Gene expression profiles of two intraspecific Larix lines and their reciprocal hybrids
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Heterosis has been widely explored in Larix breeding for more than a century, but the molecular mechanisms underlying this phenomenon remain elusive. In the present study, the genome-wide transcript profiles from two Larix genotypes and their reciprocal hybrids were analyzed using Arabidopsis 70-mer oligonucleotide microarrays. Despite sharing the same two parental lines, one of the hybrids showed obvious heterosis, while the other did not. In total, 1,171 genes were differentially expressed between the heterotic hybrid and its parents, of which 133 genes were nonadditive expression. The number of differentially expressed genes between the non-heterotic hybrid and the parents was 939, but only 54 of these genes were nonadditive expression. Further, gene ontology (GO) and Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes (KEGG) analyses indicated that most of these differentially expressed genes in the heterotic hybrid were associated with several important biological functions such as physiological processes, responses to stimulus, and starch and sucrose metabolism. The reliability of the microarray data was further validated by the Real-time quantitative RT-PCR. A high Pearson linear correlation coefficient value was detected (r = 0.759, P < 0.01). In conclusion, the gene expression profile in the Larix heterotic hybrid was significantly different from that obtained from the non-heterotic hybrid, and more nonadditive differentially expressed genes were detected in the heterotic hybrid, implying that nonadditive effects may be closely associated with the formation of heterosis in the intraspecific Larix hybridization.