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WUSCHEL-related genes are expressed during somatic embryogenesis of the basal angiosperm Ocotea catharinensis Mez. (Lauraceae)

Abstract

Ocotea catharinensis is a basal angiosperm and an endangered tree species from the Brazilian Atlantic Rain Forest. Despite its economical and ecological importance, mass-propagation of this species is hampered by seldom-produced short-lived seeds, and in vitro propagation is challenged by frequently malformed somatic embryos. Therefore, O. catharinensis somatic embryos are also a good experimental material to study the physiological and molecular mechanisms underlying in vitro morphogenesis. In an ongoing effort to characterize genes expressed during somatic embryogenesis of O. catharinensis we have cloned two Ocotea WUSCHEL-related genes. According to our RT-PCR data, both genes were preferentially expressed in embryogenic cell aggregates. One of them, OcWUS, is a possible ortholog of the Arabidopsis WUSCHEL (WUS) gene, which codes for a homeodomain-containing protein involved in the specification and maintenance of the shoot apical meristem. We analyzed the expression patterns of OcWUS and OcWOX4 by RT-PCR, and OcWUS expression was also assessed by in situ hybridization. The expression patterns of OcWUS were very similar to those described for the Arabidopsis WUS. OcWUS transcripts were generally restricted to a small group of cells in the center of the putative shoot apical meristem of O. catharinensis somatic embryos. Perturbed expression of OcWUS might be related to abnormally formed somatic embryos of O. catharinensis obtained through tissue culture.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Prof. E.W. Kitajima and Prof. F. Tanaka for maintaining the electron microscope facility at NAP/MEPA-ESALQ/USP and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES, Brazil), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP, São Paulo, Brazil) and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq, Brazil) for funding.

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Correspondence to Marcelo Carnier Dornelas.

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Communicated by K. Klimaszewska.

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Santa-Catarina, C., de Oliveira, R.R., Cutri, L. et al. WUSCHEL-related genes are expressed during somatic embryogenesis of the basal angiosperm Ocotea catharinensis Mez. (Lauraceae). Trees 26, 493–501 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-011-0610-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-011-0610-6

Keywords

  • Gene expression
  • Homeobox
  • Embryo development
  • Meristem development
  • Endangered tree species