The ripening physiology of detached fruit is altered by low oxygen conditions with profound effects on quality parameters. To study hypoxia-related processes and regulatory mechanisms, apple (Malus domestica, cv Granny Smith) fruit, harvested at commercial ripening, were kept at 1°C under normoxic (control) and hypoxic (0.4 and 0.8 kPa oxygen) conditions for up to 60 days. NMR analyses of cortex tissue identified eight metabolites showing significantly different accumulations between samples, with ethanol and alanine displaying the most pronounced difference between hypoxic and normoxic treatments. A rapid up-regulation of alcohol dehydrogenase and pyruvate-related metabolism (lactate dehydrogenase, pyruvate decarboxylase, alanine aminotransferase) gene expression was detected under both hypoxic conditions with a more pronounced effect induced by the lowest (0.4 kPa) oxygen concentration. Both hypoxic conditions negatively affected ACC synthase and ACC oxidase transcript accumulation. Analysis of RNA-seq data of samples collected after 24 days of hypoxic treatment identified more than 1000 genes differentially expressed when comparing 0.4 vs. 0.8 kPa oxygen concentration samples. Genes involved in cell-wall, minor and major CHO, amino acid and secondary metabolisms, fermentation and glycolysis as well as genes involved in transport, defense responses, and oxidation-reduction appeared to be selectively affected by treatments. The lowest oxygen concentration induced a higher expression of transcription factors belonging to AUX/IAA, WRKY, HB, Zinc-finger families, while MADS box family genes were more expressed when apples were kept under 0.8 kPa oxygen. Out of the eight group VII ERF members present in apple genome, two genes showed a rapid up-regulation under hypoxia, and western blot analysis showed that apple MdRAP2.12 proteins were differentially accumulated in normoxic and hypoxic samples, with the highest level reached under 0.4 kPa oxygen. These data suggest that ripe apple tissues finely and specifically modulate sensing and regulatory mechanisms in response to different hypoxic stress conditions.
cortex; ethylene-responsive factors; low oxygen stress; Malus domestica; metabolic profiling; postharvest; pyruvate metabolism; storage
The complex dynamics of gene regulation in plants are still far from being fully understood. Among many factors involved, alternative splicing (AS) in particular is one of the least well documented. For many years, AS has been considered of less relevant in plants, especially when compared to animals, however, since the introduction of next generation sequencing techniques the number of plant genes believed to be alternatively spliced has increased exponentially.
Here, we performed a comprehensive high-throughput transcript sequencing of ten different grapevine cultivars, which resulted in the first high coverage atlas of the grape berry transcriptome. We also developed findAS, a software tool for the analysis of alternatively spliced junctions. We demonstrate that at least 44 % of multi-exonic genes undergo AS and a large number of low abundance splice variants is present within the 131.622 splice junctions we have annotated from Pinot noir.
Our analysis shows that ~70 % of AS events have relatively low expression levels, furthermore alternative splice sites seem to be enriched near the constitutive ones in some extent showing the noise of the splicing mechanisms. However, AS seems to be extensively conserved among the 10 cultivars.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1922-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Alternative splicing; Vitis vinifera; RNA-seq; Stochastic noise
High-density SNP arrays for genome-wide assessment of allelic variation have made high resolution genetic characterization of crop germplasm feasible. A medium density array for apple, the IRSC 8K SNP array, has been successfully developed and used for screens of bi-parental populations. However, the number of robust and well-distributed markers contained on this array was not sufficient to perform genome-wide association analyses in wider germplasm sets, or Pedigree-Based Analysis at high precision, because of rapid decay of linkage disequilibrium. We describe the development of an Illumina Infinium array targeting 20K SNPs. The SNPs were predicted from re-sequencing data derived from the genomes of 13 Malus × domestica apple cultivars and one accession belonging to a crab apple species (M. micromalus). A pipeline for SNP selection was devised that avoided the pitfalls associated with the inclusion of paralogous sequence variants, supported the construction of robust multi-allelic SNP haploblocks and selected up to 11 entries within narrow genomic regions of ±5 kb, termed focal points (FPs). Broad genome coverage was attained by placing FPs at 1 cM intervals on a consensus genetic map, complementing them with FPs to enrich the ends of each of the chromosomes, and by bridging physical intervals greater than 400 Kbps. The selection also included ∼3.7K validated SNPs from the IRSC 8K array. The array has already been used in other studies where ∼15.8K SNP markers were mapped with an average of ∼6.8K SNPs per full-sib family. The newly developed array with its high density of polymorphic validated SNPs is expected to be of great utility for Pedigree-Based Analysis and Genomic Selection. It will also be a valuable tool to help dissect the genetic mechanisms controlling important fruit quality traits, and to aid the identification of marker-trait associations suitable for the application of Marker Assisted Selection in apple breeding programs.
We present a draft assembly of the genome of European pear (Pyrus communis) ‘Bartlett’. Our assembly was developed employing second generation sequencing technology (Roche 454), from single-end, 2 kb, and 7 kb insert paired-end reads using Newbler (version 2.7). It contains 142,083 scaffolds greater than 499 bases (maximum scaffold length of 1.2 Mb) and covers a total of 577.3 Mb, representing most of the expected 600 Mb Pyrus genome. A total of 829,823 putative single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were detected using re-sequencing of ‘Louise Bonne de Jersey’ and ‘Old Home’. A total of 2,279 genetically mapped SNP markers anchor 171 Mb of the assembled genome. Ab initio gene prediction combined with prediction based on homology searching detected 43,419 putative gene models. Of these, 1219 proteins (556 clusters) are unique to European pear compared to 12 other sequenced plant genomes. Analysis of the expansin gene family provided an example of the quality of the gene prediction and an insight into the relationships among one class of cell wall related genes that control fruit softening in both European pear and apple (Malus×domestica). The ‘Bartlett’ genome assembly v1.0 (http://www.rosaceae.org/species/pyrus/pyrus_communis/genome_v1.0) is an invaluable tool for identifying the genetic control of key horticultural traits in pear and will enable the wide application of marker-assisted and genomic selection that will enhance the speed and efficiency of pear cultivar development.
Second generation sequencing has permitted detailed sequence characterisation at the whole genome level of a growing number of non-model organisms, but the data produced have short read-lengths and biased genome coverage leading to fragmented genome assemblies. The PacBio RS long-read sequencing platform offers the promise of increased read length and unbiased genome coverage and thus the potential to produce genome sequence data of a finished quality containing fewer gaps and longer contigs. However, these advantages come at a much greater cost per nucleotide and with a perceived increase in error-rate. In this investigation, we evaluated the performance of the PacBio RS sequencing platform through the sequencing and de novo assembly of the Potentilla micrantha chloroplast genome.
Following error-correction, a total of 28,638 PacBio RS reads were recovered with a mean read length of 1,902 bp totalling 54,492,250 nucleotides and representing an average depth of coverage of 320× the chloroplast genome. The dataset covered the entire 154,959 bp of the chloroplast genome in a single contig (100% coverage) compared to seven contigs (90.59% coverage) recovered from an Illumina data, and revealed no bias in coverage of GC rich regions. Post-assembly the data were largely concordant with the Illumina data generated and allowed 187 ambiguities in the Illumina data to be resolved. The additional read length also permitted small differences in the two inverted repeat regions to be assigned unambiguously.
This is the first report to our knowledge of a chloroplast genome assembled de novo using PacBio sequence data. The PacBio RS data generated here were assembled into a single large contig spanning the P. micrantha chloroplast genome, with a higher degree of accuracy than an Illumina dataset generated at a much greater depth of coverage, due to longer read lengths and lower GC bias in the data. The results we present suggest PacBio data will be of immense utility for the development of genome sequence assemblies containing fewer unresolved gaps and ambiguities and a significantly smaller number of contigs than could be produced using short-read sequence data alone.
Third-generation sequencing; NGen; Genomics; Assembly; Annotation; Oxford nanopore; Pacific BioSciences; Roche 454
High throughput arrays for the simultaneous genotyping of thousands of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have made the rapid genetic characterisation of plant genomes and the development of saturated linkage maps a realistic prospect for many plant species of agronomic importance. However, the correct calling of SNP genotypes in divergent polyploid genomes using array technology can be problematic due to paralogy, and to divergence in probe sequences causing changes in probe binding efficiencies. An Illumina Infinium II whole-genome genotyping array was recently developed for the cultivated apple and used to develop a molecular linkage map for an apple rootstock progeny (M432), but a large proportion of segregating SNPs were not mapped in the progeny, due to unexpected genotype clustering patterns. To investigate the causes of this unexpected clustering we performed BLAST analysis of all probe sequences against the ‘Golden Delicious’ genome sequence and discovered evidence for paralogous annealing sites and probe sequence divergence for a high proportion of probes contained on the array. Following visual re-evaluation of the genotyping data generated for 8,788 SNPs for the M432 progeny using the array, we manually re-scored genotypes at 818 loci and mapped a further 797 markers to the M432 linkage map. The newly mapped markers included the majority of those that could not be mapped previously, as well as loci that were previously scored as monomorphic, but which segregated due to divergence leading to heterozygosity in probe annealing sites. An evaluation of the 8,788 probes in a diverse collection of Malus germplasm showed that more than half the probes returned genotype clustering patterns that were difficult or impossible to interpret reliably, highlighting implications for the use of the array in genome-wide association studies.
Wolbachia is one of the most successful and abundant symbiotic bacteria in nature, infecting more than 40% of the terrestrial arthropod species. Here we report the draft genome sequence of a novel Wolbachia strain named “wSuzi” that was retrieved from the genome sequencing of its host, the invasive pest Drosophila suzukii.
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.
Rosaceae; Comparative genomics; Evolution
As high-throughput genetic marker screening systems are essential for a range of genetics studies and plant breeding applications, the International RosBREED SNP Consortium (IRSC) has utilized the Illumina Infinium® II system to develop a medium- to high-throughput SNP screening tool for genome-wide evaluation of allelic variation in apple (Malus×domestica) breeding germplasm. For genome-wide SNP discovery, 27 apple cultivars were chosen to represent worldwide breeding germplasm and re-sequenced at low coverage with the Illumina Genome Analyzer II. Following alignment of these sequences to the whole genome sequence of ‘Golden Delicious’, SNPs were identified using SoapSNP. A total of 2,113,120 SNPs were detected, corresponding to one SNP to every 288 bp of the genome. The Illumina GoldenGate® assay was then used to validate a subset of 144 SNPs with a range of characteristics, using a set of 160 apple accessions. This validation assay enabled fine-tuning of the final subset of SNPs for the Illumina Infinium® II system. The set of stringent filtering criteria developed allowed choice of a set of SNPs that not only exhibited an even distribution across the apple genome and a range of minor allele frequencies to ensure utility across germplasm, but also were located in putative exonic regions to maximize genotyping success rate. A total of 7867 apple SNPs was established for the IRSC apple 8K SNP array v1, of which 5554 were polymorphic after evaluation in segregating families and a germplasm collection. This publicly available genomics resource will provide an unprecedented resolution of SNP haplotypes, which will enable marker-locus-trait association discovery, description of the genetic architecture of quantitative traits, investigation of genetic variation (neutral and functional), and genomic selection in apple.
Apple (Malus×domestica Borkh) is among the main sources of phenolic compounds in the human diet. The genetic basis of the quantitative variations of these potentially beneficial phenolic compounds was investigated. A segregating F1 population was used to map metabolite quantitative trait loci (mQTLs). Untargeted metabolic profiling of peel and flesh tissues of ripe fruits was performed using liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS), resulting in the detection of 418 metabolites in peel and 254 in flesh. In mQTL mapping using MetaNetwork, 669 significant mQTLs were detected: 488 in the peel and 181 in the flesh. Four linkage groups (LGs), LG1, LG8, LG13, and LG16, were found to contain mQTL hotspots, mainly regulating metabolites that belong to the phenylpropanoid pathway. The genetics of annotated metabolites was studied in more detail using MapQTL®. A number of quercetin conjugates had mQTLs on LG1 or LG13. The most important mQTL hotspot with the largest number of metabolites was detected on LG16: mQTLs for 33 peel-related and 17 flesh-related phenolic compounds. Structural genes involved in the phenylpropanoid biosynthetic pathway were located, using the apple genome sequence. The structural gene leucoanthocyanidin reductase (LAR1) was in the mQTL hotspot on LG16, as were seven transcription factor genes. The authors believe that this is the first time that a QTL analysis was performed on such a high number of metabolites in an outbreeding plant species.
Malus×domestica Borkh; genetical metabolomics; LC-MS; MapQTL; MetaNetwork; untargeted and targeted mQTL mapping
Plants have followed a reticulate type of evolution and taxa have frequently merged via allopolyploidization. A polyploid structure of sequenced genomes has often been proposed, but the chromosomes belonging to putative component genomes are difficult to identify. The 19 grapevine chromosomes are evolutionary stable structures: their homologous triplets have strongly conserved gene order, interrupted by rare translocations. The aim of this study is to examine how the grapevine nucleotide-binding site (NBS)-encoding resistance (NBS-R) genes have evolved in the genomic context and to understand mechanisms for the genome evolution. We show that, in grapevine, i) helitrons have significantly contributed to transposition of NBS-R genes, and ii) NBS-R gene cluster similarity indicates the existence of two groups of chromosomes (named as Va and Vc) that may have evolved independently. Chromosome triplets consist of two Va and one Vc chromosomes, as expected from the tetraploid and diploid conditions of the two component genomes. The hexaploid state could have been derived from either allopolyploidy or the separation of the Va and Vc component genomes in the same nucleus before fusion, as known for Rosaceae species. Time estimation indicates that grapevine component genomes may have fused about 60 mya, having had at least 40–60 mya to evolve independently. Chromosome number variation in the Vitaceae and related families, and the gap between the time of eudicot radiation and the age of Vitaceae fossils, are accounted for by our hypothesis.
Downy mildew, caused by the oomycete Plasmopara viticola, is a serious disease in Vitis vinifera, the most commonly cultivated grapevine species. Several wild Vitis species have instead been found to be resistant to this pathogen and have been used as a source to introgress resistance into a V. vinifera background. Stilbenoids represent the major phytoalexins in grapevine, and their toxicity is closely related to the specific compound. The aim of this study was to assess the resistance response to P. viticola of the Merzling × Teroldego cross by profiling the stilbenoid content of the leaves of an entire population and the transcriptome of resistant and susceptible individuals following infection.
A three-year analysis of the population's response to artificial inoculation showed that individuals were distributed in nine classes ranging from total resistance to total susceptibility. In addition, quantitative metabolite profiling of stilbenoids in the population, carried out using HPLC-DAD-MS, identified three distinct groups differing according to the concentrations present and the complexity of their profiles. The high producers were characterized by the presence of trans-resveratrol, trans-piceid, trans-pterostilbene and up to thirteen different viniferins, nine of them new in grapevine.
Accumulation of these compounds is consistent with a resistant phenotype and suggests that they may contribute to the resistance response.
A preliminary transcriptional study using cDNA-AFLP selected a set of genes modulated by the oomycete in a resistant genotype. The expression of this set of genes in resistant and susceptible genotypes of the progeny population was then assessed by comparative microarray analysis.
A group of 57 genes was found to be exclusively modulated in the resistant genotype suggesting that they are involved in the grapevine-P. viticola incompatible interaction. Functional annotation of these transcripts revealed that they belong to the categories defense response, photosynthesis, primary and secondary metabolism, signal transduction and transport.
This study reports the results of a combined metabolic and transcriptional profiling of a grapevine population segregating for resistance to P. viticola. Some resistant individuals were identified and further characterized at the molecular level. These results will be valuable to future grapevine breeding programs.
Comparative genome mapping studies in Rosaceae have been conducted until now by aligning genetic maps within the same genus, or closely related genera and using a limited number of common markers. The growing body of genomics resources and sequence data for both Prunus and Fragaria permits detailed comparisons between these genera and the recently released Malus × domestica genome sequence.
We generated a comparative analysis using 806 molecular markers that are anchored genetically to the Prunus and/or Fragaria reference maps, and physically to the Malus genome sequence. Markers in common for Malus and Prunus, and Malus and Fragaria, respectively were 784 and 148. The correspondence between marker positions was high and conserved syntenic blocks were identified among the three genera in the Rosaceae. We reconstructed a proposed ancestral genome for the Rosaceae.
A genome containing nine chromosomes is the most likely candidate for the ancestral Rosaceae progenitor. The number of chromosomal translocations observed between the three genera investigated was low. However, the number of inversions identified among Malus and Prunus was much higher than any reported genome comparisons in plants, suggesting that small inversions have played an important role in the evolution of these two genera or of the Rosaceae.
In response to pathogen attack, grapevine synthesizes phytoalexins belonging to the family of stilbenes. Grapevine cell cultures represent a good model system for studying the basic mechanisms of plant response to biotic and abiotic elicitors. Among these, modified β-cyclodextrins seem to act as true elicitors inducing strong production of the stilbene resveratrol.
The transcriptome changes of Vitis riparia × Vitis berlandieri grapevine cells in response to the modified β-cyclodextrin, DIMEB, were analyzed 2 and 6 h after treatment using a suppression subtractive hybridization experiment and a microarray analysis respectively. At both time points, we identified a specific set of induced genes belonging to the general phenylpropanoid metabolism, including stilbenes and hydroxycinnamates, and to defence proteins such as PR proteins and chitinases. At 6 h we also observed a down-regulation of the genes involved in cell division and cell-wall loosening.
We report the first large-scale study of the molecular effects of DIMEB, a resveratrol inducer, on grapevine cell cultures. This molecule seems to mimic a defence elicitor which enhances the physical barriers of the cell, stops cell division and induces phytoalexin synthesis.
Two complete genome sequences are available for Vitis vinifera Pinot noir. Based on the sequence and gene predictions produced by the IASMA, we performed an in silico detection of putative microRNA genes and of their targets, and collected the most reliable microRNA predictions in a web database. The application is available at .
The program FindMiRNA was used to detect putative microRNA genes in the grape genome. A very high number of predictions was retrieved, calling for validation. Nine parameters were calculated and, based on the grape microRNAs dataset available at miRBase, thresholds were defined and applied to FindMiRNA predictions having targets in gene exons. In the resulting subset, predictions were ranked according to precursor positions and sequence similarity, and to target identity. To further validate FindMiRNA predictions, comparisons to the Arabidopsis genome, to the grape Genoscope genome, and to the grape EST collection were performed. Results were stored in a MySQL database and a web interface was prepared to query the database and retrieve predictions of interest.
The GrapeMiRNA database encompasses 5,778 microRNA predictions spanning the whole grape genome. Predictions are integrated with information that can be of use in selection procedures. Tools added in the web interface also allow to inspect predictions according to gene ontology classes and metabolic pathways of targets. The GrapeMiRNA database can be of help in selecting candidate microRNA genes to be validated.
Large-scale sequencing projects have now become routine lab practice and this has led to the development of a new generation of tools involving function prediction methods, bringing the latter back to the fore. The advent of Gene Ontology, with its structured vocabulary and paradigm, has provided computational biologists with an appropriate means for this task.
We present here a novel method called ARGOT (Annotation Retrieval of Gene Ontology Terms) that is able to process quickly thousands of sequences for functional inference. The tool exploits for the first time an integrated approach which combines clustering of GO terms, based on their semantic similarities, with a weighting scheme which assesses retrieved hits sharing a certain number of biological features with the sequence to be annotated. These hits may be obtained by different methods and in this work we have based ARGOT processing on BLAST results.
The extensive benchmark involved 10,000 protein sequences, the complete S. cerevisiae genome and a small subset of proteins for purposes of comparison with other available tools. The algorithm was proven to outperform existing methods and to be suitable for function prediction of single proteins due to its high degree of sensitivity, specificity and coverage.
Worldwide, grapes and their derived products have a large market. The cultivated grape species Vitis vinifera has potential to become a model for fruit trees genetics. Like many plant species, it is highly heterozygous, which is an additional challenge to modern whole genome shotgun sequencing. In this paper a high quality draft genome sequence of a cultivated clone of V. vinifera Pinot Noir is presented.
We estimate the genome size of V. vinifera to be 504.6 Mb. Genomic sequences corresponding to 477.1 Mb were assembled in 2,093 metacontigs and 435.1 Mb were anchored to the 19 linkage groups (LGs). The number of predicted genes is 29,585, of which 96.1% were assigned to LGs. This assembly of the grape genome provides candidate genes implicated in traits relevant to grapevine cultivation, such as those influencing wine quality, via secondary metabolites, and those connected with the extreme susceptibility of grape to pathogens. Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) distribution was consistent with a diffuse haplotype structure across the genome. Of around 2,000,000 SNPs, 1,751,176 were mapped to chromosomes and one or more of them were identified in 86.7% of anchored genes. The relative age of grape duplicated genes was estimated and this made possible to reveal a relatively recent Vitis-specific large scale duplication event concerning at least 10 chromosomes (duplication not reported before).
Sanger shotgun sequencing and highly efficient sequencing by synthesis (SBS), together with dedicated assembly programs, resolved a complex heterozygous genome. A consensus sequence of the genome and a set of mapped marker loci were generated. Homologous chromosomes of Pinot Noir differ by 11.2% of their DNA (hemizygous DNA plus chromosomal gaps). SNP markers are offered as a tool with the potential of introducing a new era in the molecular breeding of grape.
Grapevine (Vitis species) is among the most important fruit crops in terms of cultivated area and economic impact. Despite this relevance, little is known about the transcriptional changes and the regulatory circuits underlying the biochemical and physical changes occurring during berry development.
Fruit ripening in the non-climacteric crop species Vitis vinifera L. has been investigated at the transcriptional level by the use of the Affymetrix Vitis GeneChip® which contains approximately 14,500 unigenes. Gene expression data obtained from berries sampled before and after véraison in three growing years, were analyzed to identify genes specifically involved in fruit ripening and to investigate seasonal influences on the process. From these analyses a core set of 1477 genes was found which was similarly modulated in all seasons. We were able to separate ripening specific isoforms within gene families and to identify ripening related genes which appeared strongly regulated also by the seasonal weather conditions. Transcripts annotation by Gene Ontology vocabulary revealed five overrepresented functional categories of which cell wall organization and biogenesis, carbohydrate and secondary metabolisms and stress response were specifically induced during the ripening phase, while photosynthesis was strongly repressed. About 19% of the core gene set was characterized by genes involved in regulatory processes, such as transcription factors and transcripts related to hormonal metabolism and signal transduction. Auxin, ethylene and light emerged as the main stimuli influencing berry development. In addition, an oxidative burst, previously not detected in grapevine, characterized by rapid accumulation of H2O2 starting from véraison and by the modulation of many ROS scavenging enzymes, was observed.
The time-course gene expression analysis of grapevine berry development has identified the occurrence of two well distinct phases along the process. The pre-véraison phase represents a reprogramming stage of the cellular metabolism, characterized by the expression of numerous genes involved in hormonal signalling and transcriptional regulation. The post-véraison phase is characterized by the onset of a ripening-specialized metabolism responsible for the phenotypic traits of the ripe berry. Between the two phases, at véraison, an oxidative burst and the concurrent modulation of the anti-oxidative enzymatic network was observed. The large number of regulatory genes we have identified represents a powerful new resource for dissecting the mechanisms of fruit ripening control in non-climacteric plants.
Oceans cover approximately 70% of the Earth's surface with an average depth of 3800 m and a pressure of 38 MPa, thus a large part of the biosphere is occupied by high pressure environments. Piezophilic (pressure-loving) organisms are adapted to deep-sea life and grow optimally at pressures higher than 0.1 MPa. To better understand high pressure adaptation from a genomic point of view three different Photobacterium profundum strains were compared. Using the sequenced piezophile P. profundum strain SS9 as a reference, microarray technology was used to identify the genomic regions missing in two other strains: a pressure adapted strain (named DSJ4) and a pressure-sensitive strain (named 3TCK). Finally, the transcriptome of SS9 grown under different pressure (28 MPa; 45 MPa) and temperature (4°C; 16°C) conditions was analyzed taking into consideration the differentially expressed genes belonging to the flexible gene pool.
These studies indicated the presence of a large flexible gene pool in SS9 characterized by various horizontally acquired elements. This was verified by extensive analysis of GC content, codon usage and genomic signature of the SS9 genome. 171 open reading frames (ORFs) were found to be specifically absent or highly divergent in the piezosensitive strain, but present in the two piezophilic strains. Among these genes, six were found to also be up-regulated by high pressure.
These data provide information on horizontal gene flow in the deep sea, provide additional details of P. profundum genome expression patterns and suggest genes which could perform critical functions for abyssal survival, including perhaps high pressure growth.