Special Issue "Molecular Basis of Apomixis in Plants"

A special issue of Genes (ISSN 2073-4425). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Genetics and Genomics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 June 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Diego Hojsgaard
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Systematics, Biodiversity and Evolution of Plants, Albrecht-von-Haller Institute for Plant Sciences, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
Interests: plant genetics; apomixis; polyploidy; reproductive strategies; genetic variability

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sexual reproduction in plants is a highly complex, toughly regulated process leading to the creation of diaspores for a new generation: sexual seeds. Apomixis is the consequence of a concerted mechanism that exploits the sexual machinery and acts in a way to coordinate developmental pathways in the ovule to produce an asexual (clonal) seed. Altered sexual developments involve widely characterized functional and anatomical changes in meiosis, gametogenesis, and embryo and endosperm formation. In spite of recent progress uncovering specific genes related to apomixis-like phenotypes, the molecular basis and regulatory network of apomixis is still unknown. Different “traditional” and “innovative” genomics and metabolomics tools as well as rapid clearing and staining protocols and plant imaging technologies have been made available, which are facilitating developmental, genetic, and genome-wide analyses of nonmodel species, including apomictic plants. The forthcoming Special Issue aims to provide an up-to-date overview from cutting-edge molecular data on apomixis research and research using plant species displaying diverse changes on the sexual machinery. Likewise, the Special Issue will serve as a platform to explore the potential application of genome-editing approaches in apomixis research, and for discussion of most relevant hypotheses and presentation of novel ideas to improve our understanding of or resolve the still puzzled molecular basis of apomixis in plants.

Dr. Diego Hojsgaard
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Angiosperms
  • Meiosis
  • Gametogenesis
  • Unreduced gametes
  • Endosperm development
  • Clonal seeds
  • Genomics
  • Transcriptomics
  • Metabolomics
  • Genome editing

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Chasing the Apomictic Factors in the Ranunculus auricomus Complex: Exploring Gene Expression Patterns in Microdissected Sexual and Apomictic Ovules
Genes 2020, 11(7), 728; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11070728 - 30 Jun 2020
Abstract
Apomixis, the asexual reproduction via seeds, is associated to polyploidy and hybridization. To identify possible signatures of apomixis, and possible candidate genes underlying the shift from sex to apomixis, microarray-based gene expression patterns of live microdissected ovules at four different developmental stages were [...] Read more.
Apomixis, the asexual reproduction via seeds, is associated to polyploidy and hybridization. To identify possible signatures of apomixis, and possible candidate genes underlying the shift from sex to apomixis, microarray-based gene expression patterns of live microdissected ovules at four different developmental stages were compared between apomictic and sexual individuals of the Ranunculus auricomus complex. Following predictions from previous work on mechanisms underlying apomixis penetrance and expressivity in the genus, gene expression patterns were classified into three categories based on their relative expression in apomicts compared to their sexual parental ancestors. We found evidence of misregulation and differential gene expression between apomicts and sexuals, with the highest number of differences detected during meiosis progression and emergence of aposporous initial (AI) cells, a key developmental stage in the ovule of apomicts where a decision between divergent reproductive pathways takes place. While most of the differentially expressed genes (DEGs) could not be annotated, gene expression was classified into transgressive, parent of origin and ploidy effects. Genes related to gametogenesis and meiosis demonstrated patterns reflective of transgressive and genome dosage effects, which support the hypothesis of a dominant factor controlling apomixis in Ranunculus and modulated by secondary modifiers. Three genes with probable functions in sporogenesis and gametogenesis development are identified and characterized for future studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Basis of Apomixis in Plants)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Controlling Apomixis: Shared Features and Distinct Characteristics of Gene Regulation
Genes 2020, 11(3), 329; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11030329 - 20 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
In higher plants, sexual and asexual reproduction through seeds (apomixis) have evolved as alternative strategies. As apomixis leads to the formation of clonal offspring, its great potential for agricultural applications has long been recognized. However, the genetic basis and the molecular control underlying [...] Read more.
In higher plants, sexual and asexual reproduction through seeds (apomixis) have evolved as alternative strategies. As apomixis leads to the formation of clonal offspring, its great potential for agricultural applications has long been recognized. However, the genetic basis and the molecular control underlying apomixis and its evolutionary origin are to date not fully understood. Both in sexual and apomictic plants, reproduction is tightly controlled by versatile mechanisms regulating gene expression, translation, and protein abundance and activity. Increasing evidence suggests that interrelated pathways including epigenetic regulation, cell-cycle control, hormonal pathways, and signal transduction processes are relevant for apomixis. Additional molecular mechanisms are being identified that involve the activity of DNA- and RNA-binding proteins, such as RNA helicases which are increasingly recognized as important regulators of reproduction. Together with other factors including non-coding RNAs, their association with ribosomes is likely to be relevant for the formation and specification of the apomictic reproductive lineage. Subsequent seed formation appears to involve an interplay of transcriptional activation and repression of developmental programs by epigenetic regulatory mechanisms. In this review, insights into the genetic basis and molecular control of apomixis are presented, also taking into account potential relations to environmental stress, and considering aspects of evolution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Basis of Apomixis in Plants)
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Other

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Open AccessOpinion
Apomixis Technology: Separating the Wheat from the Chaff
Genes 2020, 11(4), 411; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11040411 - 10 Apr 2020
Abstract
Projections indicate that current plant breeding approaches will be unable to incorporate the global crop yields needed to deliver global food security. Apomixis is a disruptive innovation by which a plant produces clonal seeds capturing heterosis and gene combinations of elite phenotypes. Introducing [...] Read more.
Projections indicate that current plant breeding approaches will be unable to incorporate the global crop yields needed to deliver global food security. Apomixis is a disruptive innovation by which a plant produces clonal seeds capturing heterosis and gene combinations of elite phenotypes. Introducing apomixis into hybrid cultivars is a game-changing development in the current plant breeding paradigm that will accelerate the generation of high-yield cultivars. However, apomixis is a developmentally complex and genetically multifaceted trait. The central problem behind current constraints to apomixis breeding is that the genomic configuration and molecular mechanism that initiate apomixis and guide the formation of a clonal seed are still unknown. Today, not a single explanation about the origin of apomixis offer full empirical coverage, and synthesizing apomixis by manipulating individual genes has failed or produced little success. Overall evidence suggests apomixis arise from a still unknown single event molecular mechanism with multigenic effects. Disentangling the genomic basis and complex genetics behind the emergence of apomixis in plants will require the use of novel experimental approaches benefiting from Next Generation Sequencing technologies and targeting not only reproductive genes, but also the epigenetic and genomic configurations associated with reproductive phenotypes in homoploid sexual and apomictic carriers. A comprehensive picture of most regulatory changes guiding apomixis emergence will be central for successfully installing apomixis into the target species by exploiting genetic modification techniques. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Basis of Apomixis in Plants)
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