Day Length and Temperature Strongly Influence Sexual Reproduction and Expression of a Novel MADS-Box Gene in the Moss Physcomitrella patens


Freiburg University
Plant Biotechnology Schänzlestraβe 1
79104 Freiburg


Abstract: The effect of temperature and light conditions on sexual reproduction (sporophyte formation) of in vitro cultures of the moss Physcomitrella patens was analysed. All parameters tested, i.e., temperature, light intensity and day length had a strong impact on the number of sporophytes formed. The highest number of sporophytes, 559 g fresh weight, developed at 15 °C, 8 h light/day with an intensity of 20 μmol/m2/s. In contrast, at 25 °C, as well as with a day length of 16 h per day, the number of sporophytes was drastically reduced. Vegetative growth, determined as fresh weight per petri dish, was impeded under conditions favouring sporophyte formation, probably due to nutrient transfer to the sporophytes. Microscopic documentation of the developing sporophytes revealed that, although archegonia were arranged in bundles at the gametophore apices, usually only one archegonium per gametophore apex developed into a mature sporophyte. From an EST database six novel MADS-box genes were identified which, in phylogenetic analyses, did not cluster with the known groups of higher plant MADS-box genes. One of these genes was represented only as a singleton in a cDNA library specifically derived from gametophore apices and developing sporophytes, and, therefore, designated PpMADS-S. RNA amounts of PpMADS-S were two to three times higher under conditions that stimulate sporophyte development (15 °C, 8 h light per day) when compared to conditions favouring vegetative growth (25 °C, 16 h light per day), indicating a possible function in sexual reproduction of this moss. Thus, an efficient experimental system was established to study sex organ formation, fertilization and embryo development in Physcomitrella.