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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Ithaca, New York » Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture & Health » Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #365059

Research Project: Mapping Crop Genome Functions for Biology-Enabled Germplasm Improvement

Location: Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research

Title: A high-resolution gene expression atlas links dedicated meristem genes to key architectural traits

item KNAUER, STEFFEN - Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
item JAVELL, MARIE - Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
item LI, LIN - University Of Minnesota
item LI, XIANRAN - University Of Minnesota
item MA, XIAOLI - Iowa State University
item WIMALANATHAN, KOKULAPALAN - Iowa State University
item KUMARI, SUNITA - Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
item JOHNSTON, ROBYN - Cornell University
item LEIBOFF, SAMUEL - Cornell University
item MEELEY, ROBERT - Dupont Pioneer Hi-Bred
item SCHNABLE, PATRICK - Iowa State University
item Ware, Doreen
item LAWRENCE-DILL, CAROLYN - Iowa State University
item YU, JIANMING - Iowa State University
item MUEHLBAUER, GARY - University Of Minnesota
item SCANLON, MICHAEL - Cornell University
item TIMMERMANS, MARJA - Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Submitted to: Genome Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/2/2019
Publication Date: 11/19/2019
Citation: Knauer, S., Javell, M., Li, L., Li, X., Ma, X., Wimalanathan, K., Kumari, S., Johnston, R., Leiboff, S., Meeley, R., Schnable, P.S., Ware, D., Lawrence-Dill, C., Yu, J., Muehlbauer, G.J., Scanlon, M.J., Timmermans, M.C. 2019. A high-resolution gene expression atlas links dedicated meristem genes to key architectural traits. Genome Research. 29(12):1962-1973.

Interpretive Summary: The shoot apical meristem (SAM) positioned at the plant’s growing shoot tip harbors a population of stem cells, which serve as a persistent source of cells for post-embryonic growth. Variation in SAM structure in maize is correlated with adult morphological traits like node number and plant height to ear. This suggests that differences in adult plant architecture traits, may be determined in part by regulatory mechanisms acting in the SAM, and that such regulatory networks form targets for selection in the enhancement of agronomically important traits.

Technical Abstract: The shoot apical meristem (SAM) at the plant’s growing shoot tip orchestrates the balance between stem cell renewal and organ initiation essential for post-embryonic growth. Here we show that, despite a common structural organization, the molecular signatures underlying maize SAM function are largely distinct from those in Arabidopsis. Cell identities within the maize shoot apex reflect complex transcription factor interactions that drive the dominant and differential expression of individual genes within gene families involved in a multitude of biological processes. Sub-functionalization and combinatorial transcription factor activity thus emerge as a fundamental features underlying cell fate specification. Allelic diversity present near dynamically expressed genes and the transcription factors that regulate them link the molecular circuitries acting in the SAM to post-meristematic morphological traits, identifying key new targets for crop improvement.