Plant physiology

Diversification of Root Hair Development Genes in Vascular Plants.

PMID 28487476


The molecular genetic program for root hair development has been studied intensively in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). To understand the extent to which this program might operate in other plants, we conducted a large-scale comparative analysis of root hair development genes from diverse vascular plants, including eudicots, monocots, and a lycophyte. Combining phylogenetics and transcriptomics, we discovered conservation of a core set of root hair genes across all vascular plants, which may derive from an ancient program for unidirectional cell growth coopted for root hair development during vascular plant evolution. Interestingly, we also discovered preferential diversification in the structure and expression of root hair development genes, relative to other root hair- and root-expressed genes, among these species. These differences enabled the definition of sets of genes and gene functions that were acquired or lost in specific lineages during vascular plant evolution. In particular, we found substantial divergence in the structure and expression of genes used for root hair patterning, suggesting that the Arabidopsis transcriptional regulatory mechanism is not shared by other species. To our knowledge, this study provides the first comprehensive view of gene expression in a single plant cell type across multiple species.