Plant meristems, like animal stem cell niches, maintain a pool of multipotent, undifferentiated cells that divide and differentiate to give rise to organs. In Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), the carpel margin meristem is a vital meristematic structure that generates ovules from the medial domain of the gynoecium, the female floral reproductive structure. The molecular mechanisms that specify this meristematic region and regulate its organogenic potential are poorly understood. Here, we present a novel approach to analyze the transcriptional signature of the medial domain of the Arabidopsis gynoecium, highlighting the developmental stages that immediately proceed ovule initiation, the earliest stages of seed development. Using a floral synchronization system and a SHATTERPROOF2 (SHP2) domain-specific reporter, paired with FACS and RNA sequencing, we assayed the transcriptome of the gynoecial medial domain with temporal and spatial precision. This analysis reveals a set of genes that are differentially expressed within the SHP2 expression domain, including genes that have been shown previously to function during the development of medial domain-derived structures, including the ovules, thus validating our approach. Global analyses of the transcriptomic data set indicate a similarity of the pSHP2-expressing cell population to previously characterized meristematic domains, further supporting the meristematic nature of this gynoecial tissue. Our method identifies additional genes including novel isoforms, cis-natural antisense transcripts, and a previously unrecognized member of the REPRODUCTIVE MERISTEM family of transcriptional regulators that are potential novel regulators of medial domain development. This data set provides genome-wide transcriptional insight into the development of the carpel margin meristem in Arabidopsis.
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