Flower bud development occurred between 28 April and 30 May 2017 and was divided into five stages: undifferentiated, early flower bud differentiation, petal primordium differentiation, stamen primordium differentiation, and pistil primordium differentiation. A total of 52,441 expressed genes were identified, of which 11,592 were significantly differentially expressed in the five bud development stages. Of these, 82 genes were involved in the flowering. In addition, MADS-box and AP2 family genes play critical roles in the formation of flower organs and 20 differentially expressed genes associated with flower bud differentiation were identified in M. sinostellata. A qRT-PCR analysis verified that the MADS-box and AP2 family genes were expressed at high levels during flower bud differentiation.
Consequently, this study provides a theoretical basis for the genetic regulation of flowering in M. sinostellata, which lays a foundation for further research into flowering genes and may facilitate the development of new cultivars.