Anatomical and transcriptional dynamics of maize embryonic leaves during seed germination

Wen-Yu Liu, Yao-Ming Chang, Chun-Chang Chen, Chen-Hua Lu, Yeh-Hwa Wu, Mei-Yeh Lu, Di-Rong Chen, Chun-Chieh Shih, Chiou-Rong Sheue, Hsuan-Cheng Huang, Chun-Ping Yu, Hsin-Hung Lin, Shin-Han Shiu, Mauricesb Ku, Wen-Hsiung Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


Our anatomical analysis revealed that a dry maize seed contains four to five embryonic leaves at different developmental stages. Rudimentary kranz structure (KS) is apparent in the first leaf with a substantial density, but its density decreases toward younger leaves. Upon imbibition, leaf expansion occurs rapidly with new KSs initiated from the palisade-like ground meristem cells in the middle of the leaf. In parallel to the anatomical analysis, we obtained the time course transcriptomes for the embryonic leaves in dry and imbibed seeds every 6 h up to hour 72. Over this time course, the embryonic leaves exhibit transcripts of 30,255 genes at a level that can be regarded as "expressed." In dry seeds, ∼25,500 genes are expressed, showing functional enrichment in transcription, RNA processing, protein synthesis, primary metabolic pathways, and calcium transport. During the 72-h time course, ∼13,900 genes, including 590 transcription factor genes, are differentially expressed. Indeed, by 30 h postimbibition, ∼2,200 genes expressed in dry seeds are already down-regulated, and ∼2,000 are upregulated. Moreover, the top 1% expressed genes at 54 h or later are very different from those before 30 h, reflecting important developmental and physiological transitions. Interestingly, clusters of genes involved in hormone metabolism, signaling, and responses are differentially expressed at various time points and TF gene expression is also modular and stage specific. Our dataset provides an opportunity for hypothesizing the timing of regulatory actions, particularly in the context of KS development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3979-3984
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Gene expression profiling
  • Plant hormones
  • Plant leaf development
  • deetiolated 2 protein
  • gibberellin a1
  • senescence related gene 1 protein
  • transcription factor
  • ubiquitin protein ligase E3
  • unclassified drug
  • article
  • calcium transport
  • down regulation
  • gene expression profiling
  • genetic transcription
  • germination
  • maize
  • meristem
  • plant growth
  • plant leaf
  • priority journal
  • protein synthesis
  • RNA processing
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant
  • Germination
  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Plant Leaves
  • Plant Proteins
  • RNA, Plant
  • Seeds
  • Transcription Factors
  • Zea mays


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