Inflorescence development in tomato: gene functions within a zigzag model.
Tomato is a major crop plant and several mutants have been selected for breeding but also for isolating important genes that regulate flowering and sympodial growth. Besides, current research in evolutionary developmental biology aims at revealing mechanisms that account for diversity in inflorescence architecture among flowering plants. We therefore found timely to review the current knowledge of the genetic control of flowering in tomato and to integrate the emerging network into modeling attempts. We combined recently published concepts to develop a kinetic model of the tomato inflorescence development, which has a zigzag shape. We next exploited the model to explore the diversity of morphotypes that could be generated and matched them with existing mutant phenotypes. This approach, focused on the development of the primary inflorescence, provided mutual support to the genetic and modeling insights. In the last part of our paper, we extend our thought to spatial regulators that should be integrated in a next step for unraveling the relationships between the different meristems that participate to sympodial growth.