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In flowering plants, successful germinal cell development and meiotic recombination depend upon a combination of environmental and genetic factors. To gain insights into this specialized reproductive development program we used short- and long-read RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) to study the temporal dynamics of transcript abundance in immuno-cytologically staged barley (Hordeum vulgare) anthers and meiocytes. We show that the most significant transcriptional changes in anthers occur at the transition from pre-meiosis to leptotene-zygotene, which is followed by increasingly stable transcript abundance throughout prophase I into metaphase I-tetrad. Our analysis reveals that the pre-meiotic anthers are enriched in long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and that entry to meiosis is characterized by their robust and significant down regulation. Intriguingly, only 24% of a collection of putative meiotic gene orthologs showed differential transcript abundance in at least one stage or tissue comparison. Argonautes, E3 ubiquitin ligases, and lys48 specific de-ubiquitinating enzymes were enriched in prophase I meiocyte samples. These developmental, time-resolved transcriptomes demonstrate remarkable stability in transcript abundance in meiocytes throughout prophase I after the initial and substantial reprogramming at meiosis entry and the complexity of the regulatory networks involved in early meiotic processes.
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