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Transcriptomic Analysis Reveals Mechanisms Of Sterile And Fertile Flower Differentiation And Development In Viburnum Macrocephalum F. Keteleeri

Zhaogeng Lu, Jing Xu, Weixing Li, L. Zhang, Jiawen Cui, Qingsong He, L. Wang, Biao Jin
Published 2017 · Biology, Medicine

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Sterile and fertile flowers are an important evolutionary developmental (evo-devo) phenotype in angiosperm flowers, playing important roles in pollinator attraction and sexual reproductive success. However, the gene regulatory mechanisms underlying fertile and sterile flower differentiation and development remain largely unknown. Viburnum macrocephalum f. keteleeri, which possesses fertile and sterile flowers in a single inflorescence, is a useful candidate species for investigating the regulatory networks in differentiation and development. We developed a de novo-assembled flower reference transcriptome. Using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), we compared the expression patterns of fertile and sterile flowers isolated from the same inflorescence over its rapid developmental stages. The flower reference transcriptome consisted of 105,683 non-redundant transcripts, of which 5,675 transcripts showed significant differential expression between fertile and sterile flowers. Combined with morphological and cytological changes between fertile and sterile flowers, we identified expression changes of many genes potentially involved in reproductive processes, phytohormone signaling, and cell proliferation and expansion using RNA-seq and qRT-PCR. In particular, many transcription factors (TFs), including MADS-box family members and ABCDE-class genes, were identified, and expression changes in TFs involved in multiple functions were analyzed and highlighted to determine their roles in regulating fertile and sterile flower differentiation and development. Our large-scale transcriptional analysis of fertile and sterile flowers revealed the dynamics of transcriptional networks and potentially key components in regulating differentiation and development of fertile and sterile flowers in Viburnum macrocephalum f. keteleeri. Our data provide a useful resource for Viburnum transcriptional research and offer insights into gene regulation of differentiation of diverse evo-devo processes in flowers.
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