Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Plant Biology

First Advisor

Sara Cahan

Second Advisor

Jill Preston


Gene duplications generate critical components of genetic variation that can be selected upon to affect phenotypic evolution. The angiosperm GATA transcription factor family has undergone both ancient and recent gene duplications, with the HAN-like clade displaying divergent functions in organ boundary establishment and lateral organ growth. To better determine the ancestral function within core eudicots, and to investigate their potential role in floral diversification, I conducted HAN-like gene expression and partial silencing analyses in the asterid species petunia (Petunia x hybrida). My results indicate duplication of HAN-like genes at the base of Solanaceae followed by expression diversification within the flower. Although no aberrant phenotypes were apparent following single gene knockdowns, silencing of both paralogs lead to leaf senescence. Together with other functional studies, these data suggest a possible ancestral role for HAN-like genes in core eudicot shoot apical meristem development, followed by functional diversification following both speciation and duplication.



Number of Pages

55 p.