The mantled somaclonal variation of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) hampers oil production as the supernumerary female organs are either sterile or produce fruits with poor oil yields. Jaligot et al. provide an overview of research focusing on this intriguing floral phenotype, which also provides a unique opportunity to investigate epigenetic regulation of reproductive development in palms. They propose that future efforts should concentrate on epigenetic regulation targeting MADS-box genes and transposable elements, since both types of sequences are most likely to be involved in this variant phenotype.
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