KEY MESSAGE: Potentially embryogenic oil palms can be identified through leaf transcriptomic signatures. Differential expression of genes involved in flowering time, and stress and light responses may associate with somatic embryogenesis potential. Clonal propagation is an attractive approach for the mass propagation of high yielding oil palms. A major issue hampering the effectiveness of oil palm tissue culture is the low somatic embryogenesis rate. Previous studies have identified numerous genes involved in oil palm somatic embryogenesis, but their association with embryogenic potential has not been determined. In this study, differential expression analysis of leaf transcriptomes from embryogenic and non-embryogenic mother palms revealed that transcriptome profiles from non- and poor embryogenic mother palms were more similar than highly embryogenic palms. A total of 171 genes exhibiting differential expression in non- and low embryogenesis groups could also discriminate high from poor embryogenesis groups of another tissue culture agency. Genes related to flowering time or transition such as FTIP, FRIGIDA-LIKE, and NF-YA were up-regulated in embryogenic ortets, suggesting that reproduction timing of the plant may associate with somatic embryogenesis potential. Several light response or photosynthesis-related genes were down-regulated in embryogenic ortets, suggesting a link between photosynthesis activity and embryogenic potential. As expression profiles of the differentially expressed genes are very similar between non- and low embryogenic groups, machine learning approaches with several candidate genes may generate a more sensitive model to better discriminate non-embryogenic from embryogenic ortets.
KEY MESSAGE: Transcriptomes generated by laser capture microdissected abnormal staminodes revealed adoption of carpel programming during organ initiation with decreased expression of numerousHSPs,EgDEF1, EgGLO1but increasedLEAFYexpression. The abnormal mantled phenotype in oil palm involves a feminization of the male staminodes into pseudocarpels in pistillate inflorescences. Previous studies on oil palm flowering utilized entire inflorescences or spikelets, which comprised not only the male and female floral organs, but the surrounding tissues as well. Laser capture microdissection coupled with RNA sequencing was conducted to investigate the specific transcriptomes of male and female floral organs from normal and mantled female inflorescences. A higher number of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified in abnormal versus normal male organs compared with abnormal versus normal female organs. In addition, the abnormal male organ transcriptome closely mimics the transcriptome of abnormal female organ. While the transcriptome of abnormal female organ was relatively similar to the normal female organ, a substantial amount of female DEGs encode HEAT SHOCK PROTEIN genes (HSPs). A similar high amount (20%) of male DEGs encode HSPs as well. As these genes exhibited decreased expression in abnormal floral organs, mantled floral organ development may be associated with lower stress indicators. Stamen identity genes EgDEF1 and EgGLO1 were the main floral regulatory genes with decreased expression in abnormal male organs or pseudocarpel initials. Expression of several floral transcription factors was elevated in pseudocarpel initials, notably LEAFY, FIL and DL orthologs, substantiating the carpel specification programming of abnormal staminodes. Specific transcriptomes thus obtained through this approach revealed a host of differentially regulated genes in pseudocarpel initials compared to normal male staminodes.
The mantled phenotype is an abnormal somaclonal variant arising from the oil palm cloning process and severe phenotypes lead to oil yield losses. Hypomethylation of the Karma retrotransposon within the B-type MADS-box EgDEF1 gene has been associated with this phenotype. While abnormal Karma-EgDEF1 hypomethylation was detected in mantled clones, we examined the methylation state of Karma in ortets that gave rise to high mantling rates in their clones. Small RNAs (sRNAs) were proposed to play a role in Karma hypomethylation as part of the RNA-directed DNA methylation process, hence differential expression analysis of sRNAs between the ortet groups was conducted. While no sRNA was differentially expressed at the Karma-EgDEF1 region, three sRNA clusters were differentially regulated in high-mantling ortets. The first two down-regulated clusters were possibly derived from long non-coding RNAs while the third up-regulated cluster was derived from the intron of a DnaJ chaperone gene. Several predicted mRNA targets for the first two sRNA clusters conversely displayed increased expression in high-mantling relative to low-mantling ortets. These predicted mRNA targets may be associated with defense or pathogenesis response. In addition, several differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were identified in Karma and its surrounding regions, mainly comprising subtle CHH hypomethylation in high-mantling ortets. Four of the 12 DMRs were located in a region corresponding to hypomethylated areas at the 3'end of Karma previously reported in mantled clones. Further investigations on these sRNAs and DMRs may indicate the predisposition of certain ortets towards mantled somaclonal variation.
Subtilisin-like serine proteases (EC 3.4.21) consist of a widespread family of enzymes that is involved in various processes including in plants. The full-length cDNA (CpSUB1) and the corresponding genomic DNA for papaya subtilase have been obtained using rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACEs) and PCR primer walking techniques, respectively. The cDNA clone contains an open reading frame of 2316bp encoding 772 amino acids with a calculated molecular mass of 82.6kDa and an isoelectric point (pI) of 8.97. The CpSUB1 gene is composed of nine exons and eight introns. The amino acid sequence encoded by CpSUB1 shared high identity (>60%) with the amino acid sequence of other plant subtilisin-like proteases. Sequence analysis of CpSUB1 revealed the presence of a possible signal peptide (25 amino acid residues) and an NH(2)-terminal prosequence (88 amino acid residues). In addition, papaya subtilase possesses the characteristic subtilisin catalytic triad amino acids namely Asp, His and Ser, together with the substrate-binding site, Asn. DNA hybridization analysis showed that subtilase gene exists as a single copy in the papaya genome. RNA hybridization analyses showed that expression of the subtilase transcripts was only detected in mesocarp but not in non-fruit tissues. Gene expression in fruit tissues reached the highest level during the ripening stage at which the fruits undergo dramatic softening process. Subsequently, pro-subtilase ( approximately 80kDa) was expressed as recombinant pro-enzyme ( approximately 97kDa), which was used to generate antiserum against papaya subtilase, anti-sub. Protein gel blot analysis using anti-sub towards total protein extracted from all ripening stages revealed that a protein with a molecular mass of approximately 70kDa reacted with the antiserum. Hence both RNA hybridization and protein gel blot analyses confirmed the presence of subtilase during papaya fruit ripening, pointing to its possible involvement in this important process.