A single cellArabidopsis root atlas reveals developmental trajectories in wild type and cell identity mutants

Journal Article


Cell fate acquisition is a fundamental developmental process in all multicellular organisms. Yet, much is unknown regarding how a cell traverses the pathway from stem cell to terminal differentiation. Advances in single cell genomics 1 hold promise for unraveling developmental mechanisms 2–3 in tissues 4 , organs 5–6 , and organisms 7–8 . However, lineage tracing can be challenging for some tissues 9 and integration of high-quality datasets is often necessary to detect rare cell populations and developmental states 10,11 . Here, we harmonized single cell mRNA sequencing data from over 110,000 cells to construct a comprehensive atlas for a stereotypically developing organ with indeterminate growth, the Arabidopsis root. To test the utility of the atlas to interpret new datasets, we profiled mutants for two key transcriptional regulators at single cell resolution, shortroot and scarecrow . Although both transcription factors are required for early specification of cell identity 12 , our results suggest the existence of an alternative pathway acting in mature cells to specify endodermal identity, for which SHORTROOT is required. Uncovering the architecture of this pathway will provide insight into specification and stabilization of the endodermis, a tissue analogous to the mammalian epithelium. Thus, the atlas is a pivotal advance for unraveling the transcriptional programs that specify and maintain cell identity to regulate organ development in space and time.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Shahan, R; Hsu, C-W; Nolan, T; Cole, B; Taylor, I; Vlot, AHC; Benfey, P; Ohler, U

Published Date

  • 2020

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1101/2020.06.29.178863