Laser Microdissection of Woody and Suberized Plant Tissues for RNA-Seq Analysis

Mol Biotechnol. 2022 Aug 17. doi: 10.1007/s12033-022-00542-9. Online ahead of print.


An accurate profile of gene expression at a cellular level can contribute to a better understanding of biological processes and complexities involved in regulatory mechanism of woody plants. Laser microdissection is one technique that allows isolation of specific, target cells or tissue from a heterogeneous cell population. This technique entails microscopic visualization of the selected tissue and use a laser beam to separate the desired cells from surrounding tissue. Initial identification of these cells is made based on morphology and/or histological staining. Some works have been made in several tissues and plant models. However, there are few studies of laser microdissection application in woody species, particularly, lignified and suberized cells. Moreover, the presence of high level of suberin in cell walls can be a big challenge for the application of this approach. In our study it was developed a technique for tissue isolation, using laser microdissection of four different plant cell types (phellogen, lenticels, cortex and xylem) from woody tissues of cork oak (Quercus suber), followed by RNA extraction and RNA-Seq. We tested several methodologies regarding laser microdissection, cryostat equipments, fixation treatments, duration of single-cells collection and number of isolated cells by laser microdissection and RNA extraction procedures. A simple and efficient protocol for tissue isolation by laser microdissection and RNA purification was obtained, with a final method validation of RNA-Seq analysis. The optimized methodology combining RNA-Seq for expression analysis will contribute to elucidate the molecular pathways associated with different development processes of the xylem and phellem in oaks, including the lenticular channels formation.

Keywords: Laser microdissection; Quercus suber; RNA-seq; Transcriptomics; Woody species.