Background: The effective functional analysis of male gametophyte development requires new tools enabling the spatially and temporally controlled expression of both marker genes and modified genes of interest. In particular, promoters driving expression at earlier developmental stages including microspores are required.
Results: Transcriptomic datasets covering four progressive stages of male gametophyte development in Arabidopsis were used to select candidate genes showing early expression profiles that were male gametophyte-specific. Promoter-GUS reporter analysis of candidate genes identified three promoters (MSP1, MSP2, and MSP3) that are active in microspores and are otherwise specific to the male gametophyte and tapetum. The MSP1 and MSP2 promoters were used to successfully complement and restore the male transmission of the gametophytic two-in-one (tio) mutant that is cytokinesis-defective at first microspore division.
Conclusion: We demonstrate the effective application of MSP promoters as tools that can be used to elucidate gametophytic gene functions in microspores in a male-specific manner.