Back to overview

Laser-assisted Microdissection (LAM) as a Tool for Transcriptional Profiling of Individual Cell Types

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Florez Rueda Ana Marcela, Grossniklaus Ueli, Schmidt Anja,
Project The Genetic and Molecular Basis of Gametogenesis and Maternal Effects in Arabidopsis
Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Visualized Experiments
Page(s) 53916
Title of proceedings Journal of Visualized Experiments
DOI 10.3791/53916


The understanding of developmental processes at the molecular level requires insights into transcriptional regulation, and thus the transcriptome, at the level of individual cell types. While the methods described here are generally applicable to a wide range of species and cell types, our research focuses on plant reproduction. Plant cultivation and seed production is of crucial importance for human and animal nutrition. A detailed understanding of the regulatory networks that govern the formation of the reproductive lineage (germline) and ultimately of seeds is a precondition for the targeted manipulation of plant reproduction. In particular, the engineering of apomixis (asexual reproduction through seeds) into crop plants promises great improvements, as it leads to the formation of clonal seeds that are genetically identical to the mother plant. Consequently, the cell types of the female germline are of major importance for the understanding and engineering of apomixis. However, as the corresponding cells are deeply embedded within the floral tissues, they are very difficult to access for experimental analyses, including cell-type specific transcriptomics. To overcome this limitation, sections of individual cells can be isolated by laser-assisted microdissection (LAM). While LAM in combination with transcriptional profiling allows the identification of genes and pathways active in any cell type with high specificity, establishing a suitable protocol can be challenging. Specifically, the quality of RNA obtained after LAM can be compromised, especially when small, single cells are targeted. To circumvent this problem, we have established a workflow for LAM that reproducibly results in high RNA quality that is well suitable for transcriptomics, as exemplified here by the isolation of cells of the female germline in apomictic Boechera. In this protocol, procedures are described for tissue preparation and LAM, also with regard to RNA extraction and quality control.