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  1. Abstract

    Seeds are a vital source of calories for humans and a unique stage in the life cycle of flowering plants. During seed germination, the embryo undergoes major developmental transitions to become a seedling. Studying gene expression in individual seed cell types has been challenging due to the lack of spatial information or low throughput of existing methods. To overcome these limitations, a spatial transcriptomics workflow was developed for germinating barley grain. This approach enabled high-throughput analysis of spatial gene expression, revealing specific spatial expression patterns of various functional gene categories at a sub-tissue level. This study revealed over 14 000 genes differentially regulated during the first 24 h after imbibition. Individual genes, such as the aquaporin gene family, starch degradation, cell wall modification, transport processes, ribosomal proteins and transcription factors, were found to have specific spatial expression patterns over time. Using spatial autocorrelation algorithms, we identified auxin transport genes that had increasingly focused expression within subdomains of the embryo over time, suggesting their role in establishing the embryo axis. Overall, our study provides an unprecedented spatially resolved cellular map for barley germination and identifies specific functional genomics targets to better understand cellular restricted processes during germination. The data can be viewed at https://spatial.latrobe.edu.au/.

     
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  2. With growing populations and pressing environmental problems, future economies will be increasingly plant-based. Now is the time to reimagine plant science as a critical component of fundamental science, agriculture, environmental stewardship, energy, technology and healthcare. This effort requires a conceptual and technological framework to identify and map all cell types, and to comprehensively annotate the localization and organization of molecules at cellular and tissue levels. This framework, called the Plant Cell Atlas (PCA), will be critical for understanding and engineering plant development, physiology and environmental responses. A workshop was convened to discuss the purpose and utility of such an initiative, resulting in a roadmap that acknowledges the current knowledge gaps and technical challenges, and underscores how the PCA initiative can help to overcome them. 
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