BioEnergy Research

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 59-76

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Medicago truncatula as a Model for Dicot Cell Wall Development

  • Mesfin TesfayeAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Biology, University of Minnesota
  • , S. Samuel YangAffiliated withPlant Science Research Unit, USDA-ARS
  • , JoAnn F. S. LambAffiliated withPlant Science Research Unit, USDA-ARS
  • , Hans-Joachim G. JungAffiliated withPlant Science Research Unit, USDA-ARS
  • , Deborah A. SamacAffiliated withPlant Science Research Unit, USDA-ARS
  • , Carroll P. VanceAffiliated withPlant Science Research Unit, USDA-ARS
  • , John W. GronwaldAffiliated withPlant Science Research Unit, USDA-ARS
  • , Kathryn A. VandenBoschAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Biology, University of Minnesota Email author 


We have initiated a genome-wide transcript profiling study using the model legume Medicago truncatula to identify putative genes related to cell wall biosynthesis and regulatory function in legumes. We used the GeneChip® Medicago Genome Array to compare transcript abundance in elongating versus postelongation stem internode segments of two M. truncatula accessions and two Medicago sativa (alfalfa) clones with contrasting stem cell wall concentration and composition. Hundreds of differentially expressed probe sets between elongating and postelongation stem segments showed similar patterns of gene expression in the model legume and cultivated alfalfa. Differentially expressed genes included genes with putative functions associated with primary and secondary cell wall biosynthesis and growth. Mining of public microarray data for coexpressed genes with two marker genes for secondary cell wall synthesis identified additional candidate secondary cell wall-related genes. Coexpressed genes included protein kinases, transcription factors, and unclassified groups that were not previously reported with secondary cell wall-associated genes. M. truncatula has been recognized as an excellent model plant for legume genomics. The stem tissue transcriptome analysis, described here, indicates that M. truncatula has utility as a model plant for cell wall genomics in legumes in general and shows excellent potential for translating gene discoveries to its close relative, cultivated alfalfa, in particular. The natural variation for stem cell wall traits in Medicago may offer a new tool to study an expanded repertoire of valuable agronomic traits in related species, including woody dicots in the eurosid I clade.


Medicago truncatula Alfalfa Transcript analysis Genomics Stems