Studying inflated calyx syndrome in Physalis grisea



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Physalis grisea, also known as groundcherry, is a member of the Solanaceae family and possesses a striking morphological novelty called inflated calyx syndrome (ICS). The inflated calyx is a modified version of sepals, which transform into a balloon-like husk that encases the fruit after the flower is fertilized. Because the genetic underpinnings of this trait remain unclear, the purpose of my project was to understand the genes controlling ICS in P. grisea. I focused on four homeotic genes from the MADS-box family, each one regulating an aspect of floral organ development. These genes are MPF3, DEF, TAG1, and EJ2, and previous research in other members of Physalis and the Solanaceae suggests that they are implicated in ICS development. I analyzed the floral morphology and genome sequences of four P. grisea CRISPR-edited mutant lines, each of which had one of the four genes of interest had been knocked out. My findings indicate that MPF3, TAG1, and EJ2 each affect ICS differently: mpf3 led to stunted inflated calyces; tag1 was correlated with a lack of calyx inflation, likely due to male infertility from the transformation of stamens into petaloid organs; and ej2 disrupted ICS development by altering sepal identity and number.



Developmental Biology, Plant Biology, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Botany, Physalis grisea, Groundcherry, Inflated Calyx Syndrome, Plant Genomics, Solanaceae, MADS-box, ABC Model, Floral Quartet Model, Floral Organ Development, MPF3, DEF, TAG1, EJ2