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Petunia, Your Next Supermodel?

Abstract : Plant biology in general, and plant evo-devo in particular would strongly benefit from a broader range of available model systems. In recent years, technological advances have facilitated the analysis and comparison of individual gene functions in multiple species, representing now a fairly wide taxonomic range of the plant kingdom. Because genes are embedded in gene networks, studying evolution of gene function ultimately should be put in the context of studying the evolution of entire gene networks, since changes in the function of a single gene will normally go together with further changes in its network environment. For this reason, plant comparative biology/evo-devo will require the availability of a defined set of 'super' models occupying key taxonomic positions, in which performing gene functional analysis and testing genetic interactions ideally is as straightforward as, e.g., in Arabidopsis. Here we review why petunia has the potential to become one of these future supermodels, as a representative of the Asterid Glade. We will first detail its intrinsic qualities as a model system. Next, we highlight how the revolution in sequencing technologies will now finally allows exploitation of the petunia system to its full potential, despite that petunia has already a long history as a model in plant molecular biology and genetics. We conclude with a series of arguments in favor of a more diversified multi-model approach in plant biology, and we point out where the petunia model system may further play a role, based on its biological features and molecular toolkit.
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Michiel Vandenbussche, Pierre Chambrier, Suzanne Rodrigues Bento, Patrice Morel. Petunia, Your Next Supermodel?. Frontiers in Plant Science, Frontiers, 2016, 7, ⟨10.3389/fpls.2016.00072⟩. ⟨hal-02641265⟩

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