The evolution of imprinting in plants: beyond the seed

Plant Reprod. 2021 Apr 29. doi: 10.1007/s00497-021-00410-7. Online ahead of print.


Genomic imprinting results in the biased expression of alleles depending on if the allele was inherited from the mother or the father. Despite the prevalence of sexual reproduction across eukaryotes, imprinting is only found in placental mammals, flowering plants, and some insects, suggesting independent evolutionary origins. Numerous hypotheses have been proposed to explain the selective pressures that favour the innovation of imprinted gene expression and each differs in their experimental support and predictions. Due to the lack of investigation of imprinting in land plants, other than angiosperms with triploid endosperm, we do not know whether imprinting occurs in species lacking endosperm and with embryos developing on maternal plants. Here, we discuss the potential for uncovering additional examples of imprinting in land plants and how these observations may provide additional support for one or more existing imprinting hypotheses.

Keywords: Embryo; Evolution; Imprinting; Plants.