Determination of male strobilus developmental stages by cytological and gene expression analyses in Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)

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Abstract

The molecular mechanisms that control male strobilus development in conifers are largely unknown because the developmental stages and related genes have not yet been characterized. The determination of male strobilus developmental stages will contribute to genetic research and reproductive biology in conifers. Our objectives in this study were to determine the developmental stages of male strobili by cytological and transcriptome analysis, and to determine the stages at which aberrant morphology is observed in a male-sterile mutant of Cryptomeria japonica D. Don to better understand the molecular mechanisms that control male strobilus and pollen development. Male strobilus development was observed for 8 months, from initiation to pollen dispersal. A set of 19,209 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) collected from a male reproductive library and a pollen library was used for microarray analysis. We divided male strobilus development into 10 stages by cytological and transcriptome analysis. Eight clusters (7324 ESTs) exhibited major changes in transcriptome profiles during male strobili and pollen development in C. japonica. Two clusters showed a gradual increase and decline in transcript abundance, respectively, while the other six clusters exhibited stage-specific changes. The stages at which the male sterility trait of Sosyun was expressed were identified using information on male strobilus and pollen developmental stages and gene expression profiles. Aberrant morphology was observed cytologically at Stage 6 (microspore stage), and differences in expression patterns compared with wild type were observed at Stage 4 (tetrad stage).

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