Morphogenesis and differentiation are important stages in organ development and shape determination. However, how they are balanced and tuned during development is not fully understood. In the compound leaved tomato, an extended morphogenesis phase allows for the initiation of leaflets, resulting in the compound form. Maintaining a prolonged morphogenetic phase in early stages of compound-leaf development in tomato is dependent on delayed activity of several factors that promote differentiation, including the CIN-TCP transcription factor (TF) LA, the MYB TF CLAU and the plant hormone Gibberellin (GA), as well as on the morphogenesis-promoting activity of the plant hormone cytokinin (CK). Here, we investigated the genetic regulation of the morphogenesis-differentiation balance by studying the relationship between LA, CLAU, TKN2, CK and GA. Our genetic and molecular examination suggest that LA is expressed earlier and more broadly than CLAU and determines the developmental context of CLAU activity. Genetic interaction analysis indicates that LA and CLAU likely promote differentiation in parallel genetic pathways. These pathways converge downstream on tuning the balance between CK and GA. Comprehensive transcriptomic analyses support the genetic data and provide insights into the broader molecular basis of differentiation and morphogenesis processes in plants.
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© 2021 Israeli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.