Endosperm development in Brachypodium distachyon
journal contributionposted on 2011-02-24, 11:41 authored by Magdalena Opanowicz, Philip Hands, Donna Betts, Mary L. Parker, Geraldine A. Toole, E. N. Clare Mills, John H. Doonan, Sinéad Drea
Grain development and its evolution in grasses remains poorly understood, despite cereals being our most important source of food. The grain, for which many grass species have been domesticated, is a single-seeded fruit with prominent and persistent endosperm. Brachypodium distachyon, a small wild grass, is being posited as a new model system for the temperate small grain cereals, but little is known about its endosperm development and how this compares with that of the domesticated cereals. A cellular and molecular map of domains within the developing Brachypodium endosperm is constructed. This provides the first detailed description of grain development in Brachypodium for the reference strain, Bd21, that will be useful for future genetic and comparative studies. Development of Brachypodium grains is compared with that of wheat. Notably, the aleurone is not regionally differentiated as in wheat, suggesting that the modified aleurone region may be a feature of only a subset of cereals. Also, the central endosperm and the nucellar epidermis contain unusually prominent cell walls that may act as a storage material. The composition of these cell walls is more closely related to those of barley and oats than to those of wheat. Therefore, although endosperm development is broadly similar to that of temperate small grain cereals, there are significant differences that may reflect its phylogenetic position between the Triticeae and rice.