Embryogenic tissue culture systems are utilized in propagation and genetic engineering of crop plants, but applications are limited by genotype-dependent culture response. To date, few genes necessary for embryogenic callus formation have been identified or characterized. The goal of this research was to enhance our understanding of gene expression during maize embryogenic tissue culture initiation. In this study, we highlight the expression of candidate genes that have been previously regarded in the literature as having important roles in somatic embryogenesis. We utilized RNA based sequencing (RNA-seq) to characterize the transcriptome of immature embryo explants of the highly embryogenic and regenerable maize genotype A188 at 0, 24, 36, 48, and 72 hours after placement of explants on tissue culture initiation medium. Genes annotated as functioning in stress response, such as glutathione-S-transferases and germin-like proteins, and genes involved with hormone transport, such as PINFORMED, increased in expression over 8-fold in the study. Maize genes with high sequence similarity to genes previously described in the initiation of embryogenic cultures, such as transcription factors BABY BOOM, LEAFY COTYLEDON, and AGAMOUS, and important receptor-like kinases such as SOMATIC EMBRYOGENESIS RECEPTOR LIKE KINASES and CLAVATA, were also expressed in this time course study. By combining results from whole genome transcriptome analysis with an in depth review of key genes that play a role in the onset of embryogenesis, we propose a model of coordinated expression of somatic embryogenesis-related genes, providing an improved understanding of genomic factors involved in the early steps of embryogenic culture initiation in maize and other plant species.
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Copyright © 2014 Salvo et al.