An optimised clearing protocol for the quantitative assessment of sub-epidermal ovule tissues within whole cereal pistils.
ABSTRACT: Seed development in the angiosperms requires the production of a female gametophyte (embryo sac) within the ovule. Many aspects of female reproductive development in cereal crops are yet to be described, largely due to the technical difficulty in obtaining phenotypic information at the cellular or sub-cellular level. Hoyer's solution is currently well established as a solution for clearing thin tissues samples, such as sections or whole tissues of bryophytes, mycorrhizal fungi, and small model organisms (e.g. Arabidopsis thaliana).Here we report a Hoyer's solution-based clearing method to facilitate clearing of the whole barley pistil, with high reproducibility. The clearing process takes 10 days from fixation to visualisation, whereupon tissue is sufficiently clear to obtain multiple phenotypic measurements from sub-epidermal tissues and cells within the ovule.Visualisation of cereal ovules that have not been dissected from the pistil allows an unprecedented capability to collect quantitative morphological information from the developing ovule, integument, nucellus and embryo sac. This will enable comparisons with genetic data to reveal the contribution of pre-fertilisation ovule tissues towards downstream seed development.
Project description:In alders, where fertilization occurs approximately 8 weeks after pollination, the pollen tube (male gametophyte) grows intermittently in four steps in close association with the development of the ovary and its ovules. Pollen tubes stop growing in the style, at the ovarian locule, and at the chalaza (ovule), before reaching an embryo sac for fertilization. At the stage when the ovary develops an ovule primordium in each of the two locules, many pollen tubes germinate on the stigma, and a few of them reach the style, where they remain for approximately 7 weeks. Thereafter, a single tube resumes growing; with a short stop in the upper space of the ovarian locule, it reaches the older of the two ovules when it has developed a two-nucleate embryo sac. Except in the last step, where the tube grows from the chalaza to an embryo sac (female gametophyte), an eight-nucleate mature embryo sac is not necessary for pollen-tube guidance in the pistil. Although the intermittent pollen-tube growth appears to play an important role in the selection of a single pollen tube from many and one ovule from two, its detection provides insight into the study of the mechanism of pollen-tube guidance.
Project description:The ovule plays a critical role in cereal yield as it is the site of fertilization and the progenitor of the grain. The ovule primordium is generally comprised of three domains, the funiculus, chalaza, and nucellus, which give rise to distinct tissues including the integuments, nucellar projection, and embryo sac. The size and arrangement of these domains varies significantly between model eudicots, such as Arabidopsis thaliana, and agriculturally important monocotyledonous cereal species, such as Hordeum vulgare (barley). However, the amount of variation in ovule development among genotypes of a single species, and its functional significance, remains unclear. To address this, wholemount clearing was used to examine the details of ovule development in barley. Nine sporophytic and gametophytic features were examined at ovule maturity in a panel of 150 European two-row spring barley genotypes, and compared with grain traits from the preceding and same generation. Correlations were identified between ovule traits and features of grain they produced, which in general highlighted a negative correlation between nucellus area, ovule area, and grain weight. We speculate that the amount of ovule tissue, particularly the size of the nucellus, may affect the timing of maternal resource allocation to the fertilized embryo sac, thereby influencing subsequent grain development.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>In 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.<h4>Results</h4>Here, 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.<h4>Conclusions</h4>According 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.
Project description:This work describes the application of clearing on vibratome sections to study the embryo formation in cassava. This procedure provides high-resolution images and reduces significantly the number of sections that need to be analyzed per ovule. This methodology was instrumental for the development of the protocol for embryo rescue in cassava. It has been also applied to monitor the embryo formation response when optimizing seed setting from regular and broad crosses for cassava breeding. Broad crosses between cassava and castor bean (incompatible-euphorbiaceae species) were made aiming to induce doubled haploids through the elimination of the incompatible-male parent genome as done in cereals. Castor bean is widely available and provides continues supply of pollen. Our results suggest that this methodology is easy and effective to assess the response of hundreds of cassava ovules pollinated with castor bean pollen, allowing the identification of multicellular structures in the embryo sac without apparent formation of endosperm. The protocol is also useful when developing and optimizing a methodology to induce doubled haploids in cassava via gynogenesis or from ovules pollinated with irradiated cassava pollen.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The embryo sac contains the haploid maternal cell types necessary for double fertilization and subsequent seed development in plants. Large-scale identification of genes expressed in the embryo sac remains cumbersome because of its inherent microscopic and inaccessible nature. We used genetic subtraction and comparative profiling by microarray between the Arabidopsis thaliana wild-type and a sporophytic mutant lacking an embryo sac in order to identify embryo sac expressed genes in this model organism. The influences of the embryo sac on the surrounding sporophytic tissues were previously thought to be negligible or nonexistent; we investigated the extent of these interactions by transcriptome analysis. RESULTS: We identified 1,260 genes as embryo sac expressed by analyzing both our dataset and a recently reported dataset, obtained by a similar approach, using three statistical procedures. Spatial expression of nine genes (for instance a central cell expressed trithorax-like gene, an egg cell expressed gene encoding a kinase, and a synergid expressed gene encoding a permease) validated our approach. We analyzed mutants in five of the newly identified genes that exhibited developmental anomalies during reproductive development. A total of 527 genes were identified for their expression in ovules of mutants lacking an embryo sac, at levels that were twofold higher than in the wild type. CONCLUSION: Identification of embryo sac expressed genes establishes a basis for the functional dissection of embryo sac development and function. Sporophytic gain of expression in mutants lacking an embryo sac suggests that a substantial portion of the sporophytic transcriptome involved in carpel and ovule development is, unexpectedly, under the indirect influence of the embryo sac.
Project description:Ovules are female reproductive organs of angiosperms, containing sporophytic integuments and gametophytic embryo sacs. After fertilization, embryo sacs develop into embryos and endosperm whereas integuments into seed coat. Ovule development is regulated by transcription factors (TF) whose expression is often controlled by microRNAs. Mutations of Arabidopsis DICER-LIKE 1 (DCL1), a microRNA processing protein, caused defective ovule development and reduced female fertility. However, it was not clear whether other microRNA processing proteins participate in this process and how defective ovule development influenced female fertility. We report that mutations of HUA ENHANCER1 (HEN1) and HYPONASTIC LEAVES 1 (HYL1) interfered with integument growth. The sporophytic defect caused abnormal embryo sac development and inability of mutant ovules to attract pollen tubes, leading to reduced female fertility. We show that the role of HEN1 in integument growth is cell-autonomous. Although AUXIN RESPONSE FACTOR 6 (ARF6) and ARF8 were ectopically expressed in mutant ovules, consistent with the reduction of microRNA167 in hen1, introducing arf6;arf8 did not suppress ovule defects of hen1, suggesting the involvement of more microRNAs in this process. Results presented indicate that the microRNA processing machinery is critical for ovule development and seed production through multiple microRNAs and their targets.
Project description:Background:Clearing methods allow relatively quick processing of plant material and examination of cellular structures by rendering tissues and organs translucent. They have been adapted for plant embryology, primarily to study ovule development, megasporogenesis, megagametogenesis and embryogenesis. Such clearing methods overcome several disadvantages of the conventional embedding-sectioning techniques that are arduous and time-consuming. Although numerous protocols with different clearing solutions have been described, there have been no reports to date proposing a reliable method to clear the crassinucellate ovules of the sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.), an economically important crop. Therefore, this study aims to find a suitable approach to improve the tissue transparency of sugar beet ovules at different developmental stages. Results:We established a methyl salicylate-based protocol that significantly improved the transparency of the B. vulgaris ovule structures, which allowed us to observe the megagameto- and embryogenesis of that species. This was achieved by (1) chemical softening of the tissues; (2) vacuum pump-assisted infiltration step; (3) shaking-assisted incubation with clearing mixtures; and (4) manual removal of the chemically softened seed coat. Conclusions:The effectiveness of our method is due to the strategy combining various approaches at different stages of the procedure aiming at increasing the accessibility of the internal ovule structures to the clearing solution. The results of this study may be applied in sugar beet breeding programs, and it will provide a basis for further investigation of numerous aspects of the species' embryology. Moreover, that unique approach may be easily adapted to other species developing crassinucellate ovules.
Project description:Species within the genus Pseudowintera exhibit high rates of self-sterility. Self-sterility in the genus has been previously posited-but not confirmed-to be the result of late-acting ovarian self-incompatibility (OSI) functioning within nucellar tissue of the ovule to prevent self pollen tubes from entering the embryo sac. Structural and functional aspects of pollen-carpel interactions and early seed development following cross- and self-pollination were investigated in P. axillaris to determine the site, timing and possible mechanisms of self-sterility. No significant differences were observed between pollen tube growth, ovule penetration and double fertilization following cross- and self-pollination. Pollen tubes exhibited phasic growth in an extracellular matrix composed of proteins and carbohydrates, as well as arabinogalactans/arabinogalactan proteins. A uniform failure in embryo sac development prior to division of the zygote was apparent within 15 d following double fertilization by self gametes. Results indicate that SI mechanisms in P. axillaris do not prevent double fertilization from occurring. Instead, mechanisms of self-sterility affect post-zygotic development of the embryo sac. Although self-sterility may be attributed to inbreeding depression, given the post-zygotic nature of failure in embryo sac development, the possibility of late-acting OSI is discussed.
Project description:In apomictic Taraxacum species, the development of both the embryo and the endosperm does not require double fertilisation. However, a structural reduction of ovular transmitting tissue was not observed in apomictic dandelions. The aim of this study was to analyse the chemical composition of the cell walls to describe the presence of arabinogalactan proteins (AGPs), hemicellulose and some pectic epitopes in the micropylar transmitting tissue of apomictic Taraxacum. The results point to (1) the similar distribution of AGPs in different developmental stages, (2) the absence of highly methyl-esterified homogalacturonan (HG) in transmitting tissue of ovule containing a mature embryo sac and the appearance of this pectin domain in the young seed containing the embryo and endosperm, (3) the similar pattern of low methyl-esterified pectin occurrence in both an ovule and a young seed with an embryo and endosperm in apomictic Taraxacum and (4) the presence of hemicelluloses recognised by LM25 and LM21 antibodies in the reproductive structure of Taraxacum.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Arabidopsis ovules comprise four morphologically distinct parts: the nucellus, which contains the embryo sac, two integuments that become the seed coat, and the funiculus that anchors the ovule within the carpel. Analysis of developmental mutants has shown that ovule morphogenesis relies on tightly regulated genetic interactions that can serve as a model for developmental regulation. Redundancy, pleiotropic effects and subtle phenotypes may preclude identification of mutants affecting some processes in screens for phenotypic changes. Expression-based gene discovery can be used access such obscured genes. RESULTS: Affymetrix microarrays were used for expression-based gene discovery to identify sets of genes expressed in either or both integuments. The genes were identified by comparison of pistil mRNA from wild type with mRNA from two mutants; inner no outer (ino, which lacks the outer integument), and aintegumenta (ant, which lacks both integuments). Pools of pistils representing early and late stages of ovule development were evaluated and data from the three genotypes were used to designate genes that were predominantly expressed in the integuments using pair-wise and cluster analyses. Approximately two hundred genes were found to have a high probability of preferential expression in these structures, and the predictive nature of the expression classes was confirmed with reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and in situ hybridization. CONCLUSION: The results showed that it was possible to use a mutant, ant, with broad effects on plant phenotype to identify genes expressed specifically in ovules, when coupled with predictions from known gene expression patterns, or in combination with a more specific mutant, ino. Robust microarray averaging (RMA) analysis of array data provided the most reliable comparisons, especially for weakly expressed genes. The studies yielded an over-abundance of transcriptional regulators in the identified genes, and these form a set of candidate genes for evaluation of roles in ovule development using reverse genetics.