversity. The carpel is integral to a flower and develops into fruits after fertilization, while the perianth, consisting of the calyx and corolla, is decorative to facilitate pollination and protect the internal organs, including the carpels and stamens. Therefore, the nature of flower origin is carpel and stamen origin, which represents one of the greatest and fundamental unresolved issues in plant evolutionary biology. Here, we briefly summarize the main progress and key genes identified for understanding floral development, focusing on the origin and development of the carpels. Floral ABC models have played pioneering roles in elucidating flower development, but remain insufficient for resolving flower and carpel origin. The genetic basis for carpel origin and subsequent diversification leading to fruit diversity also remains elusive. Based on current research progress and technological advances, simplified floral models and integrative evolutionary-developmental (evo-devo) strategies are proposed for elucidating the genetics of carpel origin and fruit evolution. Stepwise birth of a few master regulatory genes and subsequent functional diversification might play a pivotal role in these evolutionary processes. Among the identified transcription factors, AGAMOUS (AG) and CRABS CLAW (CRC) may be the two core regulatory genes for carpel origin as they determine carpel organ identity, determinacy, and functionality. Therefore, a comparative identification of their protein–protein interactions and downstream target genes between flowering and non-flowering plants from an evo-devo perspective may be primary projects for elucidating carpel origin and development.

Key words: AGAMOUS, CRABS CLAW, carpel origin, evo-devo, floral development, fruit evolution

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