Homologues of the floral meristem identity genes LEAFY (LFY) and APETALA1 (AP1) were isolated from the hybrid perennial tree crop `Washington' navel orange (Citrus sinensis) and designated CsLFY and CsAP1, respectively. Citrus has an extended juvenile period unlike herbaceous plants and responds to different floral stimuli than herbaceous plants or deciduous tree species. Despite these differences, the deduced amino acid sequences of CsLFY and CsAP1 genes are at least 65% identical with their Arabidopsis thaliana L. Heynh counterparts and share even greater sequence similarity to LFY and AP1 from the deciduous woody perennials, Populus balsamifera Bradshaw and Populus tremuloides Michaux, respectively. Like A. thaliana LFY (AtLFY) and AP1 (AtAP1), CsLFY and CsAP1 expression was restricted almost exclusively to reproductive tissues, but observed expression of CsAP1 in the fourth whorl carpel tissue of mature flowers was distinct from other plant AP1 genes. Transgenic A. thaliana plants ectopically expressing CsLFY or CsAP1 showed early-flowering phenotypes similar to those described for overexpression of AtLFY and AtAP1. In addition, the 35S:CsLFY and 35S:CsAP1 transgenes partially complemented the lfy-10 and ap1-3 mutants, respectively. The severity of the overexpression phenotypes correlated with the accumulation of CsLFY or CsAP1 transcripts. LFY is a single-copy gene in flowering plants but consistent with its hybrid origin, the genome of C. sinensis `Washington' has two easily distinguishable CsLFY and CsAP1 alleles derived from it's parental genotypes, C. maxima L. Osbeck (pummelo) and C. reticulata Blanco (mandarin). Allelic polymorphism at both the CsLFY and CsAP1 loci was restricted to the 5′- and 3′-flanking regions.
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Corresponding author. Present Address: Dept. of Biology, Univ. of Washington, 544 Hitchcock Hall, Box 355325, Seattle, WA 98195-1800, phone: 206-221-5756, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org