Quantitative Genetics Identifies Cryptic Genetic Variation Involved in the Paternal Regulation of Seed Development

Nuno D. Pires, Marian Bemer, Lena M. Müller, Célia Baroux, Charles Spillane, Ueli Grossniklaus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Embryonic development requires a correct balancing of maternal and paternal genetic information. This balance is mediated by genomic imprinting, an epigenetic mechanism that leads to parent-of-origin-dependent gene expression. The parental conflict (or kinship) theory proposes that imprinting can evolve due to a conflict between maternal and paternal alleles over resource allocation during seed development. One assumption of this theory is that paternal alleles can regulate seed growth; however, paternal effects on seed size are often very low or non-existent. We demonstrate that there is a pool of cryptic genetic variation in the paternal control of Arabidopsis thaliana seed development. Such cryptic variation can be exposed in seeds that maternally inherit a medea mutation, suggesting that MEA acts as a maternal buffer of paternal effects. Genetic mapping using recombinant inbred lines, and a novel method for the mapping of parent-of-origin effects using whole-genome sequencing of segregant bulks, indicate that there are at least six loci with small, paternal effects on seed development. Together, our analyses reveal the existence of a pool of hidden genetic variation on the paternal control of seed development that is likely shaped by parental conflict.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1005806
JournalPlos Genetics
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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