An expanded maize gene expression atlas based on RNA sequencing and its use to explore root development

Scott C. Stelpflug, Rajandeep S. Sekhon, Brieanne Vaillancourt, Candice N. Hirsch, C. Robin Buell, Natalia de Leon, Shawn M. Kaeppler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Comprehensive and systematic transcriptome profiling provides valuable insight into biological and developmental processes that occur throughout the life cycle of a plant. We have enhanced our previously published microarray-based gene atlas of maize (Zea mays L.) inbred B73 to now include 79 distinct replicated samples that have been interrogated using RNA sequencing (RNAseq). The current version of the atlas includes 50 original arraybased gene atlas samples, a time-course of 12 stalk and leaf samples postflowering, and an additional set of 17 samples from the maize seedling and adult root system. The entire dataset contains 4.6 billion mapped reads, with an average of 20.5 million mapped reads per biological replicate, allowing for detection of genes with lower transcript abundance. As the new root samples represent key additions to the previously examined tissues, we highlight insights into the root transcriptome, which is represented by 28,894 (73.2%) annotated genes in maize. Additionally, we observed remarkable expression differences across both the longitudinal (four zones) and radial gradients (cortical parenchyma and stele) of the primary root supported by fourfold differential expression of 9353 and 4728 genes, respectively. Among the latter were 1110 genes that encode transcription factors, some of which are orthologs of previously characterized transcription factors known to regulate root development in Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh., while most are novel, and represent attractive targets for reverse genetics approaches to determine their roles in this important organ. This comprehensive transcriptome dataset is a powerful tool toward understanding maize development, physiology, and phenotypic diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPlant Genome
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2016

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