An everlasting pioneer: the story of Antirrhinum research

16 February 2005

Despite the tremendous success of Arabidopsis thaliana, no single model can represent the vast range of form that is seen in the ~250,000 existing species of flowering plants (angiosperms). Here, we consider the history and future of an alternative angiosperm model — the snapdragon Antirrhinum majus. We ask what made Antirrhinum attractive to the earliest students of variation and inheritance, and how its use led to landmark advances in plant genetics and to our present understanding of plant development. Finally, we show how the wide diversity of Antirrhinum species, combined with classical and molecular genetics — the two traditional strengths of Antirrhinum — provide an opportunity for developmental, evolutionary and ecological approaches. These factors make A. majus an ideal comparative angiosperm.