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1.  Genome-Wide Functional Analysis of Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) in Response to Drought 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80879.
Cotton is one of the most important crops for its natural textile fibers in the world. However, it often suffered from drought stress during its growth and development, resulting in a drastic reduction in cotton productivity. Therefore, study on molecular mechanism of cotton drought-tolerance is very important for increasing cotton production. To investigate molecular mechanism of cotton drought-resistance, we employed RNA-Seq technology to identify differentially expressed genes in the leaves of two different cultivars (drought-resistant cultivar J-13 and drought-sensitive cultivar Lu-6) of cotton. The results indicated that there are about 13.38% to 18.75% of all the unigenes differentially expressed in drought-resistant sample and drought-sensitive control, and the number of differentially expressed genes was increased along with prolonged drought treatment. DEG (differentially expression gene) analysis showed that the normal biophysical profiles of cotton (cultivar J-13) were affected by drought stress, and some cellular metabolic processes (including photosynthesis) were inhibited in cotton under drought conditions. Furthermore, the experimental data revealed that there were significant differences in expression levels of the genes related to abscisic acid signaling, ethylene signaling and jasmonic acid signaling pathways between drought-resistant cultivar J-13 and drought-sensitive cultivar Lu-6, implying that these signaling pathways may participate in cotton response and tolerance to drought stress.
PMCID: PMC3832458  PMID: 24260499
2.  Expression of genes associated with carbohydrate metabolism in cotton stems and roots 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:11.
Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L) is an important crop worldwide that provides fiber for the textile industry. Cotton is a perennial plant that stores starch in stems and roots to provide carbohydrates for growth in subsequent seasons. Domesticated cotton makes these reserves available to developing seeds which impacts seed yield. The goals of these analyses were to identify genes and physiological pathways that establish cotton stems and roots as physiological sinks and investigate the role these pathways play in cotton development during seed set.
Analysis of field-grown cotton plants indicated that starch levels peaked about the time of first anthesis and then declined similar to reports in greenhouse-grown cotton plants. Starch accumulated along the length of the stem and the shape and size of the starch grains from stems were easily distinguished from transient starch. Microarray analyses compared gene expression in tissues containing low levels of starch with tissues rapidly accumulating starch. Statistical analysis of differentially expressed genes indicated increased expression among genes associated with starch synthesis, starch degradation, hexose metabolism, raffinose synthesis and trehalose synthesis. The anticipated changes in these sugars were largely confirmed by measuring soluble sugars in selected tissues.
In domesticated cotton starch stored prior to flowering was available to support seed production. Starch accumulation observed in young field-grown plants was not observed in greenhouse grown plants. A suite of genes associated with starch biosynthesis was identified. The pathway for starch utilization after flowering was associated with an increase in expression of a glucan water dikinase gene as has been implicated in utilization of transient starch. Changes in raffinose levels and levels of expression of genes controlling trehalose and raffinose biosynthesis were also observed in vegetative cotton tissues as plants age.
PMCID: PMC2639587  PMID: 19161628
3.  Polyploidization Altered Gene Functions in Cotton (Gossypium spp.) 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e14351.
Cotton (Gossypium spp.) is an important crop plant that is widely grown to produce both natural textile fibers and cottonseed oil. Cotton fibers, the economically more important product of the cotton plant, are seed trichomes derived from individual cells of the epidermal layer of the seed coat. It has been known for a long time that large numbers of genes determine the development of cotton fiber, and more recently it has been determined that these genes are distributed across At and Dt subgenomes of tetraploid AD cottons. In the present study, the organization and evolution of the fiber development genes were investigated through the construction of an integrated genetic and physical map of fiber development genes whose functions have been verified and confirmed. A total of 535 cotton fiber development genes, including 103 fiber transcription factors, 259 fiber development genes, and 173 SSR-contained fiber ESTs, were analyzed at the subgenome level. A total of 499 fiber related contigs were selected and assembled. Together these contigs covered about 151 Mb in physical length, or about 6.7% of the tetraploid cotton genome. Among the 499 contigs, 397 were anchored onto individual chromosomes. Results from our studies on the distribution patterns of the fiber development genes and transcription factors between the At and Dt subgenomes showed that more transcription factors were from Dt subgenome than At, whereas more fiber development genes were from At subgenome than Dt. Combining our mapping results with previous reports that more fiber QTLs were mapped in Dt subgenome than At subgenome, the results suggested a new functional hypothesis for tetraploid cotton. After the merging of the two diploid Gossypium genomes, the At subgenome has provided most of the genes for fiber development, because it continues to function similar to its fiber producing diploid A genome ancestor. On the other hand, the Dt subgenome, with its non-fiber producing D genome ancestor, provides more transcription factors that regulate the expression of the fiber genes in the At subgenome. This hypothesis would explain previously published mapping results. At the same time, this integrated map of fiber development genes would provide a framework to clone individual full-length fiber genes, to elucidate the physiological mechanisms of the fiber differentiation, elongation, and maturation, and to systematically study the functional network of these genes that interact during the process of fiber development in the tetraploid cottons.
PMCID: PMC3002935  PMID: 21179551
4.  Generation of ESTs for Flowering Gene Discovery and SSR Marker Development in Upland Cotton 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28676.
Upland cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L., is one of the world's most important economic crops. In the absence of the entire genomic sequence, a large number of expressed sequence tag (EST) resources of upland cotton have been generated and used in several studies. However, information about the flower development of this species is rare.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To clarify the molecular mechanism of flower development in upland cotton, 22,915 high-quality ESTs were generated and assembled into 14,373 unique sequences consisting of 4,563 contigs and 9,810 singletons from a normalized and full-length cDNA library constructed from pooled RNA isolated from shoot apexes, squares, and flowers. Comparative analysis indicated that 5,352 unique sequences had no high-degree matches to the cotton public database. Functional annotation showed that several upland cotton homologs with flowering-related genes were identified in our library. The majority of these genes were specifically expressed in flowering-related tissues. Three GhSEP (G. hirsutum L. SEPALLATA) genes determining floral organ development were cloned, and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) revealed that these genes were expressed preferentially in squares or flowers. Furthermore, 670 new putative microsatellites with flanking sequences sufficient for primer design were identified from the 645 unigenes. Twenty-five EST–simple sequence repeats were randomly selected for validation and transferability testing in 17 Gossypium species. Of these, 23 were identified as true-to-type simple sequence repeat loci and were highly transferable among Gossypium species.
A high-quality, normalized, full-length cDNA library with a total of 14,373 unique ESTs was generated to provide sequence information for gene discovery and marker development related to upland cotton flower development. These EST resources form a valuable foundation for gene expression profiling analysis, functional analysis of newly discovered genes, genetic linkage, and quantitative trait loci analysis.
PMCID: PMC3232235  PMID: 22163052
5.  A receptor-like kinase gene (GbRLK) from Gossypium barbadense enhances salinity and drought-stress tolerance in Arabidopsis 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:110.
Cotton (Gossypium spp.) is widely cultivated due to the important economic value of its fiber. However, extreme environmental degradation impedes cotton growth and production. Receptor-like kinase (RLK) proteins play important roles in signal transduction and participate in a diverse range of processes in response to plant hormones and environmental cues. Here, we introduced an RLK gene (GbRLK) from cotton into Arabidopsis and investigated its role in imparting abiotic stress tolerance.
GbRLK transcription was induced by exogenously supplied abscisic acid (ABA), salicylic acid, methyl jasmonate, mock drought conditions and high salinity. We cloned the promoter sequence of this gene via self-formed adaptor PCR. Sequence analysis revealed that the promoter region contains many cis-acting stress-responsive elements such as ABRE, W-Box, MYB-core, W-Box core, TCA-element and others. We constructed a vector containing a 1,890-bp sequence in the 5′ region upstream of the initiation codon of this promoter and transformed it into Arabidopsis thaliana. GUS histochemical staining analysis showed that GbRLK was expressed mainly in leaf veins, petioles and roots of transgenic Arabidopsis, but not in the cotyledons or root hairs. GbRLK promoter activity was induced by ABA, PEG, NaCl and Verticillium dahliae. Transgenic Arabidopsis with constitutive overexpression of GbRLK exhibited a reduced rate of water loss in leaves in vitro, along with improved salinity and drought tolerance and increased sensitivity to ABA compared with non-transgenic Col-0 Arabidopsis. Expression analysis of stress-responsive genes in GbRLK Arabidopsis revealed that there was increased expression of genes involved in the ABA-dependent signaling pathway (AtRD20, AtRD22 and AtRD26) and antioxidant genes (AtCAT1, AtCCS, AtCSD2 and AtCSD1) but not ion transporter genes (AtNHX1, AtSOS1).
GbRLK is involved in the drought and high salinity stresses pathway by activating or participating in the ABA signaling pathway. Overexpression of GbRLK may improve stress tolerance by regulating stress-responsive genes to reduce water loss. GbRLK may be employed in the genetic engineering of novel cotton cultivars in the future. Further studying of GbRLK will help elucidate abiotic stress signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC3750506  PMID: 23915077
Gossypium barbadense; Receptor-like protein kinase; Abscisic acid; Arabidopsis thaliana; Abiotic stress tolerance; Transgene
6.  Enrichment of a set of microRNAs during the cotton fiber development 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:457.
Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) is one of the most important economic crops and provides excellent fibers for textile manufacture. In addition to its industrial and agricultural importance, the fiber cell (plant trichome) also is a biological model system for exploring gene expression and regulation. Small RNAs regulate many aspects of plant growth and development. However, whether small RNAs are involved in regulation of fiber cell development is unknown.
We adopted a deep sequencing approach developed by Solexa (Illumina Inc.) to investigate global expression and complexity of small RNAs during cotton fiber initiation and development. We constructed two small RNA libraries prepared from wild type (WT) and fuzz/lintless (fl Mutant in the WT background) cotton ovules, respectively. Each library was sequenced individually and generated more than 6-7 million short sequences, resulting in a total of over 13 million sequence reads. At least 22 conserved candidate miRNA families including 111 members were identified. Seven families make up the vast majority of expressed miRNAs in developing cotton ovules. In total 120 unique target genes were predicted for most of conserved miRNAs. In addition, we identified 2 cell-type-specific novel miRNA candidates in cotton ovules. Our study has demonstrated significant differences in expression abundance of miRNAs between the wild-type and mutant, and suggests that these differentially expressed miRNAs potentially regulate transcripts distinctly involved in cotton fiber development.
The present study is the first to deep sequence the small RNA population of G. hirsutum ovules where cotton fibers initiate and develop. Millions of unique miRNA sequences ranging from 18~28 nt in length were detected. Our results support the importance of miRNAs in regulating the development of different cell types and indicate that identification of a comprehensive set of miRNAs in cotton fiber cells would facilitate our understanding of the regulatory mechanisms for fiber cell initiation and elongation.
PMCID: PMC2760587  PMID: 19788742
7.  Construction of a plant-transformation-competent BIBAC library and genome sequence analysis of polyploid Upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:208.
Cotton, one of the world’s leading crops, is important to the world’s textile and energy industries, and is a model species for studies of plant polyploidization, cellulose biosynthesis and cell wall biogenesis. Here, we report the construction of a plant-transformation-competent binary bacterial artificial chromosome (BIBAC) library and comparative genome sequence analysis of polyploid Upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) with one of its diploid putative progenitor species, G. raimondii Ulbr.
We constructed the cotton BIBAC library in a vector competent for high-molecular-weight DNA transformation in different plant species through either Agrobacterium or particle bombardment. The library contains 76,800 clones with an average insert size of 135 kb, providing an approximate 99% probability of obtaining at least one positive clone from the library using a single-copy probe. The quality and utility of the library were verified by identifying BIBACs containing genes important for fiber development, fiber cellulose biosynthesis, seed fatty acid metabolism, cotton-nematode interaction, and bacterial blight resistance. In order to gain an insight into the Upland cotton genome and its relationship with G. raimondii, we sequenced nearly 10,000 BIBAC ends (BESs) randomly selected from the library, generating approximately one BES for every 250 kb along the Upland cotton genome. The retroelement Gypsy/DIRS1 family predominates in the Upland cotton genome, accounting for over 77% of all transposable elements. From the BESs, we identified 1,269 simple sequence repeats (SSRs), of which 1,006 were new, thus providing additional markers for cotton genome research. Surprisingly, comparative sequence analysis showed that Upland cotton is much more diverged from G. raimondii at the genomic sequence level than expected. There seems to be no significant difference between the relationships of the Upland cotton D- and A-subgenomes with the G. raimondii genome, even though G. raimondii contains a D genome (D5).
The library represents the first BIBAC library in cotton and related species, thus providing tools useful for integrative physical mapping, large-scale genome sequencing and large-scale functional analysis of the Upland cotton genome. Comparative sequence analysis provides insights into the Upland cotton genome, and a possible mechanism underlying the divergence and evolution of polyploid Upland cotton from its diploid putative progenitor species, G. raimondii.
PMCID: PMC3623804  PMID: 23537070
BIBAC library; Gossypium hirsutum; Gossypium raimondii; BIBAC end sequence (BES); Genome evolution; SSR; Polyploidization and evolution
8.  Genome-wide analysis of small RNAs reveals eight fiber elongation-related and 257 novel microRNAs in elongating cotton fiber cells 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:629.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) and other types of small regulatory RNAs play critical roles in the regulation of gene expression at the post-transcriptional level in plants. Cotton is one of the most economically important crops, but little is known about the roles of miRNAs during cotton fiber elongation.
Here, we combined high-throughput sequencing with computational analysis to identify small RNAs (sRNAs) related to cotton fiber elongation in Gossypium hirsutum L. (G. hirsutum). The sequence analysis confirmed the expression of 79 known miRNA families in elongating fiber cells and identified 257 novel miRNAs, primarily derived from corresponding specific loci in the Gossypium raimondii Ulbr. (G. raimondii) genome. Furthermore, a comparison of the miRNAomes revealed that 46 miRNA families were differentially expressed throughout the elongation period. Importantly, the predicted and experimentally validated targets of eight miRNAs were associated with fiber elongation, with obvious functional relationships with calcium and auxin signal transduction, fatty acid metabolism, anthocyanin synthesis and the xylem tissue differentiation. Moreover, one tasiRNA was also identified, and its target, ARF4, was experimentally validated in vivo.
This study not only facilitated the discovery of 257 novel low-abundance miRNAs in elongating cotton fiber cells but also revealed a potential regulatory network of nine sRNAs important for fiber elongation. The identification and characterization of miRNAs in elongating cotton fiber cells might promote the further study of fiber miRNA regulation mechanisms and provide insight into the importance of miRNAs in cotton.
PMCID: PMC3849097  PMID: 24044642
Cotton; Comparative miRNAome analysis; Fiber cell elongation; High-throughput sequencing; miRNAs; tasiRNA
9.  Gene Expression Changes and Early Events in Cotton Fibre Development 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(7):1391-1401.
Cotton is the dominant source of natural textile fibre and a significant oil crop. Cotton fibres, produced by certain species in the genus Gossypium, are seed trichomes derived from individual cells of the epidermal layer of the seed coat. Cotton fibre development is delineated into four distinct and overlapping developmental stages: fibre initiation, elongation, secondary wall biosynthesis and maturation.
Recent advances in gene expression studies are beginning to provide new insights into a better understanding of early events in cotton fibre development. Fibre cell development is a complex process involving many pathways, including various signal transduction and transcriptional regulation components. Several analyses using expressed sequence tags and microarray have identified transcripts that preferentially accumulate during fibre development. These studies, as well as complementation and overexpression experiments using cotton genes in arabidopsis and tobacco, indicate some similar molecular events between trichome development from the leaf epidermis and fibre development from the ovule epidermis. Specifically, MYB transcription factors regulate leaf trichome development in arabidopsis and may regulate seed trichome development in cotton. In addition, transcript profiling and ovule culture experiments both indicate that several phytohormones and other signalling pathways mediate cotton fibre development. Auxin and gibberellins promote early stages of fibre initiation; ethylene- and brassinosteroid-related genes are up-regulated during the fibre elongation phase; and genes associated with calmodulin and calmodulin-binding proteins are up-regulated in fibre initials. Additional genomic data, mutant and functional analyses, and genome mapping studies promise to reveal the critical factors mediating cotton fibre cell development.
PMCID: PMC2759220  PMID: 17905721
Gossypium; cotton; fibre; polyploid; ovule; phytohormone; auxin; gibberellin; trichome; gene expression
10.  Construction and analysis of cotton (Gossypium arboreum L.) drought-related cDNA library 
BMC Research Notes  2009;2:120.
Drought is one of the most important environmental factors causing water stress for cotton, and it greatly limits cotton growth and crop productivity. So far only a few drought-tolerance genes have been functionally characterized in details, and most efforts on this topic have been made in model organisms. Therefore, to identify more drought-related genes in cotton plays a crucial role in elucidating the underlying mechanisms of drought tolerance as well as utilizing bioengineering techniques to improve the tolerance in this organism.
Here we constructed a subtractive drought-tolerance cDNA library using suppressive subtractive hybridization (SSH). Through differential screening and bioinformatics analysis, we identified 392 positive clones with differential expression, corresponding 265 unique genes. By BLAST search against Genbank, we found that more than half of these EST sequences were homologous to those previously known drought-related genes and that there were 57 sequences with unknown functions, suggesting that many more genes are involved in this complex trait. Moreover, using RT-PCR, we examined the expression of nine representative candidate genes and confirmed that their expression levels were increased at different levels under drought stress.
Our results show that drought tolerance is a complex trait in cotton, which involves the coordination of many genes and multiple metabolism pathways. The candidate EST sequences we identified here would facilitate further functional studies of drought-related genes and provide important insights into the molecular mechanisms of drought-stress tolerance and genetic breeding in cotton.
PMCID: PMC2714314  PMID: 19570239
11.  Duplication, divergence and persistence in the Phytochrome photoreceptor gene family of cottons (Gossypium spp.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:119.
Phytochromes are a family of red/far-red photoreceptors that regulate a number of important developmental traits in cotton (Gossypium spp.), including plant architecture, fiber development, and photoperiodic flowering. Little is known about the composition and evolution of the phytochrome gene family in diploid (G. herbaceum, G. raimondii) or allotetraploid (G. hirsutum, G. barbadense) cotton species. The objective of this study was to obtain a preliminary inventory and molecular-evolutionary characterization of the phytochrome gene family in cotton.
We used comparative sequence resources to design low-degeneracy PCR primers that amplify genomic sequence tags (GSTs) for members of the PHYA, PHYB/D, PHYC and PHYE gene sub-families from A- and D-genome diploid and AD-genome allotetraploid Gossypium species. We identified two paralogous PHYA genes (designated PHYA1 and PHYA2) in diploid cottons, the result of a Malvaceae-specific PHYA gene duplication that occurred approximately 14 million years ago (MYA), before the divergence of the A- and D-genome ancestors. We identified a single gene copy of PHYB, PHYC, and PHYE in diploid cottons. The allotetraploid genomes have largely retained the complete gene complements inherited from both of the diploid genome ancestors, with at least four PHYA genes and two genes encoding PHYB, PHYC and PHYE in the AD-genomes. We did not identify a PHYD gene in any cotton genomes examined.
Detailed sequence analysis suggests that phytochrome genes retained after duplication by segmental duplication and allopolyploidy appear to be evolving independently under a birth-and-death-process with strong purifying selection. Our study provides a preliminary phytochrome gene inventory that is necessary and sufficient for further characterization of the biological functions of each of the cotton phytochrome genes, and for the development of 'candidate gene' markers that are potentially useful for cotton improvement via modern marker-assisted selection strategies.
PMCID: PMC3095280  PMID: 20565911
12.  Induction of cotton ovule culture fibre branching by co-expression of cotton BTL, cotton SIM, and Arabidopsis STI genes 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2013;64(14):4157-4168.
The highly elongated single-celled cotton fibre consists of lint and fuzz, similar to the Arabidopsis trichome. Endoreduplication is an important determinant in Arabidopsis trichome initiation and morphogenesis. Fibre development is also controlled by functional homologues of Arabidopsis trichome patterning genes, although fibre cells do not have a branched shape like trichomes. The identification and characterization of the homologues of 10 key Arabidopsis trichome branching genes in Gossypium arboreum are reported here. Nuclear ploidy of fibres was determined, and gene function in cotton callus and fibre cells was investigated. The results revealed that the nuclear DNA content was constant in fuzz, whereas a limited and reversible change occurred in lint after initiation. Gossypeum arboreum BRANCHLESS TRICHOMES (GaBLT) was not transcribed in fibres. The homologue of STICHEL (STI), which is essential for trichome branching, was a pseudogene in Gossypium. Targeted expression of GaBLT, Arabidopsis STI, and the cytokinesis-repressing GaSIAMESE in G. hirsutum fibre cells cultured in vitro resulted in branching. The findings suggest that the distinctive developmental mechanism of cotton fibres does not depend on endoreduplication. This important component may be a relic function that can be activated in fibre cells.
PMCID: PMC3808306  PMID: 23966592
Branch; endoreduplication; fuzz; Gossypium; lint; nuclear DNA content.
13.  Pollen- and Seed-Mediated Transgene Flow in Commercial Cotton Seed Production Fields 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e14128.
Characterizing the spatial patterns of gene flow from transgenic crops is challenging, making it difficult to design containment strategies for markets that regulate the adventitious presence of transgenes. Insecticidal Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton is planted on millions of hectares annually and is a potential source of transgene flow.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we monitored 15 non-Bt cotton (Gossypium hirsutum, L.) seed production fields (some transgenic for herbicide resistance, some not) for gene flow of the Bt cotton cry1Ac transgene. We investigated seed-mediated gene flow, which yields adventitious Bt cotton plants, and pollen-mediated gene flow, which generates outcrossed seeds. A spatially-explicit statistical analysis was used to quantify the effects of nearby Bt and non-Bt cotton fields at various spatial scales, along with the effects of pollinator abundance and adventitious Bt plants in fields, on pollen-mediated gene flow. Adventitious Bt cotton plants, resulting from seed bags and planting error, comprised over 15% of plants sampled from the edges of three seed production fields. In contrast, pollen-mediated gene flow affected less than 1% of the seed sampled from field edges. Variation in outcrossing was better explained by the area of Bt cotton fields within 750 m of the seed production fields than by the area of Bt cotton within larger or smaller spatial scales. Variation in outcrossing was also positively associated with the abundance of honey bees.
A comparison of statistical methods showed that our spatially-explicit analysis was more powerful for understanding the effects of surrounding fields than customary models based on distance. Given the low rates of pollen-mediated gene flow observed in this study, we conclude that careful planting and screening of seeds could be more important than field spacing for limiting gene flow.
PMCID: PMC2994710  PMID: 21152426
14.  Transcript profiling by microarray and marker analysis of the short cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) fiber mutant Ligon lintless-1 (Li1) 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:403.
Cotton fiber length is very important to the quality of textiles. Understanding the genetics and physiology of cotton fiber elongation can provide valuable tools to the cotton industry by targeting genes or other molecules responsible for fiber elongation. Ligon Lintless-1 (Li1) is a monogenic mutant in Upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) which exhibits an early cessation of fiber elongation resulting in very short fibers (< 6 mm) at maturity. This presents an excellent model system for studying the underlying molecular and cellular processes involved with cotton fiber elongation. Previous reports have characterized Li1 at early cell wall elongation and during later secondary cell wall synthesis, however there has been very limited analysis of the transition period between these developmental time points.
Physical and morphological measurements of the Li1 mutant fibers were conducted, including measurement of the cellulose content during development. Affymetrix microarrays were used to analyze transcript profiles at the critical developmental time points of 3 days post anthesis (DPA), the late elongation stage of 12 DPA and the early secondary cell wall synthesis stage of 16 DPA. The results indicated severe disruption to key hormonal and other pathways related to fiber development, especially pertaining to the transition stage from elongation to secondary cell wall synthesis. Gene Ontology enrichment analysis identified several key pathways at the transition stage that exhibited altered regulation. Genes involved in ethylene biosynthesis and primary cell wall rearrangement were affected, and a primary cell wall-related cellulose synthase was transcriptionally repressed. Linkage mapping using a population of 2,553 F2 individuals identified SSR markers associated with the Li1 genetic locus on chromosome 22. Linkage mapping in combination with utilizing the diploid G. raimondii genome sequences permitted additional analysis of the region containing the Li1 gene.
The early termination of fiber elongation in the Li1 mutant is likely controlled by an early upstream regulatory factor resulting in the altered regulation of hundreds of downstream genes. Several elongation-related genes that exhibited altered expression profiles in the Li1 mutant were identified. Molecular markers closely associated with the Li1 locus were developed. Results presented here will lay the foundation for further investigation of the genetic and molecular mechanisms of fiber elongation.
PMCID: PMC3701525  PMID: 23767687
Cotton; Ligon Lintless-1; Microarray; Cotton fiber elongation; Microsatellite markers
15.  Transcriptome Sequencing and Differential Gene Expression Analysis of Delayed Gland Morphogenesis in Gossypium australe during Seed Germination 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75323.
The genus Gossypium is a globally important crop that is used to produce textiles, oil and protein. However, gossypol, which is found in cultivated cottonseed, is toxic to humans and non-ruminant animals. Efforts have been made to breed improved cultivated cotton with lower gossypol content. The delayed gland morphogenesis trait possessed by some Australian wild cotton species may enable the widespread, direct usage of cottonseed. However, the mechanisms about the delayed gland morphogenesis are still unknown. Here, we sequenced the first Australian wild cotton species (Gossypiumaustrale) and a diploid cotton species (Gossypiumarboreum) using the Illumina Hiseq 2000 RNA-seq platform to help elucidate the mechanisms underlying gossypol synthesis and gland development. Paired-end Illumina short reads were de novo assembled into 226,184, 213,257 and 275,434 transcripts, clustering into 61,048, 47,908 and 72,985 individual clusters with N50 lengths of 1,710 bp, 1544 BP and 1,743 bp, respectively. The clustered Unigenes were searched against three public protein databases (TrEMBL, SwissProt and RefSeq) and the nucleotide and protein sequences of Gossypiumraimondii using BLASTx and BLASTn. A total of 21,987, 17,209 and 25,325 Unigenes were annotated. Of these, 18,766 (85.4%), 14,552 (84.6%) and 21,374 (84.4%) Unigenes could be assigned to GO-term classifications. We identified and analyzed 13,884 differentially expressed Unigenes by clustering and functional enrichment. Terpenoid-related biosynthesis pathways showed differentially regulated expression patterns between the two cotton species. Phylogenetic analysis of the terpene synthases family was also carried out to clarify the classifications of TPSs. RNA-seq data from two distinct cotton species provide comprehensive transcriptome annotation resources and global gene expression profiles during seed germination and gland and gossypol formation. These data may be used to further elucidate various mechanisms and help promote the usage of cottonseed.
PMCID: PMC3779162  PMID: 24073262
16.  A combined functional and structural genomics approach identified an EST-SSR marker with complete linkage to the Ligon lintless-2 genetic locus in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:445.
Cotton fiber length is an important quality attribute to the textile industry and longer fibers can be more efficiently spun into yarns to produce superior fabrics. There is typically a negative correlation between yield and fiber quality traits such as length. An understanding of the regulatory mechanisms controlling fiber length can potentially provide a valuable tool for cotton breeders to improve fiber length while maintaining high yields. The cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) fiber mutation Ligon lintless-2 is controlled by a single dominant gene (Li2) that results in significantly shorter fibers than a wild-type. In a near-isogenic state with a wild-type cotton line, Li2 is a model system with which to study fiber elongation.
Two near-isogenic lines of Ligon lintless-2 (Li2) cotton, one mutant and one wild-type, were developed through five generations of backcrosses (BC5). An F2 population was developed from a cross between the two Li2 near-isogenic lines and used to develop a linkage map of the Li2 locus on chromosome 18. Five simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers were closely mapped around the Li2 locus region with two of the markers flanking the Li2 locus at 0.87 and 0.52 centimorgan. No apparent differences in fiber initiation and early fiber elongation were observed between the mutant ovules and the wild-type ones. Gene expression profiling using microarrays suggested roles of reactive oxygen species (ROS) homeostasis and cytokinin regulation in the Li2 mutant phenotype. Microarray gene expression data led to successful identification of an EST-SSR marker (NAU3991) that displayed complete linkage to the Li2 locus.
In the field of cotton genomics, we report the first successful conversion of gene expression data into an SSR marker that is associated with a genomic region harboring a gene responsible for a fiber trait. The EST-derived SSR marker NAU3991 displayed complete linkage to the Li2 locus on chromosome 18 and resided in a gene with similarity to a putative plectin-related protein. The complete linkage suggests that this expressed sequence may be the Li2 gene.
PMCID: PMC3175229  PMID: 21902843
17.  Cell Suspension Culture-Mediated Incorporation of the Rice Bel Gene into Transgenic Cotton 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39974.
Cotton plants engineered for resistance to the herbicides, glyphosate or glufosinate have made a considerable impact on the production of the crop worldwide. In this work, embryogenic cell cultures derived from Gossypium hirsutum L. cv Coker 312 hypocotyl callus were transformed via Agrobacterium tumefaciens with the rice cytochrome P450 gene, CYP81A6 (bel). In rice, bel has been shown to confer resistance to both bentazon and sulfanylurea herbicides. Transformed cells were selected on a liquid medium supplemented alternately or simultaneously with kanamycin (50mg/L) and bentazon (4.2 µmol). A total of 17 transgenic cotton lines were recovered, based on the initial resistance to bentazon and on PCR detection of the bel transgene. Bel integration into the cotton genome was confirmed by Southern blot and expression of the transgene was verified by RT-PCR. In greenhouse and experimental plot trials, herbicide (bentazon) tolerance of up to 1250mg/L was demonstrated in the transgenic plants. Transgenic lines with a single copy of the bel gene showed normal Mendelian inheritance of the characteristic. Importantly, resistance to bentazon was shown to be stably incorporated in the T1, T2 and T3 generations of self-fertilised descendents and in plants outcrossed to another upland cotton cultivar. Engineering resistance to bentazon in cotton through the heterologous expression of bel opens the possibility of incorporating this trait into elite cultivars, a strategy that would give growers a more flexible alternative to weed management in cotton crops.
PMCID: PMC3388058  PMID: 22768325
18.  A 28 nt long synthetic 5′UTR (synJ) as an enhancer of transgene expression in dicotyledonous plants 
BMC Biotechnology  2012;12:85.
A high level of transgene expression is required, in several applications of transgenic technology. While use of strong promoters has been the main focus in such instances, 5′UTRs have also been shown to enhance transgene expression. Here, we present a 28 nt long synthetic 5′UTR (synJ), which enhances gene expression in tobacco and cotton.
The influence of synJ on transgene expression was studied in callus cultures of cotton and different tissues of transgenic tobacco plants. The study was based on comparing the expression of reporter gene gus and gfp, with and without synJ as its 5′UTR. Mutations in synJ were also analyzed to identify the region important for enhancement. synJ, enhances gene expression by 10 to 50 fold in tobacco and cotton depending upon the tissue studied. This finding is based on the experiments comparing the expression of gus gene, encoding the synJ as 5′UTR under the control of 35S promoter with expression cassettes based on vectors like pBI121 or pRT100. Further, the enhancement was in most cases equivalent to that observed with the viral leader sequences known to enhance translation like Ω and AMV. In case of transformed cotton callus as well as in the roots of tobacco transgenic plants, the up-regulation mediated by synJ was much higher than that observed in the presence of both Ω as well as AMV. The enhancement mediated by synJ was found to be at the post-transcriptional level. The study also demonstrates the importance of a 5′UTR in realizing the full potential of the promoter strength. synJ has been utilized to design four cloning vectors: pGEN01, pBGEN02, pBGEN02-hpt and pBGEN02-ALSdm each of which can be used for cloning the desired transgene and achieving high level of expression in the resulting transgenic plants.
synJ, a synthetic 5′UTR, can enhance transgene expression under a strong promoter like 35S as well as under a weak promoter like nos in dicotyledonous plants. synJ can be incorporated as the 5′UTR of transgenes, especially in cases where high levels of expression is required. A set of vectors has also been designed to facilitate this process.
PMCID: PMC3536603  PMID: 23140609
Synthetic 5′UTR; Transgene expression; 35S promoter; Ω leader; AMV leader
19.  Crop Rotation and Herbicide Effects on Population Densities of Plant-Parasitic Nematodes 
Journal of Nematology  1975;7(2):158-168.
The influence of herbicides and mono- and multicropping sequences on population densities of nematode species common in corn, cotton, peanut, and soybean fields in the southeastern United States was studied for 4 years. Each experimental plot was sampled at monthly intervals. The application of herbicides did not significantly affect nematode population densities. Meloidogyne incognita and Trichodorus christiei increased rapidly on corn and cotton, but were suppressed by peanut and soybean. More Pratylenchus spp. occurred on corn and soybean than on cotton and peanut. Criconemoides ornatus increased rapidly on corn and peanut, but was suppressed by cotton and soybean. Helicotylenchus dihystera was more numerous on cotton and soybean than on corn and peanut. Numbers of Xiphinema americanum remained low on all crops. The peanut sequence was the most effective monocrop system for suppressing most nematode species. Multi-crop systems, corn-peanut-cotton-soybean and cotton-soybean-corn-peanut, were equally effective in suppressing nematode densities.
PMCID: PMC2620095  PMID: 19308149
Zea mays; Gossypium hirsutum; Arachis hypogaea; Glycine max
20.  Geminivirus-Mediated Delivery of Florigen Promotes Determinate Growth in Aerial Organs and Uncouples Flowering from Photoperiod in Cotton 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36746.
Plant architecture and the timing and distribution of reproductive structures are fundamental agronomic traits shaped by patterns of determinate and indeterminate growth. Florigen, encoded by FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) in Arabidopsis and SINGLE FLOWER TRUSS (SFT) in tomato, acts as a general growth hormone, advancing determinate growth. Domestication of upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) converted it from a lanky photoperiodic perennial to a highly inbred, compact day-neutral plant that is managed as an annual row-crop. This dramatic change in plant architecture provides a unique opportunity to analyze the transition from perennial to annual growth.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To explore these architectural changes, we addressed the role of day-length upon flowering in an ancestral, perennial accession and in a domesticated variety of cotton. Using a disarmed Cotton leaf crumple virus (CLCrV) as a transient expression system, we delivered FT to both cotton accessions. Ectopic expression of FT in ancestral cotton mimicked the effects of day-length, promoting photoperiod-independent flowering, precocious determinate architecture, and lanceolate leaf shape. Domesticated cotton infected with FT demonstrated more synchronized fruiting and enhanced “annualization”. Transient expression of FT also facilitated simple crosses between wild photoperiodic and domesticated day-neutral accessions, effectively demonstrating a mechanism to increase genetic diversity among cultivated lines of cotton. Virus was not detected in the F1 progeny, indicating that crosses made by this approach do not harbor recombinant DNA molecules.
These findings extend our understanding of FT as a general growth hormone that regulates shoot architecture by advancing organ-specific and age-related determinate growth. Judicious manipulation of FT could benefit cotton architecture to improve crop management.
PMCID: PMC3352926  PMID: 22615805
21.  Genome Physical Mapping of Polyploids: A BIBAC Physical Map of Cultivated Tetraploid Cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33644.
Polyploids account for approximately 70% of flowering plants, including many field, horticulture and forage crops. Cottons are a world-leading fiber and important oilseed crop, and a model species for study of plant polyploidization, cellulose biosynthesis and cell wall biogenesis. This study has addressed the concerns of physical mapping of polyploids with BACs and/or BIBACs by constructing a physical map of the tetraploid cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L. The physical map consists of 3,450 BIBAC contigs with an N50 contig size of 863 kb, collectively spanning 2,244 Mb. We sorted the map contigs according to their origin of subgenome, showing that we assembled physical maps for the A- and D-subgenomes of the tetraploid cotton, separately. We also identified the BIBACs in the map minimal tilling path, which consists of 15,277 clones. Moreover, we have marked the physical map with nearly 10,000 BIBAC ends (BESs), making one BES in approximately 250 kb. This physical map provides a line of evidence and a strategy for physical mapping of polyploids, and a platform for advanced research of the tetraploid cotton genome, particularly fine mapping and cloning the cotton agronomic genes and QTLs, and sequencing and assembling the cotton genome using the modern next-generation sequencing technology.
PMCID: PMC3306275  PMID: 22438974
22.  Small RNA and degradome sequencing reveal complex miRNA regulation during cotton somatic embryogenesis 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2013;64(6):1521-1536.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous non-coding ~21 nucleotide RNAs that regulate gene expression at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels in plants and animals. They play an important role in development, abiotic stress, and pathogen responses. miRNAs with their targets have been widely studied in model plants, but limited knowledge is available on the small RNA population of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum)—an important economic crop, and global identification of related targets through degradome sequencing has not been developed previously. In this study, small RNAs and their targets were identified during cotton somatic embryogenesis (SE) through high-throughput small RNA and degradome sequencing, comparing seedling hypocotyl and embryogenic callus (EC) of G. hirsutum YZ1. A total of 36 known miRNA families were found to be differentially expressed, of which 19 miRNA families were represented by 29 precursors. Twenty-five novel miRNAs were identified. A total of 234 transcripts in EC and 322 transcripts in control (CK) were found to be the targets of 23 and 30 known miRNA families, respectively, and 16 transcripts were targeted by eight novel miRNAs. Interestingly, four trans-acting small interfering RNAs (tas3-siRNAs) were also found in degradome libraries, three of which perfectly matched their precursors. Several targets were further validated via RNA ligase-mediated rapid amplification of 5’ cDNA ends (RLM 5’-RACE). The profiling of the miRNAs and their target genes provides new information on the miRNAs network during cotton SE.
PMCID: PMC3617824  PMID: 23382553
Degradome; Gossypium hirsutum; high throughput small RNA sequencing; miRNAs; miRNA target genes; somatic embryogenesis; tas3-siRNA.
23.  Analyses of the sucrose synthase gene family in cotton: structure, phylogeny and expression patterns 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:85.
In plants, sucrose synthase (Sus) is widely considered as a key enzyme involved in sucrose metabolism. Several paralogous genes encoding different isozymes of Sus have been identified and characterized in multiple plant genomes, while limited information of Sus genes is available to date for cotton.
Here, we report the molecular cloning, structural organization, phylogenetic evolution and expression profiles of seven Sus genes (GaSus1 to 7) identified from diploid fiber cotton (Gossypium arboreum). Comparisons between cDNA and genomic sequences revealed that the cotton GaSus genes were interrupted by multiple introns. Comparative screening of introns in homologous genes demonstrated that the number and position of Sus introns are highly conserved among Sus genes in cotton and other more distantly related plant species. Phylogenetic analysis showed that GaSus1, GaSus2, GaSus3, GaSus4 and GaSus5 could be clustered together into a dicot Sus group, while GaSus6 and GaSus7 were separated evenly into other two groups, with members from both dicot and monocot species. Expression profiles analyses of the seven Sus genes indicated that except GaSus2, of which the transcripts was undetectable in all tissues examined, and GaSus7, which was only expressed in stem and petal, the other five paralogues were differentially expressed in a wide ranges of tissues, and showed development-dependent expression profiles in cotton fiber cells.
This is a comprehensive study of the Sus gene family in cotton plant. The results presented in this work provide new insights into the evolutionary conservation and sub-functional divergence of the cotton Sus gene family in response to cotton fiber growth and development.
PMCID: PMC3505178  PMID: 22694895
Sucrose synthase; Gene structure; Phylogeny; Expression pattern; Cotton
24.  Cotton Fiber Cell Walls of Gossypium hirsutum and Gossypium barbadense Have Differences Related to Loosely-Bound Xyloglucan 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56315.
Cotton fiber is an important natural textile fiber due to its exceptional length and thickness. These properties arise largely through primary and secondary cell wall synthesis. The cotton fiber of commerce is a cellulosic secondary wall surrounded by a thin cuticulated primary wall, but there were only sparse details available about the polysaccharides in the fiber cell wall of any cotton species. In addition, Gossypium hirsutum (Gh) fiber was known to have an adhesive cotton fiber middle lamella (CFML) that joins adjacent fibers into tissue-like bundles, but it was unknown whether a CFML existed in other commercially important cotton fibers. We compared the cell wall chemistry over the time course of fiber development in Gh and Gossypium barbadense (Gb), the two most important commercial cotton species, when plants were grown in parallel in a highly controlled greenhouse. Under these growing conditions, the rate of early fiber elongation and the time of onset of secondary wall deposition were similar in fibers of the two species, but as expected the Gb fiber had a prolonged elongation period and developed higher quality compared to Gh fiber. The Gb fibers had a CFML, but it was not directly required for fiber elongation because Gb fiber continued to elongate rapidly after CFML hydrolysis. For both species, fiber at seven ages was extracted with four increasingly strong solvents, followed by analysis of cell wall matrix polysaccharide epitopes using antibody-based Glycome Profiling. Together with immunohistochemistry of fiber cross-sections, the data show that the CFML of Gb fiber contained lower levels of xyloglucan compared to Gh fiber. Xyloglucan endo-hydrolase activity was also higher in Gb fiber. In general, the data provide a rich picture of the similarities and differences in the cell wall structure of the two most important commercial cotton species.
PMCID: PMC3572956  PMID: 23457548
25.  Toward allotetraploid cotton genome assembly: integration of a high-density molecular genetic linkage map with DNA sequence information 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:539.
Cotton is the world’s most important natural textile fiber and a significant oilseed crop. Decoding cotton genomes will provide the ultimate reference and resource for research and utilization of the species. Integration of high-density genetic maps with genomic sequence information will largely accelerate the process of whole-genome assembly in cotton.
In this paper, we update a high-density interspecific genetic linkage map of allotetraploid cultivated cotton. An additional 1,167 marker loci have been added to our previously published map of 2,247 loci. Three new marker types, InDel (insertion-deletion) and SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) developed from gene information, and REMAP (retrotransposon-microsatellite amplified polymorphism), were used to increase map density. The updated map consists of 3,414 loci in 26 linkage groups covering 3,667.62 cM with an average inter-locus distance of 1.08 cM. Furthermore, genome-wide sequence analysis was finished using 3,324 informative sequence-based markers and publicly-available Gossypium DNA sequence information. A total of 413,113 EST and 195 BAC sequences were physically anchored and clustered by 3,324 sequence-based markers. Of these, 14,243 ESTs and 188 BACs from different species of Gossypium were clustered and specifically anchored to the high-density genetic map. A total of 2,748 candidate unigenes from 2,111 ESTs clusters and 63 BACs were mined for functional annotation and classification. The 337 ESTs/genes related to fiber quality traits were integrated with 132 previously reported cotton fiber quality quantitative trait loci, which demonstrated the important roles in fiber quality of these genes. Higher-level sequence conservation between different cotton species and between the A- and D-subgenomes in tetraploid cotton was found, indicating a common evolutionary origin for orthologous and paralogous loci in Gossypium.
This study will serve as a valuable genomic resource for tetraploid cotton genome assembly, for cloning genes related to superior agronomic traits, and for further comparative genomic analyses in Gossypium.
PMCID: PMC3557173  PMID: 23046547

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