AUTHOR=Kitazawa Miho S., Fujimoto Koichi
TITLE=A developmental basis for stochasticity in floral organ numbers
JOURNAL=Frontiers in Plant Science
VOLUME=5
YEAR=2014
URL=https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpls.2014.00545
DOI=10.3389/fpls.2014.00545
ISSN=1664-462X
ABSTRACT=Stochasticity ubiquitously inevitably appears at all levels from molecular traits to multicellular, morphological traits. Intrinsic stochasticity in biochemical reactions underlies the typical intercellular distributions of chemical concentrations, e.g., morphogen gradients, which can give rise to stochastic morphogenesis. While the universal statistics and mechanisms underlying the stochasticity at the biochemical level have been widely analyzed, those at the morphological level have not. Such morphological stochasticity is found in foral organ numbers. Although the floral organ number is a hallmark of floral species, it can distribute stochastically even within an individual plant. The probability distribution of the floral organ number within a population is usually asymmetric, i.e., it is more likely to increase rather than decrease from the modal value, or vice versa. We combined field observations, statistical analysis, and mathematical modeling to study the developmental basis of the variation in floral organ numbers among 50 species mainly from Ranunculaceae and several other families from core eudicots. We compared six hypothetical mechanisms and found that a modified error function reproduced much of the asymmetric variation found in eudicot floral organ numbers. The error function is derived from mathematical modeling of floral organ positioning, and its parameters represent measurable distances in the floral bud morphologies. The model predicts two developmental sources of the organ-number distributions: stochastic shifts in the expression boundaries of homeotic genes and a semi-concentric (whorled-type) organ arrangement. Other models species- or organ-specifically reproduced different types of distributions that reflect different developmental processes. The organ-number variation could be an indicator of stochasticity in organ fate determination and organ positioning.