J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2022, Vol. 64 ›› Issue (7): 1394-1410.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.13276

• Functional Omics and Systems Biology • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Exploring key developmental phases and phase-specific genes across the entirety of anther development in maize

Yingjia Han1†, Mingjian Hu2†, Xuxu Ma1†, Ge Yan1,3, Chunyu Wang1,3, Siqi Jiang1,3, Jinsheng Lai2 and Mei Zhang1*   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Plant Molecular Physiology, Institute of Botany, The Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    2 State Key Laboratory of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry & National Maize Improvement Center of China Department of Plant Genetics and Breeding, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
    3 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

    These authors contributed equally to this work.
    *Correspondence: Mei Zhang (mei.zhang@ibcas.ac.cn)
  • Received:2022-02-10 Accepted:2022-05-09 Online:2022-05-24 Published:2022-07-01


Anther development from stamen primordium to pollen dispersal is complex and essential to sexual reproduction. How this highly dynamic and complex developmental process is controlled genetically is not well understood, especially for genes involved in specific key developmental phases. Here we generated RNA sequencing libraries spanning 10 key stages across the entirety of anther development in maize (Zea mays). Global transcriptome analyses revealed distinct phases of cell division and expansion, meiosis, pollen maturation, and mature pollen, for which we detected 50, 245, 42, and 414 phase-specific marker genes, respectively. Phase-specific transcription factor genes were significantly enriched in the phase of meiosis. The phase-specific expression of these marker genes was highly conserved among the maize lines Chang7-2 and W23, indicating they might have important roles in anther development. We explored a desiccation-related protein gene, ZmDRP1, which was exclusively expressed in the tapetum from the tetrad to the uninucleate microspore stage, by generating knockout mutants. Notably, mutants in ZmDRP1 were completely male-sterile, with abnormal Ubisch bodies and defective pollen exine. Our work provides a glimpse into the gene expression dynamics and a valuable resource for exploring the roles of key phase-specific genes that regulate anther development.

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