• tomato;
  • L1 layer;
  • periclinal chimera;
  • gene expression;
  • layer-specific;
  • technical advance


Plant organs are made from multiple cell types, and defining the expression level of a gene in any one cell or group of cells from a complex mixture is difficult. Dicotyledonous plants normally have three distinct layers of cells, L1, L2 and L3. Layer L1 is the single layer of cells making up the epidermis, layer L2 the single cell sub-epidermal layer and layer L3 constitutes the rest of the internal cells. Here we show how it is possible to harvest an organ and characterise the level of layer-specific expression by using a periclinal chimera that has its L1 layer from Solanum pennellii and its L2 and L3 layers from Solanum lycopersicum. This is possible by measuring the level of the frequency of species-specific transcripts. RNA-seq analysis enabled the genome-wide assessment of whether a gene is expressed in the L1 or L2/L3 layers. From 13 277 genes that are expressed in both the chimera and the parental lines and with at least one polymorphism between the parental alleles, we identified 382 genes that are preferentially expressed in L1 in contrast to 1159 genes in L2/L3. Gene ontology analysis shows that many genes preferentially expressed in L1 are involved in cutin and wax biosynthesis, whereas numerous genes that are preferentially expressed in L2/L3 tissue are associated with chloroplastic processes. These data indicate the use of such chimeras and provide detailed information on the level of layer-specific expression of genes.