Nature Communications，Volume 14, Article number: 7191 (2023)，Published: 08 November 2023
Yuxin Fu, Wenxin Xiao, Lang Tian, Liangxing Guo, Guangjin Ma, Chen Ji, Yongcai Huang, Haihai Wang, Xingguo Wu, Tao Yang, Jiechen Wang, Jirui Wang, Yongrui Wu & Wenqin Wang
Maize kernels are complex biological systems composed of three genetic sources, namely maternal tissues, progeny embryos, and progeny endosperms. The lack of gene expression profiles with spatial information has limited the understanding of the specific functions of each cell population, and hindered the exploration of superior genes in kernels. In our study, we conduct microscopic sectioning and spatial transcriptomics analysis during the grain filling stage of maize kernels. This enables us to visualize the expression patterns of all genes through electronical RNA in situ hybridization, and identify 11 cell populations and 332 molecular marker genes. Furthermore, we systematically elucidate the spatial storage mechanisms of the three major substances in maize kernels: starch, protein, and oil. These findings provide valuable insights into the functional genes that control agronomic traits in maize kernels.