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CHARACTERIZATION OF THE MAIZE POLLEN TRANSCRIPTOME
FOWLER, J. E. AND L. S. WATRUD. CHARACTERIZATION OF THE MAIZE POLLEN TRANSCRIPTOME. Presented at American Society of Plant Biology, Boston, MA, August 05 - 09, 2006.
Pollen is a primary vehicle for transgene flow from engineered plants to their non-transgenic, native or weedy relatives. Hence, gene flow will be affected by pollen fitness (e.g., how well a particular pollen grain can outcompete other pollen present on the stigma and complete fertilization, thereby generating a progeny seed). Current research suggests that many of the mechanisms that influence pollen fitness rely on gene expression in pollen itself. Our objective is to better understand the molecular and genetic basis of pollen fitness, and to develop assays to predict or easily measure pollen fitness in engineered crop plants. As an initial step, we are characterizing the pollen transcriptome of the monocot maize (Zea mays), a model crop plant with easily obtained pollen and a simple assay for testing pollen fitness. A two-color microarray with 57,000 oligonucleotide probes (from the NSF-sponsored Maize Oligonucleotide Array Project - www.maizearray.org) is being used to interrogate the expression level of all currently-known genes in maize in three RNA types: mature pollen, germinated pollen, and a baseline seedling sample. A loop experimental design, two inbred lines (B73 and W22-R), and four biological replicates for each RNA type will allow statistically-rigourous identification of maize genes that are exclusively or preferentially transcribed in pollen. These results will be presented, as well as bioinformatic comparison of pollen-transcribed genes in maize and the dicot model Arabidopsis thaliana.