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Crop Biotech Update

WOX Genes Function in Protoderm and Suspensor Development in Norway Spruce

January 20, 2016

The WUSCHEL-RELATED HOMEOBOX (WOX) gene family is involved in patterning and morphogenesis of the early embryo in Arabidopsis. However, the role of WOX genes in other taxa, including gymnosperms, remains elusive. Tianqing Zhu and researchers from Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Linnean Center for Plant Biology studied the expression and function of PaWOX2, the homolog of AtWOX2 in the gymnosperm Picea abies (Norway spruce).

The expression of PaWOX2 was upregulated during early and late embryogeny. Downregulation of PaWOX2 during development of early embryos resulted in aberrant early embryos with shorter suspensor cells. Downregulation of PaWOX2 in the beginning of embryo development, before late embryos were formed, caused a significant decrease in the yield of mature embryos. While downregulation of PaWOX2 after late embryos were formed had no effect on embryo development.

The results suggest that the function of WOX2 is related to protoderm formation during early embryo development among seed plants. Furthermore, PaWOX2 might have a unique function in suspensor expansion in gymnosperms.

For more information, read the full article on BMC Plant Biology.