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1.  Transcriptome profiling of Pinus radiata juvenile wood with contrasting stiffness identifies putative candidate genes involved in microfibril orientation and cell wall mechanics 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:480.
The mechanical properties of wood are largely determined by the orientation of cellulose microfibrils in secondary cell walls. Several genes and their allelic variants have previously been found to affect microfibril angle (MFA) and wood stiffness; however, the molecular mechanisms controlling microfibril orientation and mechanical strength are largely uncharacterised. In the present study, cDNA microarrays were used to compare gene expression in developing xylem with contrasting stiffness and MFA in juvenile Pinus radiata trees in order to gain further insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying microfibril orientation and cell wall mechanics.
Juvenile radiata pine trees with higher stiffness (HS) had lower MFA in the earlywood and latewood of each ring compared to low stiffness (LS) trees. Approximately 3.4 to 14.5% out of 3, 320 xylem unigenes on cDNA microarrays were differentially regulated in juvenile wood with contrasting stiffness and MFA. Greater variation in MFA and stiffness was observed in earlywood compared to latewood, suggesting earlywood contributes most to differences in stiffness; however, 3-4 times more genes were differentially regulated in latewood than in earlywood. A total of 108 xylem unigenes were differentially regulated in juvenile wood with HS and LS in at least two seasons, including 43 unigenes with unknown functions. Many genes involved in cytoskeleton development and secondary wall formation (cellulose and lignin biosynthesis) were preferentially transcribed in wood with HS and low MFA. In contrast, several genes involved in cell division and primary wall synthesis were more abundantly transcribed in LS wood with high MFA.
Microarray expression profiles in Pinus radiata juvenile wood with contrasting stiffness has shed more light on the transcriptional control of microfibril orientation and the mechanical properties of wood. The identified candidate genes provide an invaluable resource for further gene function and association genetics studies aimed at deepening our understanding of cell wall biomechanics with a view to improving the mechanical properties of wood.
PMCID: PMC3224210  PMID: 21962175
2.  Golgi Enrichment and Proteomic Analysis of Developing Pinus radiata Xylem by Free-Flow Electrophoresis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84669.
Our understanding of the contribution of Golgi proteins to cell wall and wood formation in any woody plant species is limited. Currently, little Golgi proteomics data exists for wood-forming tissues. In this study, we attempted to address this issue by generating and analyzing Golgi-enriched membrane preparations from developing xylem of compression wood from the conifer Pinus radiata. Developing xylem samples from 3-year-old pine trees were harvested for this purpose at a time of active growth and subjected to a combination of density centrifugation followed by free flow electrophoresis, a surface charge separation technique used in the enrichment of Golgi membranes. This combination of techniques was successful in achieving an approximately 200-fold increase in the activity of the Golgi marker galactan synthase and represents a significant improvement for proteomic analyses of the Golgi from conifers. A total of thirty known Golgi proteins were identified by mass spectrometry including glycosyltransferases from gene families involved in glucomannan and glucuronoxylan biosynthesis. The free flow electrophoresis fractions of enriched Golgi were highly abundant in structural proteins (actin and tubulin) indicating a role for the cytoskeleton during compression wood formation. The mass spectrometry proteomics data associated with this study have been deposited to the ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD000557.
PMCID: PMC3887118  PMID: 24416096
3.  A new genomic resource dedicated to wood formation in Eucalyptus 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:36.
Renowned for their fast growth, valuable wood properties and wide adaptability, Eucalyptus species are amongst the most planted hardwoods in the world, yet they are still at the early stages of domestication because conventional breeding is slow and costly. Thus, there is huge potential for marker-assisted breeding programs to improve traits such as wood properties. To this end, the sequencing, analysis and annotation of a large collection of expressed sequences tags (ESTs) from genes involved in wood formation in Eucalyptus would provide a valuable resource.
We report here the normalization and sequencing of a cDNA library from developing Eucalyptus secondary xylem, as well as the construction and sequencing of two subtractive libraries (juvenile versus mature wood and vice versa). A total of 9,222 high quality sequences were collected from about 10,000 cDNA clones. The EST assembly generated a set of 3,857 wood-related unigenes including 2,461 contigs (Cg) and 1,396 singletons (Sg) that we named 'EUCAWOOD'. About 65% of the EUCAWOOD sequences produced matches with poplar, grapevine, Arabidopsis and rice protein sequence databases. BlastX searches of the Uniref100 protein database allowed us to allocate gene ontology (GO) and protein family terms to the EUCAWOOD unigenes. This annotation of the EUCAWOOD set revealed key functional categories involved in xylogenesis. For instance, 422 sequences matched various gene families involved in biosynthesis and assembly of primary and secondary cell walls. Interestingly, 141 sequences were annotated as transcription factors, some of them being orthologs of regulators known to be involved in xylogenesis. The EUCAWOOD dataset was also mined for genomic simple sequence repeat markers, yielding a total of 639 putative microsatellites. Finally, a publicly accessible database was created, supporting multiple queries on the EUCAWOOD dataset.
In this work, we have identified a large set of wood-related Eucalyptus unigenes called EUCAWOOD, thus creating a valuable resource for functional genomics studies of wood formation and molecular breeding in this economically important genus. This set of publicly available annotated sequences will be instrumental for candidate gene approaches, custom array development and marker-assisted selection programs aimed at improving and modulating wood properties.
PMCID: PMC2670833  PMID: 19327132
4.  EuroPineDB: a high-coverage web database for maritime pine transcriptome 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:366.
Pinus pinaster is an economically and ecologically important species that is becoming a woody gymnosperm model. Its enormous genome size makes whole-genome sequencing approaches are hard to apply. Therefore, the expressed portion of the genome has to be characterised and the results and annotations have to be stored in dedicated databases.
EuroPineDB is the largest sequence collection available for a single pine species, Pinus pinaster (maritime pine), since it comprises 951 641 raw sequence reads obtained from non-normalised cDNA libraries and high-throughput sequencing from adult (xylem, phloem, roots, stem, needles, cones, strobili) and embryonic (germinated embryos, buds, callus) maritime pine tissues. Using open-source tools, sequences were optimally pre-processed, assembled, and extensively annotated (GO, EC and KEGG terms, descriptions, SNPs, SSRs, ORFs and InterPro codes). As a result, a 10.5× P. pinaster genome was covered and assembled in 55 322 UniGenes. A total of 32 919 (59.5%) of P. pinaster UniGenes were annotated with at least one description, revealing at least 18 466 different genes. The complete database, which is designed to be scalable, maintainable, and expandable, is freely available at: It can be retrieved by gene libraries, pine species, annotations, UniGenes and microarrays (i.e., the sequences are distributed in two-colour microarrays; this is the only conifer database that provides this information) and will be periodically updated. Small assemblies can be viewed using a dedicated visualisation tool that connects them with SNPs. Any sequence or annotation set shown on-screen can be downloaded. Retrieval mechanisms for sequences and gene annotations are provided.
The EuroPineDB with its integrated information can be used to reveal new knowledge, offers an easy-to-use collection of information to directly support experimental work (including microarray hybridisation), and provides deeper knowledge on the maritime pine transcriptome.
PMCID: PMC3152544  PMID: 21762488
5.  Differential Allocation of Constitutive and Induced Chemical Defenses in Pine Tree Juveniles: A Test of the Optimal Defense Theory 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e34006.
Optimal defense theory (ODT) predicts that the within-plant quantitative allocation of defenses is not random, but driven by the potential relative contribution of particular plant tissues to overall fitness. These predictions have been poorly tested on long-lived woody plants. We explored the allocation of constitutive and methyl-jasmonate (MJ) inducible chemical defenses in six half-sib families of Pinus radiata juveniles. Specifically, we studied the quantitative allocation of resin and polyphenolics (the two major secondary chemicals in pine trees) to tissues with contrasting fitness value (stem phloem, stem xylem and needles) across three parts of the plants (basal, middle and apical upper part), using nitrogen concentration as a proxy of tissue value. Concentration of nitrogen in the phloem, xylem and needles was found to be greater higher up the plant. As predicted by the ODT, the same pattern was found for the concentration of non-volatile resin in the stem. However, in leaf tissues the concentrations of both resin and total phenolics were greater towards the base of the plant. Two weeks after MJ application, the concentrations of nitrogen in the phloem, resin in the stem and total phenolics in the needles increased by roughly 25% compared with the control plants, inducibility was similar across all plant parts, and families differed in the inducibility of resin compounds in the stem. In contrast, no significant changes were observed either for phenolics in the stems, or for resin in the needles after MJ application. Concentration of resin in the phloem was double that in the xylem and MJ-inducible, with inducibility being greater towards the base of the stem. In contrast, resin in the xylem was not MJ-inducible and increased in concentration higher up the plant. The pattern of inducibility by MJ-signaling in juvenile P. radiata is tissue, chemical-defense and plant-part specific, and is genetically variable.
PMCID: PMC3314687  PMID: 22470508
6.  Cavitation in dehydrating xylem of Picea abies: energy properties of ultrasonic emissions reflect tracheid dimensions 
Tree physiology  2011;31(1):59-67.
Ultrasonic emission (UE) testing is used to analyse the vulnerability of xylem to embolism, but the number of UEs often does not sufficiently reflect effects on hydraulic conductivity. We monitored the absolute energy of UE signals in dehydrating xylem samples hypothesizing that (i) conduit diameter is correlated with UE energy and (ii) monitoring of UE energy may enhance the utility of this technique for analysis of xylem vulnerability. Split xylem samples were prepared from trunk wood of Picea abies, and four categories of samples, derived from mature (I: earlywood, II: 30–50% latewood, III: >50% latewood) or juvenile wood (IV: earlywood) were used. Ultrasonic emissions during dehydration were registered and anatomical parameters (tracheid lumen area, number per area) were analysed from cross-sections. Attenuation of UE energy was measured on a dehydrating wood beam by repeated lead breaks. Vulnerability to drought-induced embolism was analysed on dehydrating branches by hydraulic, UE number or UE energy measurements. In split samples, the cumulative number of UEs increased linearly with the number of tracheids per cross-section, and UE energy was positively correlated with the mean lumen area. Ultrasonic emission energies of earlywood samples (I and IV), which showed normally distributed tracheid lumen areas, increased during dehydration, whereas samples with latewood (II and III) exhibited a right-skewed distribution of lumina and UE energies. Ultrasonic emission energy was hardly influenced by moisture content until ~40% moisture loss, and decreased exponentially thereafter. Dehydrating branches showed a 50% loss of conductivity at −3.6 MPa in hydraulic measurements and at −3.9 and −3.5 MPa in UE analysis based on cumulative number or energy of signals, respectively. Ultrasonic emission energy emitted by cavitating conduits is determined by the xylem water potential and by the size of element. Energy patterns during dehydration are thus influenced by the vulnerability to cavitation, conduit size distribution as well as attenuation properties. Measurements of UE energy may be used as an alternative to the number of UEs in vulnerability analysis.
PMCID: PMC3199436  PMID: 21389002
earlywood; latewood; Picea abies; signal energy; tracheid dimension; ultrasonic emission; vulnerability to xylem embolism
7.  Characterization of the Pinus massoniana Transcriptional Response to Bursaphelenchus xylophilus Infection Using Suppression Subtractive Hybridization 
Pine wilt disease (PWD) caused by pine wood nematode (PWN), Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, is the most destructive diseases of pine and poses a threat of serious economic losses worldwide. Although several of the mechanisms involved in disease progression have been discovered, the molecular response of Pinus massoniana to PWN infection has not been explored. We constructed four subtractive suppression hybridization cDNA libraries by taking time-course samples from PWN-inoculated Masson pine trees. One-hundred forty-four significantly differentially expressed sequence tags (ESTs) were identified, and 124 high-quality sequences with transcriptional features were selected for gene ontology (GO) and individual gene analyses. There were marked differences in the types of transcripts, as well as in the timing and levels of transcript expression in the pine trees following PWN inoculation. Genes involved in signal transduction, transcription and translation and secondary metabolism were highly expressed after 24 h and 72 h, while stress response genes were highly expressed only after 72 h. Certain transcripts responding to PWN infection were discriminative; pathogenesis and cell wall-related genes were more abundant, while detoxification or redox process-related genes were less abundant. This study provides new insights into the molecular mechanisms that control the biochemical and physiological responses of pine trees to PWN infection, particularly during the initial stage of infection.
PMCID: PMC3709736  PMID: 23759987
pine wilt disease; differentially expressed genes; suppression subtractive hybridization; Pinus massoniana
8.  A functional–structural model for radiata pine (Pinus radiata) focusing on tree architecture and wood quality 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(6):1155-1178.
Backgrounds and Aims
Functional–structural models are interesting tools to relate environmental and management conditions with forest growth. Their three-dimensional images can reveal important characteristics of wood used for industrial products. Like virtual laboratories, they can be used to evaluate relationships among species, sites and management, and to support silvicultural design and decision processes. Our aim was to develop a functional–structural model for radiata pine (Pinus radiata) given its economic importance in many countries.
The plant model uses the L-system language. The structure of the model is based on operational units, which obey particular rules, and execute photosynthesis, respiration and morphogenesis, according to their particular characteristics. Plant allometry is adhered to so that harmonic growth and plant development are achieved. Environmental signals for morphogenesis are used. Dynamic turnover guides the normal evolution of the tree. Monthly steps allow for detailed information of wood characteristics. The model is independent of traditional forest inventory relationships and is conceived as a mechanistic model. For model parameterization, three databases which generated new information relating to P. radiata were analysed and incorporated.
Key Results
Simulations under different and contrasting environmental and management conditions were run and statistically tested. The model was validated against forest inventory data for the same sites and times and against true crown architectural data. The performance of the model for 6-year-old trees was encouraging. Total height, diameter and lengths of growth units were adequately estimated. Branch diameters were slightly overestimated. Wood density values were not satisfactory, but the cyclical pattern and increase of growth rings were reasonably well modelled.
The model was able to reproduce the development and growth of the species based on mechanistic formulations. It may be valuable in assessing stand behaviour under different environmental and management conditions, assisting in decision-making with regard to management, and as a research tool to formulate hypothesis regarding forest tree growth and development.
PMCID: PMC3189843  PMID: 21987452
Functional–structural plant model; wood quality; internodes; knots; wood density; growth ring; photosynthesis; respiration; allometry; plant architecture; carbon allocation; Pinus radiata
9.  A conifer genomics resource of 200,000 spruce (Picea spp.) ESTs and 6,464 high-quality, sequence-finished full-length cDNAs for Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:484.
Members of the pine family (Pinaceae), especially species of spruce (Picea spp.) and pine (Pinus spp.), dominate many of the world's temperate and boreal forests. These conifer forests are of critical importance for global ecosystem stability and biodiversity. They also provide the majority of the world's wood and fiber supply and serve as a renewable resource for other industrial biomaterials. In contrast to angiosperms, functional and comparative genomics research on conifers, or other gymnosperms, is limited by the lack of a relevant reference genome sequence. Sequence-finished full-length (FL)cDNAs and large collections of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) are essential for gene discovery, functional genomics, and for future efforts of conifer genome annotation.
As part of a conifer genomics program to characterize defense against insects and adaptation to local environments, and to discover genes for the production of biomaterials, we developed 20 standard, normalized or full-length enriched cDNA libraries from Sitka spruce (P. sitchensis), white spruce (P. glauca), and interior spruce (P. glauca-engelmannii complex). We sequenced and analyzed 206,875 3'- or 5'-end ESTs from these libraries, and developed a resource of 6,464 high-quality sequence-finished FLcDNAs from Sitka spruce. Clustering and assembly of 147,146 3'-end ESTs resulted in 19,941 contigs and 26,804 singletons, representing 46,745 putative unique transcripts (PUTs). The 6,464 FLcDNAs were all obtained from a single Sitka spruce genotype and represent 5,718 PUTs.
This paper provides detailed annotation and quality assessment of a large EST and FLcDNA resource for spruce. The 6,464 Sitka spruce FLcDNAs represent the third largest sequence-verified FLcDNA resource for any plant species, behind only rice (Oryza sativa) and Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), and the only substantial FLcDNA resource for a gymnosperm. Our emphasis on capturing FLcDNAs and ESTs from cDNA libraries representing herbivore-, wound- or elicitor-treated induced spruce tissues, along with incorporating normalization to capture rare transcripts, resulted in a rich resource for functional genomics and proteomics studies. Sequence comparisons against five plant genomes and the non-redundant GenBank protein database revealed that a substantial number of spruce transcripts have no obvious similarity to known angiosperm gene sequences. Opportunities for future applications of the sequence and clone resources for comparative and functional genomics are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2579922  PMID: 18854048
10.  Detection and Quantification of Airborne Conidia of Fusarium circinatum, the Causal Agent of Pine Pitch Canker, from Two California Sites by Using a Real-Time PCR Approach Combined with a Simple Spore Trapping Method 
Pinus radiata (Monterey pine), a tree native to coastal California and Mexico, is widely planted worldwide for timber production. A major threat to Monterey pine plantations is the fungal disease pine pitch canker, caused by Fusarium circinatum (Hypocreales). We present a novel trapping approach using filter paper in combination with a rapid molecular method to detect the presence of inoculum in the air. The assay is also useful for diagnosing the presence of the pathogen on plants. The test is based on the F. circinatum specific primer pair CIRC1A-CIRC4A, which amplifies a 360-bp DNA fragment in the intergenic spacer region of the nuclear ribosomal operon. Real-time PCR was used to calculate the number of fungal spores present in each reaction mixture by comparing the threshold cycle (Ct) of unknown spore samples to the Ct values of standards with known amounts of F. circinatum spores. The filter paper method allows prolonged and more sensitive spore sampling in the field compared to traditional traps using petri dishes filled with selective medium. A field test at two sites in coastal California infested with pine pitch canker was carried out during the summer and fall of 2002. Spore counts were in the range of ca. 1 × 103 to ca. 7 × 105/m2, with the highest spore counts in the fall, suggesting a seasonal fluctuation.
PMCID: PMC427786  PMID: 15184151
11.  Comparative genomics reveals conservative evolution of the xylem transcriptome in vascular plants 
Wood is a valuable natural resource and a major carbon sink. Wood formation is an important developmental process in vascular plants which played a crucial role in plant evolution. Although genes involved in xylem formation have been investigated, the molecular mechanisms of xylem evolution are not well understood. We use comparative genomics to examine evolution of the xylem transcriptome to gain insights into xylem evolution.
The xylem transcriptome is highly conserved in conifers, but considerably divergent in angiosperms. The functional domains of genes in the xylem transcriptome are moderately to highly conserved in vascular plants, suggesting the existence of a common ancestral xylem transcriptome. Compared to the total transcriptome derived from a range of tissues, the xylem transcriptome is relatively conserved in vascular plants. Of the xylem transcriptome, cell wall genes, ancestral xylem genes, known proteins and transcription factors are relatively more conserved in vascular plants. A total of 527 putative xylem orthologs were identified, which are unevenly distributed across the Arabidopsis chromosomes with eight hot spots observed. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that evolution of the xylem transcriptome has paralleled plant evolution. We also identified 274 conifer-specific xylem unigenes, all of which are of unknown function. These xylem orthologs and conifer-specific unigenes are likely to have played a crucial role in xylem evolution.
Conifers have highly conserved xylem transcriptomes, while angiosperm xylem transcriptomes are relatively diversified. Vascular plants share a common ancestral xylem transcriptome. The xylem transcriptomes of vascular plants are more conserved than the total transcriptomes. Evolution of the xylem transcriptome has largely followed the trend of plant evolution.
PMCID: PMC2907377  PMID: 20565927
12.  Heterologous Array Analysis in Pinaceae: Hybridization of Pinus Taeda cDNA Arrays With cDNA From Needles and Embryogenic Cultures of P. Taeda, P. Sylvestris or Picea Abies 
Hybridization of labelled cDNA from various cell types with high-density arrays of expressed sequence tags is a powerful technique for investigating gene expression. Few conifer cDNA libraries have been sequenced. Because of the high level of sequence conservation between Pinus and Picea we have investigated the use of arrays from one genus for studies of gene expression in the other. The partial cDNAs from 384 identifiable genes expressed in differentiating xylem of Pinus taeda were printed on nylon membranes in randomized replicates. These were hybridized with labelled cDNA from needles or embryogenic cultures of Pinus taeda, P. sylvestris and Picea abies, and with labelled cDNA from leaves of Nicotiana tabacum. The Spearman correlation of gene expression for pairs of conifer species was high for needles (r2 = 0.78 − 0.86), and somewhat lower for embryogenic cultures (r2 = 0.68 − 0.83). The correlation of gene expression for tobacco leaves and needles of each of the three conifer species was lower but sufficiently high (r2 = 0.52 − 0.63) to suggest that many partial gene sequences are conserved in angiosperms and gymnosperms. Heterologous probing was further used to identify tissue-specific gene expression over species boundaries. To evaluate the significance of differences in gene expression, conventional parametric tests were compared with permutation tests after four methods of normalization. Permutation tests after Z-normalization provide the highest degree of discrimination but may enhance the probability of type I errors. It is concluded that arrays of cDNA from loblolly pine are useful for studies of gene expression in other pines or spruces.
PMCID: PMC2448427  PMID: 18629264
13.  Anatomical features that facilitate radial flow across growth rings and from xylem to cambium in Cryptomeria japonica 
Annals of Botany  2009;103(7):1145-1157.
Background and Aims
Although the lateral movement of water and gas in tree stems is an important issue for understanding tree physiology, as well as for the development of wood preservation technologies, little is known about the vascular pathways for radial flow. The aim of the current study was to understand the occurrence and the structure of anatomical features of sugi (Cryptomeria japonica) wood including the tracheid networks, and area fractions of intertracheary pits, tangential walls of ray cells and radial intercellular spaces that may be related to the radial permeability (conductivity) of the xylem.
Wood structure was investigated by light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy of traditional wood anatomical preparations and by a new method of exposed tangential faces of growth-ring boundaries.
Key Results
Radial wall pitting and radial grain in earlywood and tangential wall pitting in latewood provide a direct connection between subsequent tangential layers of tracheids. Bordered pit pairs occur frequently between earlywood and latewood tracheids on both sides of a growth-ring boundary. In the tangential face of the xylem at the interface with the cambium, the area fraction of intertracheary pit membranes is similar to that of rays (2·8 % and 2·9 %, respectively). The intercellular spaces of rays are continuous across growth-ring boundaries. In the samples, the mean cross-sectional area of individual radial intercellular spaces was 1·2 µm2 and their total volume was 0·06 % of that of the xylem and 2·07 % of the volume of rays.
A tracheid network can provide lateral apoplastic transport of substances in the secondary xylem of sugi. The intertracheid pits in growth-ring boundaries can be considered an important pathway, distinct from that of the rays, for transport of water across growth rings and from xylem to cambium.
PMCID: PMC2707907  PMID: 19258338
Cryptomeria japonica; bordered pit; intercellular spaces; lateral transport; tracheid network; water conduction; xylem permeability
14.  A genomic approach to investigate developmental cell death in woody tissues of Populus trees 
Genome Biology  2005;6(4):R34.
A Populus EST dataset was used for in silico transcript profiling of the programmed death of the xylem fibres in woody tissues of Populus stem. The analysis suggests the involvement of two novel extracellular serine proteases, nodulin-like proteins and an AtOST1 (Arabidopsis thaliana OPEN STOMATA 1) homolog in signaling fiber-cell death.
Poplar (Populus sp.) has emerged as the main model system for molecular and genetic studies of forest trees. A Populus expressed sequence tag (EST) database (POPULUSDB) was previously created from 19 cDNA libraries each originating from different Populus tree tissues, and opened to the public in September 2004. We used this dataset for in silico transcript profiling of a particular process in the woody tissues of the Populus stem: the programmed death of xylem fibers.
One EST library in POPULUSDB originates from woody tissues of the Populus stem where xylem fibers undergo cell death. Analysis of EST abundances and library distribution within the POPULUSDB revealed a large number of previously uncharacterized transcripts that were unique in this library and possibly related to the death of xylem fibers. The in silico analysis was complemented by a microarray analysis utilizing a novel Populus cDNA array with a unigene set of 25,000 sequences.
In silico analysis, combined with the microarray analysis, revealed the usefulness of non-normalized EST libraries in elucidating transcriptional regulation of previously uncharacterized physiological processes. The data suggested the involvement of two novel extracellular serine proteases, nodulin-like proteins and an Arabidopsis thaliana OPEN STOMATA 1 (AtOST1) homolog in signaling fiber-cell death, as well as mechanisms responsible for hormonal control, nutrient remobilization, regulation of vacuolar integrity and autolysis of the dying fibers.
PMCID: PMC1088962  PMID: 15833121
15.  Analysis of 4,664 high-quality sequence-finished poplar full-length cDNA clones and their utility for the discovery of genes responding to insect feeding 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:57.
The genus Populus includes poplars, aspens and cottonwoods, which will be collectively referred to as poplars hereafter unless otherwise specified. Poplars are the dominant tree species in many forest ecosystems in the Northern Hemisphere and are of substantial economic value in plantation forestry. Poplar has been established as a model system for genomics studies of growth, development, and adaptation of woody perennial plants including secondary xylem formation, dormancy, adaptation to local environments, and biotic interactions.
As part of the poplar genome sequencing project and the development of genomic resources for poplar, we have generated a full-length (FL)-cDNA collection using the biotinylated CAP trapper method. We constructed four FLcDNA libraries using RNA from xylem, phloem and cambium, and green shoot tips and leaves from the P. trichocarpa Nisqually-1 genotype, as well as insect-attacked leaves of the P. trichocarpa × P. deltoides hybrid. Following careful selection of candidate cDNA clones, we used a combined strategy of paired end reads and primer walking to generate a set of 4,664 high-accuracy, sequence-verified FLcDNAs, which clustered into 3,990 putative unique genes. Mapping FLcDNAs to the poplar genome sequence combined with BLAST comparisons to previously predicted protein coding sequences in the poplar genome identified 39 FLcDNAs that likely localize to gaps in the current genome sequence assembly. Another 173 FLcDNAs mapped to the genome sequence but were not included among the previously predicted genes in the poplar genome. Comparative sequence analysis against Arabidopsis thaliana and other species in the non-redundant database of GenBank revealed that 11.5% of the poplar FLcDNAs display no significant sequence similarity to other plant proteins. By mapping the poplar FLcDNAs against transcriptome data previously obtained with a 15.5 K cDNA microarray, we identified 153 FLcDNA clones for genes that were differentially expressed in poplar leaves attacked by forest tent caterpillars.
This study has generated a high-quality FLcDNA resource for poplar and the third largest FLcDNA collection published to date for any plant species. We successfully used the FLcDNA sequences to reassess gene prediction in the poplar genome sequence, perform comparative sequence annotation, and identify differentially expressed transcripts associated with defense against insects. The FLcDNA sequences will be essential to the ongoing curation and annotation of the poplar genome, in particular for targeting gaps in the current genome assembly and further improvement of gene predictions. The physical FLcDNA clones will serve as useful reagents for functional genomics research in areas such as analysis of gene functions in defense against insects and perennial growth. Sequences from this study have been deposited in NCBI GenBank under the accession numbers EF144175 to EF148838.
PMCID: PMC2270264  PMID: 18230180
16.  Taxonomic Identification of Mediterranean Pines and Their Hybrids Based on the High Resolution Melting (HRM) and trnL Approaches: From Cytoplasmic Inheritance to Timber Tracing 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60945.
Fast and accurate detection of plant species and their hybrids using molecular tools will facilitate the assessment and monitoring of local biodiversity in an era of climate and environmental change. Herein, we evaluate the utility of the plastid trnL marker for species identification applied to Mediterranean pines (Pinus spp.). Our results indicate that trnL is a very sensitive marker for delimiting species biodiversity. Furthermore, High Resolution Melting (HRM) analysis was exploited as a molecular fingerprint for fast and accurate discrimination of Pinus spp. DNA sequence variants. The trnL approach and the HRM analyses were extended to wood samples of two species (Pinus nigra and Pinus sylvestris) with excellent results, congruent to those obtained using leaf tissue. Both analyses demonstrate that hybrids from the P. brutia (maternal parent) × P. halepensis (paternal parent) cross, exhibit the P. halepensis profile, confirming paternal plastid inheritance in Group Halepensis pines. Our study indicates that a single one-step reaction method and DNA marker are sufficient for the identification of Mediterranean pines, their hybrids and the origin of pine wood. Furthermore, our results underline the potential for certain DNA regions to be used as novel biological information markers combined with existing morphological characters and suggest a relatively reliable and open taxonomic system that can link DNA variation to phenotype-based species or hybrid assignment status and direct taxa identification from recalcitrant tissues such as wood samples.
PMCID: PMC3618329  PMID: 23577179
17.  Modelling Environmental Variation in Young's Modulus for Pinus radiata and Implications for Determination of Critical Buckling Height 
Annals of Botany  2006;98(4):765-775.
• Background and Aims Although density-specific stiffness, E/ρ, (where E is Young's modulus and ρ is wood density) is often assumed constant by the elastic similarity model, and in determination of critical buckling height (Hcrit), few studies have tested this assumption within species. Here this assumption is tested for Pinus radiata growing across an environmental gradient, and theory is combined with data to develop a model of Young's modulus.
• Methods Analyses use an extensive series of environmental plots covering the range of climatic and edaphic conditions over which P. radiata is grown in New Zealand. Reduced major axis regression was used to determine scaling exponents between log–log plots of Hcrit vs. groundline diameter (D), and E/ρ vs. D. Path analysis was used to identify significant direct and indirect (through stem slenderness) edaphic and climatic influences on E.
• Key Results Density-specific stiffness exhibited 3-fold variation. As E/ρ scaled positively with D, the exponent of 0·95 between Hcrit and D exceeded the assumed value of 0·67 under constant E/ρ. The final path analysis model included mean air temperature in early autumn (Taut) and slenderness as significant (P < 0·05) positive direct influences on E. Tree leaf area index and Taut were indirectly associated with E through their significant (P < 0·05) positive direct relationship with stem slenderness. Young's modulus was most sensitive to Taut, followed by stem slenderness then leaf area index, and the final model explained 76 % of the variance in E.
• Conclusions The findings suggest that within species E/ρ variation may influence Hcrit and the scaling exponent between D and Hcrit so important in assumptions regarding allometric relationships. The model presented may provide a useful means of determining variation in E, E/ρ and Hcrit across environmental gradients.
PMCID: PMC2806166  PMID: 16868003
Air temperature; environment; Euler buckling; Pinus radiata, safety factor; stem slenderness; taper; Young's modulus
18.  Molecular genetic tools to infer the origin of forest plants and wood 
Most forest tree species exhibit high levels of genetic diversity that can be used to trace the origin of living plants or their products such as timber and processed wood. Recent progress to isolate DNA not only from living tissue but also from wood and wood products offers new opportunities to test the declared origin of material such as seedlings for plantation establishment or timber. However, since most forest tree populations are weakly differentiated, the identification of genetic markers to differentiate among spatially isolated populations is often difficult and time consuming. Two important fields of “forensic” applications are described: Molecular tools are applied to test the declared origin of forest reproductive material used for plantation establishment and of internationally traded timber and wood products. These applications are illustrated taking examples from Germany, where mechanisms have been developed to improve the control of the trade with forest seeds and seedlings, and from the trade with wood of the important Southeast Asian tree family Dipterocarpaceae. Prospects and limitations of the use of molecular genetic methods to conclude on the origin of forest plants, wood, and wood products are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2807931  PMID: 19911178
DNA marker; Genetic fingerprint; Forensic application; Forest reproductive material; Tropical timber; Dipterocarpaceae
19.  Conversion of Milled Pine Wood by Manganese Peroxidase from Phlebia radiata 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2001;67(10):4588-4593.
Purified manganese peroxidase (MnP) from the white-rot basidiomycete Phlebia radiata was found to convert in vitro milled pine wood (MPW) suspended in an aqueous reaction solution containing Tween 20, Mn2+, Mn-chelating organic acid (malonate), and a hydrogen peroxide-generating system (glucose-glucose oxidase). The enzymatic attack resulted in the polymerization of lower-molecular-mass, soluble wood components and in the partial depolymerization of the insoluble bulk of pine wood, as demonstrated by high-performance size exclusion chromatography (HPSEC). The surfactant Tween 80 containing unsaturated fatty acid redsidues promoted the disintegration of bulk MPW. HPSEC showed that the depolymerization yielded preferentially lignocellulose fragments with a predominant molecular mass of ca. 0.5 kDa. MnP from P. radiata (MnP3) turned out to be a stable enzyme remaining active for 2 days even at 37°C with vigorous stirring, and 65 and 35% of the activity applied was retained in Tween 20 and Tween 80 reaction mixtures, respectively. In the course of reactions, major part of the Mn-chelator malonate was decomposed (85 to 87%), resulting in an increase of pH from 4.4 to >6.5. An aromatic nonphenolic lignin structure (β-O-4 dimer), which is normally not attacked by MnP, was oxidizible in the presence of pine wood meal. This finding indicates that certain wood components may promote the degradative activities of MnP in a way similar to that promoted by Tween 80, unsaturated fatty acids, or thiols.
PMCID: PMC93207  PMID: 11571160
20.  Discovering and verifying DNA polymorphisms in a mung bean [V. radiata (L.) R. Wilczek] collection by EcoTILLING and sequencing 
BMC Research Notes  2008;1:28.
Vigna radiata, which is classified in the family Fabaceae, is an important economic crop and a dietary staple in many developing countries. The species radiata can be further subdivided into varieties of which the variety sublobata is currently acknowledged as the putative progenitor of radiata. EcoTILLING was employed to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and small insertions/deletions (INDELS) in a collection of Vigna radiata accessions.
A total of 157 DNA polymorphisms in the collection were produced from ten primer sets when using V. radiata var. sublobata as the reference. The majority of polymorphisms detected were found in putative introns. The banding patterns varied from simple to complex as the number of DNA polymorphisms between two pooled samples increased. Numerous SNPs and INDELS ranging from 4–24 and 1–6, respectively, were detected in all fragments when pooling V. radiata var. sublobata with V. radiata var. radiata. On the other hand, when accessions of V. radiata var. radiata were mixed together and digested with CEL I relatively few SNPs and no INDELS were detected.
EcoTILLING was utilized to identify polymorphisms in a collection of mung bean, which previously showed limited molecular genetic diversity and limited morphological diversity in the flowers and pod descriptors. Overall, EcoTILLING proved to be a powerful genetic analysis tool providing the rapid identification of naturally occurring variation.
PMCID: PMC2518284  PMID: 18710546
21.  The Pinus taeda genome is characterized by diverse and highly diverged repetitive sequences 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:420.
In today's age of genomic discovery, no attempt has been made to comprehensively sequence a gymnosperm genome. The largest genus in the coniferous family Pinaceae is Pinus, whose 110-120 species have extremely large genomes (c. 20-40 Gb, 2N = 24). The size and complexity of these genomes have prompted much speculation as to the feasibility of completing a conifer genome sequence. Conifer genomes are reputed to be highly repetitive, but there is little information available on the nature and identity of repetitive units in gymnosperms. The pines have extensive genetic resources, with approximately 329000 ESTs from eleven species and genetic maps in eight species, including a dense genetic map of the twelve linkage groups in Pinus taeda.
We present here the Sanger sequence and annotation of ten P. taeda BAC clones and Genome Analyzer II whole genome shotgun (WGS) sequences representing 7.5% of the genome. Computational annotation of ten BACs predicts three putative protein-coding genes and at least fifteen likely pseudogenes in nearly one megabase of sequence. We found three conifer-specific LTR retroelements in the BACs, and tentatively identified at least 15 others based on evidence from the distantly related angiosperms. Alignment of WGS sequences to the BACs indicates that 80% of BAC sequences have similar copies (≥ 75% nucleotide identity) elsewhere in the genome, but only 23% have identical copies (99% identity). The three most common repetitive elements in the genome were identified and, when combined, represent less than 5% of the genome.
This study indicates that the majority of repeats in the P. taeda genome are 'novel' and will therefore require additional BAC or genomic sequencing for accurate characterization. The pine genome contains a very large number of diverged and probably defunct repetitive elements. This study also provides new evidence that sequencing a pine genome using a WGS approach is a feasible goal.
PMCID: PMC2996948  PMID: 20609256
22.  Specific and Functional Diversity of Endophytic Bacteria from Pine Wood Nematode Bursaphelenchus Xylophilus with Different Virulence 
Pine wilt disease (PWD) caused by the pine wood nematode (PWN), Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, is one of the most devastating diseases of Pinus spp. The PWN was therefore listed as one of the most dangerous forest pests in China meriting quarantine. Virulence of the PWN is closely linked with the spread of PWD. However, main factors responsible for the virulence of PWNs are still unclear. Recently epiphytic bacteria carried by PWNs have drawn much attention. But little is known about the relationship between endophytic bacteria and virulence of B. xylophilus. In this research, virulence of ten strains of B. xylophilus from different geographical areas in six provinces of China and four pine species were tested with 2-year-old seedlings of Pinus thunbergii. Endophytic bacteria were isolated from PWNs with different virulence to investigate the relationship between the bacteria and PWN virulence. Meanwhile, the carbon metabolism of endophytic bacteria from highly and low virulent B. xylophilus was analyzed using Biolog plates (ECO). The results indicated that ten strains of PWNs showed a wide range of virulence. Simultaneously, endophytic bacteria were isolated from 90% of the B. xylophilus strains. The dominant endophytic bacteria in the nematodes were identified as species of Stenotrophomonas, Achromobacter, Ewingella, Leifsonia, Rhizobium, and Pseudomonas using molecular and biochemical methods. Moreover, S. maltophilia, and A. xylosoxidans subsp. xylosoxidans were the predominant strains. Most of the strains (80%) from P. massoniana contained either S. maltophilia, A. xylosoxidans, or both species. There was a difference between the abilities of the endophytic bacteria to utilize carbon sources. Endophytic bacteria from highly virulent B. xylophilus had a relatively high utilization rate of carbohydrate and carboxylic acids, while bacteria from low virulent B. xylophilus made better use of amino acids. In conclusion, endophytic bacteria widely exist in B. xylophilus from different pines and areas; and B. xylophilus strains with different virulence possessed various endophytic bacteria and diverse carbon metabolism which suggested that the endophytic bacteria species and carbon metabolism might be related with the B. xylophilus virulence.
PMCID: PMC3535532  PMID: 23289015
pine wilt disease; Bursaphelenchus xylophilus; endophytic bacteria; virulence;  Pinus massoniana;  P. thunbergii.
23.  WGDB: Wood Gene Database with search interface 
Bioinformation  2014;10(1):39-42.
Wood quality can be defined in terms of particular end use with the involvement of several traits. Over the last fifteen years researchers have assessed the wood quality traits in forest trees. The wood quality was categorized as: cell wall biochemical traits, fibre properties include the microfibril angle, density and stiffness in loblolly pine [1]. The user friendly and an open-access database has been developed named Wood Gene Database (WGDB) for describing the wood genes along the information of protein and published research articles. It contains 720 wood genes from species namely Pinus, Deodar, fast growing trees namely Poplar, Eucalyptus. WGDB designed to encompass the majority of publicly accessible genes codes for cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin in tree species which are responsive to wood formation and quality. It is an interactive platform for collecting, managing and searching the specific wood genes; it also enables the data mining relate to the genomic information specifically in Arabidopsis thaliana, Populus trichocarpa, Eucalyptus grandis, Pinus taeda, Pinus radiata, Cedrus deodara, Cedrus atlantica. For user convenience, this database is cross linked with public databases namely NCBI, EMBL & Dendrome with the search engine Google for making it more informative and provides bioinformatics tools named BLAST,COBALT.
The database is freely available on
PMCID: PMC3916818  PMID: 24516325
Wood; Cellulose; Pinus; Cedrus; Poplar; Eucalyptus
24.  The Prostate Expression Database (PEDB): status and enhancements in 2000 
Nucleic Acids Research  2000;28(1):212-213.
The Prostate Expression Database (PEDB) is an online resource designed to access and analyze gene expression information derived from the human prostate. PEDB archives >55 000 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from 43 cDNA libraries in a curated relational database that provides detailed library information including tissue source, library construction methods, sequence diversity and sequence abundance. The differential expression of each EST species can be viewed across all libraries using a Virtual Expression Analysis Tool (VEAT), a graphical user interface written in Java for intra- and inter-library species comparisons. Recent enhancements to PEDB include: (i) the functional categorization of annotated EST assemblies using a classification scheme developed at The Institute for Genome Research; (ii) catalogs of expressed genes in specific prostate tissue sources designated as transcriptomes; and (iii) the addition of prostate proteome information derived from two-dimensional electrophoreses and mass spectrometry of prostate cancer cell lines. PEDB may be accessed via the WWW at
PMCID: PMC102457  PMID: 10592228
25.  A White Campion (Silene latifolia) floral expressed sequence tag (EST) library: annotation, EST-SSR characterization, transferability, and utility for comparative mapping 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:243.
Expressed sequence tag (EST) databases represent a valuable resource for the identification of genes in organisms with uncharacterized genomes and for development of molecular markers. One class of markers derived from EST sequences are simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers, also known as EST-SSRs. These are useful in plant genetic and evolutionary studies because they are located in transcribed genes and a putative function can often be inferred from homology searches. Another important feature of EST-SSR markers is their expected high level of transferability to related species that makes them very promising for comparative mapping. In the present study we constructed a normalized EST library from floral tissue of Silene latifolia with the aim to identify expressed genes and to develop polymorphic molecular markers.
We obtained a total of 3662 high quality sequences from a normalized Silene cDNA library. These represent 3105 unigenes, with 73% of unigenes matching genes in other species. We found 255 sequences containing one or more SSR motifs. More than 60% of these SSRs were trinucleotides. A total of 30 microsatellite loci were identified from 106 ESTs having sufficient flanking sequences for primer design. The inheritance of these loci was tested via segregation analyses and their usefulness for linkage mapping was assessed in an interspecific cross. Tests for crossamplification of the EST-SSR loci in other Silene species established their applicability to related species.
The newly characterized genes and gene-derived markers from our Silene EST library represent a valuable genetic resource for future studies on Silene latifolia and related species. The polymorphism and transferability of EST-SSR markers facilitate comparative linkage mapping and analyses of genetic diversity in the genus Silene.
PMCID: PMC2689282  PMID: 19467153

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