Intraspecific variation in the petal epidermal cell morphology of Vicia faba L. (Fabaceae).

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Bailes, Emily J 
Glover, Beverley J 

At a microscopic scale, the shape and fine cell relief of the petal epidermal cells of a flower play a key role in its interaction with pollinators. In particular, conical shaped petal epidermal cells have been shown to have an important function in providing grip on the surface of bee-pollinated flowers and can influence bee visitation rates. Previous studies have explored interspecific variation in this trait within genera and families, but naturally-occurring intraspecific variation has not yet been comprehensively studied. Here, we investigate petal epidermal cell morphology in 32 genotypes of the crop Vicia faba, which has a yield highly dependent on pollinators. We hypothesise that conical cells may have been lost in some genotypes as a consequence of selective sweeps or genetic drift during breeding programmes. We find that 13% of our lines have a distribution of conical petal epidermal cells that deviates from that normally seen in V. faba flowers. These abnormal phenotypes were specific to the ad/abaxial side of petals, suggesting that these changes are the result of altered gene expression patterns rather than loss of gene function.

Broad bean, Cell shape, Faba bean, Field bean, Papillose cell, Petal epidermis
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Elsevier BV
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/F016581/1)