BackgroundIn rice, the pistil is the female reproductive organ, and it consists of two stigmas and an ovary. The stigma is capable of receiving pollen grains and guiding pollen tube growth. The ovary holds the embryo sac, which is fertilized with male gametes to produce seed. However, little is known about the gene function and regulatory networks during these processes in rice.
ResultsHere, using the RNA-Seq technique, we identified 3531 stigma-preferential genes and 703 stigma-specific genes within the rice pistils, and we verified 13 stigma-specific genes via qRT-PCR and in situ hybridization. The GO analysis showed that the transport-, localization-, membrane-, communication-, and pollination-related genes were significantly enriched in the stigma. Additionally, to identify the embryo sac-preferential/specific genes within the pistils, we compared a wild-type ovary with a mutant dst (defective stigma) ovary and found that 385 genes were down-regulated in dst. Among these genes, 122 exhibited an ovary-specific expression pattern and are thought to be embryo sac-preferential/specific genes within the pistils. Most of them were preferentially expressed, while 14 of them were specifically expressed in the pistil. Moreover, the rice homologs of some Arabidopsis embryo sac-specific genes, which played essential roles during sexual reproduction, were down-regulated in dst. Additionally, we identified 102 novel protein-coding genes, and 6 of them exhibited differences between the stigma and ovary in rice as determined using RT-PCR.
ConclusionsAccording to these rice ovary comparisons, numerous genes were preferentially or specifically expressed in the stigma, suggesting that they were involved in stigma development or pollination. The GO analysis indicated that a dry rice stigma might primarily perform its function through the cell membrane, which was different from the wet stigma of other species. Moreover, many embryo sac-preferential/specific genes within the pistils were identified and may be expressed in female rice gametophytes, implying that these genes might participate in the process of female gametophyte specialization and fertilization. Therefore, we provide the gene information for investigating the gene function and regulatory networks during female gametophyte development and fertilization. In addition, these novel genes are valuable for the supplementation and perfection of the existing transcriptome in rice, which provides an effective method of detecting novel rice genes.
SUBMITTER: Yu L