Background. Different theories for the origin of the angiosperm hermaphrodite flower make different predictions concerning the overlap between the genes expressed in the male and female cones of gymnosperms and the genes expressed in the hermaphrodite flower of angiosperms. The Mostly Male (MM) theory predicts that, of genes expressed primarily in male versus female gymnosperm cones, an excess of male orthologs will be expressed in flowers, excluding ovules, while Out Of Male (OOM) and Out Of Female (OOF) theories predict no such excess. Results. In this paper, we tested these predictions by comparing the transcriptomes of three gymnosperms (Ginkgo biloba, Welwitschia mirabilis and Zamia fisheri) and two angiosperms (Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa), using EST data. We found that the proportion of orthologous genes expressed in the reproductive organs of the gymnosperms and in the angiosperms flower is significantly higher than the proportion of orthologous genes expressed in the reproductive organs of the gymnosperms and in the angiosperms vegetative tissues, which shows that the approach is correct. However, we detected no significant differences between the proportion of gymnosperm orthologous genes expressed in the male cone and in the angiosperms flower and the proportion of gymnosperm orthologous genes expressed in the female cone and in the angiosperms flower. Conclusions. These results do not support the MM theory prediction of an excess of male gymnosperm genes expressed in the hermaphrodite flower of the angiosperms and seem to support the OOM/OOF theories. However, other explanations can be given for the 1:1 ratio that we found. More abundant and more specific (namely carpel and ovule) expression data should be produced in order to further test these theories. © 2010 Tavares et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Tavares, R., Cagnon, M., Negrutiu, I., & Mouchiroud, D. (2010). Testing the recent theories for the origin of the hermaphrodite flower by comparison of the transcriptomes of gymnosperms and angiosperms. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2148-10-240