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1.  Molecular analysis of phosphomannomutase (PMM) genes reveals a unique PMM duplication event in diverse Triticeae species and the main PMM isozymes in bread wheat tissues 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:214.
Phosphomannomutase (PMM) is an essential enzyme in eukaryotes. However, little is known about PMM gene and function in crop plants. Here, we report molecular evolutionary and biochemical analysis of PMM genes in bread wheat and related Triticeae species.
Two sets of homoeologous PMM genes (TaPMM-1 and 2) were found in bread wheat, and two corresponding PMM genes were identified in the diploid progenitors of bread wheat and many other diploid Triticeae species. The duplication event yielding PMM-1 and 2 occurred before the radiation of diploid Triticeae genomes. The PMM gene family in wheat and relatives may evolve largely under purifying selection. Among the six TaPMM genes, the transcript levels of PMM-1 members were comparatively high and their recombinant proteins were all enzymatically active. However, PMM-2 homoeologs exhibited lower transcript levels, two of which were also inactive. TaPMM-A1, B1 and D1 were probably the main active isozymes in bread wheat tissues. The three isozymes differed from their counterparts in barley and Brachypodium distachyon in being more tolerant to elevated test temperatures.
Our work identified the genes encoding PMM isozymes in bread wheat and relatives, uncovered a unique PMM duplication event in diverse Triticeae species, and revealed the main active PMM isozymes in bread wheat tissues. The knowledge obtained here improves the understanding of PMM evolution in eukaryotic organisms, and may facilitate further investigations of PMM function in the temperature adaptability of bread wheat.
PMCID: PMC3017832  PMID: 20920368
2.  Physical mapping of a large plant genome using global high-information-content-fingerprinting: the distal region of the wheat ancestor Aegilops tauschii chromosome 3DS 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:382.
Physical maps employing libraries of bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones are essential for comparative genomics and sequencing of large and repetitive genomes such as those of the hexaploid bread wheat. The diploid ancestor of the D-genome of hexaploid wheat (Triticum aestivum), Aegilops tauschii, is used as a resource for wheat genomics. The barley diploid genome also provides a good model for the Triticeae and T. aestivum since it is only slightly larger than the ancestor wheat D genome. Gene co-linearity between the grasses can be exploited by extrapolating from rice and Brachypodium distachyon to Ae. tauschii or barley, and then to wheat.
We report the use of Ae. tauschii for the construction of the physical map of a large distal region of chromosome arm 3DS. A physical map of 25.4 Mb was constructed by anchoring BAC clones of Ae. tauschii with 85 EST on the Ae. tauschii and barley genetic maps. The 24 contigs were aligned to the rice and B. distachyon genomic sequences and a high density SNP genetic map of barley. As expected, the mapped region is highly collinear to the orthologous chromosome 1 in rice, chromosome 2 in B. distachyon and chromosome 3H in barley. However, the chromosome scale of the comparative maps presented provides new insights into grass genome organization. The disruptions of the Ae. tauschii-rice and Ae. tauschii-Brachypodium syntenies were identical. We observed chromosomal rearrangements between Ae. tauschii and barley. The comparison of Ae. tauschii physical and genetic maps showed that the recombination rate across the region dropped from 2.19 cM/Mb in the distal region to 0.09 cM/Mb in the proximal region. The size of the gaps between contigs was evaluated by comparing the recombination rate along the map with the local recombination rates calculated on single contigs.
The physical map reported here is the first physical map using fingerprinting of a complete Triticeae genome. This study demonstrates that global fingerprinting of the large plant genomes is a viable strategy for generating physical maps. Physical maps allow the description of the co-linearity between wheat and grass genomes and provide a powerful tool for positional cloning of new genes.
PMCID: PMC2900270  PMID: 20553621
3.  Development of a wheat single gene FISH map for analyzing homoeologous relationship and chromosomal rearrangements within the Triticeae 
Key message
A cytogenetic map of wheat was constructed using FISH with cDNA probes. FISH markers detected homoeology and chromosomal rearrangements of wild relatives, an important source of genes for wheat improvement.
To transfer agronomically important genes from wild relatives to bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L., 2n = 6x = 42, AABBDD) by induced homoeologous recombination, it is important to know the chromosomal relationships of the species involved. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) can be used to study chromosome structure. The genomes of allohexaploid bread wheat and other species from the Triticeae tribe are colinear to some extent, i.e., composed of homoeoloci at similar positions along the chromosomes, and with genic regions being highly conserved. To develop cytogenetic markers specific for genic regions of wheat homoeologs, we selected more than 60 full-length wheat cDNAs using BLAST against mapped expressed sequence tags and used them as FISH probes. Most probes produced signals on all three homoeologous chromosomes at the expected positions. We developed a wheat physical map with several cDNA markers located on each of the 14 homoeologous chromosome arms. The FISH markers confirmed chromosome rearrangements within wheat genomes and were successfully used to study chromosome structure and homoeology in wild Triticeae species. FISH analysis detected 1U-6U chromosome translocation in the genome of Aegilops umbellulata, showed colinearity between chromosome A of Ae. caudata and group-1 wheat chromosomes, and between chromosome arm 7S#3L of Thinopyrum intermedium and the long arm of the group-7 wheat chromosomes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00122-013-2253-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3931928  PMID: 24408375
4.  Relationship between homoeologous regulatory and structural genes in allopolyploid genome – A case study in bread wheat 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:88.
The patterns of expression of homoeologous genes in hexaploid bread wheat have been intensively studied in recent years, but the interaction between structural genes and their homoeologous regulatory genes remained unclear. The question was as to whether, in an allopolyploid, this interaction is genome-specific, or whether regulation cuts across genomes. The aim of the present study was cloning, sequence analysis, mapping and expression analysis of F3H (flavanone 3-hydroxylase – one of the key enzymes in the plant flavonoid biosynthesis pathway) homoeologues in bread wheat and study of the interaction between F3H and their regulatory genes homoeologues – Rc (red coleoptiles).
PCR-based cloning of F3H sequences from hexaploid bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), a wild tetraploid wheat (T. timopheevii) and their putative diploid progenitors was employed to localize, physically map and analyse the expression of four distinct bread wheat F3H copies. Three of these form a homoeologous set, mapping to the chromosomes of homoeologous group 2; they are highly similar to one another at the structural and functional levels. However, the fourth copy is less homologous, and was not expressed in anthocyanin pigmented coleoptiles. The presence of dominant alleles at the Rc-1 homoeologous loci, which are responsible for anthocyanin pigmentation in the coleoptile, was correlated with F3H expression in pigmented coleoptiles. Each dominant Rc-1 allele affected the expression of the three F3H homoeologues equally, but the level of F3H expression was dependent on the identity of the dominant Rc-1 allele present. Thus, the homoeologous Rc-1 genes contribute more to functional divergence than do the structural F3H genes.
The lack of any genome-specific relationship between F3H-1 and Rc-1 implies an integrative evolutionary process among the three diploid genomes, following the formation of hexaploid wheat. Regulatory genes probably contribute more to the functional divergence between the wheat genomes than do the structural genes themselves. This is in line with the growing consensus which suggests that although heritable morphological traits are determined by the expression of structural genes, it is the regulatory genes which are the prime determinants of allelic identity.
PMCID: PMC2538534  PMID: 18700978
5.  Unlocking Triticeae genomics to sustainably feed the future 
Plant and Cell Physiology  2013;54(12):1931-1950.
The tribe Triticeae includes the major crops wheat and barley. Within the last few years, the whole genomes of four Triticeae species—barley, wheat, Tausch’s goatgrass (Aegilops tauschii) and wild einkorn wheat (Triticum urartu)—have been sequenced. The availability of these genomic resources for Triticeae plants and innovative analytical applications using next-generation sequencing technologies are helping to revitalize our approaches in genetic work and to accelerate improvement of the Triticeae crops. Comparative genomics and integration of genomic resources from Triticeae plants and the model grass Brachypodium distachyon are aiding the discovery of new genes and functional analyses of genes in Triticeae crops. Innovative approaches and tools such as analysis of next-generation populations, evolutionary genomics and systems approaches with mathematical modeling are new strategies that will help us discover alleles for adaptive traits to future agronomic environments. In this review, we provide an update on genomic tools for use with Triticeae plants and Brachypodium and describe emerging approaches toward crop improvements in Triticeae.
PMCID: PMC3856857  PMID: 24204022
Barley; Brachypodium; Crop improvement; Next-generation sequencing; Triticeae; Wheat
6.  Intraspecific sequence comparisons reveal similar rates of non-collinear gene insertion in the B and D genomes of bread wheat 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:155.
Polyploidization is considered one of the main mechanisms of plant genome evolution. The presence of multiple copies of the same gene reduces selection pressure and permits sub-functionalization and neo-functionalization leading to plant diversification, adaptation and speciation. In bread wheat, polyploidization and the prevalence of transposable elements resulted in massive gene duplication and movement. As a result, the number of genes which are non-collinear to genomes of related species seems markedly increased in wheat.
We used new-generation sequencing (NGS) to generate sequence of a Mb-sized region from wheat chromosome arm 3DS. Sequence assembly of 24 BAC clones resulted in two scaffolds of 1,264,820 and 333,768 bases. The sequence was annotated and compared to the homoeologous region on wheat chromosome 3B and orthologous loci of Brachypodium distachyon and rice. Among 39 coding sequences in the 3DS scaffolds, 32 have a homoeolog on chromosome 3B. In contrast, only fifteen and fourteen orthologs were identified in the corresponding regions in rice and Brachypodium, respectively. Interestingly, five pseudogenes were identified among the non-collinear coding sequences at the 3B locus, while none was found at the 3DS locus.
Direct comparison of two Mb-sized regions of the B and D genomes of bread wheat revealed similar rates of non-collinear gene insertion in both genomes with a majority of gene duplications occurring before their divergence. Relatively low proportion of pseudogenes was identified among non-collinear coding sequences. Our data suggest that the pseudogenes did not originate from insertion of non-functional copies, but were formed later during the evolution of hexaploid wheat. Some evidence was found for gene erosion along the B genome locus.
PMCID: PMC3445842  PMID: 22935214
Wheat; BAC sequencing; Homoeologous genomes; Gene duplication; Non-collinear genes; Allopolyploidy
7.  The Protein Disulfide Isomerase gene family in bread wheat (T. aestivum L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:101.
The Protein Disulfide Isomerase (PDI) gene family encodes several PDI and PDI-like proteins containing thioredoxin domains and controlling diversified metabolic functions, including disulfide bond formation and isomerisation during protein folding. Genomic, cDNA and promoter sequences of the three homoeologous wheat genes encoding the "typical" PDI had been cloned and characterized in a previous work. The purpose of present research was the cloning and characterization of the complete set of genes encoding PDI and PDI like proteins in bread wheat (Triticum aestivum cv Chinese Spring) and the comparison of their sequence, structure and expression with homologous genes from other plant species.
Eight new non-homoeologous wheat genes were cloned and characterized. The nine PDI and PDI-like sequences of wheat were located in chromosome regions syntenic to those in rice and assigned to eight plant phylogenetic groups. The nine wheat genes differed in their sequences, genomic organization as well as in the domain composition and architecture of their deduced proteins; conversely each of them showed high structural conservation with genes from other plant species in the same phylogenetic group. The extensive quantitative RT-PCR analysis of the nine genes in a set of 23 wheat samples, including tissues and developmental stages, showed their constitutive, even though highly variable expression.
The nine wheat genes showed high diversity, while the members of each phylogenetic group were highly conserved even between taxonomically distant plant species like the moss Physcomitrella patens. Although constitutively expressed the nine wheat genes were characterized by different expression profiles reflecting their different genomic organization, protein domain architecture and probably promoter sequences; the high conservation among species indicated the ancient origin and diversification of the still evolving gene family. The comprehensive structural and expression characterization of the complete set of PDI and PDI-like wheat genes represents a basis for the functional characterization of this gene family in the hexaploid context of bread wheat.
PMCID: PMC3017771  PMID: 20525253
8.  A high-throughput method for the detection of homoeologous gene deletions in hexaploid wheat 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:264.
Mutational inactivation of plant genes is an essential tool in gene function studies. Plants with inactivated or deleted genes may also be exploited for crop improvement if such mutations/deletions produce a desirable agronomical and/or quality phenotype. However, the use of mutational gene inactivation/deletion has been impeded in polyploid plant species by genetic redundancy, as polyploids contain multiple copies of the same genes (homoeologous genes) encoded by each of the ancestral genomes. Similar to many other crop plants, bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is polyploid; specifically allohexaploid possessing three progenitor genomes designated as 'A', 'B', and 'D'. Recently modified TILLING protocols have been developed specifically for mutation detection in wheat. Whilst extremely powerful in detecting single nucleotide changes and small deletions, these methods are not suitable for detecting whole gene deletions. Therefore, high-throughput methods for screening of candidate homoeologous gene deletions are needed for application to wheat populations generated by the use of certain mutagenic agents (e.g. heavy ion irradiation) that frequently generate whole-gene deletions.
To facilitate the screening for specific homoeologous gene deletions in hexaploid wheat, we have developed a TaqMan qPCR-based method that allows high-throughput detection of deletions in homoeologous copies of any gene of interest, provided that sufficient polymorphism (as little as a single nucleotide difference) amongst homoeologues exists for specific probe design. We used this method to identify deletions of individual TaPFT1 homoeologues, a wheat orthologue of the disease susceptibility and flowering regulatory gene PFT1 in Arabidopsis. This method was applied to wheat nullisomic-tetrasomic lines as well as other chromosomal deletion lines to locate the TaPFT1 gene to the long arm of chromosome 5. By screening of individual DNA samples from 4500 M2 mutant wheat lines generated by heavy ion irradiation, we detected multiple mutants with deletions of each TaPFT1 homoeologue, and confirmed these deletions using a CAPS method. We have subsequently designed, optimized, and applied this method for the screening of homoeologous deletions of three additional wheat genes putatively involved in plant disease resistance.
We have developed a method for automated, high-throughput screening to identify deletions of individual homoeologues of a wheat gene. This method is also potentially applicable to other polyploidy plants.
PMCID: PMC3017838  PMID: 21114819
9.  Patterns of homoeologous gene expression shown by RNA sequencing in hexaploid bread wheat 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:276.
Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) has a large, complex and hexaploid genome consisting of A, B and D homoeologous chromosome sets. Therefore each wheat gene potentially exists as a trio of A, B and D homoeoloci, each of which may contribute differentially to wheat phenotypes. We describe a novel approach combining wheat cytogenetic resources (chromosome substitution ‘nullisomic-tetrasomic’ lines) with next generation deep sequencing of gene transcripts (RNA-Seq), to directly and accurately identify homoeologue-specific single nucleotide variants and quantify the relative contribution of individual homoeoloci to gene expression.
We discover, based on a sample comprising ~5-10% of the total wheat gene content, that at least 45% of wheat genes are expressed from all three distinct homoeoloci. Most of these genes show strikingly biased expression patterns in which expression is dominated by a single homoeolocus. The remaining ~55% of wheat genes are expressed from either one or two homoeoloci only, through a combination of extensive transcriptional silencing and homoeolocus loss.
We conclude that wheat is tending towards functional diploidy, through a variety of mechanisms causing single homoeoloci to become the predominant source of gene transcripts. This discovery has profound consequences for wheat breeding and our understanding of wheat evolution.
PMCID: PMC4023595  PMID: 24726045
Wheat; Wheat transcriptome; mRNA-Seq; Diploidization; Homoeologues; Polyploidy
10.  A Physical Map of the Short Arm of Wheat Chromosome 1A 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80272.
Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) has a large and highly repetitive genome which poses major technical challenges for its study. To aid map-based cloning and future genome sequencing projects, we constructed a BAC-based physical map of the short arm of wheat chromosome 1A (1AS). From the assembly of 25,918 high information content (HICF) fingerprints from a 1AS-specific BAC library, 715 physical contigs were produced that cover almost 99% of the estimated size of the chromosome arm. The 3,414 BAC clones constituting the minimum tiling path were end-sequenced. Using a gene microarray containing ∼40 K NCBI UniGene EST clusters, PCR marker screening and BAC end sequences, we arranged 160 physical contigs (97 Mb or 35.3% of the chromosome arm) in a virtual order based on synteny with Brachypodium, rice and sorghum. BAC end sequences and information from microarray hybridisation was used to anchor 3.8 Mbp of Illumina sequences from flow-sorted chromosome 1AS to BAC contigs. Comparison of genetic and synteny-based physical maps indicated that ∼50% of all genetic recombination is confined to 14% of the physical length of the chromosome arm in the distal region. The 1AS physical map provides a framework for future genetic mapping projects as well as the basis for complete sequencing of chromosome arm 1AS.
PMCID: PMC3836966  PMID: 24278269
11.  Different mechanisms of adaptation to cyclic water stress in two South Australian bread wheat cultivars 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2008;59(12):3327-3346.
In the South Australian wheat belt, cyclic drought is a frequent event represented by intermittent periods of rainfall which can occur around anthesis and post-anthesis in wheat. Three South Australian bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivars, Excalibur, Kukri, and RAC875, were evaluated in one greenhouse and two growth-room experiments. In the first growth-room experiment, where plants were subjected to severe cyclic water-limiting conditions, RAC875 and Excalibur (drought-tolerant) showed significantly higher grain yield under cyclic water availability compared to Kukri (drought-susceptible), producing 44% and 18% more grain compared to Kukri, respectively. In the second growth-room experiment, where plants were subjected to a milder drought stress, the differences between cultivars were less pronounced, with only RAC875 showing significantly higher grain yield under the cyclic water treatment. Grain number per spike and the percentage of aborted tillers were the major components that affected yield under cyclic water stress. Excalibur and RAC875 adopted different morpho-physiological traits and mechanisms to reduce water stress. Excalibur was most responsive to cyclic water availability and showed the highest level of osmotic adjustment (OA), high stomatal conductance, lowest ABA content, and rapid recovery from stress under cyclic water stress. RAC875 was more conservative and restrained, with moderate OA, high leaf waxiness, high chlorophyll content, and slower recovery from stress. Within this germplasm, the capacity for osmotic adjustment was the main physiological attribute associated with tolerance under cyclic water stress which enabled plants to recover from water deficit.
PMCID: PMC2529232  PMID: 18703496
Cyclic drought; osmotic adjustment; wheat
12.  Discovery, distribution and diversity of Puroindoline-D1 genes in bread wheat from five countries (Triticum aestivum L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:125.
Grain texture is one of the most important characteristics in bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Puroindoline-D1 genes play the main role in controlling grain texture and are intimately associated with the milling and processing qualities in bread wheat.
A series of diagnostic molecular markers and dCAPS markers were used to characterize Pina-D1 and Pinb-D1 in 493 wheat cultivars from diverse geographic locations. A primer walking strategy was used to characterize PINA-null alleles at the DNA level. Results indicated that Chinese landraces encompassing 12 different Puroindoline-D1 allelic combinations showed the highest diversity, while CIMMYT wheat cultivars containing 3 different Puroindoline-D1 allelic combinations showed the lowest diversity amongst wheat cultivars from the five countries surveyed. Two novel Pina-D1 alleles, designated Pina-D1s with a 4,422-bp deletion and Pina-D1u with a 6,460-bp deletion in the Ha (Hardness) locus, were characterized at the DNA level by a primer walking strategy, and corresponding molecular markers Pina-N3 and Pina-N4 were developed for straightforward identification of the Pina-D1s and Pina-D1u alleles. Analysis of the association of Puroindoline-D1 alleles with grain texture indicated that wheat cultivars with Pina-null/Pinb-null allele, possessing an approximate 33-kb deletion in the Ha locus, have the highest SKCS hardness index amongst the different genotypes used in this study. Moreover, wheat cultivars with the PINA-null allele have significantly higher SKCS hardness index than those of Pinb-D1b and Pinb-D1p alleles.
Molecular characterization of the Puroindoline-D1 allele was investigated in bread wheat cultivars from five geographic regions, resulting in the discovery of two new alleles - Pina-D1s and Pina-D1u. Molecular markers were developed for both alleles. Analysis of the association of the Puroindoline-D1 alleles with grain texture showed that cultivars with PINA-null allele possessed relatively high SKCS hardness index. This study can provide useful information for the improvement of wheat quality, as well as give a deeper understanding of the molecular and genetic processes controlling grain texture in bread wheat.
PMCID: PMC3844508  PMID: 24011219
Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.); Puroindoline-D1 genes; Grain texture; Primer walking; Functional marker
13.  Applicability of Aegilops tauschii drought tolerance traits to breeding of hexaploid wheat 
Breeding Science  2011;61(4):347-357.
Few genes are available to develop drought-tolerant bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivars. One way to enhance bread wheat’s genetic diversity would be to take advantage of the diversity of wild species by creating synthetic hexaploid wheat (SW) with the genomic constitution of bread wheat. In this study, we compared the expression of traits encoded at different ploidy levels and evaluated the applicability of Aegilops tauschii drought-related traits using 33 Ae. tauschii accessions along with their corresponding SW lines under well-watered and drought conditions. We found wide variation in Ae. tauschii, and even wider variation in the SW lines. Some SW lines were more drought-tolerant than the standard cultivar Cham 6. Aegilops tauschii from some regions gave better performing SW lines. The traits of Ae. tauschii were not significantly correlated with their corresponding SW lines, indicating that the traits expressed in wild diploid relatives of wheat may not predict the traits that will be expressed in SW lines derived from them. We suggest that, regardless of the adaptability and performance of the Ae. tauschii under drought, production of SW could probably result in genotypes with enhanced trait expression due to gene interactions, and that the traits of the synthetic should be evaluated in hexaploid level.
PMCID: PMC3406773  PMID: 23136471
wheat; Aegilops tauschii; synthetic hexaploid wheat; wild relatives of wheat
14.  Sequencing of Chloroplast Genomes from Wheat, Barley, Rye and Their Relatives Provides a Detailed Insight into the Evolution of the Triticeae Tribe 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e85761.
Using Roche/454 technology, we sequenced the chloroplast genomes of 12 Triticeae species, including bread wheat, barley and rye, as well as the diploid progenitors and relatives of bread wheat Triticum urartu, Aegilops speltoides and Ae. tauschii. Two wild tetraploid taxa, Ae. cylindrica and Ae. geniculata, were also included. Additionally, we incorporated wild Einkorn wheat Triticum boeoticum and its domesticated form T. monococcum and two Hordeum spontaneum (wild barley) genotypes. Chloroplast genomes were used for overall sequence comparison, phylogenetic analysis and dating of divergence times. We estimate that barley diverged from rye and wheat approximately 8–9 million years ago (MYA). The genome donors of hexaploid wheat diverged between 2.1–2.9 MYA, while rye diverged from Triticum aestivum approximately 3–4 MYA, more recently than previously estimated. Interestingly, the A genome taxa T. boeoticum and T. urartu were estimated to have diverged approximately 570,000 years ago. As these two have a reproductive barrier, the divergence time estimate also provides an upper limit for the time required for the formation of a species boundary between the two. Furthermore, we conclusively show that the chloroplast genome of hexaploid wheat was contributed by the B genome donor and that this unknown species diverged from Ae. speltoides about 980,000 years ago. Additionally, sequence alignments identified a translocation of a chloroplast segment to the nuclear genome which is specific to the rye/wheat lineage. We propose the presented phylogeny and divergence time estimates as a reference framework for future studies on Triticeae.
PMCID: PMC3948623  PMID: 24614886
15.  Analysis of wheat SAGE tags reveals evidence for widespread antisense transcription 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:475.
Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE) is a powerful tool for genome-wide transcription studies. Unlike microarrays, it has the ability to detect novel forms of RNA such as alternatively spliced and antisense transcripts, without the need for prior knowledge of their existence. One limitation of using SAGE on an organism with a complex genome and lacking detailed sequence information, such as the hexaploid bread wheat Triticum aestivum, is accurate annotation of the tags generated. Without accurate annotation it is impossible to fully understand the dynamic processes involved in such complex polyploid organisms. Hence we have developed and utilised novel procedures to characterise, in detail, SAGE tags generated from the whole grain transcriptome of hexaploid wheat.
Examination of 71,930 Long SAGE tags generated from six libraries derived from two wheat genotypes grown under two different conditions suggested that SAGE is a reliable and reproducible technique for use in studying the hexaploid wheat transcriptome. However, our results also showed that in poorly annotated and/or poorly sequenced genomes, such as hexaploid wheat, considerably more information can be extracted from SAGE data by carrying out a systematic analysis of both perfect and "fuzzy" (partially matched) tags. This detailed analysis of the SAGE data shows first that while there is evidence of alternative polyadenylation this appears to occur exclusively within the 3' untranslated regions. Secondly, we found no strong evidence for widespread alternative splicing in the developing wheat grain transcriptome. However, analysis of our SAGE data shows that antisense transcripts are probably widespread within the transcriptome and appear to be derived from numerous locations within the genome. Examination of antisense transcripts showing sequence similarity to the Puroindoline a and Puroindoline b genes suggests that such antisense transcripts might have a role in the regulation of gene expression.
Our results indicate that the detailed analysis of transcriptome data, such as SAGE tags, is essential to understand fully the factors that regulate gene expression and that such analysis of the wheat grain transcriptome reveals that antisense transcripts maybe widespread and hence probably play a significant role in the regulation of gene expression during grain development.
PMCID: PMC2584110  PMID: 18847483
16.  TaMSH7: A cereal mismatch repair gene that affects fertility in transgenic barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2007;7:67.
Chromosome pairing, recombination and DNA repair are essential processes during meiosis in sexually reproducing organisms. Investigating the bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) Ph2 (Pairing homoeologous) locus has identified numerous candidate genes that may have a role in controlling such processes, including TaMSH7, a plant specific member of the DNA mismatch repair family.
Sequencing of the three MSH7 genes, located on the short arms of wheat chromosomes 3A, 3B and 3D, has revealed no significant sequence divergence at the amino acid level suggesting conservation of function across the homoeogroups. Functional analysis of MSH7 through the use of RNAi loss-of-function transgenics was undertaken in diploid barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Quantitative real-time PCR revealed several T0 lines with reduced MSH7 expression. Positive segregants from two T1 lines studied in detail showed reduced MSH7 expression when compared to transformed controls and null segregants. Expression of MSH6, another member of the mismatch repair family which is most closely related to the MSH7 gene, was not significantly reduced in these lines. In both T1 lines, reduced seed set in positive segregants was observed.
Results presented here indicate, for the first time, a distinct functional role for MSH7 in vivo and show that expression of this gene is necessary for wild-type levels of fertility. These observations suggest that MSH7 has an important function during meiosis and as such remains a candidate for Ph2.
PMCID: PMC2234410  PMID: 18096080
17.  Structural Analysis of the Wheat Genes Encoding NADH-Dependent Glutamine-2-oxoglutarate Amidotransferases and Correlation with Grain Protein Content 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73751.
Nitrogen uptake and the efficient absorption and metabolism of nitrogen are essential elements in attempts to breed improved cereal cultivars for grain or silage production. One of the enzymes related to nitrogen metabolism is glutamine-2-oxoglutarate amidotransferase (GOGAT). Together with glutamine synthetase (GS), GOGAT maintains the flow of nitrogen from NH4+ into glutamine and glutamate, which are then used for several aminotransferase reactions during amino acid synthesis.
The aim of the present work was to identify and analyse the structure of wheat NADH-GOGAT genomic sequences, and study the expression in two durum wheat cultivars characterized by low and high kernel protein content. The genomic sequences of the three homoeologous A, B and D NADH-GOGAT genes were obtained for hexaploid Triticum aestivum and the tetraploid A and B genes of Triticum turgidum ssp. durum. Analysis of the gene sequences indicates that all wheat NADH-GOGAT genes are composed of 22 exons and 21 introns. The three hexaploid wheat homoeologous genes have high conservation of sequence except intron 13 which shows differences in both length and sequence. A comparative analysis of sequences among di- and mono-cotyledonous plants shows both regions of high conservation and of divergence. qRT-PCR performed with the two durum wheat cvs Svevo and Ciccio (characterized by high and low protein content, respectively) indicates different expression levels of the two NADH-GOGAT-3A and NADH-GOGAT-3B genes.
The three hexaploid wheat homoeologous NADH-GOGAT gene sequences are highly conserved – consistent with the key metabolic role of this gene. However, the dicot and monocot amino acid sequences show distinctive patterns, particularly in the transit peptide, the exon 16–17 junction, and the C-terminus. The lack of conservation in the transit peptide may indicate subcellular differences between the two plant divisions - while the sequence conservation within enzyme functional domains remains high. Higher expression levels of NADH-GOGAT are associated with higher grain protein content in two durum wheats.
PMCID: PMC3775782  PMID: 24069228
18.  Genome-wide transcriptome study in wheat identified candidate genes related to processing quality, majority of them showing interaction (quality x development) and having temporal and spatial distributions 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:29.
The cultivated bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) possesses unique flour quality, which can be processed into many end-use food products such as bread, pasta, chapatti (unleavened flat bread), biscuit, etc. The present wheat varieties require improvement in processing quality to meet the increasing demand of better quality food products. However, processing quality is very complex and controlled by many genes, which have not been completely explored. To identify the candidate genes whose expressions changed due to variation in processing quality and interaction (quality x development), genome-wide transcriptome studies were performed in two sets of diverse Indian wheat varieties differing for chapatti quality. It is also important to understand the temporal and spatial distributions of their expressions for designing tissue and growth specific functional genomics experiments.
Gene-specific two-way ANOVA analysis of expression of about 55 K transcripts in two diverse sets of Indian wheat varieties for chapatti quality at three seed developmental stages identified 236 differentially expressed probe sets (10-fold). Out of 236, 110 probe sets were identified for chapatti quality. Many processing quality related key genes such as glutenin and gliadins, puroindolines, grain softness protein, alpha and beta amylases, proteases, were identified, and many other candidate genes related to cellular and molecular functions were also identified. The ANOVA analysis revealed that the expression of 56 of 110 probe sets was involved in interaction (quality x development). Majority of the probe sets showed differential expression at early stage of seed development i.e. temporal expression. Meta-analysis revealed that the majority of the genes expressed in one or a few growth stages indicating spatial distribution of their expressions. The differential expressions of a few candidate genes such as pre-alpha/beta-gliadin and gamma gliadin were validated by RT-PCR. Therefore, this study identified several quality related key genes including many other genes, their interactions (quality x development) and temporal and spatial distributions.
The candidate genes identified for processing quality and information on temporal and spatial distributions of their expressions would be useful for designing wheat improvement programs for processing quality either by changing their expression or development of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) markers.
PMCID: PMC3897974  PMID: 24433256
Wheat; Chapatti; Processing quality; Development; Interaction; Transcriptome; Gene expression
19.  Retention of D genome chromosomes in pentaploid wheat crosses 
Heredity  2011;107(4):315-319.
The transfer of genes between Triticum aestivum (hexaploid bread wheat) and T. turgidum (tetraploid durum wheat) holds considerable potential for genetic improvement of both these closely related species. Five different T. aestivum/T. turgidum ssp. durum crosses were investigated using Diversity Arrays Technology (DArT) markers to determine the inheritance of parental A, B and D genome material in subsequent generations derived from these crosses. The proportions of A, B and D chromosomal segments inherited from the hexaploid parent were found to vary significantly among individual crosses. F2 populations retained widely varying quantities of D genome material, ranging from 99% to none. The relative inheritance of bread wheat and durum alleles in the A and B genomes of derived lines also varied among the crosses. Within any one cross, progeny without D chromosomes in general had significantly more A and B genome durum alleles than lines retaining D chromosomes. The ability to select for and manipulate this non-random segregation in bread wheat/durum crosses will assist in efficient backcrossing of selected characters into the recurrent durum or hexaploid genotype of choice. This study illustrates the utility of DArT markers in the study of inter-specific crosses to commercial crop species.
PMCID: PMC3182498  PMID: 21427754
Triticum aestivum; Triticum turgidum; pentaploid crosses; DArTs
20.  Variability of non-symbiotic and truncated hemoglobin genes from the genome of cultivated monocots 
Non-symbiotic (nsHb) and truncated (tHb) hemoglobins (Hbs) have been detected in a variety of land plants. The evolution of land plant nsHbs and tHbs at the protein level is well documented; however, little is known about the evolution of genes coding for these proteins. For example, the variability of the land plant nshb and thb genes is not known. Here, we report the variability of the nshb and thb genes from the genome of the cultivated monocots Brachypodium distachyon, Hordeum vulgare (barley), Oryza glaberrima (rice), O. rufipogon (rice), O. sativa (rice) var indica, O. sativa (rice) var japonica, Panicum virgatum (switchgrass), Setaria italica (foxtail millet), Sorghum bicolor (sorghum), Triticum aestivum (wheat), and Zea mays ssp. mays (maize) using sequence comparison and computational methods. Our results revealed that in cultivated monocots variability is higher in nshbs than in thbs, and suggest that major substitution events that occurred during the evolution of the cultivated monocot hbs were A→G and T→C transitions and that these genes evolved under the effect of neutral selection.
PMCID: PMC3923788  PMID: 24563718
GC content; Cereals; globin; neutral selection
21.  Alpha-gliadin genes from the A, B, and D genomes of wheat contain different sets of celiac disease epitopes 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:1.
Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) is an important staple food. However, wheat gluten proteins cause celiac disease (CD) in 0.5 to 1% of the general population. Among these proteins, the α-gliadins contain several peptides that are associated to the disease.
We obtained 230 distinct α-gliadin gene sequences from severaldiploid wheat species representing the ancestral A, B, and D genomes of the hexaploid bread wheat. The large majority of these sequences (87%) contained an internal stop codon. All α-gliadin sequences could be distinguished according to the genome of origin on the basis of sequence similarity, of the average length of the polyglutamine repeats, and of the differences in the presence of four peptides that have been identified as T cell stimulatory epitopes in CD patients through binding to HLA-DQ2/8. By sequence similarity, α-gliadins from the public database of hexaploid T. aestivum could be assigned directly to chromosome 6A, 6B, or 6D. T. monococcum (A genome) sequences, as well as those from chromosome 6A of bread wheat, almost invariably contained epitope glia-α9 and glia-α20, but never the intact epitopes glia-α and glia-α2. A number of sequences from T. speltoides, as well as a number of sequences fromchromosome 6B of bread wheat, did not contain any of the four T cell epitopes screened for. The sequences from T. tauschii (D genome), as well as those from chromosome 6D of bread wheat, were found to contain all of these T cell epitopes in variable combinations per gene. The differences in epitope composition resulted mainly from point mutations. These substitutions appeared to be genome specific.
Our analysis shows that α-gliadin sequences from the three genomes of bread wheat form distinct groups. The four known T cell stimulatory epitopes are distributed non-randomly across the sequences, indicating that the three genomes contribute differently to epitope content. A systematic analysis of all known epitopes in gliadins and glutenins will lead to better understanding of the differences in toxicity among wheat varieties. On the basis of such insight, breeding strategies can be designed to generate less toxic varieties of wheat which may be tolerated by at least part of the CD patient population.
PMCID: PMC1368968  PMID: 16403227
22.  Nucleotide diversity maps reveal variation in diversity among wheat genomes and chromosomes 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:702.
A genome-wide assessment of nucleotide diversity in a polyploid species must minimize the inclusion of homoeologous sequences into diversity estimates and reliably allocate individual haplotypes into their respective genomes. The same requirements complicate the development and deployment of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers in polyploid species. We report here a strategy that satisfies these requirements and deploy it in the sequencing of genes in cultivated hexaploid wheat (Triticum aestivum, genomes AABBDD) and wild tetraploid wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp. dicoccoides, genomes AABB) from the putative site of wheat domestication in Turkey. Data are used to assess the distribution of diversity among and within wheat genomes and to develop a panel of SNP markers for polyploid wheat.
Nucleotide diversity was estimated in 2114 wheat genes and was similar between the A and B genomes and reduced in the D genome. Within a genome, diversity was diminished on some chromosomes. Low diversity was always accompanied by an excess of rare alleles. A total of 5,471 SNPs was discovered in 1791 wheat genes. Totals of 1,271, 1,218, and 2,203 SNPs were discovered in 488, 463, and 641 genes of wheat putative diploid ancestors, T. urartu, Aegilops speltoides, and Ae. tauschii, respectively. A public database containing genome-specific primers, SNPs, and other information was constructed. A total of 987 genes with nucleotide diversity estimated in one or more of the wheat genomes was placed on an Ae. tauschii genetic map, and the map was superimposed on wheat deletion-bin maps. The agreement between the maps was assessed.
In a young polyploid, exemplified by T. aestivum, ancestral species are the primary source of genetic diversity. Low effective recombination due to self-pollination and a genetic mechanism precluding homoeologous chromosome pairing during polyploid meiosis can lead to the loss of diversity from large chromosomal regions. The net effect of these factors in T. aestivum is large variation in diversity among genomes and chromosomes, which impacts the development of SNP markers and their practical utility. Accumulation of new mutations in older polyploid species, such as wild emmer, results in increased diversity and its more uniform distribution across the genome.
PMCID: PMC3022916  PMID: 21156062
23.  Development of diversity array technology (DArT) markers for assessment of population structure and diversity in Aegilops tauschii 
Breeding Science  2012;62(1):38-45.
Aegilops tauschii Coss. is the D-genome donor to hexaploid bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) and is the most promising wild species as a genetic resource for wheat breeding. To study the population structure and diversity of 81 Ae. tauschii accessions collected from various regions of its geographical distribution, the genomic representation of these lines were used to develop a diversity array technology (DArT) marker array. This Ae. tauschii array and a previously developed DArT wheat array were used to scan the genomes of the 81 accessions. Out of 7500 markers (5500 wheat and 2000 Ae. tauschii), 4449 were polymorphic (3776 wheat and 673 Ae. tauschii). Phylogenetic and population structure studies revealed that the accessions could be divided into three groups. The two Ae. tauschii subspecies could also be separately clustered, suggesting that the current taxonomy might be valid. DArT markers are effective to detect very small polymorphisms. The information obtained about Ae. tauschii in the current study could be useful for wheat breeding. In addition, the new DArT array from this Ae. tauschii population is expected to be an effective tool for hexaploid wheat studies.
PMCID: PMC3405951  PMID: 23136512
Aegilops tauschii; Triticum aestivum; synthetic wheat; DArT markers; drought tolerance
24.  Drought Tolerance in Modern and Wild Wheat 
The Scientific World Journal  2013;2013:548246.
The genus Triticum includes bread (Triticum aestivum) and durum wheat (Triticum durum) and constitutes a major source for human food consumption. Drought is currently the leading threat on world's food supply, limiting crop yield, and is complicated since drought tolerance is a quantitative trait with a complex phenotype affected by the plant's developmental stage. Drought tolerance is crucial to stabilize and increase food production since domestication has limited the genetic diversity of crops including wild wheat, leading to cultivated species, adapted to artificial environments, and lost tolerance to drought stress. Improvement for drought tolerance can be achieved by the introduction of drought-grelated genes and QTLs to modern wheat cultivars. Therefore, identification of candidate molecules or loci involved in drought tolerance is necessary, which is undertaken by “omics” studies and QTL mapping. In this sense, wild counterparts of modern varieties, specifically wild emmer wheat (T. dicoccoides), which are highly tolerant to drought, hold a great potential. Prior to their introgression to modern wheat cultivars, drought related candidate genes are first characterized at the molecular level, and their function is confirmed via transgenic studies. After integration of the tolerance loci, specific environment targeted field trials are performed coupled with extensive analysis of morphological and physiological characteristics of developed cultivars, to assess their performance under drought conditions and their possible contributions to yield in certain regions. This paper focuses on recent advances on drought related gene/QTL identification, studies on drought related molecular pathways, and current efforts on improvement of wheat cultivars for drought tolerance.
PMCID: PMC3671283  PMID: 23766697
25.  Cloning of a Conserved Receptor-Like Protein Kinase Gene and Its Use as a Functional Marker for Homoeologous Group-2 Chromosomes of the Triticeae Species 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e49718.
Receptor-like kinases (RLKs) play broad biological roles in plants. We report on a conserved receptor-like protein kinase (RPK) gene from wheat and other Triticeae species. The TaRPK1 was isolated from the Triticum aestivum cv. Prins - Triticum timopheevii introgression line IGVI-465 carrying the powdery mildew resistance gene Pm6. The TaRPK1 was mapped to homoeologous chromosomes 2A (TaRPK1-2A), 2D (TaRPK1-2D) and the Pm6-carrier chromosome 2G (TaRPK1-2G) of IGVI-465. Under the tested conditions, only the TaRPK1-2G allele was actively transcribed, producing two distinct transcripts via alternative splicing. The predicted 424-amino acid protein of TaRPK1-2G contained a signal peptide, a transmembrane domain and an intracellular serine/threonine kinase domain, but lacked a typical extracellular domain. The expression of TaRPK1-2G gene was up-regulated upon the infection by Blumeria graminis f.sp. tritici (Bgt) and treatment with methyl jasmonate (MeJA), but down-regulated in response to treatments of SA and ABA. Over-expression of TaRPK1-2G in the powdery mildew susceptible wheat variety Prins by a transient expression assay showed that it slightly reduced the haustorium index of the infected Bgt. These data indicated that TaRPK1-2G participated in the defense response to Bgt infection and in the JA signaling pathway. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that TaRPK1-2G was highly conserved among plant species, and the amino acid sequence similarity of TaRPK1-2G among grass species was more than 86%. Based on its conservation, the RPK gene-based STS primers were designed, and used to amplify the RPK orthologs from the homoeologous group-2 chromosomes of all the tested Triticeae species, such as chromosome 2G of T. timopheevii, 2R of Secale cereale, 2H of Hordeum vulgare, 2S of Aegilops speltoides, 2Sl of Ae. longissima, 2Mg of Ae. geniculata, 2Sp and 2Up of Ae. peregrina. The developed STS markers serve as conserved functional markers for the identification of homoeologous group-2 chromosomes of the Triticeae species.
PMCID: PMC3521742  PMID: 23272050

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