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1.  Genome-wide analysis of the AP2/ERF transcription factor superfamily in Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis) 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:573.
Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis) is a member of one of the most important leaf vegetables grown worldwide, which has experienced thousands of years in cultivation and artificial selection. The entire Chinese cabbage genome sequence, and more than forty thousand proteins have been obtained to date. The genome has undergone triplication events since its divergence from Arabidopsis thaliana (13 to 17 Mya), however a high degree of sequence similarity and conserved genome structure remain between the two species. Arabidopsis is therefore a viable reference species for comparative genomics studies. Variation in the number of members in gene families due to genome triplication may contribute to the broad range of phenotypic plasticity, and increased tolerance to environmental extremes observed in Brassica species. Transcription factors are important regulators involved in plant developmental and physiological processes. The AP2/ERF proteins, one of the most important families of transcriptional regulators, play a crucial role in plant growth, and in response to biotic and abiotic stressors. Our analysis will provide resources for understanding the tolerance mechanisms in Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis.
In the present study, 291 putative AP2/ERF transcription factor proteins were identified from the Chinese cabbage genome database, and compared with proteins from 15 additional species. The Chinese cabbage AP2/ERF superfamily was classified into four families, including AP2, ERF, RAV, and Soloist. The ERF family was further divided into DREB and ERF subfamilies. The AP2/ERF superfamily was subsequently divided into 15 groups. The identification, classification, phylogenetic reconstruction, conserved motifs, chromosome distribution, functional annotation, expression patterns, and interaction networks of the AP2/ERF transcription factor superfamily were predicted and analyzed. Distribution mapping results showed AP2/ERF superfamily genes were localized on the 10 Chinese cabbage chromosomes. AP2/ERF transcription factor expression levels exhibited differences among six tissue types based on expressed sequence tags (ESTs). In the AP2/ERF superfamily, 214 orthologous genes were identified between Chinese cabbage and Arabidopsis. Orthologous gene interaction networks were constructed, and included seven CBF and four AP2 genes, primarily involved in cold regulatory pathways and ovule development, respectively.
The evolution of the AP2/ERF transcription factor superfamily in Chinese cabbage resulted from genome triplication and tandem duplications. A comprehensive analysis of the physiological functions and biological roles of AP2/ERF superfamily genes in Chinese cabbage is required to fully elucidate AP2/ERF, which provides us with rich resources and opportunities to understand crop stress tolerance mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3765354  PMID: 23972083
Chinese cabbage; AP2/ERF; Stress tolerance; Gene expression; Interaction network; Protein annotation
2.  A sequence-based genetic linkage map as a reference for Brassica rapa pseudochromosome assembly 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:239.
Brassica rapa is an economically important crop and a model plant for studies concerning polyploidization and the evolution of extreme morphology. The multinational B. rapa Genome Sequencing Project (BrGSP) was launched in 2003. In 2008, next generation sequencing technology was used to sequence the B. rapa genome. Several maps concerning B. rapa pseudochromosome assembly have been published but their coverage of the genome is incomplete, anchoring approximately 73.6% of the scaffolds on to chromosomes. Therefore, a new genetic map to aid pseudochromosome assembly is required.
This study concerns the construction of a reference genetic linkage map for Brassica rapa, forming the backbone for anchoring sequence scaffolds of the B. rapa genome resulting from recent sequencing efforts. One hundred and nineteen doubled haploid (DH) lines derived from microspore cultures of an F1 cross between a Chinese cabbage (B. rapa ssp. pekinensis) DH line (Z16) and a rapid cycling inbred line (L144) were used to construct the linkage map. PCR-based insertion/deletion (InDel) markers were developed by re-sequencing the two parental lines. The map comprises a total of 507 markers including 415 InDels and 92 SSRs. Alignment and orientation using SSR markers in common with existing B. rapa linkage maps allowed ten linkage groups to be identified, designated A01-A10. The total length of the linkage map was 1234.2 cM, with an average distance of 2.43 cM between adjacent marker loci. The lengths of linkage groups ranged from 71.5 cM to 188.5 cM for A08 and A09, respectively. Using the developed linkage map, 152 scaffolds were anchored on to the chromosomes, encompassing more than 82.9% of the B. rapa genome. Taken together with the previously available linkage maps, 183 scaffolds were anchored on to the chromosomes and the total coverage of the genome was 88.9%.
The development of this linkage map is vital for the integration of genome sequences and genetic information, and provides a useful resource for the international Brassica research community.
PMCID: PMC3224973  PMID: 21569561
3.  Genome-wide identification of aquaporin encoding genes in Brassica oleracea and their phylogenetic sequence comparison to Brassica crops and Arabidopsis 
Aquaporins (AQPs) are essential channel proteins that regulate plant water homeostasis and the uptake and distribution of uncharged solutes such as metalloids, urea, ammonia, and carbon dioxide. Despite their importance as crop plants, little is known about AQP gene and protein function in cabbage (Brassica oleracea) and other Brassica species. The recent releases of the genome sequences of B. oleracea and Brassica rapa allow comparative genomic studies in these species to investigate the evolution and features of Brassica genes and proteins. In this study, we identified all AQP genes in B. oleracea by a genome-wide survey. In total, 67 genes of four plant AQP subfamilies were identified. Their full-length gene sequences and locations on chromosomes and scaffolds were manually curated. The identification of six additional full-length AQP sequences in the B. rapa genome added to the recently published AQP protein family of this species. A phylogenetic analysis of AQPs of Arabidopsis thaliana, B. oleracea, B. rapa allowed us to follow AQP evolution in closely related species and to systematically classify and (re-) name these isoforms. Thirty-three groups of AQP-orthologous genes were identified between B. oleracea and Arabidopsis and their expression was analyzed in different organs. The two selectivity filters, gene structure and coding sequences were highly conserved within each AQP subfamily while sequence variations in some introns and untranslated regions were frequent. These data suggest a similar substrate selectivity and function of Brassica AQPs compared to Arabidopsis orthologs. The comparative analyses of all AQP subfamilies in three Brassicaceae species give initial insights into AQP evolution in these taxa. Based on the genome-wide AQP identification in B. oleracea and the sequence analysis and reprocessing of Brassica AQP information, our dataset provides a sequence resource for further investigations of the physiological and molecular functions of Brassica crop AQPs.
PMCID: PMC4387931  PMID: 25904922
aquaporin; major intrinsic protein; nodulin26-like intrinsic proteins;  Brassica oleracea; Brassica rapa; Arabidopsis thaliana; phylogeny; gene structure
4.  Genome-wide identification and analysis of the growth-regulating factor family in Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa L. ssp. pekinensis) 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):807.
Growth regulating factors (GRFs) have been shown to play important roles in plant growth and development. GRF genes represent a large multigene family in plants. Recently, genome-wide structural and evolutionary analyses of the GRF gene families in Arabidopsis, rice, and maize have been reported. Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa L. ssp. pekinensis) is one of the most important vegetables for agricultural production, and a full genome assembly for this plant has recently been released. However, to our knowledge, the GRF gene family from Chinese cabbage has not been characterized in detail.
In this study, genome-wide analysis was carried out to identify all the GRF genes in Chinese cabbage. Based on the complete Chinese cabbage genome sequence, 17 nonredundant GRF genes, named BrGRFs, were identified and classified into six groups. Phylogenetic analysis of the translated GRF protein sequences from Chinese cabbage, Arabidopsis, and rice indicated that the Chinese cabbage GRF proteins were more closely related to the GRF proteins of Arabidopsis than to those of rice. Expression profile analysis showed that the BrGRF genes had uneven transcript levels in different organs or tissues, and the transcription of most BrGRF genes was induced by gibberellic acid (GA3) treatment. Additionally, over-expression of BrGRF8 in transgenic Arabidopsis plants increased the sizes of the leaves and other organs by regulation of cell proliferation.
The data obtained from this investigation will contribute to a better understanding of the characteristics of the GRF gene family in Chinese cabbage, and provide a basis for further studies to investigate GRF protein function during development as well as for Chinese cabbage-breeding programs to improve yield and/or head size.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-807) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4180144  PMID: 25242257
Chinese cabbage; Expression; Gene family; GRF; Transgenic lines
5.  A rich TILLING resource for studying gene function in Brassica rapa 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:62.
The Brassicaceae family includes the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana as well as a number of agronomically important species such as oilseed crops (in particular Brassica napus, B. juncea and B. rapa) and vegetables (eg. B. rapa and B. oleracea).
Separated by only 10-20 million years, Brassica species and Arabidopsis thaliana are closely related, and it is expected that knowledge obtained relating to Arabidopsis growth and development can be translated into Brassicas for crop improvement. Moreover, certain aspects of plant development are sufficiently different between Brassica and Arabidopsis to warrant studies to be carried out directly in the crop species. However, mutating individual genes in the amphidiploid Brassicas such as B. napus and B. juncea may, on the other hand, not give rise to expected phenotypes as the genomes of these species can contain up to six orthologues per single-copy Arabidopsis gene. In order to elucidate and possibly exploit the function of redundant genes for oilseed rape crop improvement, it may therefore be more efficient to study the effects in one of the diploid Brassica species such as B. rapa. Moreover, the ongoing sequencing of the B. rapa genome makes this species a highly attractive model for Brassica research and genetic resource development.
Seeds from the diploid Brassica A genome species, B. rapa were treated with ethyl methane sulfonate (EMS) to produce a TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions In Genomes) population for reverse genetics studies. We used the B. rapa genotype, R-o-18, which has a similar developmental ontogeny to an oilseed rape crop. Hence this resource is expected to be well suited for studying traits with relevance to yield and quality of oilseed rape. DNA was isolated from a total of 9,216 M2 plants and pooled to form the basis of the TILLING platform. Analysis of six genes revealed a high level of mutations with a density of about one per 60 kb. This analysis also demonstrated that screening a 1 kb amplicon in just one third of the population (3072 M2 plants) will provide an average of 68 mutations and a 97% probability of obtaining a stop-codon mutation resulting in a truncated protein. We furthermore calculated that each plant contains on average ~10,000 mutations and due to the large number of plants, it is predicted that mutations in approximately half of the GC base pairs in the genome exist within this population.
We have developed the first EMS TILLING resource in the diploid Brassica species, B. rapa. The mutation density in this population is ~1 per 60 kb, which makes it the most densely mutated diploid organism for which a TILLING population has been published. This resource is publicly available through the RevGenUK reverse genetics platform
PMCID: PMC2923536  PMID: 20380715
6.  Jasmonate-dependent plant defense restricts thrips performance and preference 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:97.
The western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis [Pergande]) is one of the most important insect herbivores of cultivated plants. However, no pesticide provides complete control of this species, and insecticide resistance has emerged around the world. We previously reported the important role of jasmonate (JA) in the plant's immediate response to thrips feeding by using an Arabidopsis leaf disc system. In this study, as the first step toward practical use of JA in thrips control, we analyzed the effect of JA-regulated Arabidopsis defense at the whole plant level on thrips behavior and life cycle at the population level over an extended period. We also studied the effectiveness of JA-regulated plant defense on thrips damage in Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis).
Thrips oviposited more on Arabidopsis JA-insensitive coi1-1 mutants than on WT plants, and the population density of the following thrips generation increased on coi1-1 mutants. Moreover, thrips preferred coi1-1 mutants more than WT plants. Application of JA to WT plants before thrips attack decreased the thrips population. To analyze these important functions of JA in a brassica crop plant, we analyzed the expression of marker genes for JA response in B. rapa. Thrips feeding induced expression of these marker genes and significantly increased the JA content in B. rapa. Application of JA to B. rapa enhanced plant resistance to thrips, restricted oviposition, and reduced the population density of the following generation.
Our results indicate that the JA-regulated plant defense restricts thrips performance and preference, and plays an important role in the resistance of Arabidopsis and B. rapa to thrips damage.
PMCID: PMC2724403  PMID: 19635132
7.  High-Throughput Sequencing and De Novo Assembly of Brassica oleracea var. Capitata L. for Transcriptome Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92087.
The cabbage, Brassica oleracea var. capitata L., has a distinguishable phenotype within the genus Brassica. Despite the economic and genetic importance of cabbage, there is little genomic data for cabbage, and most studies of Brassica are focused on other species or other B. oleracea subspecies. The lack of genomic data for cabbage, a non-model organism, hinders research on its molecular biology. Hence, the construction of reliable transcriptomic data based on high-throughput sequencing technologies is needed to enhance our understanding of cabbage and provide genomic information for future work.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We constructed cDNAs from total RNA isolated from the roots, leaves, flowers, seedlings, and calcium-limited seedling tissues of two cabbage genotypes: 102043 and 107140. We sequenced a total of six different samples using the Illumina HiSeq platform, producing 40.5 Gbp of sequence data comprising 401,454,986 short reads. We assembled 205,046 transcripts (≥ 200 bp) using the Velvet and Oases assembler and predicted 53,562 loci from the transcripts. We annotated 35,274 of the loci with 55,916 plant peptides in the Phytozome database. The average length of the annotated loci was 1,419 bp. We confirmed the reliability of the sequencing assembly using reverse-transcriptase PCR to identify tissue-specific gene candidates among the annotated loci.
Our study provides valuable transcriptome sequence data for B. oleracea var. capitata L., offering a new resource for studying B. oleracea and closely related species. Our transcriptomic sequences will enhance the quality of gene annotation and functional analysis of the cabbage genome and serve as a material basis for future genomic research on cabbage. The sequencing data from this study can be used to develop molecular markers and to identify the extreme differences among the phenotypes of different species in the genus Brassica.
PMCID: PMC3969326  PMID: 24682075
8.  Genes associated with agronomic traits in non-heading Chinese cabbage identified by expression profiling 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:71.
The genomes of non-heading Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa ssp. chinensis), heading Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis) and their close relative Arabidopsis thaliana have provided important resources for studying the evolution and genetic improvement of cruciferous plants. Natural growing conditions present these plants with a variety of physiological challenges for which they have a repertoire of genes that ensure adaptability and normal growth. We investigated the differential expressions of genes that control adaptability and development in plants growing in the natural environment to study underlying mechanisms of their expression.
Using digital gene expression tag profiling, we constructed an expression profile to identify genes related to important agronomic traits under natural growing conditions. Among three non-heading Chinese cabbage cultivars, we found thousands of genes that exhibited significant differences in expression levels at five developmental stages. Through comparative analysis and previous reports, we identified several candidate genes associated with late flowering, cold tolerance, self-incompatibility, and leaf color. Two genes related to cold tolerance were verified using quantitative real-time PCR.
We identified a large number of genes associated with important agronomic traits of non-heading Chinese cabbage. This analysis will provide a wealth of resources for molecular-assisted breeding of cabbage. The raw data and detailed results of this analysis are available at the website
PMCID: PMC3998049  PMID: 24655567
Non-heading Chinese cabbage; Expression profile; Differentially expressed genes; Protein function annotation; Chromosome distribution; Agronomic traits
9.  Isolation and Expression of Glucosinolate Synthesis Genes CYP83A1 and CYP83B1 in Pak Choi (Brassica rapa L. ssp. chinensis var. communis (N. Tsen & S.H. Lee) Hanelt) 
CYP83A1 and CYP83B1 are two key synthesis genes in the glucosinolate biosynthesis pathway. CYP83A1 mainly metabolizes the aliphatic oximes to form aliphatic glucosinolate and CYP83B1 mostly catalyzes aromatic oximes to synthesis corresponding substrates for aromatic and indolic glucosinolates. In this study, two CYP83A1 genes named BcCYP83A1-1 (JQ289997), BcCYP83A1-2 (JQ289996) respectively and one CYP83B1 (BcCYP83B1, HM347235) gene were cloned from the leaves of pak choi (Brassica rapa L. ssp. chinensis var. communis (N. Tsen & S.H. Lee) Hanelt) “Hangzhou You Dong Er” cultivar. Their ORFs were 1506, 1509 and 1500 bp in length, encoding 501, 502 and 499 amino acids, respectively. The predicted amino acid sequences of CYP83A1-1, CYP83A1-2 and CYP83B1 shared high sequence identity of 87.65, 86.48 and 95.59% to the corresponding ones in Arabidopsis, and 98.80, 98.61 and 98.80% to the corresponding ones in Brassica pekinensis (Chinese cabbage), respectively. Quantitative real-time PCR analysis indicated that both CYP83A1 and CYP83B1 expressed in roots, leaves and petioles of pak choi, while the transcript abundances of CYP83A1 were higher in leaves than in petioles and roots, whereas CYP83B1 showed higher abundances in roots. The expression levels of glucosinolate biosynthetic genes were consistent with the glucosinolate profile accumulation in shoots of seven cultivars and three organs. The isolation and characterization of the glucosinolate synthesis genes in pak choi would promote the way for further development of agronomic traits via genetic engineering.
PMCID: PMC3382748  PMID: 22754334
pak choi; glucosinolate; phylogenetic analysis; quantitative real-time PCR
10.  Comparative Analysis of Disease-Linked Single Nucleotide Polymorphic Markers from Brassica rapa for Their Applicability to Brassica oleracea 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0120163.
Numerous studies using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been conducted in humans, and other animals, and in major crops, including rice, soybean, and Chinese cabbage. However, the number of SNP studies in cabbage is limited. In this present study, we evaluated whether 7,645 SNPs previously identified as molecular markers linked to disease resistance in the Brassica rapa genome could be applied to B. oleracea. In a BLAST analysis using the SNP sequences of B. rapa and B. oleracea genomic sequence data registered in the NCBI database, 256 genes for which SNPs had been identified in B. rapa were found in B. oleracea. These genes were classified into three functional groups: molecular function (64 genes), biological process (96 genes), and cellular component (96 genes). A total of 693 SNP markers, including 145 SNP markers [BRH—developed from the B. rapa genome for high-resolution melt (HRM) analysis], 425 SNP markers (BRP—based on the B. rapa genome that could be applied to B. oleracea), and 123 new SNP markers (BRS—derived from BRP and designed for HRM analysis), were investigated for their ability to amplify sequences from cabbage genomic DNA. In total, 425 of the SNP markers (BRP-based on B. rapa genome), selected from 7,645 SNPs, were successfully applied to B. oleracea. Using PCR, 108 of 145 BRH (74.5%), 415 of 425 BRP (97.6%), and 118 of 123 BRS (95.9%) showed amplification, suggesting that it is possible to apply SNP markers developed based on the B. rapa genome to B. oleracea. These results provide valuable information that can be utilized in cabbage genetics and breeding programs using molecular markers derived from other Brassica species.
PMCID: PMC4366180  PMID: 25790283
11.  Identification of conserved and novel microRNAs that are responsive to heat stress in Brassica rapa 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2011;63(2):1025-1038.
The species Brassica rapa includes various vegetable crops. Production of these vegetable crops is usually impaired by heat stress. Some microRNAs (miRNAs) in Arabidopsis have been considered to mediate gene silencing in plant response to abiotic stress. However, it remains unknown whether or what miRNAs play a role in heat resistance of B. rapa. To identify genomewide conserved and novel miRNAs that are responsive to heat stress in B. rapa, we defined temperature thresholds of non-heading Chinese cabbage (B. rapa ssp. chinensis) and constructed small RNA libraries from the seedlings that had been exposed to high temperature (46 °C) for 1 h. By deep sequencing and data analysis, we selected a series of conserved and novel miRNAs that responded to heat stress. In total, Chinese cabbage shares at least 35 conserved miRNA families with Arabidopsis thaliana. Among them, five miRNA families were responsive to heat stress. Northern hybridization and real-time PCR showed that the conserved miRNAs bra-miR398a and bra-miR398b were heat-inhibitive and guided heat response of their target gene, BracCSD1; and bra-miR156h and bra-miR156g were heat-induced and its putative target BracSPL2 was down-regulated. According to the criteria of miRNA and miRNA* that form a duplex, 21 novel miRNAs belonging to 19 miRNA families were predicted. Of these, four were identified to be heat-responsive by Northern blotting and/or expression analysis of the putative targets. The two novel miRNAs bra-miR1885b.3 and bra-miR5718 negatively regulated their putative target genes. 5′-Rapid amplification of cDNA ends PCR indicated that three novel miRNAs cleaved the transcripts of their target genes where their precursors may have evolved from. These results broaden our perspective on the important role of miRNA in plant responses to heat.
PMCID: PMC3254694  PMID: 22025521
Brassica rapa; heat response; miRNA; small RNA
12.  Sequenced BAC anchored reference genetic map that reconciles the ten individual chromosomes of Brassica rapa 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:432.
In view of the immense value of Brassica rapa in the fields of agriculture and molecular biology, the multinational Brassica rapa Genome Sequencing Project (BrGSP) was launched in 2003 by five countries. The developing BrGSP has valuable resources for the community, including a reference genetic map and seed BAC sequences. Although the initial B. rapa linkage map served as a reference for the BrGSP, there was ambiguity in reconciling the linkage groups with the ten chromosomes of B. rapa. Consequently, the BrGSP assigned each of the linkage groups to the project members as chromosome substitutes for sequencing.
We identified simple sequence repeat (SSR) motifs in the B. rapa genome with the sequences of seed BACs used for the BrGSP. By testing 749 amplicons containing SSR motifs, we identified polymorphisms that enabled the anchoring of 188 BACs onto the B. rapa reference linkage map consisting of 719 loci in the 10 linkage groups with an average distance of 1.6 cM between adjacent loci. The anchored BAC sequences enabled the identification of 30 blocks of conserved synteny, totaling 534.9 cM in length, between the genomes of B. rapa and Arabidopsis thaliana. Most of these were consistent with previously reported duplication and rearrangement events that differentiate these genomes. However, we were able to identify the collinear regions for seven additional previously uncharacterized sections of the A genome. Integration of the linkage map with the B. rapa cytogenetic map was accomplished by FISH with probes representing 20 BAC clones, along with probes for rDNA and centromeric repeat sequences. This integration enabled unambiguous alignment and orientation of the maps representing the 10 B. rapa chromosomes.
We developed a second generation reference linkage map for B. rapa, which was aligned unambiguously to the B. rapa cytogenetic map. Furthermore, using our data, we confirmed and extended the comparative genome analysis between B. rapa and A. thaliana. This work will serve as a basis for integrating the genetic, physical, and chromosome maps of the BrGSP, as well as for studies on polyploidization, speciation, and genome duplication in the genus Brassica.
PMCID: PMC2761421  PMID: 19751531
13.  Progress in Understanding and Sequencing the Genome of Brassica rapa 
Brassica rapa, which is closely related to Arabidopsis thaliana, is an important crop and a model plant for studying genome evolution via polyploidization. We report the current understanding of the genome structure of B. rapa and efforts for the whole-genome sequencing of the species. The tribe Brassicaceae, which comprises ca. 240 species, descended from a common hexaploid ancestor with a basic genome similar to that of Arabidopsis. Chromosome rearrangements, including fusions and/or fissions, resulted in the present-day “diploid” Brassica species with variation in chromosome number and phenotype. Triplicated genomic segments of B. rapa are collinear to those of A. thaliana with InDels. The genome triplication has led to an approximately 1.7-fold increase in the B. rapa gene number compared to that of A. thaliana. Repetitive DNA of B. rapa has also been extensively amplified and has diverged from that of A. thaliana. For its whole-genome sequencing, the Brassica rapa Genome Sequencing Project (BrGSP) consortium has developed suitable genomic resources and constructed genetic and physical maps. Ten chromosomes of B. rapa are being allocated to BrGSP consortium participants, and each chromosome will be sequenced by a BAC-by-BAC approach. Genome sequencing of B. rapa will offer a new perspective for plant biology and evolution in the context of polyploidization.
PMCID: PMC2233773  PMID: 18288250
14.  Identification of Differential Gene Expression in Brassica rapa Nectaries through Expressed Sequence Tag Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8782.
Nectaries are the floral organs responsible for the synthesis and secretion of nectar. Despite their central roles in pollination biology, very little is understood about the molecular mechanisms underlying nectar production. This project was undertaken to identify genes potentially involved in mediating nectary form and function in Brassica rapa.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Four cDNA libraries were created using RNA isolated from the median and lateral nectaries of B. rapa flowers, with one normalized and one non-normalized library being generated from each tissue. Approximately 3,000 clones from each library were randomly sequenced from the 5′ end to generate a total of 11,101 high quality expressed sequence tags (ESTs). Sequence assembly of all ESTs together allowed the identification of 1,453 contigs and 4,403 singleton sequences, with the Basic Localized Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) being used to identify 4,138 presumptive orthologs to Arabidopsis thaliana genes. Several genes differentially expressed between median and lateral nectaries were initially identified based upon the number of BLAST hits represented by independent ESTs, and later confirmed via reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR). RT PCR was also used to verify the expression patterns of eight putative orthologs to known Arabidopsis nectary-enriched genes.
This work provided a snapshot of gene expression in actively secreting B. rapa nectaries, and also allowed the identification of differential gene expression between median and lateral nectaries. Moreover, 207 orthologs to known nectary-enriched genes from Arabidopsis were identified through this analysis. The results suggest that genes involved in nectar production are conserved amongst the Brassicaceae, and also supply clones and sequence information that can be used to probe nectary function in B. rapa.
PMCID: PMC2808342  PMID: 20098697
15.  Genome-wide analysis of Dof family transcription factors and their responses to abiotic stresses in Chinese cabbage 
BMC Genomics  2015;16(1):33.
Chinese cabbage is an important leaf vegetable that experienced long-term cultivation and artificial selection. Dof (DNA-binding One Zinc Finger) transcription factors, with a highly conserved Dof domain, are members of a major plant-specific transcription factor family that play important roles in many plant biological processes. The Dof family transcription factors, one of the most important families of transcriptional regulators in higher plants, are involved in massive aspects of plant growth, development, and response to abiotic stresses. Our study will supply resources for understanding how Dof transcription factors respond to abiotic stress and the interaction network of these genes in tolerance mechanism.
In this study, we performed a comprehensive analysis of Dof family factors in Chinese cabbage. In total, 76 genes encoding BraDof family transcription factor were identified from Chinese cabbage, and those BraDof factors were divided into nine classes. Fifteen motifs were found based on Dof amino acid sequence alignments. Chromosome locations and gene duplications of BraDof family genes were also analyzed. Ten duplicate events of BraDof genes were discovered in Chinese cabbage chromosomes. The uneven distribution of BraDof genes in Brassica chromosomes may cause the expansion of BraDof genes. In the Dof family, 37 and 7 orthologous genes were identified between Chinese cabbage and Arabidopsis and between Chinese cabbage and Oryza sativa, respectively. The interaction networks of Dof factors in Chinese cabbage were also constructed. Expression profiles of nine selected genes from different nine classes subjected to four abiotic stresses (cold, heat, salt and drought) were further investigated by quantitative real-time PCR to obtain a better understanding of the functions and regulation mechanisms of BraDof family transcription factors in two Chinese cabbage varieties, ‘Lubaisanhao’ and ‘Qingdao 87-114’.
Dof-family transcription factors were analyzed in genome of Chinese cabbage. Chromosomal locations showed that duplication might result in expansion. Response to abiotic stresses was elucidated in Chinese cabbage varieties. The results provide novel insights into the stress responses of BraDof genes and promote a better understanding of the construction and function of Dofs in Chinese cabbage.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1242-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4320540  PMID: 25636232
Dof; Transcription factor; Chromosomal location; Gene duplication; qRT-PCR; Chinese cabbage
16.  The Korea Brassica Genome Project: a Glimpse of the Brassica Genome Based on Comparative Genome Analysis With Arabidopsis  
A complete genome sequence provides unlimited information in the sequenced organism as well as in related taxa. According to the guidance of the Multinational Brassica Genome Project (MBGP), the Korea Brassica Genome Project (KBGP) is sequencing chromosome 1 (cytogenetically oriented chromosome #1) of Brassica rapa. We have selected 48 seed BACs on chromosome 1 using EST genetic markers and FISH analyses. Among them, 30 BAC clones have been sequenced and 18 are on the way. Comparative genome analyses of the EST sequences and sequenced BAC clones from Brassica chromosome 1 revealed their homeologous partner regions on the Arabidopsis genome and a syntenic comparative map between Brassica chromosome 1 and Arabidopsis chromosomes. In silico chromosome walking and clone validation have been successfully applied to extending sequence contigs based on the comparative map and BAC end sequences. In addition, we have defined the (peri)centromeric heterochromatin blocks with centromeric tandem repeats, rDNA and centromeric retrotransposons. In-depth sequence analyses of five homeologous BAC clones and an Arabidopsis chromosomal region reveal overall co-linearity, with 82% sequence similarity. The data indicate that the Brassica genome has undergone triplication and subsequent gene losses after the divergence of Arabidopsis and Brassica. Based on in-depth comparative genome analyses, we propose a comparative genomics approach for conquering the Brassica genome. In 2005 we intend to construct an integrated physical map, including sequence information from 500 BAC clones and integration of fingerprinting data and end sequence data of more than 100 000 BAC clones. The sequences have been submitted to GenBank with accession numbers: 10 204 BAC ends of the KBrH library (CW978640–CW988843); KBrH138P04, AC155338; KBrH117N09, AC155337; KBrH097M21, AC155348; KBrH093K03, AC155347; KBrH081N08, AC155346; KBrH080L24, AC155345; KBrH077A05, AC155343; KBrH020D15, AC155340; KBrH015H17, AC155339; KBrH001H24, AC155335; KBrH080A08, AC155344; KBrH004D11, AC155341; KBrH117M18, AC146875; KBrH052O08, AC155342.
PMCID: PMC2447515  PMID: 18629219
17.  Identification of Novel QTLs for Isolate-Specific Partial Resistance to Plasmodiophora brassicae in Brassica rapa 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e85307.
Plasmodiophora brassicae, the causal agent of clubroot disease of the Brassica crops, is widespread in the world. Quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for partial resistance to 4 different isolates of P. brassicae (Pb2, Pb4, Pb7, and Pb10) were investigated using a BC1F1 population from a cross between two subspecies of Brassica rapa, i.e. Chinese cabbage inbred line C59-1 as a susceptible recurrent parent and turnip inbred line ECD04 as a resistant donor parent. The BC1F2 families were assessed for resistance under controlled conditions. A linkage map constructed with simple sequence repeats (SSR), unigene-derived microsatellite (UGMS) markers, and specific markers linked to published clubroot resistance (CR) genes of B. rapa was used to perform QTL mapping. A total of 6 QTLs residing in 5 CR QTL regions of the B. rapa chromosomes A01, A03, and A08 were identified to account for 12.2 to 35.2% of the phenotypic variance. Two QTL regions were found to be novel except for 3 QTLs in the respective regions of previously identified Crr1, Crr2, and Crr3. QTL mapping results indicated that 1 QTL region was common for partial resistance to the 2 isolates of Pb2 and Pb7, whereas the others were specific for each isolate. Additionally, synteny analysis between B. rapa and Arabidopsis thaliana revealed that all CR QTL regions were aligned to a single conserved crucifer blocks (U, F, and R) on 3 Arabidopsis chromosomes where 2 CR QTLs were detected in A. thaliana. These results suggest that some common ancestral genomic regions were involved in the evolution of CR genes in B. rapa.
PMCID: PMC3869933  PMID: 24376876
18.  Bolbase: a comprehensive genomics database for Brassica oleracea 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:664.
Brassica oleracea is a morphologically diverse species in the family Brassicaceae and contains a group of nutrition-rich vegetable crops, including common heading cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, kale, Brussels sprouts. This diversity along with its phylogenetic membership in a group of three diploid and three tetraploid species, and the recent availability of genome sequences within Brassica provide an unprecedented opportunity to study intra- and inter-species divergence and evolution in this species and its close relatives.
We have developed a comprehensive database, Bolbase, which provides access to the B. oleracea genome data and comparative genomics information. The whole genome of B. oleracea is available, including nine fully assembled chromosomes and 1,848 scaffolds, with 45,758 predicted genes, 13,382 transposable elements, and 3,581 non-coding RNAs. Comparative genomics information is available, including syntenic regions among B. oleracea, Brassica rapa and Arabidopsis thaliana, synonymous (Ks) and non-synonymous (Ka) substitution rates between orthologous gene pairs, gene families or clusters, and differences in quantity, category, and distribution of transposable elements on chromosomes. Bolbase provides useful search and data mining tools, including a keyword search, a local BLAST server, and a customized GBrowse tool, which can be used to extract annotations of genome components, identify similar sequences and visualize syntenic regions among species. Users can download all genomic data and explore comparative genomics in a highly visual setting.
Bolbase is the first resource platform for the B. oleracea genome and for genomic comparisons with its relatives, and thus it will help the research community to better study the function and evolution of Brassica genomes as well as enhance molecular breeding research. This database will be updated regularly with new features, improvements to genome annotation, and new genomic sequences as they become available. Bolbase is freely available at
PMCID: PMC3849793  PMID: 24079801
Brassica oleracea; Database; Genome sequence; Synteny; Comparative genomics
19.  Genome-wide analysis of the R2R3-MYB transcription factor genes in Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis) reveals their stress and hormone responsive patterns 
BMC Genomics  2015;16(1):17.
The MYB superfamily is one of the most abundant transcription factor (TF) families in plants. MYB proteins include highly conserved N-terminal MYB repeats (1R, R2R3, 3R, and atypical) and various C-terminal sequences that confer extensive functions. However, the functions of most MYB genes are unknown, and have been little studied in Chinese cabbage.
Here, we analyzed 256 (55.2% of total MYBs) R2R3-MYB genes from Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis) and anchored them onto the 10 chromosomes and three subgenomes. The R2R3-, 3R- and atypical MYB proteins in Chinese cabbage formed 45 subgroups based on domain similarity and phylogenetic topology. Organization and syntenic analysis revealed the genomic distribution and collinear relationships of the R2R3-BrMYBs. Synonymous nucleotide substitution (Ka/Ks) analysis showed that the Chinese cabbage MYB DNA-binding domain is under strong purifying selection. Moreover, RNA-seq data revealed tissue-specific and distinct R2R3-BrMYB expression profiles, and quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) analysis in leaves showed stress responsive expression and crosstalk with ABA-auxin signaling cascades.
In this study, we identified the largest MYB gene family in plants to date. Our results indicate that members of this superfamily may be involved in plant development, stress responses and leaf senescence, highlighting their functional diversity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1216-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4334723  PMID: 25613160
Genome-wide analysis; R2R3-MYB transcription factor; Stress responses; Hormone signals; Chinese cabbage
20.  Beyond genomic variation - comparison and functional annotation of three Brassica rapa genomes: a turnip, a rapid cycling and a Chinese cabbage 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):250.
Brassica rapa is an economically important crop species. During its long breeding history, a large number of morphotypes have been generated, including leafy vegetables such as Chinese cabbage and pakchoi, turnip tuber crops and oil crops.
To investigate the genetic variation underlying this morphological variation, we re-sequenced, assembled and annotated the genomes of two B. rapa subspecies, turnip crops (turnip) and a rapid cycling. We then analysed the two resulting genomes together with the Chinese cabbage Chiifu reference genome to obtain an impression of the B. rapa pan-genome. The number of genes with protein-coding changes between the three genotypes was lower than that among different accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana, which can be explained by the smaller effective population size of B. rapa due to its domestication. Based on orthology to a number of non-brassica species, we estimated the date of divergence among the three B. rapa morphotypes at approximately 250,000 YA, far predating Brassica domestication (5,000-10,000 YA).
By analysing genes unique to turnip we found evidence for copy number differences in peroxidases, pointing to a role for the phenylpropanoid biosynthesis pathway in the generation of morphological variation. The estimated date of divergence among three B. rapa morphotypes implies that prior to domestication there was already considerably divergence among B. rapa genotypes. Our study thus provides two new B. rapa reference genomes, delivers a set of computer tools to analyse the resulting pan-genome and uses these to shed light on genetic drivers behind the rich morphological variation found in B. rapa.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-250) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4230417  PMID: 24684742
21.  FANTOM DB: database of Functional Annotation of RIKEN Mouse cDNA Clones 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(1):116-118.
FANTOM DB, the database of Functional Annotation of RIKEN Mouse cDNA Clones, is designed to store sequence information of RIKEN full-length enriched mouse cDNA clones, graphical views of sequence analysis results, curated functional annotation information and additional descriptions, including Gene Ontology terms. RIKEN’s Mouse Gene Encyclopedia Project aims to collect full-length enriched cDNA clones from various mouse tissues, determine the full-length nucleotide sequences, infer their chromosomal locations by computer and characterize gene expression patterns. FANTOM DB has been developed to facilitate this work and to facilitate functional genomic studies such as positional candidate cloning, cDNA microarrays and protein interaction analyses. FANTOM DB contains 21 076 full-length cDNA sequences with rich functional annotations and is publicly available. FANTOM DB thus provides curated functional annotation to RIKEN full-length enriched mouse clones, and has links to other public resources. FANTOM DB can be accessed at
PMCID: PMC99137  PMID: 11752270
22.  RARGE: a large-scale database of RIKEN Arabidopsis resources ranging from transcriptome to phenome 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;33(Database Issue):D647-D650.
The RIKEN Arabidopsis Genome Encyclopedia (RARGE) database houses information on biological resources ranging from transcriptome to phenome, including RIKEN Arabidopsis full-length (RAFL) complementary DNAs (cDNAs), their promoter regions, Dissociation (Ds) transposon-tagged lines and expression data from microarray experiments. RARGE provides tools for searching by resource code, sequence homology or keyword, and rapid access to detailed information on the resources. We have isolated 245 946 RAFL cDNA clones and collected 11 933 transposon-tagged lines, which are available from the RIKEN Bioresource Center and are stored in RARGE. The RARGE web interface can be accessed at Additionally, we report 90 000 new RAFL cDNA clones here.
PMCID: PMC539968  PMID: 15608280
23.  Large-scale collection and annotation of full-length enriched cDNAs from a model halophyte, Thellungiella halophila 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:115.
Thellungiella halophila (also known as Thellungiella salsuginea) is a model halophyte with a small plant size, short life cycle, and small genome. It easily undergoes genetic transformation by the floral dipping method used with its close relative, Arabidopsis thaliana. Thellungiella genes exhibit high sequence identity (approximately 90% at the cDNA level) with Arabidopsis genes. Furthermore, Thellungiella not only shows tolerance to extreme salinity stress, but also to chilling, freezing, and ozone stress, supporting the use of Thellungiella as a good genomic resource in studies of abiotic stress tolerance.
We constructed a full-length enriched Thellungiella (Shan Dong ecotype) cDNA library from various tissues and whole plants subjected to environmental stresses, including high salinity, chilling, freezing, and abscisic acid treatment. We randomly selected about 20 000 clones and sequenced them from both ends to obtain a total of 35 171 sequences. CAP3 software was used to assemble the sequences and cluster them into 9569 nonredundant cDNA groups. We named these cDNAs "RTFL" (RIKEN Thellungiella Full-Length) cDNAs. Information on functional domains and Gene Ontology (GO) terms for the RTFL cDNAs were obtained using InterPro. The 8289 genes assigned to InterPro IDs were classified according to the GO terms using Plant GO Slim. Categorical comparison between the whole Arabidopsis genome and Thellungiella genes showing low identity to Arabidopsis genes revealed that the population of Thellungiella transport genes is approximately 1.5 times the size of the corresponding Arabidopsis genes. This suggests that these genes regulate a unique ion transportation system in Thellungiella.
As the number of Thellungiella halophila (Thellungiella salsuginea) expressed sequence tags (ESTs) was 9388 in July 2008, the number of ESTs has increased to approximately four times the original value as a result of this effort. Our sequences will thus contribute to correct future annotation of the Thellungiella genome sequence. The full-length enriched cDNA clones will enable the construction of overexpressing mutant plants by introduction of the cDNAs driven by a constitutive promoter, the complementation of Thellungiella mutants, and the determination of promoter regions in the Thellungiella genome.
PMCID: PMC2621223  PMID: 19014467
24.  BRAD, the genetics and genomics database for Brassica plants 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:136.
Brassica species include both vegetable and oilseed crops, which are very important to the daily life of common human beings. Meanwhile, the Brassica species represent an excellent system for studying numerous aspects of plant biology, specifically for the analysis of genome evolution following polyploidy, so it is also very important for scientific research. Now, the genome of Brassica rapa has already been assembled, it is the time to do deep mining of the genome data.
BRAD, the Brassica database, is a web-based resource focusing on genome scale genetic and genomic data for important Brassica crops. BRAD was built based on the first whole genome sequence and on further data analysis of the Brassica A genome species, Brassica rapa (Chiifu-401-42). It provides datasets, such as the complete genome sequence of B. rapa, which was de novo assembled from Illumina GA II short reads and from BAC clone sequences, predicted genes and associated annotations, non coding RNAs, transposable elements (TE), B. rapa genes' orthologous to those in A. thaliana, as well as genetic markers and linkage maps. BRAD offers useful searching and data mining tools, including search across annotation datasets, search for syntenic or non-syntenic orthologs, and to search the flanking regions of a certain target, as well as the tools of BLAST and Gbrowse. BRAD allows users to enter almost any kind of information, such as a B. rapa or A. thaliana gene ID, physical position or genetic marker.
BRAD, a new database which focuses on the genetics and genomics of the Brassica plants has been developed, it aims at helping scientists and breeders to fully and efficiently use the information of genome data of Brassica plants. BRAD will be continuously updated and can be accessed through
PMCID: PMC3213011  PMID: 21995777
25.  Functional innovations of three chronological mesohexaploid Brassica rapa genomes 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):606.
The Brassicaceae family is an exemplary model for studying plant polyploidy. The Brassicaceae knowledge-base includes the well-annotated Arabidopsis thaliana reference sequence; well-established evidence for three rounds of whole genome duplication (WGD); and the conservation of genomic structure, with 24 conserved genomic blocks (GBs). The recently released Brassica rapa draft genome provides an ideal opportunity to update our knowledge of the conserved genomic structures in Brassica, and to study evolutionary innovations of the mesohexaploid plant, B. rapa.
Three chronological B. rapa genomes (recent, young, and old) were reconstructed with sequence divergences, revealing a trace of recursive WGD events. A total of 636 fast evolving genes were unevenly distributed throughout the recent and young genomes. The representative Gene Ontology (GO) terms for these genes were ‘stress response’ and ‘development’ both through a change in protein modification or signaling, rather than by enhancing signal recognition. In retention patterns analysis, 98% of B. rapa genes were retained as collinear gene pairs; 77% of those were singly-retained in recent or young genomes resulting from death of the ancestral copies, while others were multi-retained as long retention genes. GO enrichments indicated that single retention genes mainly function in the interpretation of genetic information, whereas, multi-retention genes were biased toward signal response, especially regarding development and defense. In the recent genome, 13,302, 5,790, and 20 gene pairs were multi-retained following Brassica whole genome triplication (WGT) events with 2, 3, and 4 homoeologous copies, respectively. Enriched GO-slim terms from B. rapa homomoelogues imply that a major effect of the B. rapa WGT may have been to acquire environmental adaptability or to change the course of development. These homoeologues seem to more frequently undergo subfunctionalization with spatial expression patterns compared with other possible events including nonfunctionalization and neofunctionalization.
We refined Brassicaceae GB information using the latest genomic resources, and distinguished three chronologically ordered B. rapa genomes. B. rapa genes were categorized into fast evolving, single- and multi-retention genes, and long retention genes by their substitution rates and retention patterns. Representative functions of the categorized genes were elucidated, providing better understanding of B. rapa evolution and the Brassica genus.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-606) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4117954  PMID: 25033750
Brassica rapa; Chronological genomes; Fast-evolving genes; Single-retention genes; Multi-retention genes

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