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PeerJ. 2018 Feb 28;6:e4448. doi: 10.7717/peerj.4448. eCollection 2018.

Investigating the molecular basis for heterophylly in the aquatic plant Potamogeton octandrus (Potamogetonaceae) with comparative transcriptomics.

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Laboratory of Plant Systematics and Evolutionary Biology, College of life Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan, Hubei, China.
Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.
Appalachian Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Frostburg, MD, USA.
Key Laboratory of Aquatic Botany and Watershed Ecology, Wuhan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China.


Many plant species exhibit different leaf morphologies within a single plant, or heterophylly. The molecular mechanisms regulating this phenomenon, however, have remained elusive. In this study, the transcriptomes of submerged and floating leaves of an aquatic heterophyllous plant, Potamogeton octandrus Poir, at different stages of development, were sequenced using high-throughput sequencing (RNA-Seq), in order to aid gene discovery and functional studies of genes involved in heterophylly. A total of 81,103 unigenes were identified in submerged and floating leaves and 6,822 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified by comparing samples at differing time points of development. KEGG pathway enrichment analysis categorized these unigenes into 128 pathways. A total of 24,025 differentially expressed genes were involved in carbon metabolic pathways, biosynthesis of amino acids, ribosomal processes, and plant-pathogen interactions. In particular, KEGG pathway enrichment analysis categorized a total of 70 DEGs into plant hormone signal transduction pathways. The high-throughput transcriptomic results presented here highlight the potential for understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying heterophylly, which is still poorly understood. Further, these data provide a framework to better understand heterophyllous leaf development in P. octandrus via targeted studies utilizing gene cloning and functional analyses.


Gene expression; Heterophyllous leaves; Potamogeton octandrus; Transcriptome

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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