, Volume 120, Issue 2, pp 389-400

Heterosis in early seed development: a comparative study of F1 embryo and endosperm tissues 6 days after fertilization

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Heterosis specifies the superior performance of heterozygous individuals and although used in plant breeding the underlying molecular mechanisms still remain largely elusive. In this study, we demonstrate the manifestation of heterosis in hybrid maize embryo and endosperm tissue 6 days after fertilization in crosses of several inbred lines. We provide a comparative analysis of heterosis-associated gene expression in these tissues by a combined approach of suppression subtractive hybridization and microarray hybridizations. Non-additive expression pattern indicated a trans-regulatory mechanism to act early after fertilization in hybrid embryo and endosperm although the majority of genes showed mid-parental expression levels in embryo and dosage dependent expression levels in endosperm. The consistent expression pattern within both tissues and both inbred line genotype combinations of genes coding for chromatin related proteins pointed to heterosis-related epigenetic processes. These and genes involved in other biological processes, identified in this study, might provide entry points for the investigation of regulatory networks associated with the specification of heterosis.

Communicated by T. Luebberstedt.
Contribution to the special issue “Heterosis in Plants”.
The microarray data of this study were deposited in Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) at the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) with the series entry GSE17754.