Flowers are among the most important evolutionary innovations. Their origin triggered the diversification of flowering plants which comprise more than 90 % of all land plants. At the same time, much of what we eat – seeds and fruits – is produced by flowers. The grains of the major global staple foods wheat, rice, and maize are all produced by flowers.
Flowers are thus of enormous evolutionary and developmental interest but also of huge economic value. We are using molecular genetics, biophysics and bioinformatics to study how flowers develop and evolve. This will contribute to the development of improved crop varieties and to a better understanding of the evolutionary success of flowers.