Stigma and ovule initiation is essential for sexual reproduction in flowering plants. However, the mechanism underlying the initiation of stigma and ovule primordia remains elusive. We identified a stigma-less mutant of rice (Oryza sativa) and revealed that it was caused by the mutation in the PINOID (OsPID) gene. Unlike the pid mutant that shows typical pin-like inflorescences in maize (Zea mays) and Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), the ospid mutant does not display any defects in inflorescence development and flower initiation, and fails to develop normal ovules in most spikelets. The auxin activity in the young pistil of ospid was lower than that in the wild-type pistil. Furthermore, the expression of most auxin response factor genes was down-regulated, and OsETTIN1, OsETTIN2, and OsMONOPTEROS lost their rearrangements of expression patterns during pistil and stamen primordia development in ospid. Moreover, the transcription of the floral meristem marker gene, OSH1, was down-regulated and FLORAL ORGAN NUMBER4, the putative ortholog of Arabidopsis CLAVATA3, was up-regulated in the pistil primordium of ospid. These results suggested that the meristem proliferation in the pistil primordium might be arrested prematurely in ospid. Based on these results, we propose that the OsPID-mediated auxin signaling pathway plays a crucial role in the regulation of rice stigma and ovule initiation by maintaining the floral meristem.

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