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, in botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...
, refers to one of the bract-like organs of the grass
Grasses, or more technically graminoids, are monocotyledonous, usually herbaceous plants with narrow leaves growing from the base. They include the "true grasses", of the Poaceae family, as well as the sedges and the rushes . The true grasses include cereals, bamboo and the grasses of lawns ...
The Poaceae is a large and nearly ubiquitous family of flowering plants. Members of this family are commonly called grasses, although the term "grass" is also applied to plants that are not in the Poaceae lineage, including the rushes and sedges...
). It is the uppermost of the two chaff-like bracts that enclose the grass floret (the other being the lemma
Lemma is a phytomorphological term used in botany referring to a part of the spikelet of grasses . It is the lowermost of two chaff-like bracts enclosing the grass floret. It often bears a long bristle called an awn, and may be similar in form to the glumes - chaffy bracts at the base of each...
). It is often cleft at the tip, implying that it may be a double structure derived from the union of two separate organs. This has led to suggestions that it may be what remains of the grass sepals (outer perianth whorl): specifically the two adaxial members of the three membered whorl typical of monocots. The third member may be absent or it may be represented by the lemma, according to different botanical interpretations.
The perianth interpretation of palea is supported by the expression of MADS-box
The MADS box is a conserved sequence motif found in genes which comprise the MADS-box gene family. The MADS box encodes the DNA-binding MADS domain. The MADS domain binds to DNA sequences of high similarity to the motif CC[A/T]6GG termed the CArG-box. MADS-domain proteins are generally...
genes in this organ during development, as is the case in sepals of eudicot plants.