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The Plant Genome Abstract - Original Research

Utility of RNA Sequencing for Analysis of Maize Reproductive Transcriptomes


This article in TPG

  1. Vol. 4 No. 3, p. 191-203
    unlockOPEN ACCESS
    Received: May 19, 2011

    * Corresponding author(s): buell@msu.edu
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  1. Rebecca M. Davidson,
  2. Candice N. Hansey,
  3. Malali Gowda,
  4. Kevin L. Childs,
  5. Haining Lin,
  6. Brieanne Vaillancourt,
  7. Rajandeep S. Sekhon,
  8. Natalia de Leon,
  9. Shawn M. Kaeppler,
  10. Ning Jiang and
  11. C. Robin Buell 
  1. R.M. Davidson, C.N. Hansey, M. Gowda, K.L. Childs, H. Lin, B. Vaillancourt, and C.R. Buell, Dep. of Plant Biology, Michigan State Univ., 166 Plant Biology Building, East Lansing, MI 48824; C.N. Hansey, K.L. Childs, H. Lin, B. Vaillancourt, and C.R. Buell, Dep. of Energy Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI 48824; R.S. Sekhon, N. de Leon, and S.M. Kaeppler, Dep. of Agronomy, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, 1575 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; R.S. Sekhon, N. de Leon, and S.M. Kaeppler, Dep. of Energy Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706; N. Jiang, Dep. of Horticulture, Michigan State Univ., A330 Plant and Soil Sciences Building, East Lansing, MI 48824; M. Gowda, current address: Next-Generation Genomics Lab., Center for Cellular and Molecular Platform, NCBS-GKVK Campus, Bangalore 560065, India. R.M. Davidson and C.N. Hansey contributed equally to this work


Transcriptome sequencing is a powerful method for studying global expression patterns in large, complex genomes. Evaluation of sequence-based expression profiles during reproductive development would provide functional annotation to genes underlying agronomic traits. We generated transcriptome profiles for 12 diverse maize (Zea mays L.) reproductive tissues representing male, female, developing seed, and leaf tissues using high throughput transcriptome sequencing. Overall, ∼80% of annotated genes were expressed. Comparative analysis between sequence and hybridization-based methods demonstrated the utility of ribonucleic acid sequencing (RNA-seq) for expression determination and differentiation of paralagous genes (∼85% of maize genes). Analysis of 4975 gene families across reproductive tissues revealed expression divergence is proportional to family size. In all pairwise comparisons between tissues, 7 (pre- vs. postemergence cobs) to 48% (pollen vs. ovule) of genes were differentially expressed. Genes with expression restricted to a single tissue within this study were identified with the highest numbers observed in leaves, endosperm, and pollen. Coexpression network analysis identified 17 gene modules with complex and shared expression patterns containing many previously described maize genes. The data and analyses in this study provide valuable tools through improved gene annotation, gene family characterization, and a core set of candidate genes to further characterize maize reproductive development and improve grain yield potential.

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