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J Exp Bot. 2017 Apr 1;68(9):2175-2185. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erx104.

Complexity and specificity of the maize (Zea mays L.) root hair transcriptome.

Author information

INRES, Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation, Crop Functional Genomics, University of Bonn, D-53113 Bonn, Germany.
Department of Statistics, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-1210, USA.
Department of Cell and Systems Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, M5S 3B2, Canada.


Root hairs are tubular extensions of epidermis cells. Transcriptome profiling demonstrated that the single cell-type root hair transcriptome was less complex than the transcriptome of multiple cell-type primary roots without root hairs. In total, 831 genes were exclusively and 5585 genes were preferentially expressed in root hairs [false discovery rate (FDR) ≤1%]. Among those, the most significantly enriched Gene Ontology (GO) functional terms were related to energy metabolism, highlighting the high energy demand for the development and function of root hairs. Subsequently, the maize homologs for 138 Arabidopsis genes known to be involved in root hair development were identified and their phylogenetic relationship and expression in root hairs were determined. This study indicated that the genetic regulation of root hair development in Arabidopsis and maize is controlled by common genes, but also shows differences which need to be dissected in future genetic experiments. Finally, a maize root view of the eFP browser was implemented including the root hair transcriptome of the present study and several previously published maize root transcriptome data sets. The eFP browser provides color-coded expression levels for these root types and tissues for any gene of interest, thus providing a novel resource to study gene expression and function in maize roots.


RNA sequencing (RNA-seq); eFP browser; maize; phylogeny; root hair; single cell analysis; transcriptome.

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