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1.  A High-Density Gene Map of Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda L.) Based on Exome Sequence Capture Genotyping 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2013;4(1):29-37.
Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) is an economically and ecologically important conifer for which a suite of genomic resources is being generated. Despite recent attempts to sequence the large genome of conifers, their assembly and the positioning of genes remains largely incomplete. The interspecific synteny in pines suggests that a gene-based map would be useful to support genome assemblies and analysis of conifers. To establish a reference gene-based genetic map, we performed exome sequencing of 14729 genes on a mapping population of 72 haploid samples, generating a resource of 7434 sequence variants segregating for 3787 genes. Most markers are single-nucleotide polymorphisms, although short insertions/deletions and multiple nucleotide polymorphisms also were used. Marker segregation in the population was used to generate a high-density, gene-based genetic map. A total of 2841 genes were mapped to pine’s 12 linkage groups with an average of one marker every 0.58 cM. Capture data were used to detect gene presence/absence variations and position 65 genes on the map. We compared the marker order of genes previously mapped in loblolly pine and found high agreement. We estimated that 4123 genes had enough sequencing depth for reliable detection of markers, suggesting a high marker conversation rate of 92% (3787/4123). This is possible because a significant portion of the gene is captured and sequenced, increasing the chances of identifying a polymorphic site for characterization and mapping. This sub-centiMorgan genetic map provides a valuable resource for gene positioning on chromosomes and guide for the assembly of a reference pine genome.
PMCID: PMC3887537  PMID: 24192835
loblolly pine; exome sequencing; high-throughput genotyping; high-density genetic map; copy number variation
2.  RNA-Seq reveals genotype-specific molecular responses to water deficit in eucalyptus 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:538.
In a context of climate change, phenotypic plasticity provides long-lived species, such as trees, with the means to adapt to environmental variations occurring within a single generation. In eucalyptus plantations, water availability is a key factor limiting productivity. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the adaptation of eucalyptus to water shortage remain unclear. In this study, we compared the molecular responses of two commercial eucalyptus hybrids during the dry season. Both hybrids differ in productivity when grown under water deficit.
Pyrosequencing of RNA extracted from shoot apices provided extensive transcriptome coverage - a catalog of 129,993 unigenes (49,748 contigs and 80,245 singletons) was generated from 398 million base pairs, or 1.14 million reads. The pyrosequencing data enriched considerably existing Eucalyptus EST collections, adding 36,985 unigenes not previously represented. Digital analysis of read abundance in 14,460 contigs identified 1,280 that were differentially expressed between the two genotypes, 155 contigs showing differential expression between treatments (irrigated vs. non irrigated conditions during the dry season), and 274 contigs with significant genotype-by-treatment interaction. The more productive genotype displayed a larger set of genes responding to water stress. Moreover, stress signal transduction seemed to involve different pathways in the two genotypes, suggesting that water shortage induces distinct cellular stress cascades. Similarly, the response of functional proteins also varied widely between genotypes: the most productive genotype decreased expression of genes related to photosystem, transport and secondary metabolism, whereas genes related to primary metabolism and cell organisation were over-expressed.
For the most productive genotype, the ability to express a broader set of genes in response to water availability appears to be a key characteristic in the maintenance of biomass growth during the dry season. Its strategy may involve a decrease of photosynthetic activity during the dry season associated with resources reallocation through major changes in the expression of primary metabolism associated genes. Further efforts will be needed to assess the adaptive nature of the genes highlighted in this study.
PMCID: PMC3248028  PMID: 22047139
9.  Spinning Gland Transcriptomics from Two Main Clades of Spiders (Order: Araneae) - Insights on Their Molecular, Anatomical and Behavioral Evolution 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21634.
Characterized by distinctive evolutionary adaptations, spiders provide a comprehensive system for evolutionary and developmental studies of anatomical organs, including silk and venom production. Here we performed cDNA sequencing using massively parallel sequencers (454 GS-FLX Titanium) to generate ∼80,000 reads from the spinning gland of Actinopus spp. (infraorder: Mygalomorphae) and Gasteracantha cancriformis (infraorder: Araneomorphae, Orbiculariae clade). Actinopus spp. retains primitive characteristics on web usage and presents a single undifferentiated spinning gland while the orbiculariae spiders have seven differentiated spinning glands and complex patterns of web usage. MIRA, Celera Assembler and CAP3 software were used to cluster NGS reads for each spider. CAP3 unigenes passed through a pipeline for automatic annotation, classification by biological function, and comparative transcriptomics. Genes related to spider silks were manually curated and analyzed. Although a single spidroin gene family was found in Actinopus spp., a vast repertoire of specialized spider silk proteins was encountered in orbiculariae. Astacin-like metalloproteases (meprin subfamily) were shown to be some of the most sampled unigenes and duplicated gene families in G. cancriformis since its evolutionary split from mygalomorphs. Our results confirm that the evolution of the molecular repertoire of silk proteins was accompanied by the (i) anatomical differentiation of spinning glands and (ii) behavioral complexification in the web usage. Finally, a phylogenetic tree was constructed to cluster most of the known spidroins in gene clades. This is the first large-scale, multi-organism transcriptome for spider spinning glands and a first step into a broad understanding of spider web systems biology and evolution.
PMCID: PMC3126850  PMID: 21738742
10.  High-throughput SNP genotyping in the highly heterozygous genome of Eucalyptus: assay success, polymorphism and transferability across species 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:65.
High-throughput SNP genotyping has become an essential requirement for molecular breeding and population genomics studies in plant species. Large scale SNP developments have been reported for several mainstream crops. A growing interest now exists to expand the speed and resolution of genetic analysis to outbred species with highly heterozygous genomes. When nucleotide diversity is high, a refined diagnosis of the target SNP sequence context is needed to convert queried SNPs into high-quality genotypes using the Golden Gate Genotyping Technology (GGGT). This issue becomes exacerbated when attempting to transfer SNPs across species, a scarcely explored topic in plants, and likely to become significant for population genomics and inter specific breeding applications in less domesticated and less funded plant genera.
We have successfully developed the first set of 768 SNPs assayed by the GGGT for the highly heterozygous genome of Eucalyptus from a mixed Sanger/454 database with 1,164,695 ESTs and the preliminary 4.5X draft genome sequence for E. grandis. A systematic assessment of in silico SNP filtering requirements showed that stringent constraints on the SNP surrounding sequences have a significant impact on SNP genotyping performance and polymorphism. SNP assay success was high for the 288 SNPs selected with more rigorous in silico constraints; 93% of them provided high quality genotype calls and 71% of them were polymorphic in a diverse panel of 96 individuals of five different species.
SNP reliability was high across nine Eucalyptus species belonging to three sections within subgenus Symphomyrtus and still satisfactory across species of two additional subgenera, although polymorphism declined as phylogenetic distance increased.
This study indicates that the GGGT performs well both within and across species of Eucalyptus notwithstanding its nucleotide diversity ≥2%. The development of a much larger array of informative SNPs across multiple Eucalyptus species is feasible, although strongly dependent on having a representative and sufficiently deep collection of sequences from many individuals of each target species. A higher density SNP platform will be instrumental to undertake genome-wide phylogenetic and population genomics studies and to implement molecular breeding by Genomic Selection in Eucalyptus.
PMCID: PMC3090336  PMID: 21492434
11.  A high-density transcript linkage map with 1,845 expressed genes positioned by microarray-based Single Feature Polymorphisms (SFP) in Eucalyptus 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:189.
Technological advances are progressively increasing the application of genomics to a wider array of economically and ecologically important species. High-density maps enriched for transcribed genes facilitate the discovery of connections between genes and phenotypes. We report the construction of a high-density linkage map of expressed genes for the heterozygous genome of Eucalyptus using Single Feature Polymorphism (SFP) markers.
SFP discovery and mapping was achieved using pseudo-testcross screening and selective mapping to simultaneously optimize linkage mapping and microarray costs. SFP genotyping was carried out by hybridizing complementary RNA prepared from 4.5 year-old trees xylem to an SFP array containing 103,000 25-mer oligonucleotide probes representing 20,726 unigenes derived from a modest size expressed sequence tags collection. An SFP-mapping microarray with 43,777 selected candidate SFP probes representing 15,698 genes was subsequently designed and used to genotype SFPs in a larger subset of the segregating population drawn by selective mapping. A total of 1,845 genes were mapped, with 884 of them ordered with high likelihood support on a framework map anchored to 180 microsatellites with average density of 1.2 cM. Using more probes per unigene increased by two-fold the likelihood of detecting segregating SFPs eventually resulting in more genes mapped. In silico validation showed that 87% of the SFPs map to the expected location on the 4.5X draft sequence of the Eucalyptus grandis genome.
The Eucalyptus 1,845 gene map is the most highly enriched map for transcriptional information for any forest tree species to date. It represents a major improvement on the number of genes previously positioned on Eucalyptus maps and provides an initial glimpse at the gene space for this global tree genome. A general protocol is proposed to build high-density transcript linkage maps in less characterized plant species by SFP genotyping with a concurrent objective of reducing microarray costs. HIgh-density gene-rich maps represent a powerful resource to assist gene discovery endeavors when used in combination with QTL and association mapping and should be especially valuable to assist the assembly of reference genome sequences soon to come for several plant and animal species.
PMCID: PMC3090358  PMID: 21492453
12.  Transcriptional profile of maize roots under acid soil growth 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:196.
Aluminum (Al) toxicity is one of the most important yield-limiting factors of many crops worldwide. The primary symptom of Al toxicity syndrome is the inhibition of root growth leading to poor water and nutrient absorption. Al tolerance has been extensively studied using hydroponic experiments. However, unlike soil conditions, this method does not address all of the components that are necessary for proper root growth and development. In the present study, we grew two maize genotypes with contrasting tolerance to Al in soil containing toxic levels of Al and then compared their transcriptomic responses.
When grown in acid soil containing toxic levels of Al, the Al-sensitive genotype (S1587-17) showed greater root growth inhibition, more Al accumulation and more callose deposition in root tips than did the tolerant genotype (Cat100-6). Transcriptome profiling showed a higher number of genes differentially expressed in S1587-17 grown in acid soil, probably due to secondary effects of Al toxicity. Genes involved in the biosynthesis of organic acids, which are frequently associated with an Al tolerance response, were not differentially regulated in both genotypes after acid soil exposure. However, genes related to the biosynthesis of auxin, ethylene and lignin were up-regulated in the Al-sensitive genotype, indicating that these pathways might be associated with root growth inhibition. By comparing the two maize lines, we were able to discover genes up-regulated only in the Al-tolerant line that also presented higher absolute levels than those observed in the Al-sensitive line. These genes encoded a lipase hydrolase, a retinol dehydrogenase, a glycine-rich protein, a member of the WRKY transcriptional family and two unknown proteins.
This work provides the first characterization of the physiological and transcriptional responses of maize roots when grown in acid soil containing toxic levels of Al. The transcriptome profiles highlighted several pathways that are related to Al toxicity and tolerance during growth in acid soil. We found several genes that were not found in previous studies using hydroponic experiments, increasing our understanding of plant responses to acid soil. The use of two germplasms with markedly different Al tolerances allowed the identification of genes that are a valuable tool for assessing the mechanisms of Al tolerance in maize in acid soil.
PMCID: PMC2956545  PMID: 20828383
13.  Growth Performance and Root Transcriptome Remodeling of Arabidopsis in Response to Mars-Like Levels of Magnesium Sulfate 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12348.
Martian regolith (unconsolidated surface material) is a potential medium for plant growth in bioregenerative life support systems during manned missions on Mars. However, hydrated magnesium sulfate mineral levels in the regolith of Mars can reach as high as 10 wt%, and would be expected to be highly inhibitory to plant growth.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Disabling ion transporters AtMRS2-10 and AtSULTR1;2, which are plasma membrane localized in peripheral root cells, is not an effective way to confer tolerance to magnesium sulfate soils. Arabidopsis mrs2-10 and sel1-10 knockout lines do not mitigate the growth inhibiting impacts of high MgSO4·7H2O concentrations observed with wildtype plants. A global approach was used to identify novel genes with potential to enhance tolerance to high MgSO4·7H2O (magnesium sulfate) stress. The early Arabidopsis root transcriptome response to elevated concentrations of magnesium sulfate was characterized in Col-0, and also between Col-0 and the mutant line cax1-1, which was confirmed to be relatively tolerant of high levels of MgSO4·7H2O in soil solution. Differentially expressed genes in Col-0 treated for 45 min. encode enzymes primarily involved in hormone metabolism, transcription factors, calcium-binding proteins, kinases, cell wall related proteins and membrane-based transporters. Over 200 genes encoding transporters were differentially expressed in Col-0 up to 180 min. of exposure, and one of the first down-regulated genes was CAX1. The importance of this early response in wildtype Arabidopsis is exemplified in the fact that only four transcripts were differentially expressed between Col-0 and cax1-1 at 180 min. after initiation of treatment.
The results provide a solid basis for the understanding of the metabolic response of plants to elevated magnesium sulfate soils; it is the first transcriptome analysis of plants in this environment. The results foster the development of Mars soil-compatible plants by showing that cax1 mutants exhibit partial tolerance to magnesium sulfate, and by elucidating a small subset (500 vs. >10,000) of candidate genes for mutation or metabolic engineering that will enhance tolerance to magnesium sulfate soils.
PMCID: PMC2925951  PMID: 20808807
14.  Association and Linkage Analysis of Aluminum Tolerance Genes in Maize 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e9958.
Aluminum (Al) toxicity is a major worldwide constraint to crop productivity on acidic soils. Al becomes soluble at low pH, inhibiting root growth and severely reducing yields. Maize is an important staple food and commodity crop in acidic soil regions, especially in South America and Africa where these soils are very common. Al exclusion and intracellular tolerance have been suggested as two important mechanisms for Al tolerance in maize, but little is known about the underlying genetics.
An association panel of 282 diverse maize inbred lines and three F2 linkage populations with approximately 200 individuals each were used to study genetic variation in this complex trait. Al tolerance was measured as net root growth in nutrient solution under Al stress, which exhibited a wide range of variation between lines. Comparative and physiological genomics-based approaches were used to select 21 candidate genes for evaluation by association analysis.
Six candidate genes had significant results from association analysis, but only four were confirmed by linkage analysis as putatively contributing to Al tolerance: Zea mays AltSB like (ZmASL), Zea mays aluminum-activated malate transporter2 (ALMT2), S-adenosyl-L-homocysteinase (SAHH), and Malic Enzyme (ME). These four candidate genes are high priority subjects for follow-up biochemical and physiological studies on the mechanisms of Al tolerance in maize. Immediately, elite haplotype-specific molecular markers can be developed for these four genes and used for efficient marker-assisted selection of superior alleles in Al tolerance maize breeding programs.
PMCID: PMC2848604  PMID: 20376361
15.  High-throughput gene and SNP discovery in Eucalyptus grandis, an uncharacterized genome 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:312.
Benefits from high-throughput sequencing using 454 pyrosequencing technology may be most apparent for species with high societal or economic value but few genomic resources. Rapid means of gene sequence and SNP discovery using this novel sequencing technology provide a set of baseline tools for genome-level research. However, it is questionable how effective the sequencing of large numbers of short reads for species with essentially no prior gene sequence information will support contig assemblies and sequence annotation.
With the purpose of generating the first broad survey of gene sequences in Eucalyptus grandis, the most widely planted hardwood tree species, we used 454 technology to sequence and assemble 148 Mbp of expressed sequences (EST). EST sequences were generated from a normalized cDNA pool comprised of multiple tissues and genotypes, promoting discovery of homologues to almost half of Arabidopsis genes, and a comprehensive survey of allelic variation in the transcriptome. By aligning the sequencing reads from multiple genotypes we detected 23,742 SNPs, 83% of which were validated in a sample. Genome-wide nucleotide diversity was estimated for 2,392 contigs using a modified theta (θ) parameter, adapted for measuring genetic diversity from polymorphisms detected by randomly sequencing a multi-genotype cDNA pool. Diversity estimates in non-synonymous nucleotides were on average 4x smaller than in synonymous, suggesting purifying selection. Non-synonymous to synonymous substitutions (Ka/Ks) among 2,001 contigs averaged 0.30 and was skewed to the right, further supporting that most genes are under purifying selection. Comparison of these estimates among contigs identified major functional classes of genes under purifying and diversifying selection in agreement with previous researches.
In providing an abundance of foundational transcript sequences where limited prior genomic information existed, this work created part of the foundation for the annotation of the E. grandis genome that is being sequenced by the US Department of Energy. In addition we demonstrated that SNPs sampled in large-scale with 454 pyrosequencing can be used to detect evolutionary signatures among genes, providing one of the first genome-wide assessments of nucleotide diversity and Ka/Ks for a non-model plant species.
PMCID: PMC2483731  PMID: 18590545

Results 1-15 (15)