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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Identification of molecular processes needed for vascular formation through transcriptome analysis of different vascular systems

Peng Xu, Yimeng Kong, Xuan Li and Laigeng Li*

Author Affiliations

National Key Laboratory of Plant Molecular Genetics and Key Laboratory of Synthetic Biology, Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 300 Fenglin Rd, Shanghai 200032, China

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:217  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-217

Published: 2 April 2013



Vascular system formation has been studied through molecular and genetic approaches in Arabidopsis, a herbaceous dicot that is used as a model system. Different vascular systems have developed in other plants such as crops and trees. Uncovering shared mechanisms underlying vascular development by transcriptome analysis of different vascular systems may help to transfer knowledge acquired from Arabidopsis to other economically important species.


Conserved vascular genes and biological processes fundamental to vascular development were explored across various plants. Through comparative transcriptome analysis, 226 genes from Arabidopsis, 217 genes from poplar and 281 genes from rice were identified as constituting 107 conserved vascular gene groups. These gene groups are expressed mainly in vascular tissues and form a complex coexpression network with multiple functional connections. To date, only half of the groups have been experimentally investigated. The conserved vascular gene groups were classified into 9 essential processes for vascular development. 18 groups (17%) lack of annotations were classified as having unknown functions.


The study provides a map of fundamental biological processes conserved across different vascular systems. It identifies gaps in the experimental investigation of pathways active in vascular formation, which if explored, could lead to a more complete understanding of vascular development.