A single gene, called PHANTASTICA (PHAN), controls whether a plant makes feathery leaves like a tomato or umbrella-like leaves like Oxalis. The same mechanism is shared by a wide group of flowering plants.
"Its a very surprising finding, that modifying one gene in the tomato alters the leaf from one form to another," said Neelima Sinha, a professor of plant biology at UC Davis who is senior author on the paper.
Plant leaves fall into two main groups: simple, single-blade leaves and compound leaves with multiple leaflets. Compound leaves have either a series of alternate leaflets on each side of a stem, like a tomato, or leaflets arrayed in a circle around a point at the end of the stalk.
Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
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