In this study, the temporal and spatial regulation of putative ethylene receptor genes was examined during ethylene and pollination-induced flower petal abscission of zonal geranium (Pelargonium × hortorum L.H. Bailey). We used the Arabidopsis thaliana ETR1 gene as a heterologous probe to isolate two full-length cDNA clones, GER1 and GER2, from an ethylene-treated geranium pistil cDNA library. Both cDNAs share a high degree of DNA sequence similarity to ETR1, and examinations of deduced amino acid sequences indicate that the proteins encoded by each gene have the conserved ethylene binding and response regulator domains found in ETR1. Experiments focused on determining the temporal regulation of these genes revealed that both genes are expressed in geranium florets much earlier than when the florets become responsive to ethylene treatment, which is sufficient to cause petal abscission in 1 hr. Both genes are expressed in pistils throughout floret development. Experiments focused on determining the spatial regulation of these genes revealed that both genes are expressed at moderate levels in leaves, pistils, anthers, and petals, and are expressed at very low levels in roots. Preliminary evidence suggests that GER2 is transcriptionally regulated by ethylene in pistils after exogenous ethylene treatment. Currently, the transcriptional regulation of these genes in pistils after pollination is unknown.
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