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

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Pires Nuno D, Bemer Marian, Müller Lena M, Baroux Célia, Spillane Charles, Grossniklaus Ueli,
Project Plant Reproductive Isolation: from Mechanisms to Evolution
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal PLoS genetics
Volume (Issue) 12(1)
Page(s) 1005806 - 1005806
Title of proceedings PLoS genetics
DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005806

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


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.