7 Arabidopsis - How to Make a Flower Bypass Chapter Navigation
Contents  
Foreword by Walter Cronkite  
Introduction - The National Science Foundation at 50: Where Discoveries Begin, by Rita Colwell  
Internet: Changing the Way we Communicate  
Advanced Materials: The Stuff Dreams are Made of  
Education: Lessons about Learning  
Manufacturing: The Forms of Things Unknown  
Arabidopsis: Map-makers of the Plant Kingdom
Decision Sciences: How the Game is Played  
Visualization: A Way to See the Unseen  
Environment: Taking the Long View  
Astronomy: Exploring the Expanding Universe  
Science on the Edge: Arctic and Antarctic Discoveries  
Disaster & Hazard Mitigation  
About the Photographs  
Acknowledgments  
About the NSF  
Chapter Index  
Arabidopsis: Map Makers of the Plant Kingdom
 

How to Make a Flower

Elliot M. Meyerowitz of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena was one of the first molecular biologists to receive an NSF grant to study Arabidopsis genetics. His work on the development of flowers illustrates how the methods of scientific inquiry employed in molecular biology can unlock the secrets of plant life.

Flowers are made up of four concentric whorls. Surrounded by tough, protective structures called sepals, the petals themselves surround the male and female sex organs, respectivly called stamens and carpels. Three types of genes control how the whorls develop, and by looking at flowers that lacked some genes, Meyerowitz's lab discovered that if only type A genes are active, a cell knows to become part of a sepal. With A and B genes switched on, the cell turns into part of a petal. Together, genes B and C direct a cell into a stamen, and C alone, into a carpel.

Meyerowitz's work has broad applicability. Fully 80 percent of the world's food supply is made up of flowers or flower parts: fruit, grains, or seeds. While genetically engineered flowers may have limited commercial value, the same formulas may one day be used to tailor food crops to the requirements of humankind.

 
     
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Overview
A Rose is a Rose is a Mustard Weed
Inside the Little Green Factories
NSF Helps Launch th New Biology
Accelerating the Pace
Why Learn About Arabidopsis?
How to Make a Flower
Golden Age of Discovery
Communication...Fusted with the Ideas and Results of Others
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