|Publication Type:||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication:||2015|
|Authors:||G. Galla, Vogel, H., Sharbel, T. F., Barcaccia, G.|
Background St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum L.) is a medicinal plant that produces important metabolites with antidepressant and anticancer activities. Recently gained biological information has shown that this species is also an attractive model system for the study of a naturally occurring form of asexual reproduction called apomixis, which allows cloning plants through seeds. In aposporic gametogenesis, one or multiple somatic cells belonging to the ovule nucellus change their fate by dividing mitotically and developing functionally unreduced embryo sacs by mimicking sexual gametogenesis. Although the introduction of apomixis into agronomically important crops could have revolutionary implications for plant breeding, the genetic control of this mechanism of seed formation is still not well understood for most of the model species investigated so far. Methods We used Roche 454 technology to sequence the entire H. perforatum flower transcriptome of whole flower buds and single flower verticils collected from obligately sexual and unrelated highly or facultatively apomictic genotypes, which enabled us to identify RNAs that are likely exclusive to flower organs (i.e., sepals, petals, stamens and carpels) or reproductive strategies (i.e., sexual vs. apomictic). Results Here we sequenced and annotated the flower transcriptome of H. perforatum with particular reference to reproductive organs and processes. In particular, in our study we characterized approximately 37,000 transcripts found expressed in male and/or female reproductive organs, including tissues or cells of sexual and apomictic flower buds. Ontological annotation was applied to identify major biological processes and molecular functions involved in flower development and plant reproduction. Starting from this dataset, we were able to recover and annotate a large number of transcripts related to meiosis, gametophyte/gamete formation, and embryogenesis, as well as genes that are exclusively or preferentially expressed in sexual or apomictic libraries. Real-Time RT-qPCR assays on pistils and anthers collected at different developmental stages from accessions showing alternative modes of reproduction were used to identify potential genes that are related to plant reproduction sensu lato in H. perforatum. Conclusions Our approach of sequencing flowers from two fully obligate sexual genotypes and two unrelated highly apomictic genotypes, in addition to different flower parts dissected from a facultatively apomictic accession, enabled us to analyze the complexity of the flower transcriptome according to its main reproductive organs as well as for alternative reproductive behaviors. Both annotation and expression data provided original results supporting the hypothesis that apomixis in H. perforatum relies upon spatial or temporal mis-expression of genes acting during female sexual reproduction. The present analyses aim to pave the way toward a better understanding of the molecular basis of flower development and plant reproduction, by identifying genes or RNAs that may differentiate or regulate the sexual and apomictic reproductive pathways in H. perforatum.
|Short Title:||BMC Genomics|