Apomixis is a naturally occurring asexual mode of seed reproduction resulting in offspring genetically identical to the maternal plant. Identifying differential gene expression patterns between apomictic and sexual plants is valuable to help deconstruct the trait. Quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) is a popular method for analyzing gene expression. Normalizing gene expression data using proper reference genes which show stable expression under investigated conditions is critical in qRT-PCR analysis. We used qRT-PCR to validate expression and stability of six potential reference genes (EF1alpha, EIF4A, UBCE, GAPDH, ACT2 and TUBA) in vegetative and reproductive tissues of B-2S and B-12-9 accessions of C. ciliaris.
Among tissue types evaluated, EF1alpha showed the highest level of expression while TUBA showed the lowest. When all tissue types were evaluated and compared between genotypes, EIF4A was the most stable reference gene. Gene expression stability for specific ovary stages of B-2S and B-12-9 was also determined. Except for TUBA, all other tested reference genes could be used for any stage-specific ovary tissue normalization, irrespective of the mode of reproduction.
Our gene expression stability assay using six reference genes, in sexual and apomictic accessions of C. ciliaris, suggests that EIF4A is the most stable gene across all tissue types analyzed. All other tested reference genes, with the exception of TUBA, could be used for gene expression comparison studies between sexual and apomictic ovaries over multiple developmental stages. This reference gene validation data in C. ciliaris will serve as an important base for future apomixis-related transcriptome data validation.||