[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) play important roles in stress responses and development in plants. Maize (Zea mays), an important cereal crop, is a model plant species for molecular studies. In the last decade, several MAPKs have been identified in maize; however, their functions have not been studied extensively. Genome-wide identification and expression analysis of maize MAPK genes could provide valuable information for understanding their functions. In this study, 20 non-redundant maize MAPK genes (ZmMPKs) were identified via a genome-wide survey. Phylogenetic analysis of MAPKs from maize, rice (Oryza sativa), Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), poplar (Populus trichocarpa), and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) classified them into four major classes. ZmMPKs in the same class had similar domains, motifs, and genomic structures. Gene duplication investigations suggested that segmental duplications made a large contribution to the expansion of ZmMPKs. A number of cis-acting elements related to plant development and response to stress and hormones were identified in the promoter regions of ZmMPKs. Furthermore, transcript profile analysis in eight tissues and organs at various developmental stages demonstrated that most ZmMPKs were preferentially expressed in reproductive tissues and organs. The transcript abundance of most ZmMPKs changed significantly under salt, drought, cold, or abscisic acid (ABA) treatments, implying that they might participate in abiotic stress and ABA signaling. These expression analyses indicated that ZmMPKs might serve as linkers between abiotic stress signaling and plant reproduction. Our data will deepen our understanding of the complexity of the maize MAPK gene family and provide new clues to investigate their functions.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Functional and Integrative Genomics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In angiosperms, successful pollen-pistil interactions are the prerequisite and guarantee of subsequent fertilization and seed production. Recent profile analyses have helped elucidate molecular mechanisms underlying these processes at both transcriptomic and proteomic levels, but the involvement of miRNAs in pollen-pistil interactions is still speculative. In this study, we sequenced four small RNA libraries derived from mature pollen, in vitro germinated pollen, mature silks, and pollinated silks of maize (Zea mays L.). We identified 161 known miRNAs belonging to 27 families and 82 novel miRNAs. Of these, 40 conserved and 16 novel miRNAs showed different expression levels between mature and germinated pollen, and 30 conserved and eight novel miRNAs were differentially expressed between mature and pollinated silks. As candidates for factors associated with pollen-silk (pistil) interactions, expression patterns of the two sets of differentially expressed miRNAs were confirmed by stem-loop real-time RT-PCR. Transcript levels of 22 predicted target genes were also validated using real-time RT-PCR; most of these exhibited expression patterns contrasting with those of their corresponding miRNAs. In addition, GO analysis of target genes of differentially expressed miRNAs revealed that functional categories related to auxin signal transduction and gene expression regulation were overrepresented. These results suggest that miRNA-mediated auxin signal transduction and transcriptional regulation have roles in pollen-silk interactions. The results of our study provide novel information for understanding miRNA regulatory roles in pollen-pistil interactions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In plants, pollination is a critical step in reproduction. During pollination, constant communication between male pollen and the female stigma is required for pollen adhesion, germination, and tube growth. The detailed mechanisms of stigma-mediated reproductive processes, however, remain largely unknown. Maize (Zea mays L.), one of the world's most important crops, has been extensively used as a model species to study molecular mechanisms of pollen and stigma interaction. A comprehensive analysis of maize silk transcriptome may provide valuable information for investigating stigma functionality. A comparative analysis of expression profiles between maize silk and dry stigmas of other species might reveal conserved and diverse mechanisms that underlie stigma-mediated reproductive processes in various plant species.
Transcript abundance profiles of mature silk, mature pollen, mature ovary, and seedling were investigated using RNA-seq. By comparing the transcriptomes of these tissues, we identified 1,427 genes specifically or preferentially expressed in maize silk. Bioinformatic analyses of these genes revealed many genes with known functions in plant reproduction as well as novel candidate genes that encode amino acid transporters, peptide and oligopeptide transporters, and cysteine-rich receptor-like kinases. In addition, comparison of gene sets specifically or preferentially expressed in stigmas of maize, rice (Oryza sativa L.), and Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana [L.] Heynh.) identified a number of homologous genes involved either in pollen adhesion, hydration, and germination or in initial growth and penetration of pollen tubes into the stigma surface. The comparison also indicated that maize shares a more similar profile and larger number of conserved genes with rice than with Arabidopsis, and that amino acid and lipid transport-related genes are distinctively overrepresented in maize.
Many of the novel genes uncovered in this study are potentially involved in stigma-mediated reproductive processes, including genes encoding amino acid transporters, peptide and oligopeptide transporters, and cysteine-rich receptor-like kinases. The data also suggest that dry stigmas share similar mechanisms at early stages of pollen-stigma interaction. Compared with Arabidopsis, maize and rice appear to have more conserved functional mechanisms. Genes involved in amino acid and lipid transport may be responsible for mechanisms in the reproductive process that are unique to maize silk.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Angiosperm stigma supports compatible pollen germination and tube growth, resulting in fertilization and seed production. Stigmas are mainly divided into two types, dry and wet, according to the absence or presence of exudates on their surfaces. Here, we used 2DE and MS to identify proteins specifically and preferentially expressed in the stigmas of maize (Zea Mays, dry stigma) and tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum, wet stigma), as well as proteins rinsed from the surface of the tobacco stigma. We found that the specifically and preferentially expressed proteins in maize and tobacco stigmas share similar distributions in functional categories. However, these proteins showed important difference between dry and wet stigmas in a few aspects, such as protein homology in "signal transduction" and "lipid metabolism," relative expression levels of proteins containing signal peptides and proteins in "defense and stress response." These different features might be related to the specific structures and functions of dry and wet stigmas. The possible roles of some stigma-expressed proteins were discussed. Our results provide important information on functions of proteins in dry and wet stigmas and reveal aspects of conservation and divergence between dry and wet stigmas at the proteomic level.