A gymnosperm homolog of SOMATIC EMBRYOGENESIS RECEPTOR-LIKE KINASE-1 (SERK1) is expressed during somatic embryogenesis

Abstract

The physiological and molecular processes controlling zygotic and somatic embryo development in angiosperms are mediated by a hierarchically organized program of gene expression. Despite the overwhelming information available about the molecular control of the embryogenic processes in angiosperms, little is known about these processes in gymnosperms. Here we describe the cloning and characterization of the expression pattern of the Araucaria angustifolia putative homolog of a SOMATIC EMBRYOGENESIS RECEPTOR-LIKE KINASE (SERK) gene family member, designated as AaSERK1. The Araucaria AaSERK1 gene encodes a leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinase showing significant similarity to angiosperm homologs of SERK1, known to be involved in early somatic and zygotic embryogenesis. Accordingly, RT-PCR results showed that AaSERK1 is preferentially expressed in Araucaria embryogenic cell cultures. Additionally, in situ hybridization results showed that AaSERK1 transcripts initially accumulate in groups of cells at the periphery of the embryogenic calli and then are restricted to the developing embryo proper. Our results indicate that AaSERK1 might have a role during somatic embryogenesis in Araucaria, suggesting a potentially conserved mechanism, involving SERK-related leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinases, in the embryogenic processes among all seed plants.

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Acknowledgments

We thank EW Kitajima and FAO Tanaka at NAP/MEPA (ESALQ/USP) for keeping the electron microscope facility and SM Tsai (CENA/USP) for sequencing AaSERK1 clones. This work was supported by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP, Brazil); Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES, Brazil) and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq, Brazil).

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Correspondence to Marcelo C. Dornelas.

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Steiner, N., Santa-Catarina, C., Guerra, M.P. et al. A gymnosperm homolog of SOMATIC EMBRYOGENESIS RECEPTOR-LIKE KINASE-1 (SERK1) is expressed during somatic embryogenesis. Plant Cell Tiss Organ Cult 109, 41–50 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11240-011-0071-z

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Keywords

  • Gene expression
  • SERK
  • Somatic embryogenesis
  • Araucaria angustifolia
  • Endangered tree species
  • Leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinase