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1.  Relationship between hybridization frequency of Brassica juncea × B. napus and distance from pollen source (B. napus) to recipient (B. juncea) under field conditions in Japan 
Breeding Science  2012;62(3):274-281.
Several imported transgenic canola (Brassica napus) seeds have been spilled and have grown along roadsides around import ports. B. juncea, a relative of B. napus with which it has high interspecific crossability, is widely distributed throughout Japan. There is public concern about the harmful impacts of feral B. napus plants on biodiversity, but spontaneous hybridization between spilled B. napus and weedy B. juncea populations is hardly revealed. We evaluated the relationship between the hybridization frequency of B. juncea × B. napus and their planting distance in field experiments using the mutagenic herbicide-tolerant B. napus cv. Bn0861 as a pollen source for hybrid screening. The recipient B. juncea cv. Kikarashina was planted in an experimental field with Bn0861 planted in the center. No hybrids were detected under natural flowering conditions in 2009. However, the flowering period was artificially kept overlapping in 2010, leading to a hybridization frequency of 1.62% in the mixed planting area. The hybridization frequency decreased drastically with distance from the pollen source, and was lower under field conditions than estimated from the high crossability, implying that spontaneous hybridization between spilled B. napus and weedy B. juncea is unlikely in the natural environment.
PMCID: PMC3501945  PMID: 23226088
Brassica napus; B. juncea; spontaneous hybridization; distance; mutagenic herbicide-tolerant canola
2.  Persistent C genome chromosome regions identified by SSR analysis in backcross progenies between Brassica juncea and B. napus 
Breeding Science  2012;62(4):328-333.
Given that feral transgenic canola (Brassica napus) from spilled seeds has been found outside of farmer’s fields and that B. juncea is distributed worldwide, it is possible that introgression to B. juncea from B. napus has occurred. To investigate such introgression, we characterized the persistence of B. napus C genome chromosome (C-chromosome) regions in backcross progenies by B. napus C-chromosome specific simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. We produced backcross progenies from B. juncea and F1 hybrid of B. juncea × B. napus to evaluate persistence of C-chromosome region, and screened 83 markers from a set of reported C-chromosome specific SSR markers. Eighty-five percent of the SSR markers were deleted in the BC1 obtained from B. juncea × F1 hybrid, and this BC1 exhibited a plant type like that of B. juncea. Most markers were deleted in BC2 and BC3 plants, with only two markers persisting in the BC3. These results indicate a small possibility of persistence of C-chromosome regions in our backcross progenies. Knowledge about the persistence of B. napus C-chromosome regions in backcross progenies may contribute to shed light on gene introgression.
PMCID: PMC3528329  PMID: 23341746
Brassica napus; Brassica juncea; introgression; backcross progenies; SSR marker; transgenic canola; C genome chromosome
3.  Possibilities of direct introgression from Brassica napus to B. juncea and indirect introgression from B. napus to related Brassicaceae through B. juncea 
Breeding Science  2014;64(1):74-82.
The impact of genetically modified canola (Brassica napus) on biodiversity has been examined since its initial stage of commercialization. Various research groups have extensively investigated crossability and introgression among species of Brassicaceae. B. rapa and B. juncea are ranked first and second as the recipients of cross-pollination and introgression from B. napus, respectively. Crossability between B. napus and B. rapa has been examined, specifically in terms of introgression from B. napus to B. rapa, which is mainly considered a weed in America and European countries. On the other hand, knowledge on introgression from B. napus to B. juncea is insufficient, although B. juncea is recognized as the main Brassicaceae weed species in Asia. It is therefore essential to gather information regarding the direct introgression of B. napus into B. juncea and indirect introgression of B. napus into other species of Brassicaceae through B. juncea to evaluate the influence of genetically modified canola on biodiversity. We review information on crossability and introgression between B. juncea and other related Brassicaseae in this report.
PMCID: PMC4031112  PMID: 24987292
introgression; genetically modified; Brassica napus; Brassica juncea; Brassicaceae; crossability
4.  Origins of the amphiploid species Brassica napus L. investigated by chloroplast and nuclear molecular markers 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:54.
The amphiploid species Brassica napus (oilseed rape, Canola) is a globally important oil crop yielding food, biofuels and industrial compounds such as lubricants and surfactants. Identification of the likely ancestors of each of the two genomes (designated A and C) found in B. napus would facilitate incorporation of novel alleles from the wider Brassica genepool in oilseed rape crop genetic improvement programmes. Knowledge of the closest extant relatives of the genotypes involved in the initial formation of B. napus would also allow further investigation of the genetic factors required for the formation of a stable amphiploid and permit the more efficient creation of fully fertile re-synthesised B. napus. We have used a combination of chloroplast and nuclear genetic markers to investigate the closest extant relatives of the original maternal progenitors of B. napus. This was based on a comprehensive sampling of the relevant genepools, including 83 accessions of A genome B. rapa L. (both wild and cultivated types), 94 accessions of B. napus and 181 accessions of C genome wild and cultivated B. oleracea L. and related species.
Three chloroplast haplotypes occurred in B. napus. The most prevalent haplotype (found in 79% of accessions) was not present within the C genome accessions but was found at low frequencies in B. rapa. Chloroplast haplotypes characteristic of B. napus were found in a small number of wild and weedy B. rapa populations, and also in two accessions of cultivated B. rapa 'brocoletto'. Whilst introgression of the B. napus chloroplast type in the wild and weedy B. rapa populations has been proposed by other studies, the presence of this haplotype within the two brocoletto accessions is unexplained.
The distribution of chloroplast haplotypes eliminate any of the C genome species as being the maternal ancestor of the majority of the B. napus accessions. The presence of multiple chloroplast haplotypes in B. napus and B. rapa accessions was not correlated with nuclear genetic diversity as determined by AFLPs, indicating that such accessions do not represent recent hybrids. Whilst some chloroplast diversity observed within B. napus can be explained by introgression from inter-specific crosses made during crop improvement programmes, there is evidence that the original hybridisation event resulting in to B. napus occurred on more than one occasion, and involved different maternal genotypes.
PMCID: PMC2923528  PMID: 20350303
5.  Brassicaceous Seed Meals as Soil Amendments to Suppress the Plant-parasitic Nematodes Pratylenchus penetrans and Meloidogyne incognita1 
Journal of Nematology  2009;41(3):221-227.
Brassicaceous seed meals are the residual materials remaining after the extraction of oil from seeds; these seed meals contain glucosinolates that potentially degrade to nematotoxic compounds upon incorporation into soil. This study compared the nematode-suppressive ability of four seed meals obtained from Brassica juncea ‘Pacific Gold’, B. napus ‘Dwarf Essex’ and ‘Sunrise’, and Sinapis alba ‘IdaGold’, against mixed stages of Pratylenchus penetrans and Meloidogyne incognita second-stage juveniles (J2). The brassicaceous seed meals were applied to soil in laboratory assays at rates ranging from 0.5 to 10.0% dry w/w with a nonamended control included. Nematode mortality was assessed after 3 days of exposure and calculated as percentage reduction compared to a nonamended control. Across seed meals, M. incognita J2 were more sensitive to the brassicaceous seed meals compared to mixed stages of P. penetrans. Brassica juncea was the most nematode-suppressive seed meal with rates as low as 0.06% resulting in > 90% suppression of both plant-parasitic nematodes. In general B. napus ‘Sunrise’ was the least nematode-suppressive seed meal. Intermediate were the seed meals of S. alba and B. napus ‘Dwarf Essex’; 90% suppression was achieved at 1.0% and 5.0% S. alba and 0.25% and 2.5% B. napus ‘Dwarf Essex’, for M. incognita and P. penetrans, respectively. For B. juncea, seed meal glucosinolate-degradation products appeared to be responsible for nematode suppression; deactivated seed meal (wetted and heated at 70 °C for 48 hr) did not result in similar P. penetrans suppression compared to active seed meal. Sinapis alba seed meal particle size also played a role in nematode suppression with ground meal resulting in 93% suppression of P. penetrans compared with 37 to 46% suppression by pelletized S. alba seed meal. This study demonstrates that all seed meals are not equally suppressive to nematodes and that care should be taken when selecting a source of brassicaceous seed meal for plant-parasitic nematode management.
PMCID: PMC3380494  PMID: 22736818
amendment; isothiocyanate; glucosinolate; Pratylenchus penetrans; Meloidogyne incognita; brassica; seed meal
6.  Genetic load and transgenic mitigating genes in transgenic Brassica rapa (field mustard) × Brassica napus (oilseed rape) hybrid populations 
BMC Biotechnology  2009;9:93.
One theoretical explanation for the relatively poor performance of Brassica rapa (weed) × Brassica napus (crop) transgenic hybrids suggests that hybridization imparts a negative genetic load. Consequently, in hybrids genetic load could overshadow any benefits of fitness enhancing transgenes and become the limiting factor in transgenic hybrid persistence. Two types of genetic load were analyzed in this study: random/linkage-derived genetic load, and directly incorporated genetic load using a transgenic mitigation (TM) strategy. In order to measure the effects of random genetic load, hybrid productivity (seed yield and biomass) was correlated with crop- and weed-specific AFLP genomic markers. This portion of the study was designed to answer whether or not weed × transgenic crop hybrids possessing more crop genes were less competitive than hybrids containing fewer crop genes. The effects of directly incorporated genetic load (TM) were analyzed through transgene persistence data. TM strategies are proposed to decrease transgene persistence if gene flow and subsequent transgene introgression to a wild host were to occur.
In the absence of interspecific competition, transgenic weed × crop hybrids benefited from having more crop-specific alleles. There was a positive correlation between performance and number of B. napus crop-specific AFLP markers [seed yield vs. marker number (r = 0.54, P = 0.0003) and vegetative dry biomass vs. marker number (r = 0.44, P = 0.005)]. However under interspecific competition with wheat or more weed-like conditions (i.e. representing a situation where hybrid plants emerge as volunteer weeds in subsequent cropping systems), there was a positive correlation between the number of B. rapa weed-specific AFLP markers and seed yield (r = 0.70, P = 0.0001), although no such correlation was detected for vegetative biomass. When genetic load was directly incorporated into the hybrid genome, by inserting a fitness-mitigating dwarfing gene that that is beneficial for crops but deleterious for weeds (a transgene mitigation measure), there was a dramatic decrease in the number of transgenic hybrid progeny persisting in the population.
The effects of genetic load of crop and in some situations, weed alleles might be beneficial under certain environmental conditions. However, when genetic load was directly incorporated into transgenic events, e.g., using a TM construct, the number of transgenic hybrids and persistence in weedy genomic backgrounds was significantly decreased.
PMCID: PMC2780409  PMID: 19878583
7.  Production of high yield short duration Brassica napus by interspecific hybridization between B. oleracea and B. rapa 
Breeding Science  2014;63(5):495-502.
Brassica napus is a leading oilseed crop throughout many parts of the world. It is well adapted to long day photoperiods, however, it does not adapt well to short day subtropical regions. Short duration B. napus plants were resynthesized through ovary culture from interspecific crosses in which B. rapa cultivars were reciprocally crossed with B. oleracea. From five different combinations, 17 hybrid plants were obtained in both directions. By self-pollinating the F1 hybrids or introgressing them with cultivated B. napus, resynthesized (RS) F3 and semi-resynthesized (SRS) F2 generations were produced, respectively. In field trial in Bangladesh, the RS B. napus plants demonstrated variation in days to first flowering ranging from 29 to 73 days; some of which were similar to cultivated short duration B. napus, but not cultivated short duration B. rapa. The RS and SRS B. napus lines produced 2–4.6 and 1.6–3.7 times higher yields, respectively, as compared to cultivated short duration B. napus. Our developed RS lines may be useful for rapeseed breeding not only for subtropical regions, but also for areas such as Canada and Europe where spring rapeseed production can suffer from late spring frosts. Yield and earliness in RS lines are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3949587  PMID: 24757390
Brassica napus; interspecific hybridization; ovary culture; resynthesis; semi-resynthesis; short duration
8.  Construction of an integrated genetic linkage map for the A genome of Brassica napus using SSR markers derived from sequenced BACs in B. rapa 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:594.
The Multinational Brassica rapa Genome Sequencing Project (BrGSP) has developed valuable genomic resources, including BAC libraries, BAC-end sequences, genetic and physical maps, and seed BAC sequences for Brassica rapa. An integrated linkage map between the amphidiploid B. napus and diploid B. rapa will facilitate the rapid transfer of these valuable resources from B. rapa to B. napus (Oilseed rape, Canola).
In this study, we identified over 23,000 simple sequence repeats (SSRs) from 536 sequenced BACs. 890 SSR markers (designated as BrGMS) were developed and used for the construction of an integrated linkage map for the A genome in B. rapa and B. napus. Two hundred and nineteen BrGMS markers were integrated to an existing B. napus linkage map (BnaNZDH). Among these mapped BrGMS markers, 168 were only distributed on the A genome linkage groups (LGs), 18 distrubuted both on the A and C genome LGs, and 33 only distributed on the C genome LGs. Most of the A genome LGs in B. napus were collinear with the homoeologous LGs in B. rapa, although minor inversions or rearrangements occurred on A2 and A9. The mapping of these BAC-specific SSR markers enabled assignment of 161 sequenced B. rapa BACs, as well as the associated BAC contigs to the A genome LGs of B. napus.
The genetic mapping of SSR markers derived from sequenced BACs in B. rapa enabled direct links to be established between the B. napus linkage map and a B. rapa physical map, and thus the assignment of B. rapa BACs and the associated BAC contigs to the B. napus linkage map. This integrated genetic linkage map will facilitate exploitation of the B. rapa annotated genomic resources for gene tagging and map-based cloning in B. napus, and for comparative analysis of the A genome within Brassica species.
PMCID: PMC3091739  PMID: 20969760
9.  Metaxenia in the Vine Cacti Hylocereus polyrhizus and Selenicereus spp. 
Annals of Botany  2004;93(4):469-472.
• Background and Aims Flowers of the vine cacti of the genera Hylocereus and Selenicereus grown in Israel must be hand pollinated due to self‐incompatibility and lack of efficient pollinators. In controlled pollination experiments, it was found that the time elapsed between pollination and ripening depends on the source of the pollen. Therefore a study was made of some effects of the pollen source on fruit development.
• Methods Flowers of Hylocereus polyrhizus were pollinated on the same day with different pollen sources and the stigmas were covered. Fruits were collected 4 d after reaching full colour.
• Key Results Pollinating flowers of Hylocereus polyrhizus with Selenicereus grandiflorus and S. megalanthus pollen delayed ripening by 1 and 3 weeks, respectively, as compared with ripening of fruits pollinated with Hylocereus undatus pollen. Other fruit characteristics affected by the pollen source were fruit size, pulp dry weight and number of seeds per fruit, all being significantly reduced, while peel dry weight was significantly increased by S. megalanthus pollen. Total soluble sugar content was reduced in H. polyrhizus fruits pollinated with S. grandiflorus pollen. No other major traits were affected.
• Conclusions The results are evidence for the existence of metaxenia, i.e. an effect of pollen on maternal tissues, in cacti fruits. This pollen effect on the fruit‐ripening time may be used for extending the marketing period of H. polyrhizus fruits.
PMCID: PMC4242334  PMID: 15023705
Hylocereus polyrhizus; Hylocereus undatus; Selenicereus megalanthus; Selenicereus grandiflorus; metaxenia; xenia; pitaya; ripening; fruit; Cactaceae
10.  The Effects of Seed Size on Hybrids Formed between Oilseed Rape (Brassica napus) and Wild Brown Mustard (B. juncea) 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39705.
Seed size has significant implications in ecology, because of its effects on plant fitness. The hybrid seeds that result from crosses between crops and their wild relatives are often small, and the consequences of this have been poorly investigated. Here we report on plant performance of hybrid and its parental transgenic oilseed rape (Brassica napus) and wild B. juncea, all grown from seeds sorted into three seed-size categories.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Three seed-size categories were sorted by seed diameter for transgenic B. napus, wild B. juncea and their transgenic and non-transgenic hybrids. The seeds were sown in a field at various plant densities. Globally, small-seeded plants had delayed flowering, lower biomass, fewer flowers and seeds, and a lower thousand-seed weight. The seed-size effect varied among plant types but was not affected by plant density. There was no negative effect of seed size in hybrids, but it was correlated with reduced growth for both parents.
Our results imply that the risk of further gene flow would probably not be mitigated by the small size of transgenic hybrid seeds. No fitness cost was detected to be associated with the Bt-transgene in this study.
PMCID: PMC3382164  PMID: 22745814
11.  De Novo Transcriptome of Brassica juncea Seed Coat and Identification of Genes for the Biosynthesis of Flavonoids 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71110.
Brassica juncea, a worldwide cultivated crop plant, produces seeds of different colors. Seed pigmentation is due to the deposition in endothelial cells of proanthocyanidins (PAs), end products from a branch of flavonoid biosynthetic pathway. To elucidate the gene regulatory network of seed pigmentation in B. juncea, transcriptomes in seed coat of a yellow-seeded inbred line and its brown-seeded near- isogenic line were sequenced using the next-generation sequencing platform Illumina/Solexa and de novo assembled. Over 116 million high-quality reads were assembled into 69,605 unigenes, of which about 71.5% (49,758 unigenes) were aligned to Nr protein database with a cut-off E-value of 10−5. RPKM analysis showed that the brown-seeded testa up-regulated 802 unigenes and down-regulated 502 unigenes as compared to the yellow-seeded one. Biological pathway analysis revealed the involvement of forty six unigenes in flavonoid biosynthesis. The unigenes encoding dihydroflavonol reductase (DFR), leucoantho-cyanidin dioxygenase (LDOX) and anthocyanidin reductase (ANR) for late flavonoid biosynthesis were not expressed at all or at a very low level in the yellow-seeded testa, which implied that these genes for PAs biosynthesis be associated with seed color of B. juncea, as confirmed by qRT-PCR analysis of these genes. To our knowledge, it is the first time to sequence the transcriptome of seed coat in Brassica juncea. The unigene sequences obtained in this study will not only lay the foundations for insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying seed pigmentation in B.juncea, but also provide the basis for further genomics research on this species or its allies.
PMCID: PMC3747200  PMID: 23990927
12.  Development and characterization of low α-linolenic acid Brassica oleracea lines bearing a novel mutation in a ‘class a’ FATTY ACID DESATURASE 3 gene 
BMC Genetics  2014;15:94.
Traditional canola (Brassica napus L.; AACC, 2n = 38) cultivars yield seed oil with a relatively high proportion of α-linolenic acid (ALA; C18:3cis∆9,12,15), which is desirable from a health perspective. Unfortunately, due to the instability of this fatty acid, elevated levels also result in oils that exhibit a short shelf life and problems associated with use at high temperatures. As a result, the development of cultivars bearing reduced amounts of ALA in their seeds is becoming a priority. To date, several low ALA B. napus cultivars (~2-3% ALA of total fatty acids) have been developed and molecular analyses have revealed that the low ALA phenotype of lines tested thus far is a result of mutations within two ‘class b’ FATTY ACID DESATURASE 3 (FAD3) genes. Since B. napus possesses six FAD3 genes (two ‘class a’, two ‘class b’ and two ‘class c’) and ALA levels of approximately 2-3% remain in these low ALA lines, it is likely that the mutation of additional FAD3 genes could further decrease the content of this fatty acid.
In this study, we generated low ALA (≤2%) lines of B. oleracea, which is the C genome progenitor species of B. napus, via ethyl methanesulphonate (EMS) mutagenesis. We identified a novel nonsense mutation within the ‘class a’ FAD3 gene (BoFAD3-2) in these lines, which would result in the production of an encoded protein lacking 110 amino acids at its C terminus. When expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, this mutant protein exhibited a drastic decline in its Δ-15 desaturase activity compared to the wild-type (wt) protein. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the expression of the mutant BoFAD3-2 gene was significantly reduced in developing seeds of low ALA lines when compared to expression in wt plants.
Given the additive nature of FAD3 mutations on ALA content and the ease with which B. napus can be re-synthesized from its progenitor species, the mutant isolated here has the potential to be used for the future development of B. napus cultivars exhibiting further reductions in ALA content.
PMCID: PMC4236532  PMID: 25167929
Low linolenic acid; Brassica oleracea; fatty acid desaturase 3 (FAD3); EMS mutagenesis
13.  Host Suitability of Rapeseed for Heterodera schachtii 
Journal of Nematology  2003;35(1):35-38.
Because rapeseed, especially canola, has the potential to be grown in rotation with sugarbeet in the north-central region of the United States, this study was initiated to assess its susceptibility to infection by Heterodera schachtii and to develop a screening method for Brassica germplasm. Existing methodology was adapted for growing Brassica juncea, B. napus, B. rapa, Brassica hybrids, and sugarbeet, Beta vulgaris, in H. schachtii-infested soil to count the females that developed on the roots. Cysts on sugarbeet contained a mean of 130 eggs compared with 240 for B. napus, lowest for the Brassica. Viability of eggs produced was assessed in soil planted with Brassica and sugarbeet and infested with with 0, 100, 1,000, 3,000, and 5,000 eggs to count resulting females and cysts. Number of females (y) was related linearly to infestation rate (x) by the regression equations y = 2.82 + 0.07(x) for the Brassica lines (R² = 0.79; P < 0.001) and y = 0.43 + 0.04(x) for sugarbeet (R² = 0.69; P < 0.007). These data indicated the potential for H. schachtii population increase if the two crops are used in rotation. All of the 111 germplasm lines tested were susceptible. The methodology developed during this research would benefit attempts to develop rapeseed cultivars resistant to H. schachtii.
PMCID: PMC2620597  PMID: 19265972
Beta vulgaris; Brassica hybrid; Brassica juncea; Brassica napus; Brassica rapa; canola; Heterodera schachtii; rapeseed; resistance screening; sugarbeet; sugarbeet cyst nematode; susceptibility
14.  Gene Silencing of BnTT10 Family Genes Causes Retarded Pigmentation and Lignin Reduction in the Seed Coat of Brassica napus 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61247.
Yellow-seed (i.e., yellow seed coat) is one of the most important agronomic traits of Brassica plants, which is correlated with seed oil and meal qualities. Previous studies on the Brassicaceae, including Arabidopsis and Brassica species, proposed that the seed-color trait is correlative to flavonoid and lignin biosynthesis, at the molecular level. In Arabidopsis thaliana, the oxidative polymerization of flavonoid and biosynthesis of lignin has been demonstrated to be catalyzed by laccase 15, a functional enzyme encoded by the AtTT10 gene. In this study, eight Brassica TT10 genes (three from B. napus, three from B. rapa and two from B. oleracea) were isolated and their roles in flavonoid oxidation/polymerization and lignin biosynthesis were investigated. Based on our phylogenetic analysis, these genes could be divided into two groups with obvious structural and functional differentiation. Expression studies showed that Brassica TT10 genes are active in developing seeds, but with differential expression patterns in yellow- and black-seeded near-isogenic lines. For functional analyses, three black-seeded B. napus cultivars were chosen for transgenic studies. Transgenic B. napus plants expressing antisense TT10 constructs exhibited retarded pigmentation in the seed coat. Chemical composition analysis revealed increased levels of soluble proanthocyanidins, and decreased extractable lignin in the seed coats of these transgenic plants compared with that of the controls. These findings indicate a role for the Brassica TT10 genes in proanthocyanidin polymerization and lignin biosynthesis, as well as seed coat pigmentation in B. napus.
PMCID: PMC3632561  PMID: 23613820
15.  Isocitrate Lyase Is Essential for Pathogenicity of the Fungus Leptosphaeria maculans to Canola (Brassica napus) 
Eukaryotic Cell  2002;1(5):719-724.
A pathogenicity gene has been identified in Leptosphaeria maculans, the ascomycetous fungus that causes blackleg disease of canola (Brassica napus). This gene encodes isocitrate lyase, a component of the glyoxylate cycle, and is essential for the successful colonization of B. napus. It was identified by a reverse genetics approach whereby a plasmid conferring hygromycin resistance was inserted randomly into the L. maculans genome. Twelve of 516 transformants tested had reduced pathogenicity on cotyledons of B. juncea and B. napus, and 1 of these 12 had a deletion of the isocitrate lyase gene, as well as an insertion of the hygromycin resistance gene. This mutant was unable to grow on fatty acids, including monolaurate, and the isocitrate lyase transcript was not detected. When the wild-type gene was reintroduced into the mutant, growth on monolaurate was restored and pathogenicity was partially restored. L. maculans isocitrate lyase is produced during infection of B. napus cotyledons, while the plant homologue is not. When 2.5% glucose was added to the inoculum of the isocitrate lyase mutant, lesions of sizes similar to those caused by wild-type isolate M1 developed on B. napus cotyledons. These findings suggest that the glyoxylate pathway is essential for disease development by this plant-pathogenic fungus, as has been shown recently for a fungal and bacterial pathogen of animals and a bacterial pathogen of plants. Involvement of the glyoxylate pathway in pathogenesis in animals and plants presents potential drug targets for control of diseases.
PMCID: PMC126752  PMID: 12455691
16.  MicroRNAs and their putative targets in Brassica napus seed maturation 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:140.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are 20–21 nucleotide RNA molecules that suppress the transcription of target genes and may also inhibit translation. Despite the thousands of miRNAs identified and validated in numerous plant species, only small numbers have been identified from the oilseed crop plant Brassica napus (canola) – especially in seeds.
Using next-generation sequencing technologies, we performed a comprehensive analysis of miRNAs during seed maturation at 9 time points from 10 days after flowering (DAF) to 50 DAF using whole seeds and included separate analyses of radicle, hypocotyl, cotyledon, embryo, endosperm and seed coat tissues at 4 selected time points. We identified more than 500 conserved miRNA or variant unique sequences with >300 sequence reads and also found 10 novel miRNAs. Only 27 of the conserved miRNA sequences had been previously identified in B. napus (miRBase Release 18). More than 180 MIRNA loci were identified/annotated using the B. rapa genome as a surrogate for the B.napus A genome. Numerous miRNAs were expressed in a stage- or tissue-specific manner suggesting that they have specific functions related to the fine tuning of transcript abundance during seed development. miRNA targets in B. napus were predicted and their expression patterns profiled using microarray analyses. Global correlation analysis of the expression patterns of miRNAs and their targets revealed complex miRNA-target gene regulatory networks during seed development. The miR156 family was the most abundant and the majority of the family members were primarily expressed in the embryo.
Large numbers of miRNAs with diverse expression patterns, multiple-targeting and co-targeting of many miRNAs, and complex relationships between expression of miRNAs and targets were identified in this study. Several key miRNA-target expression patterns were identified and new roles of miRNAs in regulating seed development are suggested. miR156, miR159, miR172, miR167, miR158 and miR166 are the major contributors to the network controlling seed development and maturation through their pivotal roles in plant development. miR156 may regulate the developmental transition to germination.
PMCID: PMC3602245  PMID: 23448243
Seed development; Embryo; Next generation sequencing
17.  Identification of candidate genes of QTLs for seed weight in Brassica napus through comparative mapping among Arabidopsis and Brassica species 
BMC Genetics  2012;13:105.
Map-based cloning of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) in polyploidy crop species remains a challenge due to the complexity of their genome structures. QTLs for seed weight in B. napus have been identified, but information on candidate genes for identified QTLs of this important trait is still rare.
In this study, a whole genome genetic linkage map for B. napus was constructed using simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers that covered a genetic distance of 2,126.4 cM with an average distance of 5.36 cM between markers. A procedure was developed to establish colinearity of SSR loci on B. napus with its two progenitor diploid species B. rapa and B. oleracea through extensive bioinformatics analysis. With the aid of B. rapa and B. oleracea genome sequences, the 421 homologous colinear loci deduced from the SSR loci of B. napus were shown to correspond to 398 homologous loci in Arabidopsis thaliana. Through comparative mapping of Arabidopsis and the three Brassica species, 227 homologous genes for seed size/weight were mapped on the B. napus genetic map, establishing the genetic bases for the important agronomic trait in this amphidiploid species. Furthermore, 12 candidate genes underlying 8 QTLs for seed weight were identified, and a gene-specific marker for BnAP2 was developed through molecular cloning using the seed weight/size gene distribution map in B. napus.
Our study showed that it is feasible to identify candidate genes of QTLs using a SSR-based B. napus genetic map through comparative mapping among Arabidopsis and B. napus and its two progenitor species B. rapa and B. oleracea. Identification of candidate genes for seed weight in amphidiploid B. napus will accelerate the process of isolating the mapped QTLs for this important trait, and this approach may be useful for QTL identification of other traits of agronomic significance.
PMCID: PMC3575274  PMID: 23216693
Brassicaceae; Rapeseed; Arabidopsis; Comparative mapping; QTL; Map-based cloning; Seed weight
18.  Gene expression profiling via LongSAGE in a non-model plant species: a case study in seeds of Brassica napus 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:295.
Serial analysis of gene expression (LongSAGE) was applied for gene expression profiling in seeds of oilseed rape (Brassica napus ssp. napus). The usefulness of this technique for detailed expression profiling in a non-model organism was demonstrated for the highly complex, neither fully sequenced nor annotated genome of B. napus by applying a tag-to-gene matching strategy based on Brassica ESTs and the annotated proteome of the closely related model crucifer A. thaliana.
Transcripts from 3,094 genes were detected at two time-points of seed development, 23 days and 35 days after pollination (DAP). Differential expression showed a shift from gene expression involved in diverse developmental processes including cell proliferation and seed coat formation at 23 DAP to more focussed metabolic processes including storage protein accumulation and lipid deposition at 35 DAP. The most abundant transcripts at 23 DAP were coding for diverse protease inhibitor proteins and proteases, including cysteine proteases involved in seed coat formation and a number of lipid transfer proteins involved in embryo pattern formation. At 35 DAP, transcripts encoding napin, cruciferin and oleosin storage proteins were most abundant. Over both time-points, 18.6% of the detected genes were matched by Brassica ESTs identified by LongSAGE tags in antisense orientation. This suggests a strong involvement of antisense transcript expression in regulatory processes during B. napus seed development.
This study underlines the potential of transcript tagging approaches for gene expression profiling in Brassica crop species via EST matching to annotated A. thaliana genes. Limits of tag detection for low-abundance transcripts can today be overcome by ultra-high throughput sequencing approaches, so that tag-based gene expression profiling may soon become the method of choice for global expression profiling in non-model species.
PMCID: PMC2719671  PMID: 19575793
19.  Quantitative trait loci for seed yield and yield-related traits, and their responses to reduced phosphorus supply in Brassica napus 
Annals of Botany  2012;109(4):747-759.
Background and Aims
One of the key targets of breeding programmes in rapeseed (Brassica napus) is to develop high-yield varieties. However, the lack of available phosphorus (P) in soils seriously limits rapeseed production. The aim of this study was to dissect the genetic control of seed yield and yield-related traits in B. napus grown with contrasting P supplies.
Two-year field trials were conducted at one site with normal and low P treatments using a population of 124 recombinant inbred lines derived from a cross between ‘B104-2’ and ‘Eyou Changjia’. Seed yield, seed weight, seed number, pod number, plant height, branch number and P efficiency coefficient (PEC) were investigated. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis was performed by composite interval mapping.
Key Results
The phenotypic values of most of the tested traits were reduced under the low P conditions. In total, 74 putative QTLs were identified, contributing 7·3–25·4 % of the phenotypic variation. Of these QTLs, 16 (21·6 %) were detected in two seasons and in the mean value of two seasons, and eight QTLs for two traits were conserved across P levels. Low-P-specific QTLs were clustered on chromosomes A1, A6 and A8. By comparative mapping between Arabidopsis and B. napus, 161 orthologues of 146 genes involved in Arabidopsis P homeostasis and/or yield-related trait control were associated with 45 QTLs corresponding to 23 chromosomal regions. Four gene-based markers developed from genes involved in Arabidopsis P homeostasis were mapped to QTL intervals.
Different genetic determinants were involved in controlling seed yield and yield-related traits in B. napus under normal and low P conditions. The QTLs detected under reduced P supply may provide useful information for improving the seed yield of B. napus in soils with low P availability in marker-assisted selection.
PMCID: PMC3286287  PMID: 22234558
Brassica napus; phosphorus deficiency; phosphorus use efficiency; recombinant inbred line; seed yield; quantitative trait locus; comparative mapping
20.  Real-time analysis of sulfur-containing volatiles in Brassica plants infested with root-feeding Delia radicum larvae using proton-transfer reaction mass spectrometry 
AoB Plants  2012;2012:pls021.
Proton Transfer Reaction-Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS) analyses revealed that damaged Brassica roots emit sulfur-containing volatiles. B. nigra, B. juncea and B. napus emitted isothiocyanate markers, whereas B. rapa, B. oleracea, and B. carinata emitted methanethiol. These compounds can be used as markers for root damage by insect larvae and other below-ground herbivores.
Background and aims
Plants damaged by herbivores emit a variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Here we used proton-transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) as a sensitive detection method for online analysis of herbivore-induced VOCs. Previously, it was found that Brassica nigra plants emit several sulfur-containing VOCs when attacked by cabbage root fly (Delia radicum) larvae with m/z 60 as a marker for the formation of allylisothiocyanate from the glucosinolate sinigrin. We tested the hypothesis that m/z 60 emission occurs only in plants with sinigrin in their roots. Additionally, we tested the hypothesis that methanethiol, dimethylsulfide and dimethyldisulfide are only emitted after larval infestation.
Proton-transfer reaction mass spectrometry was used to track sulfur-containing VOCs from six different species of Brassica over time. The roots were either artificially damaged or infested with cabbage root fly larvae. Glucosinolate profiles of the roots were analysed using high-pressure liquid chromatography and compared with VOC emissions.
Principal results
Brassica nigra, B. juncea and B. napus primarily emitted m/z 60 directly after artificial damage or root fly infestation. Sulfide and methanethiol emissions from B. nigra and B. juncea also increased after larval damage but much later (6–12 h after damage). Brassica rapa, B. oleracea and B. carinata principally emitted methanethiol after artificial and after larval damage. Brassica oleracea and B. carinata showed some increase in m/z 60 emission after larval damage. Comparison with root glucosinolate profiles revealed that sinigrin cannot be the only precursor for m/z 60.
The principal compound emitted after root damage is determined by the plant species, and not by damage type or root glucosinolate composition. Once determined, the principal compounds may be used as markers for identifying damaged or infested plants. Further analyses of plant enzymes involved in the breakdown of sulfur compounds is needed to reveal the origin of sulfur-containing VOCs from plants.
PMCID: PMC3424660  PMID: 22916330
21.  Synthetic Brassica napus L.: Development and Studies on Morphological Characters, Yield Attributes, and Yield 
The Scientific World Journal  2012;2012:416901.
Brassica napus was synthesized by hybridization between its diploid progenitor species B. rapa and B. oleracea followed by chromosome doubling. Cross with B. rapa as a female parent was only successful. Among three colchicine treatments (0.10, 0.15, and 0.20%), 0.15% gave the highest success (86%) of chromosome doubling in the hybrids (AC; 2n = 19). Synthetic B. napus (AACC, 2n = 38) was identified with bigger petals, fertile pollens and seed setting. Synthetic B. napus had increased growth over parents and exhibited wider ranges with higher coefficients of variations than parents for morphological and yield contributing characters, and yield per plant. Siliqua length as well as beak length in synthetic B. napus was longer than those of the parents. Number of seeds per siliqua, 1000-seed weight and seed yield per plant in synthetic B. napus were higher than those of the parents. Although flowering time in synthetic B. napus was earlier than both parents, however the days to maturity was little higher over early maturing B. rapa parent. The synthesized B. napus has great potential to produce higher seed yield. Further screening and evaluation is needed for selection of desirable genotypes having improved yield contributing characters and higher seed yield.
PMCID: PMC3373182  PMID: 22701356
22.  A rich TILLING resource for studying gene function in Brassica rapa 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:62.
The Brassicaceae family includes the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana as well as a number of agronomically important species such as oilseed crops (in particular Brassica napus, B. juncea and B. rapa) and vegetables (eg. B. rapa and B. oleracea).
Separated by only 10-20 million years, Brassica species and Arabidopsis thaliana are closely related, and it is expected that knowledge obtained relating to Arabidopsis growth and development can be translated into Brassicas for crop improvement. Moreover, certain aspects of plant development are sufficiently different between Brassica and Arabidopsis to warrant studies to be carried out directly in the crop species. However, mutating individual genes in the amphidiploid Brassicas such as B. napus and B. juncea may, on the other hand, not give rise to expected phenotypes as the genomes of these species can contain up to six orthologues per single-copy Arabidopsis gene. In order to elucidate and possibly exploit the function of redundant genes for oilseed rape crop improvement, it may therefore be more efficient to study the effects in one of the diploid Brassica species such as B. rapa. Moreover, the ongoing sequencing of the B. rapa genome makes this species a highly attractive model for Brassica research and genetic resource development.
Seeds from the diploid Brassica A genome species, B. rapa were treated with ethyl methane sulfonate (EMS) to produce a TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions In Genomes) population for reverse genetics studies. We used the B. rapa genotype, R-o-18, which has a similar developmental ontogeny to an oilseed rape crop. Hence this resource is expected to be well suited for studying traits with relevance to yield and quality of oilseed rape. DNA was isolated from a total of 9,216 M2 plants and pooled to form the basis of the TILLING platform. Analysis of six genes revealed a high level of mutations with a density of about one per 60 kb. This analysis also demonstrated that screening a 1 kb amplicon in just one third of the population (3072 M2 plants) will provide an average of 68 mutations and a 97% probability of obtaining a stop-codon mutation resulting in a truncated protein. We furthermore calculated that each plant contains on average ~10,000 mutations and due to the large number of plants, it is predicted that mutations in approximately half of the GC base pairs in the genome exist within this population.
We have developed the first EMS TILLING resource in the diploid Brassica species, B. rapa. The mutation density in this population is ~1 per 60 kb, which makes it the most densely mutated diploid organism for which a TILLING population has been published. This resource is publicly available through the RevGenUK reverse genetics platform
PMCID: PMC2923536  PMID: 20380715
23.  Seed Coat Microsculpturing Changes during Seed Development in Diploid and Amphidiploid Brassica Species 
Annals of Botany  2004;93(5):555-566.
• Background and Aims Seed coat morphology is known to be an excellent character for taxonomic and evolutionary studies, thus understanding its structure and development has been an important goal for biologists. This research aimed to identify the developmental differences of seed coats between amphidiploids and their putative parents in Brassica.
• Methods Scanning electron microscope (SEM) studies were carried out on six species (12 accessions), three amphidiploids and their three diploid parents.
• Key Results Twelve types of basic ornamentation patterns were recognized during the whole developmental process of the seed coat. Six types of seed coat patterns appeared in three accessions of Brassica rapa, five types in B. oleracea, B. nigra and B. carinata, seven types in B. napus, and eight types in B. juncea. There was less difference among seed coat patterns of the three accessions of B. rapa. The reticulate and blister types were two of the most common patterns during the development of seeds in the six species, the blister‐pimple and the pimple‐foveate patterns were characteristic of B. rapa, and the ruminate of B. oleracea and B. nigra. The development of seed coat pattern in amphidiploids varied complicatedly. Some accessions showed intermediate patterns between the two putative parents, while others resembled only one of the two parents.
• Conclusions The variation in the patterns of seed coat development could be used to provide a new and more effective way to analyse the close relationship among amphidiploids and their ancestral parents.
PMCID: PMC4242321  PMID: 15037452
Brassica; amphidiploids; diploids; SEM; seed coat microsculpturing; seed coat development; evolutionary implication
24.  Genome survey sequencing provides clues into glucosinolate biosynthesis and flowering pathway evolution in allotetrapolyploid Brassica juncea 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:107.
Brassica juncea is an economically important vegetable crop in China, oil crop in India, condiment crop in Europe and selected for canola quality recently in Canada and Australia. B. juncea (2n = 36, AABB) is an allotetraploid derived from interspecific hybridization between B. rapa (2n = 20, AA) and B. nigra (2n = 16, BB), followed by spontaneous chromosome doubling.
Comparative genome analysis by genome survey sequence (GSS) of allopolyploid B. juncea with B. rapa was carried out based on high-throughput sequencing approaches. Over 28.35 Gb of GSS data were used for comparative analysis of B. juncea and B. rapa, producing 45.93% reads mapping to the B. rapa genome with a high ratio of single-end reads. Mapping data suggested more structure variation (SV) in the B. juncea genome than in B. rapa. We detected 2,921,310 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with high heterozygosity and 113,368 SVs, including 1-3 bp Indels, between B. juncea and B. rapa. Non-synonymous polymorphisms in glucosinolate biosynthesis genes may account for differences in glucosinolate biosynthesis and glucosinolate components between B. juncea and B. rapa. Furthermore, we identified distinctive vernalization-dependent and photoperiod-dependent flowering pathways coexisting in allopolyploid B. juncea, suggesting contribution of these pathways to adaptation for survival during polyploidization.
Taken together, we proposed that polyploidization has allowed for accelerated evolution of the glucosinolate biosynthesis and flowering pathways in B. juncea that likely permit the phenotypic variation observed in the crop.
PMCID: PMC3925957  PMID: 24502855
Brassica juncea; Comparative genome analysis; Flowering pathway; Genome survey sequencing; Glucosinolate biosynthesis
25.  RNA-seq based SNPs for mapping in Brassica juncea (AABB): synteny analysis between the two constituent genomes A (from B. rapa) and B (from B. nigra) shows highly divergent gene block arrangement and unique block fragmentation patterns 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):396.
Brassica juncea (AABB) is an allotetraploid species containing genomes of B. rapa (AA) and B. nigra (BB). It is a major oilseed crop in South Asia, and grown on approximately 6–7 million hectares of land in India during the winter season under dryland conditions. B. juncea has two well defined gene pools – Indian and east European. Hybrids between the two gene pools are heterotic for yield. A large number of qualitative and quantitative traits need to be introgressed from one gene pool into the other. This study explores the availability of SNPs in RNA-seq generated contigs, and their use for general mapping, fine mapping of selected regions, and comparative arrangement of gene blocks on B. juncea A and B genomes.
RNA isolated from two lines of B. juncea – Varuna (Indian type) and Heera (east European type) – was sequenced using Illumina paired end sequencing technology, and assembled using the Velvet de novo programme. A and B genome specific contigs were identified in two steps. First, by aligning contigs against the B. rapa protein database (available at BRAD), and second by comparing percentage identity at the nucleotide level with B. rapa CDS and B. nigra transcriptome. 135,693 SNPs were recorded in the assembled partial gene models of Varuna and Heera, 85,473 in the A genome and 50,236 in the B. Using KASpar technology, 999 markers were added to an earlier intron polymorphism marker based map of a B. juncea Varuna x Heera DH population. Many new gene blocks were identified in the B genome. A number of SNP markers covered single copy homoeologues of the A and B genomes, and these were used to identify homoeologous blocks between the two genomes. Comparison of the block architecture of A and B genomes revealed extensive differences in gene block associations and block fragmentation patterns.
Sufficient SNP markers are available for general and specific -region fine mapping of crosses between lines of two diverse B. juncea gene pools. Comparative gene block arrangement and block fragmentation patterns between A and B genomes support the hypothesis that the two genomes evolved from independent hexaploidy events.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-15-396) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4045973  PMID: 24886001
Brassica species; RNA-seq; SNP; Linkage map; Comparative genomics; Evolution

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