Petal fusion in petunia (Petunia × hybrida) results from lateral expansion of the five initially separate petal primordia, forming a ring-like primordium that determines further development. Here, we show that MAEWEST (MAW) and CHORIPETALA SUZANNE (CHSU) are required for petal and carpel fusion, as well as for lateral outgrowth of the leaf blade. Morphological and molecular analysis of maw and maw chsu double mutants suggest that polarity defects along the adaxial/abaxial axis contribute to the observed reduced lateral outgrowth of organ primordia. We show that MA W encodes a member of the WOX [WUSCHEL-related homeobox) transcription factor family and that a partly similar function is redundantly encoded by WOX1 and PRESSED FLOWER (PRS) in Arabidopsis thaliana, indicating a conserved role for MAWI WOXiIPRS genes in regulating lateral organ development. Comparison of petunia maw and Arabidopsis wox1 prs phenotypes suggests differential recruitment of WOX gene function depending on organ type and species. Our comparative data together with previous reports on WOX gene function in different species identify the WOX gene family as highly dynamic and, therefore, an attractive subject for future evo-devo studies. © 2009 American Society of Plant Biologists.