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Planta. 2005 Apr;221(1):28-38. Epub 2004 Dec 2.

Transcriptome analysis of alfalfa glandular trichomes.

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  • 1Plant Biology Division, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, 2510 Sam Noble Parkway, Ardmore, OK 73401, USA.


Glandular trichomes are a major site of plant natural product synthesis and accumulation for protection against insect predation. However, to date few studies have attempted to obtain a global view of trichome gene expression. Two contrasting approaches have been adopted to investigate genes expressed in glandular trichomes from alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.). In the first approach, 5,674 clones from an alfalfa glandular trichome cDNA library were sequenced. The most highly abundant expressed sequence tag (EST) corresponded to a lipid transfer protein. The presence of ESTs corresponding to enzymes for all steps in the biosynthesis of flavonoids suggests that these are important metabolites in alfalfa trichome biology, as confirmed by histochemistry and metabolite profiling. No ESTs corresponded to enzymes of cyclized terpenoid biosynthesis. In a second approach, microarray analysis was used to compare levels of alfalfa transcripts corresponding to 16,086 Medicago truncatula A17 genes in stems with and without trichomes. This revealed over 1,000 genes with strong preferential expression in the trichome fraction of the stem, 70% of which are of unknown function. These define a class of genes that are not trichome-specific, since M. truncatula A17 does not itself have glandular trichomes, but has potential importance for trichome function within the stem.

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