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1.  Genetic properties of the MAGIC maize population: a new platform for high definition QTL mapping in Zea mays 
Genome Biology  2015;16(1):167.
Maize (Zea mays) is a globally produced crop with broad genetic and phenotypic variation. New tools that improve our understanding of the genetic basis of quantitative traits are needed to guide predictive crop breeding. We have produced the first balanced multi-parental population in maize, a tool that provides high diversity and dense recombination events to allow routine quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping in maize.
We produced 1,636 MAGIC maize recombinant inbred lines derived from eight genetically diverse founder lines. The characterization of 529 MAGIC maize lines shows that the population is a balanced, evenly differentiated mosaic of the eight founders, with mapping power and resolution strengthened by high minor allele frequencies and a fast decay of linkage disequilibrium. We show how MAGIC maize may find strong candidate genes by incorporating genome sequencing and transcriptomics data. We discuss three QTL for grain yield and three for flowering time, reporting candidate genes. Power simulations show that subsets of MAGIC maize might achieve high-power and high-definition QTL mapping.
We demonstrate MAGIC maize’s value in identifying the genetic bases of complex traits of agronomic relevance. The design of MAGIC maize allows the accumulation of sequencing and transcriptomics layers to guide the identification of candidate genes for a number of maize traits at different developmental stages. The characterization of the full MAGIC maize population will lead to higher power and definition in QTL mapping, and lay the basis for improved understanding of maize phenotypes, heterosis included. MAGIC maize is available to researchers.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-015-0716-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4566846  PMID: 26357913
2.  Sequencing of diverse mandarin, pummelo and orange genomes reveals complex history of admixture during citrus domestication 
Nature biotechnology  2014;32(7):656-662.
The domestication of citrus, is poorly understood. Cultivated types are selections from, or hybrids of, wild progenitor species, whose identities and contributions remain controversial. By comparative analysis of a collection of citrus genomes, including a high quality haploid reference, we show that cultivated types were derived from two progenitor species. Though cultivated pummelos represent selections from a single progenitor species, C. maxima, cultivated mandarins are introgressions of C. maxima into the ancestral mandarin species, C. reticulata. The most widely cultivated citrus, sweet orange, is the offspring of previously admixed individuals, but sour orange is an F1 hybrid of pure C. maxima and C. reticulata parents, implying that wild mandarins were part of the early breeding germplasm. A wild “mandarin” from China exhibited substantial divergence from C. reticulata, suggesting the possibility of other unrecognized wild citrus species. Understanding citrus phylogeny through genome analysis clarifies taxonomic relationships and enables sequence-directed genetic improvement.
PMCID: PMC4113729  PMID: 24908277
3.  LTR retrotransposon dynamics in the evolution of the olive (Olea europaea) genome 
Improved knowledge of genome composition, especially of its repetitive component, generates important information for both theoretical and applied research. The olive repetitive component is made up of two main classes of sequences: tandem repeats and retrotransposons (REs). In this study, we provide characterization of a sample of 254 unique full-length long terminal repeat (LTR) REs. In the sample, Ty1-Copia elements were more numerous than Ty3-Gypsy elements. Mapping a large set of Illumina whole-genome shotgun reads onto the identified retroelement set revealed that Gypsy elements are more redundant than Copia elements. The insertion time of intact retroelements was estimated based on sister LTR’s divergence. Although some elements inserted relatively recently, the mean insertion age of the isolated retroelements is around 18 million yrs. Gypsy and Copia retroelements showed different waves of transposition, with Gypsy elements especially active between 10 and 25 million yrs ago and nearly inactive in the last 7 million yrs. The occurrence of numerous solo-LTRs related to isolated full-length retroelements was ascertained for two Gypsy elements and one Copia element. Overall, the results reported in this study show that RE activity (both retrotransposition and DNA loss) has impacted the olive genome structure in more ancient times than in other angiosperms.
PMCID: PMC4379980  PMID: 25428895
LTR retrotransposons; next-generation sequencing; olive; insertion age; BAC sequencing
4.  A Picea abies Linkage Map Based on SNP Markers Identifies QTLs for Four Aspects of Resistance to Heterobasidion parviporum Infection 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101049.
A consensus linkage map of Picea abies, an economically important conifer, was constructed based on the segregation of 686 SNP markers in a F1 progeny population consisting of 247 individuals. The total length of 1889.2 cM covered 96.5% of the estimated genome length and comprised 12 large linkage groups, corresponding to the number of haploid P. abies chromosomes. The sizes of the groups (from 5.9 to 9.9% of the total map length) correlated well with previous estimates of chromosome sizes (from 5.8 to 10.8% of total genome size). Any locus in the genome has a 97% probability to be within 10 cM from a mapped marker, which makes the map suited for QTL mapping. Infecting the progeny trees with the root rot pathogen Heterobasidion parviporum allowed for mapping of four different resistance traits: lesion length at the inoculation site, fungal spread within the sapwood, exclusion of the pathogen from the host after initial infection, and ability to prevent the infection from establishing at all. These four traits were associated with two, four, four and three QTL regions respectively of which none overlapped between the traits. Each QTL explained between 4.6 and 10.1% of the respective traits phenotypic variation. Although the QTL regions contain many more genes than the ones represented by the SNP markers, at least four markers within the confidence intervals originated from genes with known function in conifer defence; a leucoanthocyanidine reductase, which has previously been shown to upregulate during H. parviporum infection, and three intermediates of the lignification process; a hydroxycinnamoyl CoA shikimate/quinate hydroxycinnamoyltransferase, a 4-coumarate CoA ligase, and a R2R3-MYB transcription factor.
PMCID: PMC4103950  PMID: 25036209
5.  The Peculiar Landscape of Repetitive Sequences in the Olive (Olea europaea L.) Genome 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2014;6(4):776-791.
Analyzing genome structure in different species allows to gain an insight into the evolution of plant genome size. Olive (Olea europaea L.) has a medium-sized haploid genome of 1.4 Gb, whose structure is largely uncharacterized, despite the growing importance of this tree as oil crop. Next-generation sequencing technologies and different computational procedures have been used to study the composition of the olive genome and its repetitive fraction. A total of 2.03 and 2.3 genome equivalents of Illumina and 454 reads from genomic DNA, respectively, were assembled following different procedures, which produced more than 200,000 differently redundant contigs, with mean length higher than 1,000 nt. Mapping Illumina reads onto the assembled sequences was used to estimate their redundancy. The genome data set was subdivided into highly and medium redundant and nonredundant contigs. By combining identification and mapping of repeated sequences, it was established that tandem repeats represent a very large portion of the olive genome (∼31% of the whole genome), consisting of six main families of different length, two of which were first discovered in these experiments. The other large redundant class in the olive genome is represented by transposable elements (especially long terminal repeat-retrotransposons). On the whole, the results of our analyses show the peculiar landscape of the olive genome, related to the massive amplification of tandem repeats, more than that reported for any other sequenced plant genome.
PMCID: PMC4007544  PMID: 24671744
genome landscape; Olea europaea; repetitive DNA; tandem repeats; retrotransposons; assembly of NGS reads
6.  An Extensive Evaluation of Read Trimming Effects on Illumina NGS Data Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e85024.
Next Generation Sequencing is having an extremely strong impact in biological and medical research and diagnostics, with applications ranging from gene expression quantification to genotyping and genome reconstruction. Sequencing data is often provided as raw reads which are processed prior to analysis 1 of the most used preprocessing procedures is read trimming, which aims at removing low quality portions while preserving the longest high quality part of a NGS read. In the current work, we evaluate nine different trimming algorithms in four datasets and three common NGS-based applications (RNA-Seq, SNP calling and genome assembly). Trimming is shown to increase the quality and reliability of the analysis, with concurrent gains in terms of execution time and computational resources needed.
PMCID: PMC3871669  PMID: 24376861
7.  The repetitive component of the sunflower genome as shown by different procedures for assembling next generation sequencing reads 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:686.
Next generation sequencing provides a powerful tool to study genome structure in species whose genomes are far from being completely sequenced. In this work we describe and compare different computational approaches to evaluate the repetitive component of the genome of sunflower, by using medium/low coverage Illumina or 454 libraries.
By varying sequencing technology (Illumina or 454), coverage (0.55 x-1.25 x), assemblers and assembly procedures, six different genomic databases were produced. The annotation of these databases showed that they were composed of different proportions of repetitive DNA families. The final assembly of the sequences belonging to the six databases produced a whole genome set of 283,800 contigs. The redundancy of each contig was estimated by mapping the whole genome set with a large Illumina read set and measuring the number of matched Illumina reads. The repetitive component amounted to 81% of the sunflower genome, that is composed mainly of numerous families of Gypsy and Copia retrotransposons. Also many families of non autonomous retrotransposons and DNA transposons (especially of the Helitron superfamily) were identified.
The results substantially matched those previously obtained by using a Sanger-sequenced shotgun library and a standard 454 whole-genome-shotgun approach, indicating the reliability of the proposed procedures also for other species. The repetitive sequences were collected to produce a database, SUNREP, that will be useful for the annotation of the sunflower genome sequence and for studying the genome evolution in dicotyledons.
PMCID: PMC3852528  PMID: 24093210
Genome structure; Next Generation Sequencing; Repetitive DNA; Retrotransposon; Sunflower
8.  Historical Introgression of the Downy Mildew Resistance Gene Rpv12 from the Asian Species Vitis amurensis into Grapevine Varieties 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61228.
The Amur grape (Vitis amurensis Rupr.) thrives naturally in cool climates of Northeast Asia. Resistance against the introduced pathogen Plasmopara viticola is common among wild ecotypes that were propagated from Manchuria into Chinese vineyards or collected by Soviet botanists in Siberia, and used for the introgression of resistance into wine grapes (Vitis vinifera L.). A QTL analysis revealed a dominant gene Rpv12 that explained 79% of the phenotypic variance for downy mildew resistance and was inherited independently of other resistance genes. A Mendelian component of resistance–a hypersensitive response in leaves challenged with P. viticola–was mapped in an interval of 0.2 cM containing an array of coiled-coil NB-LRR genes on chromosome 14. We sequenced 10-kb genic regions in the Rpv12+ haplotype and identified polymorphisms in 12 varieties of V. vinifera using next-generation sequencing. The combination of two SNPs in single-copy genes flanking the NB-LRR cluster distinguished the resistant haplotype from all others found in 200 accessions of V. vinifera, V. amurensis, and V. amurensis x V. vinifera crosses. The Rpv12+ haplotype is shared by 15 varieties, the most ancestral of which are the century-old ‘Zarja severa’ and ‘Michurinets’. Before this knowledge, the chromosome segment around Rpv12+ became introgressed, shortened, and pyramided with another downy mildew resistance gene from North American grapevines (Rpv3) only by phenotypic selection. Rpv12+ has an additive effect with Rpv3+ to protect vines against natural infections, and confers foliar resistance to strains that are virulent on Rpv3+ plants.
PMCID: PMC3625174  PMID: 23593440
10.  Development and Evaluation of a 9K SNP Array for Peach by Internationally Coordinated SNP Detection and Validation in Breeding Germplasm 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35668.
Although a large number of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers covering the entire genome are needed to enable molecular breeding efforts such as genome wide association studies, fine mapping, genomic selection and marker-assisted selection in peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] and related Prunus species, only a limited number of genetic markers, including simple sequence repeats (SSRs), have been available to date. To address this need, an international consortium (The International Peach SNP Consortium; IPSC) has pursued a coordinated effort to perform genome-scale SNP discovery in peach using next generation sequencing platforms to develop and characterize a high-throughput Illumina Infinium® SNP genotyping array platform. We performed whole genome re-sequencing of 56 peach breeding accessions using the Illumina and Roche/454 sequencing technologies. Polymorphism detection algorithms identified a total of 1,022,354 SNPs. Validation with the Illumina GoldenGate® assay was performed on a subset of the predicted SNPs, verifying ∼75% of genic (exonic and intronic) SNPs, whereas only about a third of intergenic SNPs were verified. Conservative filtering was applied to arrive at a set of 8,144 SNPs that were included on the IPSC peach SNP array v1, distributed over all eight peach chromosomes with an average spacing of 26.7 kb between SNPs. Use of this platform to screen a total of 709 accessions of peach in two separate evaluation panels identified a total of 6,869 (84.3%) polymorphic SNPs.
The almost 7,000 SNPs verified as polymorphic through extensive empirical evaluation represent an excellent source of markers for future studies in genetic relatedness, genetic mapping, and dissecting the genetic architecture of complex agricultural traits. The IPSC peach SNP array v1 is commercially available and we expect that it will be used worldwide for genetic studies in peach and related stone fruit and nut species.
PMCID: PMC3334984  PMID: 22536421
11.  Whole genome comparisons of Fragaria, Prunus and Malus reveal different modes of evolution between Rosaceous subfamilies 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:129.
Rosaceae include numerous economically important and morphologically diverse species. Comparative mapping between the member species in Rosaceae have indicated some level of synteny. Recently the whole genome of three crop species, peach, apple and strawberry, which belong to different genera of the Rosaceae family, have been sequenced, allowing in-depth comparison of these genomes.
Our analysis using the whole genome sequences of peach, apple and strawberry identified 1399 orthologous regions between the three genomes, with a mean length of around 100 kb. Each peach chromosome showed major orthology mostly to one strawberry chromosome, but to more than two apple chromosomes, suggesting that the apple genome went through more chromosomal fissions in addition to the whole genome duplication after the divergence of the three genera. However, the distribution of contiguous ancestral regions, identified using the multiple genome rearrangements and ancestors (MGRA) algorithm, suggested that the Fragaria genome went through a greater number of small scale rearrangements compared to the other genomes since they diverged from a common ancestor. Using the contiguous ancestral regions, we reconstructed a hypothetical ancestral genome for the Rosaceae 7 composed of nine chromosomes and propose the evolutionary steps from the ancestral genome to the extant Fragaria, Prunus and Malus genomes.
Our analysis shows that different modes of evolution may have played major roles in different subfamilies of Rosaceae. The hypothetical ancestral genome of Rosaceae and the evolutionary steps that lead to three different lineages of Rosaceae will facilitate our understanding of plant genome evolution as well as have a practical impact on knowledge transfer among member species of Rosaceae.
PMCID: PMC3368713  PMID: 22475018
Rosaceae; Comparative genomics; Evolution
12.  Phenotypic plasticity, QTL mapping and genomic characterization of bud set in black poplar 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:47.
The genetic control of important adaptive traits, such as bud set, is still poorly understood in most forest trees species. Poplar is an ideal model tree to study bud set because of its indeterminate shoot growth. Thus, a full-sib family derived from an intraspecific cross of P. nigra with 162 clonally replicated progeny was used to assess the phenotypic plasticity and genetic variation of bud set in two sites of contrasting environmental conditions.
Six crucial phenological stages of bud set were scored. Night length appeared to be the most important signal triggering the onset of growth cessation. Nevertheless, the effect of other environmental factors, such as temperature, increased during the process. Moreover, a considerable role of genotype × environment (G × E) interaction was found in all phenological stages with the lowest temperature appearing to influence the sensitivity of the most plastic genotypes.
Descriptors of growth cessation and bud onset explained the largest part of phenotypic variation of the entire process. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) for these traits were detected. For the four selected traits (the onset of growth cessation (date2.5), the transition from shoot to bud (date1.5), the duration of bud formation (subproc1) and bud maturation (subproc2)) eight and sixteen QTL were mapped on the maternal and paternal map, respectively. The identified QTL, each one characterized by small or modest effect, highlighted the complex nature of traits involved in bud set process. Comparison between map location of QTL and P. trichocarpa genome sequence allowed the identification of 13 gene models, 67 bud set-related expressional and six functional candidate genes (CGs). These CGs are functionally related to relevant biological processes, environmental sensing, signaling, and cell growth and development. Some strong QTL had no obvious CGs, and hold great promise to identify unknown genes that affect bud set.
This study provides a better understanding of the physiological and genetic dissection of bud set in poplar. The putative QTL identified will be tested for associations in P. nigra natural populations. The identified QTL and CGs will also serve as useful targets for poplar breeding.
PMCID: PMC3378457  PMID: 22471289
13.  The Quest for Rare Variants: Pooled Multiplexed Next Generation Sequencing in Plants 
Next generation sequencing (NGS) instruments produce an unprecedented amount of sequence data at contained costs. This gives researchers the possibility of designing studies with adequate power to identify rare variants at a fraction of the economic and labor resources required by individual Sanger sequencing. As of today, few research groups working in plant sciences have exploited this potentiality, showing that pooled NGS provides results in excellent agreement with those obtained by individual Sanger sequencing. The aim of this review is to convey to the reader the general ideas underlying the use of pooled NGS for the identification of rare variants. To facilitate a thorough understanding of the possibilities of the method, we will explain in detail the possible experimental and analytical approaches and discuss their advantages and disadvantages. We will show that information on allele frequency obtained by pooled NGS can be used to accurately compute basic population genetics indexes such as allele frequency, nucleotide diversity, and Tajima’s D. Finally, we will discuss applications and future perspectives of the multiplexed NGS approach.
PMCID: PMC3384946  PMID: 22754557
rare variants; next generation sequencing; plants; multiplex; barcode; pool; polymerase; nucleotide diversity
14.  Expansion and subfunctionalisation of flavonoid 3',5'-hydroxylases in the grapevine lineage 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:562.
Flavonoid 3',5'-hydroxylases (F3'5'Hs) and flavonoid 3'-hydroxylases (F3'Hs) competitively control the synthesis of delphinidin and cyanidin, the precursors of blue and red anthocyanins. In most plants, F3'5'H genes are present in low-copy number, but in grapevine they are highly redundant.
The first increase in F3'5'H copy number occurred in the progenitor of the eudicot clade at the time of the γ triplication. Further proliferation of F3'5'Hs has occurred in one of the paleologous loci after the separation of Vitaceae from other eurosids, giving rise to 15 paralogues within 650 kb. Twelve reside in 9 tandem blocks of ~35-55 kb that share 91-99% identity. The second paleologous F3'5'H has been maintained as an orphan gene in grapevines, and lacks orthologues in other plants. Duplicate F3'5'Hs have spatially and temporally partitioned expression profiles in grapevine. The orphan F3'5'H copy is highly expressed in vegetative organs. More recent duplicate F3'5'Hs are predominately expressed in berry skins. They differ only slightly in the coding region, but are distinguished in the structure of the promoter. Differences in cis-regulatory sequences of promoter regions are paralleled by temporal specialisation of gene transcription during fruit ripening. Variation in anthocyanin profiles consistently reflects changes in the F3'5'H mRNA pool across different cultivars. More F3'5'H copies are expressed at high levels in grapevine varieties with 93-94% of 3'5'-OH anthocyanins. In grapevines depleted in 3'5'-OH anthocyanins (15-45%), fewer F3'5'H copies are transcribed, and at lower levels. Conversely, only two copies of the gene encoding the competing F3'H enzyme are present in the grape genome; one copy is expressed in both vegetative and reproductive organs at comparable levels among cultivars, while the other is transcriptionally silent.
These results suggest that expansion and subfunctionalisation of F3'5'Hs have increased the complexity and diversification of the fruit colour phenotype among red grape varieties.
PMCID: PMC3091711  PMID: 20939908
15.  Physical mapping in highly heterozygous genomes: a physical contig map of the Pinot Noir grapevine cultivar 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:204.
Most of the grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) cultivars grown today are those selected centuries ago, even though grapevine is one of the most important fruit crops in the world. Grapevine has therefore not benefited from the advances in modern plant breeding nor more recently from those in molecular genetics and genomics: genes controlling important agronomic traits are practically unknown. A physical map is essential to positionally clone such genes and instrumental in a genome sequencing project.
We report on the first whole genome physical map of grapevine built using high information content fingerprinting of 49,104 BAC clones from the cultivar Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir, as most grape varieties, is highly heterozygous at the sequence level. This resulted in the two allelic haplotypes sometimes assembling into separate contigs that had to be accommodated in the map framework or in local expansions of contig maps. We performed computer simulations to assess the effects of increasing levels of sequence heterozygosity on BAC fingerprint assembly and showed that the experimental assembly results are in full agreement with the theoretical expectations, given the heterozygosity levels reported for grape. The map is anchored to a dense linkage map consisting of 994 markers. 436 contigs are anchored to the genetic map, covering 342 of the 475 Mb that make up the grape haploid genome.
We have developed a resource that makes it possible to access the grapevine genome, opening the way to a new era both in grape genetics and breeding and in wine making. The effects of heterozygosity on the assembly have been analyzed and characterized by using several complementary approaches which could be easily transferred to the study of other genomes which present the same features.
PMCID: PMC2865496  PMID: 20346114
16.  Correction: High throughput approaches reveal splicing of primary microRNA transcripts and tissue specific expression of mature microRNAs in Vitis vinifera 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:109.
The version of this article published in BMC Genomics 2009, 10:558, contains data in Table 1 which are now known to be unreliable, and an illustration, in Figure 1, of unusual miRNA processing events predicted by these unreliable data. In this full-length correction, new data replace those found to be unreliable, leading to a more straightforward interpretation without altering the principle conclusions of the study. Table 1 and associated methods have been corrected, Figure 1 deleted, supplementary file 1 added, and modifications made to the sections "Deep sequencing of small RNAs from grapevine leaf tissue" and "Microarray analysis of miRNA expression". The editors and authors regret the inconvenience caused to readers by premature publication of the original paper.
MicroRNAs are short (~21 base) single stranded RNAs that, in plants, are generally coded by specific genes and cleaved specifically from hairpin precursors. MicroRNAs are critical for the regulation of multiple developmental, stress related and other physiological processes in plants. The recent annotation of the genome of the grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) allowed the identification of many putative conserved microRNA precursors, grouped into multiple gene families.
Here we use oligonucleotide arrays to provide the first indication that many of these microRNAs show differential expression patterns between tissues and during the maturation of fruit in the grapevine. Furthermore we demonstrate that whole transcriptome sequencing and deep-sequencing of small RNA fractions can be used both to identify which microRNA precursors are expressed in different tissues and to estimate genomic coordinates and patterns of splicing and alternative splicing for many primary miRNA transcripts.
Our results show that many microRNAs are differentially expressed in different tissues and during fruit maturation in the grapevine. Furthermore, the demonstration that whole transcriptome sequencing can be used to identify candidate splicing events and approximate primary microRNA transcript coordinates represents a significant step towards the large-scale elucidation of mechanisms regulating the expression of microRNAs at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels.
PMCID: PMC2831844  PMID: 20152027
17.  The powdery mildew resistance gene REN1 co-segregates with an NBS-LRR gene cluster in two Central Asian grapevines 
BMC Genetics  2009;10:89.
Grape powdery mildew is caused by the North American native pathogen Erysiphe necator. Eurasian Vitis vinifera varieties were all believed to be susceptible. REN1 is the first resistance gene naturally found in cultivated plants of Vitis vinifera.
REN1 is present in 'Kishmish vatkana' and 'Dzhandzhal kara', two grapevines documented in Central Asia since the 1920's. These cultivars have a second-degree relationship (half sibs, grandparent-grandchild, or avuncular), and share by descent the chromosome on which the resistance allele REN1 is located. The REN1 interval was restricted to 1.4 cM using 38 SSR markers distributed across the locus and the segregation of the resistance phenotype in two progenies of collectively 461 offspring, derived from either resistant parent. The boundary markers delimit a 1.4-Mbp sequence in the PN40024 reference genome, which contains 27 genes with known functions, 2 full-length coiled-coil NBS-LRR genes, and 9 NBS-LRR pseudogenes. In the REN1 locus of PN40024, NBS genes have proliferated through a mixture of segmental duplications, tandem gene duplications, and intragenic recombination between paralogues, indicating that the REN1 locus has been inherently prone to producing genetic variation. Three SSR markers co-segregate with REN1, the outer ones confining the 908-kb array of NBS-LRR genes. Kinship and clustering analyses based on genetic distances with susceptible cultivars representative of Central Asian Vitis vinifera indicated that 'Kishmish vatkana' and 'Dzhandzhal kara' fit well into local germplasm. 'Kishmish vatkana' also has a parent-offspring relationship with the seedless table grape 'Sultanina'. In addition, the distant genetic relatedness to rootstocks, some of which are derived from North American species resistant to powdery mildew and have been used worldwide to guard against phylloxera since the late 1800's, argues against REN1 being infused into Vitis vinifera from a recent interspecific hybridisation.
The REN1 gene resides in an NBS-LRR gene cluster tightly delimited by two flanking SSR markers, which can assist in the selection of this DNA block in breeding between Vitis vinifera cultivars. The REN1 locus has multiple layers of structural complexity compared with its two closely related paralogous NBS clusters, which are located some 5 Mbp upstream and 4 Mbp downstream of the REN1 interval on the same chromosome.
PMCID: PMC2814809  PMID: 20042081
18.  High throughput approaches reveal splicing of primary microRNA transcripts and tissue specific expression of mature microRNAs in Vitis vinifera 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:558.
MicroRNAs are short (~21 base) single stranded RNAs that, in plants, are generally coded by specific genes and cleaved specifically from hairpin precursors. MicroRNAs are critical for the regulation of multiple developmental, stress related and other physiological processes in plants. The recent annotation of the genome of the grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) allowed the identification of many putative conserved microRNA precursors, grouped into multiple gene families.
Here we use oligonucleotide arrays to provide the first indication that many of these microRNAs show differential expression patterns between tissues and during the maturation of fruit in the grapevine. Furthermore we demonstrate that whole transcriptome sequencing and deep-sequencing of small RNA fractions can be used both to identify which microRNA precursors are expressed in different tissues and to estimate genomic coordinates and patterns of splicing and alternative splicing for many primary miRNA transcripts.
Our results show that many microRNAs are differentially expressed in different tissues and during fruit maturation in the grapevine. Furthermore, the demonstration that whole transcriptome sequencing can be used to identify candidate splicing events and approximate primary microRNA transcript coordinates represents a significant step towards the large-scale elucidation of mechanisms regulating the expression of microRNAs at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels.
PMCID: PMC2822795  PMID: 19939267
19.  Automated FingerPrint Background removal: FPB 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10:127.
The construction of a whole-genome physical map has been an essential component of numerous genome projects initiated since the inception of the Human Genome Project. Its usefulness has been proved for whole-genome shotgun projects as a post-assembly validation and recently it has also been used in the assembly step to constrain on BACs positions. Fingerprinting is usually the method of choice for construction of physical maps. A clone fingerprint is composed of true peaks representing real fragments and background peaks, mainly composed of E. coli genomic DNA, partial digestions, star activity by-products, and machine background. High-throughput fingerprinting leads to the production of thousands of BAC clone fingerprints per day. That is why background peaks removal has become an important issue and needs to be automatized, especially in capillary electrophoresis based fingerprints.
At the moment, the only tools available for such a task are GenoProfiler and its descendant FPMiner. The large variation in the quality of fingerprints that is usually present in large fingerprinting projects represents a major difficulty in the correct removal of background peaks that has only been partially addressed by the methods so far adopted that all require a long manual optimization of parameters. Thus, we implemented a new data-independent tool, FPB (FingerPrint Background removal), suitable for large scale projects as well as mapping of few clones.
FPB is freely available at . FPB was used to remove the background from all fingerprints of three grapevine physical map projects. The first project consists of about 50,000 fingerprints, the second one consists of about 70,000 fingerprints, and the third one consists of about 45,000 fingerprints. In all cases a successful assembly was built.
PMCID: PMC2689866  PMID: 19405935
20.  Annotating genomes with massive-scale RNA sequencing 
Genome Biology  2008;9(12):R175.
A method for de novo genome annotation using high-throughput cDNA sequencing data.
Next generation technologies enable massive-scale cDNA sequencing (so-called RNA-Seq). Mainly because of the difficulty of aligning short reads on exon-exon junctions, no attempts have been made so far to use RNA-Seq for building gene models de novo, that is, in the absence of a set of known genes and/or splicing events. We present G-Mo.R-Se (Gene Modelling using RNA-Seq), an approach aimed at building gene models directly from RNA-Seq and demonstrate its utility on the grapevine genome.
PMCID: PMC2646279  PMID: 19087247
21.  A set of microsatellite markers with long core repeat optimized for grape (Vitis spp.) genotyping 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:127.
Individual fingerprinting based on molecular markers has become a popular tool for studies of population genetics and analysis of genetic diversity in germplasm collections, including the solution of synonymy/homonymy and analysis of paternity and kinship.
Genetic profiling of individuals is nowadays based on SSR (Simple Sequence Repeat) markers, which have a number of positive features that make them superior to any other molecular marker developed so far. In humans, SSRs with core repeats three to five nucleotides long are preferred because neighbour alleles are more easily separated and distinguished from each other; while in plants, SSRs with shorter repeats, namely two-nucleotides long, are still in use although they suffer lower separation of neighbour alleles and uncomfortable stuttering.
New microsatellite markers, containing tri-, tetra-, and penta-nucleotide repeats, were selected from a total of 26,962 perfect microsatellites in the genome sequence of nearly homozogous grapevine PN40024, assembled from reads covering 8.4 X genome equivalents.
Long nucleotide repeats were selected for fingerprinting, as previously done in many species including humans. The new grape SSR markers were tested for their reproducibility and information content in a panel of 48 grape cultivars. Allelic segregation was tested in progenies derived from two controlled crosses.
A list of 38 markers with excellent quality of peaks, high power of discrimination, and uniform genome distribution (1–3 markers/chromosome), is proposed for grape genotyping. The reasons for exclusion are given for those that were discarded. The construction of marker-specific allelic ladders is also described, and their use is recommended to harmonise allelic calls and make the data obtained with different equipment and by different laboratories fully comparable.
PMCID: PMC2625351  PMID: 19087321
22.  A physical map of the heterozygous grapevine 'Cabernet Sauvignon' allows mapping candidate genes for disease resistance 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:66.
Whole-genome physical maps facilitate genome sequencing, sequence assembly, mapping of candidate genes, and the design of targeted genetic markers. An automated protocol was used to construct a Vitis vinifera 'Cabernet Sauvignon' physical map. The quality of the result was addressed with regard to the effect of high heterozygosity on the accuracy of contig assembly. Its usefulness for the genome-wide mapping of genes for disease resistance, which is an important trait for grapevine, was then assessed.
The physical map included 29,727 BAC clones assembled into 1,770 contigs, spanning 715,684 kbp, and corresponding to 1.5-fold the genome size. Map inflation was due to high heterozygosity, which caused either the separation of allelic BACs in two different contigs, or local mis-assembly in contigs containing BACs from the two haplotypes. Genetic markers anchored 395 contigs or 255,476 kbp to chromosomes. The fully automated assembly and anchorage procedures were validated by BAC-by-BAC blast of the end sequences against the grape genome sequence, unveiling 7.3% of chimerical contigs. The distribution across the physical map of candidate genes for non-host and host resistance, and for defence signalling pathways was then studied. NBS-LRR and RLK genes for host resistance were found in 424 contigs, 133 of them (32%) were assigned to chromosomes, on which they are mostly organised in clusters. Non-host and defence signalling genes were found in 99 contigs dispersed without a discernable pattern across the genome.
Despite some limitations that interfere with the correct assembly of heterozygous clones into contigs, the 'Cabernet Sauvignon' physical map is a useful and reliable intermediary step between a genetic map and the genome sequence. This tool was successfully exploited for a quick mapping of complex families of genes, and it strengthened previous clues of co-localisation of major NBS-LRR clusters and disease resistance loci in grapevine.
PMCID: PMC2442077  PMID: 18554400
23.  Global expression analysis of nucleotide binding site-leucine rich repeat-encoding and related genes in Arabidopsis 
BMC Plant Biology  2007;7:56.
Nucleotide binding site-leucine rich repeat (NBS-LRR)-encoding genes comprise the largest class of plant disease resistance genes. The 149 NBS-LRR-encoding genes and the 58 related genes that do not encode LRRs represent approximately 0.8% of all ORFs so far annotated in Arabidopsis ecotype Col-0. Despite their prevalence in the genome and functional importance, there was little information regarding expression of these genes.
We analyzed the expression patterns of ~170 NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes in Arabidopsis Col-0 using multiple analytical approaches: expressed sequenced tag (EST) representation, massively parallel signature sequencing (MPSS), microarray analysis, rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE) PCR, and gene trap lines. Most of these genes were expressed at low levels with a variety of tissue specificities. Expression was detected by at least one approach for all but 10 of these genes. The expression of some but not the majority of NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes was affected by salicylic acid (SA) treatment; the response to SA varied among different accessions. An analysis of previously published microarray data indicated that ten NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes exhibited increased expression in wild-type Landsberg erecta (Ler) after flagellin treatment. Several of these ten genes also showed altered expression after SA treatment, consistent with the regulation of R gene expression during defense responses and overlap between the basal defense response and salicylic acid signaling pathways. Enhancer trap analysis indicated that neither jasmonic acid nor benzothiadiazole (BTH), a salicylic acid analog, induced detectable expression of the five NBS-LRR-encoding genes and one TIR-NBS-encoding gene tested; however, BTH did induce detectable expression of the other TIR-NBS-encoding gene analyzed. Evidence for alternative mRNA polyadenylation sites was observed for many of the tested genes. Evidence for alternative splicing was found for at least 12 genes, 11 of which encode TIR-NBS-LRR proteins. There was no obvious correlation between expression pattern, phylogenetic relationship or genomic location of the NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes studied.
Transcripts of many NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes were defined. Most were present at low levels and exhibited tissue-specific expression patterns. Expression data are consistent with most Arabidopsis NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes functioning in plant defense responses but do not preclude other biological roles.
PMCID: PMC2175511  PMID: 17956627
24.  SNP frequency, haplotype structure and linkage disequilibrium in elite maize inbred lines 
BMC Genetics  2002;3:19.
Recent studies of ancestral maize populations indicate that linkage disequilibrium tends to dissipate rapidly, sometimes within 100 bp. We set out to examine the linkage disequilibrium and diversity in maize elite inbred lines, which have been subject to population bottlenecks and intense selection by breeders. Such population events are expected to increase the amount of linkage disequilibrium, but reduce diversity. The results of this study will inform the design of genetic association studies.
We examined the frequency and distribution of DNA polymorphisms at 18 maize genes in 36 maize inbreds, chosen to represent most of the genetic diversity in U.S. elite maize breeding pool. The frequency of nucleotide changes is high, on average one polymorphism per 31 bp in non-coding regions and 1 polymorphism per 124 bp in coding regions. Insertions and deletions are frequent in non-coding regions (1 per 85 bp), but rare in coding regions. A small number (2–8) of distinct and highly diverse haplotypes can be distinguished at all loci examined. Within genes, SNP loci comprising the haplotypes are in linkage disequilibrium with each other.
No decline of linkage disequilibrium within a few hundred base pairs was found in the elite maize germplasm. This finding, as well as the small number of haplotypes, relative to neutral expectation, is consistent with the effects of breeding-induced bottlenecks and selection on the elite germplasm pool. The genetic distance between haplotypes is large, indicative of an ancient gene pool and of possible interspecific hybridization events in maize ancestry.
PMCID: PMC130040  PMID: 12366868
25.  Three distinct mutational mechanisms acting on a single gene underpin the origin of yellow flesh in peach 
The Plant Journal  2013;76(2):175-187.
Peach flesh color (white or yellow) is among the most popular commercial criteria for peach classification, and has implications for consumer acceptance and fruit nutritional quality. Despite the increasing interest in improving cultivars of both flesh types, little is known about the genetic basis for the carotenoid content diversity in peach. Here we describe the association between genotypes at a locus encoding the carotenoid cleavage dioxygenase 4 (PpCCD4), localized in pseudomolecule 1 of the Prunus persica reference genome sequence, and the flesh color for 37 peach varieties, including two somatic revertants, and three ancestral relatives of peach, providing definitive evidence that this locus is responsible for flesh color phenotype. We show that yellow peach alleles have arisen from various ancestral haplotypes by at least three independent mutational events involving nucleotide substitutions, small insertions and transposable element insertions, and that these mutations, despite being located within the transcribed portion of the gene, also result in marked differences in transcript levels, presumably as a consequence of differential transcript stability involving nonsense-mediated mRNA decay. The PpCCD4 gene provides a unique example of a gene for which humans, in their quest to diversify phenotypic appearance and qualitative characteristics of a fruit, have been able to select and exploit multiple mutations resulting from a variety of mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC4223380  PMID: 23855972
Prunus persica L. Batsch; carotenoid cleavage dioxygenase; allelic variants; transposable element; somatic revertants; nonsense-mediated mRNA decay

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