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Transcriptomics at maize embryo/endosperm interfaces identify a novel transcriptionally distinct endosperm sub-domain adjacent to the embryo scutellum (EAS)

By Nicolas M Doll, Jeremy Just, Véronique Brunaud, José Caïus, Aurélie Grimault, Nathalie Depège-Fargeix, Eddi Esteban, Asher Pasha, Nicholas J. Provart, Gwyneth Ingram, Peter M. Rogowsky, Thomas Widiez

Posted 09 Oct 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/799338

Seeds are complex biological systems comprising three genetically distinct tissues nested one inside another (embryo, endosperm and maternal tissues). However, the complexity of the kernel makes it difficult to understand inter compartment interactions without access to spatially accurate information. Here we took advantage of the large size of the maize kernel to characterize genome-wide expression profiles of tissues at embryo/endosperm interfaces. Our analysis identifies specific transcriptomic signatures in two interface tissues compared to whole seed compartments: The scutellar aleurone layer (SAL), and the newly named endosperm adjacent to scutellum (EAS). The EAS, which appears around 9 days after pollination and persists for around 11 days, is confined to one to three endosperm cell layers adjacent to the embryonic scutellum. Its transcriptome is enriched in genes encoding transporters. The absence of the embryo in an embryo specific (emb) mutant can alter the expression pattern of EAS marker genes. The detection of cell death in some EAS cells together with an accumulation of crushed cell walls suggests that the EAS is a dynamic zone from which cell layers in contact with the embryo are regularly eliminated, and to which additional endosperm cells are recruited as the embryo grows.

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