Dept. of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Kentucky, 1405 Veterans Dr., 321 Plant Science Building, Lexington, KY 40546-0312, USA
In this post-genomics era, transcriptional profiles and genomic sequences of species of interest can be obtained with relative ease and low cost. A key to successfully identifying agriculturally useful genes from these massive data sets is how to separate these genes from noise. We took a comparative genomics approach extended to the most basal land plant Marchantia polymorpha in order to find key genes controlling plant reproduction. Marchantia is a liverwort, whose aquatic ancestor conquered the land and first generated embryos for reproduction. Although the mode of reproduction differs between Marchantia and flowering plants, comparisons and analyses of reproduction-specific genes revealed highly conserved factors playing roles in key events in their reproduction. I present one transcription factor gene involved in male sterility in land plants, which will be useful for hybrid seed generation. An evolutionary aspect of plant reproduction will also be discussed.