Food Fight

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Science  18 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6019, pp. 825
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6019.825-a

During reproduction, some genes in the offspring are “imprinted”: They contain inherited epigenetic markings that promote specific expression of either the maternal or paternal allele. Genetic imprinting can be viewed within the parental conflict theory, which postulates that females allocate resources equally to all offspring, whereas males favor the expression of genes that maximize resource use by individual offspring. In Arabidopsis, a few imprinted genes are known to be expressed in the endoderm, which is the portion of the seed that will nourish the growing embryo. Hsieh et al. have now surveyed the gene expression landscape of the Arabidopsis endoderm and found 43 imprinted genes in the endoderm, 34 maternally expressed and 9 paternally expressed. The genes that maternal and paternal sources disagreed over encode transcription factors, hormone signaling components, and regulators of chromatin modification and small RNA pathways. The Arabidopsis embryo, on the other hand, reflected an inner peace, with no imprinted genes identified.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 108, 1755 (2011).

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