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An intracellular transcriptomic atlas of the giant coenocyte Caulerpa taxifolia.

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Convergent morphologies have arisen in plants multiple times. In non-vascular and vascular land plants, convergent morphology in the form of roots, stems, and leaves arose. The morphology of some green algae includes an anchoring holdfast, stipe, and leaf-like fronds. Such morphology occurs in the absence of multicellularity in the siphonous algae, which are single cells. Morphogenesis is separate from cellular division in the land plants, which although are multicellular, have been argued to exhibit properties similar to single celled organisms. Within the single, macroscopic cell of a siphonous alga, how are transcripts partitioned, and what can this tell us about the development of similar convergent structures in land plants? Here, we present a de novo assembled, intracellular transcriptomic atlas for the giant coenocyte Caulerpa taxifolia. Transcripts show a global, basal-apical pattern of distribution from the holdfast to the frond apex in which transcript identities roughly follow the flow of genetic information in the cell, transcription-to-translation. The analysis of the intersection of transcriptomic atlases of a land plant and Caulerpa suggests the recurrent recruitment of transcript accumulation patterns to organs over large evolutionary distances. Our results not only provide an intracellular atlas of transcript localization, but also demonstrate the contribution of transcript partitioning to morphology, independent from multicellularity, in plants.

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