The male gametophyte and tapetum play different roles during anther development although they are differentiated from the same cell lineage, the L2 layer. Until now, it has not been possible to delineate their transcriptomes due to technical difficulties in separating the two cell types. In the present study, we characterized the separated transcriptomes of the rice microspore/pollen and tapetum using laser microdissection (LM)-mediated microarray. Spatiotemporal expression patterns of 28,141 anther-expressed genes were classified into 20 clusters, which contained 3,468 (12.3%) anther-enriched genes. In some clusters, synchronous gene expression in the microspore and tapetum at the same developmental stage was observed as a novel characteristic of the anther transcriptome. Noteworthy expression patterns are discussed in connection with gene ontology (GO) categories and gene annotations, which are related to important biological events in anther development, such as pollen maturation, pollen germination, pollen tube elongation and pollen wall formation.
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