The evolution of plant vascular tissue is tightly linked to the evolution of specialised cell walls. Mutations in the QUASIMODO2 (QUA2) gene from Arabidopsis thaliana were previously shown to result in cell adhesion defects due to reduced levels of the cell wall component homogalacturonic acid. In this study, we provide additional information about the role of QUA2 and its closest paralogues, QUASIMODO2 LIKE1 (QUL1) and QUL2. Within the extensive QUA2 family, our phylogenetic analysis shows that these three genes form a clade that evolved with vascular plants. Consistent with a possible role of this clade in vasculature development, QUA2 is highly expressed in the vascular tissue of embryos and inflorescence stems and overexpression of QUA2 resulted in temperature-sensitive xylem collapse. Moreover, in-depth characterisation of qua2 qul1 qul2 triple mutant and 35S::QUA2 overexpression plants revealed contrasting temperature-dependent stem development with dramatic effects on stem width. Taken together, our results suggest that the QUA2-specific clade contributed to the evolution of vasculature and illustrate the important role that modification of cell wall composition plays in the adaptation to changing environmental conditions, including changes in temperature.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: May 13, 2010
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