Transcriptional Framework of Male Gametogenesis in the Liverwort Marchantia polymorpha L.

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Abstract

In land plants, there are two types of male gametes: one is a non-motile sperm cell which is delivered to the egg cell by a pollen tube, and the other is a motile sperm cell with flagella. The molecular mechanism underlying the sexual reproduction with the egg and pollen-delivered sperm cell is well understood from studies using model plants such as Arabidopsis and rice. On the other hand, the sexual reproduction with motile sperm has remained poorly characterized, due to the lack of suitable models. Marchantia polymorpha L. is a model basal land plant with sexual reproduction involving an egg cell and bi-flagellated motile sperm. To understand the differentiation process of plant motile sperm, we analyzed the gene expression profile of developing antheridia of M. polymorpha. We performed RNA-sequencing experiments and compared transcript profiles of the male sexual organ (antheridiophore and antheridium contained therein), female sexual organ (archegoniophore) and a vegetative organ (thallus). Transcriptome analysis showed that the antheridium expresses nearly half of the protein-coding genes predicted in the genome, but it also has unique features. The antheridium transcriptome shares some common features with male gamete transcriptomes of angiosperms and animals, and homologs of genes involved in male gamete formation and function in angiosperms and animals were identified. In addition, we showed that some of them had distinct expression patterns in the spermatogenous tissue of developing antheridia. This study provides a transcriptional framework on which to study the molecular mechanism of plant motile sperm development in M. polymorpha as a model.

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