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1.  Data access for the 1,000 Plants (1KP) project 
GigaScience  2014;3:17.
The 1,000 plants (1KP) project is an international multi-disciplinary consortium that has generated transcriptome data from over 1,000 plant species, with exemplars for all of the major lineages across the Viridiplantae (green plants) clade. Here, we describe how to access the data used in a phylogenomics analysis of the first 85 species, and how to visualize our gene and species trees. Users can develop computational pipelines to analyse these data, in conjunction with data of their own that they can upload. Computationally estimated protein-protein interactions and biochemical pathways can be visualized at another site. Finally, we comment on our future plans and how they fit within this scalable system for the dissemination, visualization, and analysis of large multi-species data sets.
PMCID: PMC4306014  PMID: 25625010
Viridiplantae; Biodiversity; Transcriptomes; Phylogenomics; Interactions; Pathways
2.  Between Two Fern Genomes 
GigaScience  2014;3:15.
Ferns are the only major lineage of vascular plants not represented by a sequenced nuclear genome. This lack of genome sequence information significantly impedes our ability to understand and reconstruct genome evolution not only in ferns, but across all land plants. Azolla and Ceratopteris are ideal and complementary candidates to be the first ferns to have their nuclear genomes sequenced. They differ dramatically in genome size, life history, and habit, and thus represent the immense diversity of extant ferns. Together, this pair of genomes will facilitate myriad large-scale comparative analyses across ferns and all land plants. Here we review the unique biological characteristics of ferns and describe a number of outstanding questions in plant biology that will benefit from the addition of ferns to the set of taxa with sequenced nuclear genomes. We explain why the fern clade is pivotal for understanding genome evolution across land plants, and we provide a rationale for how knowledge of fern genomes will enable progress in research beyond the ferns themselves.
PMCID: PMC4199785  PMID: 25324969
Azolla; Ceratopteris; Comparative analyses; Ferns; Genomics; Land plants; Monilophytes
3.  Gene silencing via DNA methylation in naturally occurring Tragopogon miscellus (Asteraceae) allopolyploids 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):701.
Hybridization coupled with whole-genome duplication (allopolyploidy) leads to a variety of genetic and epigenetic modifications in the resultant merged genomes. In particular, gene loss and gene silencing are commonly observed post-polyploidization. Here, we investigated DNA methylation as a potential mechanism for gene silencing in Tragopogon miscellus (Asteraceae), a recent and recurrently formed allopolyploid. This species, which also exhibits extensive gene loss, was formed from the diploids T. dubius and T. pratensis.
Comparative bisulfite sequencing revealed CG methylation of parental homeologs for three loci (S2, S18 and TDF-44) that were previously identified as silenced in T. miscellus individuals relative to the diploid progenitors. One other locus (S3) examined did not show methylation, indicating that other transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms are likely responsible for silencing that homeologous locus.
These results indicate that Tragopogon miscellus allopolyploids employ diverse mechanisms, including DNA methylation, to respond to the potential shock of genome merger and doubling.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-701) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4148530  PMID: 25145399
Allopolyploidy; DNA methylation; Gene silencing; Tragopogon; Whole-genome duplication
5.  A conifer genome spruces up plant phylogenomics 
Genome Biology  2013;14(6):122.
The Norway spruce genome provides key insights into the evolution of plant genomes, leading to testable new hypotheses about conifer, gymnosperm, and vascular plant evolution.
PMCID: PMC3706884  PMID: 23805854
6.  Population genetic structure, genetic diversity, and natural history of the South American species of Nothofagus subgenus Lophozonia (Nothofagaceae) inferred from nuclear microsatellite data 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(12):2450-2471.
The effect of glaciation on the levels and patterns of genetic variation has been well studied in the Northern Hemisphere. However, although glaciation has undoubtedly shaped the genetic structure of plants in the Southern Hemisphere, fewer studies have characterized the effect, and almost none of them using microsatellites. Particularly, complex patterns of genetic structure might be expected in areas such as the Andes, where both latitudinal and altitudinal glacial advance and retreat have molded modern plant communities. We therefore studied the population genetics of three closely related, hybridizing species of Nothofagus (N. obliqua, N. alpina, and N. glauca, all of subgenus Lophozonia; Nothofagaceae) from Chile. To estimate population genetic parameters and infer the influence of the last ice age on the spatial and genetic distribution of these species, we examined and analyzed genetic variability at seven polymorphic microsatellite DNA loci in 640 individuals from 40 populations covering most of the ranges of these species in Chile. Populations showed no significant inbreeding and exhibited relatively high levels of genetic diversity (HE = 0.502–0.662) and slight, but significant, genetic structure (RST = 8.7–16.0%). However, in N. obliqua, the small amount of genetic structure was spatially organized into three well-defined latitudinal groups. Our data may also suggest some introgression of N. alpina genes into N. obliqua in the northern populations. These results allowed us to reconstruct the influence of the last ice age on the genetic structure of these species, suggesting several centers of genetic diversity for N. obliqua and N. alpina, in agreement with the multiple refugia hypothesis.
PMCID: PMC4203291  PMID: 25360279
Chile; Nothofagus alpina; Nothofagus glauca; Nothofagus nervosa; Nothofagus obliqua; SSR
7.  From algae to angiosperms–inferring the phylogeny of green plants (Viridiplantae) from 360 plastid genomes 
Next-generation sequencing has provided a wealth of plastid genome sequence data from an increasingly diverse set of green plants (Viridiplantae). Although these data have helped resolve the phylogeny of numerous clades (e.g., green algae, angiosperms, and gymnosperms), their utility for inferring relationships across all green plants is uncertain. Viridiplantae originated 700-1500 million years ago and may comprise as many as 500,000 species. This clade represents a major source of photosynthetic carbon and contains an immense diversity of life forms, including some of the smallest and largest eukaryotes. Here we explore the limits and challenges of inferring a comprehensive green plant phylogeny from available complete or nearly complete plastid genome sequence data.
We assembled protein-coding sequence data for 78 genes from 360 diverse green plant taxa with complete or nearly complete plastid genome sequences available from GenBank. Phylogenetic analyses of the plastid data recovered well-supported backbone relationships and strong support for relationships that were not observed in previous analyses of major subclades within Viridiplantae. However, there also is evidence of systematic error in some analyses. In several instances we obtained strongly supported but conflicting topologies from analyses of nucleotides versus amino acid characters, and the considerable variation in GC content among lineages and within single genomes affected the phylogenetic placement of several taxa.
Analyses of the plastid sequence data recovered a strongly supported framework of relationships for green plants. This framework includes: i) the placement of Zygnematophyceace as sister to land plants (Embryophyta), ii) a clade of extant gymnosperms (Acrogymnospermae) with cycads + Ginkgo sister to remaining extant gymnosperms and with gnetophytes (Gnetophyta) sister to non-Pinaceae conifers (Gnecup trees), and iii) within the monilophyte clade (Monilophyta), Equisetales + Psilotales are sister to Marattiales + leptosporangiate ferns. Our analyses also highlight the challenges of using plastid genome sequences in deep-level phylogenomic analyses, and we provide suggestions for future analyses that will likely incorporate plastid genome sequence data for thousands of species. We particularly emphasize the importance of exploring the effects of different partitioning and character coding strategies.
PMCID: PMC3933183  PMID: 24533922
Composition bias; Phylogenomics; Plastid genome sequences; Plastomes; RY-coding; Viridiplantae
8.  Phylogeny and evolutionary history of glycogen synthase kinase 3/SHAGGY-like kinase genes in land plants 
GSK3 (glycogen synthase kinase 3) genes encode signal transduction proteins with roles in a variety of biological processes in eukaryotes. In contrast to the low copy numbers observed in animals, GSK3 genes have expanded into a multi-gene family in land plants (embryophytes), and have also evolved functions in diverse plant specific processes, including floral development in angiosperms. However, despite previous efforts, the phylogeny of land plant GSK3 genes is currently unclear. Here, we analyze genes from a representative sample of phylogenetically pivotal taxa, including basal angiosperms, gymnosperms, and monilophytes, to reconstruct the evolutionary history and functional diversification of the GSK3 gene family in land plants.
Maximum Likelihood phylogenetic analyses resolve a gene tree with four major gene duplication events that coincide with the emergence of novel land plant clades. The single GSK3 gene inherited from the ancestor of land plants was first duplicated along the ancestral branch to extant vascular plants, and three subsequent duplications produced three GSK3 loci in the ancestor of euphyllophytes, four in the ancestor of seed plants, and at least five in the ancestor of angiosperms. A single gene in the Amborella trichopoda genome may be the sole survivor of a sixth GSK3 locus that originated in the ancestor of extant angiosperms. Homologs of two Arabidopsis GSK3 genes with genetically confirmed roles in floral development, AtSK11 and AtSK12, exhibit floral preferential expression in several basal angiosperms, suggesting evolutionary conservation of their floral functions. Members of other gene lineages appear to have independently evolved roles in plant reproductive tissues in individual taxa.
Our phylogenetic analyses provide the most detailed reconstruction of GSK3 gene evolution in land plants to date and offer new insights into the origins, relationships, and functions of family members. Notably, the diversity of this “green” branch of the gene family has increased in concert with the increasing morphological and physiological complexity of land plant life forms. Expression data for seed plants indicate that the functions of GSK3 genes have also diversified during evolutionary time.
PMCID: PMC3710211  PMID: 23834366
GSK3; Land plant evolution; Gene duplication; Gene expression
9.  Complete Plastid Genome Sequencing of Trochodendraceae Reveals a Significant Expansion of the Inverted Repeat and Suggests a Paleogene Divergence between the Two Extant Species 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60429.
The early-diverging eudicot order Trochodendrales contains only two monospecific genera, Tetracentron and Trochodendron. Although an extensive fossil record indicates that the clade is perhaps 100 million years old and was widespread throughout the Northern Hemisphere during the Paleogene and Neogene, the two extant genera are both narrowly distributed in eastern Asia. Recent phylogenetic analyses strongly support a clade of Trochodendrales, Buxales, and Gunneridae (core eudicots), but complete plastome analyses do not resolve the relationships among these groups with strong support. However, plastid phylogenomic analyses have not included data for Tetracentron. To better resolve basal eudicot relationships and to clarify when the two extant genera of Trochodendrales diverged, we sequenced the complete plastid genome of Tetracentron sinense using Illumina technology. The Tetracentron and Trochodendron plastomes possess the typical gene content and arrangement that characterize most angiosperm plastid genomes, but both genomes have the same unusual ∼4 kb expansion of the inverted repeat region to include five genes (rpl22, rps3, rpl16, rpl14, and rps8) that are normally found in the large single-copy region. Maximum likelihood analyses of an 83-gene, 88 taxon angiosperm data set yield an identical tree topology as previous plastid-based trees, and moderately support the sister relationship between Buxaceae and Gunneridae. Molecular dating analyses suggest that Tetracentron and Trochodendron diverged between 44-30 million years ago, which is congruent with the fossil record of Trochodendrales and with previous estimates of the divergence time of these two taxa. We also characterize 154 simple sequence repeat loci from the Tetracentron sinense and Trochodendron aralioides plastomes that will be useful in future studies of population genetic structure for these relict species, both of which are of conservation concern.
PMCID: PMC3618518  PMID: 23577110
10.  Comparative Phylogeographic Analyses Illustrate the Complex Evolutionary History of Threatened Cloud Forests of Northern Mesoamerica 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56283.
Comparative phylogeography can elucidate the influence of historical events on current patterns of biodiversity and can identify patterns of co-vicariance among unrelated taxa that span the same geographic areas. Here we analyze temporal and spatial divergence patterns of cloud forest plant and animal species and relate them to the evolutionary history of naturally fragmented cloud forests–among the most threatened vegetation types in northern Mesoamerica. We used comparative phylogeographic analyses to identify patterns of co-vicariance in taxa that share geographic ranges across cloud forest habitats and to elucidate the influence of historical events on current patterns of biodiversity. We document temporal and spatial genetic divergence of 15 species (including seed plants, birds and rodents), and relate them to the evolutionary history of the naturally fragmented cloud forests. We used fossil-calibrated genealogies, coalescent-based divergence time inference, and estimates of gene flow to assess the permeability of putative barriers to gene flow. We also used the hierarchical Approximate Bayesian Computation (HABC) method implemented in the program msBayes to test simultaneous versus non-simultaneous divergence of the cloud forest lineages. Our results show shared phylogeographic breaks that correspond to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Los Tuxtlas, and the Chiapas Central Depression, with the Isthmus representing the most frequently shared break among taxa. However, dating analyses suggest that the phylogeographic breaks corresponding to the Isthmus occurred at different times in different taxa. Current divergence patterns are therefore consistent with the hypothesis of broad vicariance across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec derived from different mechanisms operating at different times. This study, coupled with existing data on divergence cloud forest species, indicates that the evolutionary history of contemporary cloud forest lineages is complex and often lineage-specific, and thus difficult to capture in a simple conservation strategy.
PMCID: PMC3567015  PMID: 23409165
11.  A targeted enrichment strategy for massively parallel sequencing of angiosperm plastid genomes1 
Applications in Plant Sciences  2013;1(2):apps.1200497.
• Premise of the study: We explored a targeted enrichment strategy to facilitate rapid and low-cost next-generation sequencing (NGS) of numerous complete plastid genomes from across the phylogenetic breadth of angiosperms.
• Methods and Results: A custom RNA probe set including the complete sequences of 22 previously sequenced eudicot plastomes was designed to facilitate hybridization-based targeted enrichment of eudicot plastid genomes. Using this probe set and an Agilent SureSelect targeted enrichment kit, we conducted an enrichment experiment including 24 angiosperms (22 eudicots, two monocots), which were subsequently sequenced on a single lane of the Illumina GAIIx with single-end, 100-bp reads. This approach yielded nearly complete to complete plastid genomes with exceptionally high coverage (mean coverage: 717×), even for the two monocots.
• Conclusions: Our enrichment experiment was highly successful even though many aspects of the capture process employed were suboptimal. Hence, significant improvements to this methodology are feasible. With this general approach and probe set, it should be possible to sequence more than 300 essentially complete plastid genomes in a single Illumina GAIIx lane (achieving ∼50× mean coverage). However, given the complications of pooling numerous samples for multiplex sequencing and the limited number of barcodes (e.g., 96) available in commercial kits, we recommend 96 samples as a current practical maximum for multiplex plastome sequencing. This high-throughput approach should facilitate large-scale plastid genome sequencing at any level of phylogenetic diversity in angiosperms.
PMCID: PMC4105372  PMID: 25202518
next-generation sequencing; phylogenomics; plastid genomes
12.  Evolutionary Biology for the 21st Century 
PLoS Biology  2013;11(1):e1001466.
New theoretical and conceptual frameworks are required for evolutionary biology to capitalize on the wealth of data now becoming available from the study of genomes, phenotypes, and organisms - including humans - in their natural environments.
PMCID: PMC3539946  PMID: 23319892
13.  Evaluating Methods for Isolating Total RNA and Predicting the Success of Sequencing Phylogenetically Diverse Plant Transcriptomes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50226.
Next-generation sequencing plays a central role in the characterization and quantification of transcriptomes. Although numerous metrics are purported to quantify the quality of RNA, there have been no large-scale empirical evaluations of the major determinants of sequencing success. We used a combination of existing and newly developed methods to isolate total RNA from 1115 samples from 695 plant species in 324 families, which represents >900 million years of phylogenetic diversity from green algae through flowering plants, including many plants of economic importance. We then sequenced 629 of these samples on Illumina GAIIx and HiSeq platforms and performed a large comparative analysis to identify predictors of RNA quality and the diversity of putative genes (scaffolds) expressed within samples. Tissue types (e.g., leaf vs. flower) varied in RNA quality, sequencing depth and the number of scaffolds. Tissue age also influenced RNA quality but not the number of scaffolds ≥1000 bp. Overall, 36% of the variation in the number of scaffolds was explained by metrics of RNA integrity (RIN score), RNA purity (OD 260/230), sequencing platform (GAIIx vs HiSeq) and the amount of total RNA used for sequencing. However, our results show that the most commonly used measures of RNA quality (e.g., RIN) are weak predictors of the number of scaffolds because Illumina sequencing is robust to variation in RNA quality. These results provide novel insight into the methods that are most important in isolating high quality RNA for sequencing and assembling plant transcriptomes. The methods and recommendations provided here could increase the efficiency and decrease the cost of RNA sequencing for individual labs and genome centers.
PMCID: PMC3504007  PMID: 23185583
14.  Cytogeography of the Humifusa clade of Opuntia s.s. Mill. 1754 (Cactaceae, Opuntioideae, Opuntieae): correlations with pleistocene refugia and morphological traits in a polyploid complex 
Comparative Cytogenetics  2012;6(1):53-77.
Ploidy has been well studied and used extensively in the genus Opuntia to determine species boundaries, detect evidence of hybridization, and infer evolutionary patterns. We carried out chromosome counts for all members of the Humifusa clade to ascertain whether geographic patterns are associated with differences in ploidy. We then related chromosomal data to observed morphological variability, polyploid formation, and consequently the evolutionary history of the clade. We counted chromosomes of 277 individuals from throughout the ranges of taxa included within the Humifusa clade, with emphasis placed on the widely distributed species, Opuntia humifusa (Raf.) Raf., 1820 s.l. and Opuntia macrorhiza Engelm., 1850 s.l. We also compiled previous counts made for species in the clade along with our new counts to plot geographic distributions of the polyploid and diploid taxa. A phylogeny using nuclear ribosomal ITS sequence data was reconstructed to determine whether ploidal variation is consistent with cladogenesis. We discovered that diploids of the Humifusa clade are restricted to the southeastern United States (U.S.), eastern Texas, and southeastern New Mexico. Polyploid members of the clade, however, are much more widely distributed, occurring as far north as the upper midwestern U.S. (e.g., Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin). Morphological differentiation, although sometimes cryptic, is commonly observed among diploid and polyploid cytotypes, and such morphological distinctions may be useful in diagnosing possible cryptic species. Certain polyploid populations of Opuntia humifusa s.l. and Opuntia macrorhiza s.l., however, exhibit introgressive morphological characters, complicating species delineations. Phylogenetically, the Humifusa clade forms two subclades that are distributed, respectively, in the southeastern U.S. (including all southeastern U.S. diploids, polyploid Opuntia abjecta Small, 1923, and polyploid Opuntia pusilla (Haw.) Haw., 1812) and the southwestern U.S. (including all southwestern U.S. diploids and polyploids). In addition, tetraploid Opuntia humifusa s.l., which occurs primarily in the eastern U.S., is resolved in the southwestern diploid clade instead of with the southeastern diploid clade that includes diploid Opuntia humifusa s.l. Our results not only provide evidence for the polyphyletic nature of Opuntia humifusa and Opuntia macrorhiza, suggesting that each of these represents more than one species, but also demonstrate the high frequency of polyploidy in the Humifusa clade and the major role that genome duplication has played in the diversification of this lineage of Opuntia s.s. Our data also suggest that the southeastern and southwestern U.S. may represent glacial refugia for diploid members of this clade and that the clade as a whole should be considered a mature polyploid species complex. Widespread polyploids are likely derivatives of secondary contact among southeastern and southwestern diploid taxa as a result of the expansion and contraction of suitable habitat during the Pleistocene following glacial and interglacial events.
PMCID: PMC3833768  PMID: 24260652
Cactaceae; chromosome numbers; Opuntia humifusa; Opuntia macrorhiza; Pleistocene refugia; polyploid complex; polyploidy
15.  A genome triplication associated with early diversification of the core eudicots 
Genome Biology  2012;13(1):R3.
Although it is agreed that a major polyploidy event, gamma, occurred within the eudicots, the phylogenetic placement of the event remains unclear.
To determine when this polyploidization occurred relative to speciation events in angiosperm history, we employed a phylogenomic approach to investigate the timing of gene set duplications located on syntenic gamma blocks. We populated 769 putative gene families with large sets of homologs obtained from public transcriptomes of basal angiosperms, magnoliids, asterids, and more than 91.8 gigabases of new next-generation transcriptome sequences of non-grass monocots and basal eudicots. The overwhelming majority (95%) of well-resolved gamma duplications was placed before the separation of rosids and asterids and after the split of monocots and eudicots, providing strong evidence that the gamma polyploidy event occurred early in eudicot evolution. Further, the majority of gene duplications was placed after the divergence of the Ranunculales and core eudicots, indicating that the gamma appears to be restricted to core eudicots. Molecular dating estimates indicate that the duplication events were intensely concentrated around 117 million years ago.
The rapid radiation of core eudicot lineages that gave rise to nearly 75% of angiosperm species appears to have occurred coincidentally or shortly following the gamma triplication event. Reconciliation of gene trees with a species phylogeny can elucidate the timing of major events in genome evolution, even when genome sequences are only available for a subset of species represented in the gene trees. Comprehensive transcriptome datasets are valuable complements to genome sequences for high-resolution phylogenomic analysis.
PMCID: PMC3334584  PMID: 22280555
16.  Proteomics and Mass Spectrometry of Tragopogon Polyploid Evolution 
Polyploidy (whole genome duplication) has played an important role in speciation and genome evolution in diverse organisms, particularly in plants. However, much of our current understanding of polyploidy is based on analyses of crop species using genomic and transcriptomic tools. Here, we examined the proteomes of natural allopolyploid T. mirus and its diploid parents (T. dubius and T. porrifolius) on a per cell basis. Using iTRAQ LC-MS/MS, we identified 476 proteins among the three species. Parental proteomic analyses revealed that only T. dubius is variable (α=1%) within the Pullman-1 population. We found 68 differentially expressed proteins between the naturally occurring and synthetic (S1) allopolyploid T. mirus and its diploid parents, T. dubius and T. porrifolius, and 408 proteins showed proteomic additivity. Importantly, this study revealed that 32 proteins changed in expression level immediately after hybridization, based on the examination of F1 hybrids between T. dubius and T. porrifolius. An additional 22 proteins were differentially expressed after genomic doubling (based on the analysis of the synthetic T. mirus S1 generation). Furthermore, an additional 14 proteins changed their expression patterns during past 40 generations based on the proteomic profiles of naturally occurring T. mirus. In addition, we found six novel expression in hybrid, S1 synthetics, and T. mirus. Taken together, these data indicate that the effect of hybridization is more important in impacting the proteome than is the immediate impact of polyploidization. Moreover, the proteome of one parent, T. dubius, has contributed more to allopolyploid formation, especially at the early stage of polyploid evolution, than the other diploid parent, T. porrifolius. Furthermore, we detected that two proteins (out of 476) showed homeolog specific expression of a protein based on molecular mass differentiation between the parental proteomes. Comparison of protein expression changes with the previous gene transcription study revealed that there was no good correlation between transcript and protein expression levels in T. mirus. This study shows the utility of proteomics in quantitative analysis of protein expression differences between polyploid species and its parental species.
PMCID: PMC3630613
17.  Taking the First Steps towards a Standard for Reporting on Phylogenies: Minimal Information about a Phylogenetic Analysis (MIAPA) 
In the eight years since phylogenomics was introduced as the intersection of genomics and phylogenetics, the field has provided fundamental insights into gene function, genome history and organismal relationships. The utility of phylogenomics is growing with the increase in the number and diversity of taxa for which whole genome and large transcriptome sequence sets are being generated. We assert that the synergy between genomic and phylogenetic perspectives in comparative biology would be enhanced by the development and refinement of minimal reporting standards for phylogenetic analyses. Encouraged by the development of the Minimum Information About a Microarray Experiment (MIAME) standard, we propose a similar roadmap for the development of a Minimal Information About a Phylogenetic Analysis (MIAPA) standard. Key in the successful development and implementation of such a standard will be broad participation by developers of phylogenetic analysis software, phylogenetic database developers, practitioners of phylogenomics, and journal editors.
PMCID: PMC3167193  PMID: 16901231
18.  A physical map for the Amborella trichopoda genome sheds light on the evolution of angiosperm genome structure 
Genome Biology  2011;12(5):R48.
Recent phylogenetic analyses have identified Amborella trichopoda, an understory tree species endemic to the forests of New Caledonia, as sister to a clade including all other known flowering plant species. The Amborella genome is a unique reference for understanding the evolution of angiosperm genomes because it can serve as an outgroup to root comparative analyses. A physical map, BAC end sequences and sample shotgun sequences provide a first view of the 870 Mbp Amborella genome.
Analysis of Amborella BAC ends sequenced from each contig suggests that the density of long terminal repeat retrotransposons is negatively correlated with that of protein coding genes. Syntenic, presumably ancestral, gene blocks were identified in comparisons of the Amborella BAC contigs and the sequenced Arabidopsis thaliana, Populus trichocarpa, Vitis vinifera and Oryza sativa genomes. Parsimony mapping of the loss of synteny corroborates previous analyses suggesting that the rate of structural change has been more rapid on lineages leading to Arabidopsis and Oryza compared with lineages leading to Populus and Vitis. The gamma paleohexiploidy event identified in the Arabidopsis, Populus and Vitis genomes is shown to have occurred after the divergence of all other known angiosperms from the lineage leading to Amborella.
When placed in the context of a physical map, BAC end sequences representing just 5.4% of the Amborella genome have facilitated reconstruction of gene blocks that existed in the last common ancestor of all flowering plants. The Amborella genome is an invaluable reference for inferences concerning the ancestral angiosperm and subsequent genome evolution.
PMCID: PMC3219971  PMID: 21619600
19.  The iPlant Collaborative: Cyberinfrastructure for Plant Biology 
The iPlant Collaborative (iPlant) is a United States National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project that aims to create an innovative, comprehensive, and foundational cyberinfrastructure in support of plant biology research (PSCIC, 2006). iPlant is developing cyberinfrastructure that uniquely enables scientists throughout the diverse fields that comprise plant biology to address Grand Challenges in new ways, to stimulate and facilitate cross-disciplinary research, to promote biology and computer science research interactions, and to train the next generation of scientists on the use of cyberinfrastructure in research and education. Meeting humanity's projected demands for agricultural and forest products and the expectation that natural ecosystems be managed sustainably will require synergies from the application of information technologies. The iPlant cyberinfrastructure design is based on an unprecedented period of research community input, and leverages developments in high-performance computing, data storage, and cyberinfrastructure for the physical sciences. iPlant is an open-source project with application programming interfaces that allow the community to extend the infrastructure to meet its needs. iPlant is sponsoring community-driven workshops addressing specific scientific questions via analysis tool integration and hypothesis testing. These workshops teach researchers how to add bioinformatics tools and/or datasets into the iPlant cyberinfrastructure enabling plant scientists to perform complex analyses on large datasets without the need to master the command-line or high-performance computational services.
PMCID: PMC3355756  PMID: 22645531
cyberinfrastructure; bioinformatics; plant biology; computational biology
20.  Similar patterns of rDNA evolution in synthetic and recently formed natural populations of Tragopogon (Asteraceae) allotetraploids 
Tragopogon mirus and T. miscellus are allotetraploids (2n = 24) that formed repeatedly during the past 80 years in eastern Washington and adjacent Idaho (USA) following the introduction of the diploids T. dubius, T. porrifolius, and T. pratensis (2n = 12) from Europe. In most natural populations of T. mirus and T. miscellus, there are far fewer 35S rRNA genes (rDNA) of T. dubius than there are of the other diploid parent (T. porrifolius or T. pratensis). We studied the inheritance of parental rDNA loci in allotetraploids resynthesized from diploid accessions. We investigate the dynamics and directionality of these rDNA losses, as well as the contribution of gene copy number variation in the parental diploids to rDNA variation in the derived tetraploids.
Using Southern blot hybridization and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), we analyzed copy numbers and distribution of these highly reiterated genes in seven lines of synthetic T. mirus (110 individuals) and four lines of synthetic T. miscellus (71 individuals). Variation among diploid parents accounted for most of the observed gene imbalances detected in F1 hybrids but cannot explain frequent deviations from repeat additivity seen in the allotetraploid lines. Polyploid lineages involving the same diploid parents differed in rDNA genotype, indicating that conditions immediately following genome doubling are crucial for rDNA changes. About 19% of the resynthesized allotetraploid individuals had equal rDNA contributions from the diploid parents, 74% were skewed towards either T. porrifolius or T. pratensis-type units, and only 7% had more rDNA copies of T. dubius-origin compared to the other two parents. Similar genotype frequencies were observed among natural populations. Despite directional reduction of units, the additivity of 35S rDNA locus number is maintained in 82% of the synthetic lines and in all natural allotetraploids.
Uniparental reductions of homeologous rRNA gene copies occurred in both synthetic and natural populations of Tragopogon allopolyploids. The extent of these rDNA changes was generally higher in natural populations than in the synthetic lines. We hypothesize that locus-specific and chromosomal changes in early generations of allopolyploids may influence patterns of rDNA evolution in later generations.
PMCID: PMC2955031  PMID: 20858289
21.  Review of the Application of Modern Cytogenetic Methods (FISH/GISH) to the Study of Reticulation (Polyploidy/Hybridisation) 
Genes  2010;1(2):166-192.
The convergence of distinct lineages upon interspecific hybridisation, including when accompanied by increases in ploidy (allopolyploidy), is a driving force in the origin of many plant species. In plant breeding too, both interspecific hybridisation and allopolyploidy are important because they facilitate introgression of alien DNA into breeding lines enabling the introduction of novel characters. Here we review how fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) and genomic in situ hybridisation (GISH) have been applied to: 1) studies of interspecific hybridisation and polyploidy in nature, 2) analyses of phylogenetic relationships between species, 3) genetic mapping and 4) analysis of plant breeding materials. We also review how FISH is poised to take advantage of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies, helping the rapid characterisation of the repetitive fractions of a genome in natural populations and agricultural plants.
PMCID: PMC3954085  PMID: 24710040
cytogenetics; ISH; polyploidy
22.  Homeolog loss and expression changes in natural populations of the recently and repeatedly formed allotetraploid Tragopogon mirus (Asteraceae) 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:97.
Although polyploidy has long been recognized as a major force in the evolution of plants, most of what we know about the genetic consequences of polyploidy comes from the study of crops and model systems. Furthermore, although many polyploid species have formed repeatedly, patterns of genome evolution and gene expression are largely unknown for natural polyploid populations of independent origin. We therefore examined patterns of loss and expression in duplicate gene pairs (homeologs) in multiple individuals from seven natural populations of independent origin of Tragopogon mirus (Asteraceae), an allopolyploid that formed repeatedly within the last 80 years from the diploids T. dubius and T. porrifolius.
Using cDNA-AFLPs, we found differential band patterns that could be attributable to gene silencing, novel expression, and/or maternal/paternal effects between T. mirus and its diploid parents. Subsequent cleaved amplified polymorphic sequence (CAPS) analyses of genomic DNA and cDNA revealed that 20 of the 30 genes identified through cDNA-AFLP analysis showed additivity, whereas nine of the 30 exhibited the loss of one parental homeolog in at least one individual. Homeolog loss (versus loss of a restriction site) was confirmed via sequencing. The remaining gene (ADENINE-DNA GLYCOSYLASE) showed ambiguous patterns in T. mirus because of polymorphism in the diploid parent T. dubius. Most (63.6%) of the homeolog loss events were of the T. dubius parental copy. Two genes, NUCLEAR RIBOSOMAL DNA and GLYCERALDEHYDE-3-PHOSPHATE DEHYDROGENASE, showed differential expression of the parental homeologs, with the T. dubius copy silenced in some individuals of T. mirus.
Genomic and cDNA CAPS analyses indicated that plants representing multiple populations of this young natural allopolyploid have experienced frequent and preferential elimination of homeologous loci. Comparable analyses of synthetic F1 hybrids showed only additivity. These results suggest that loss of homeologs and changes in gene expression are not the immediate result of hybridization, but are processes that occur following polyploidization, occurring during the early (<40) generations of the young polyploid. Both T. mirus and a second recently formed allopolyploid, T. miscellus, exhibit more homeolog losses than gene silencing events. Furthermore, both allotetraploids undergo biased loss of homeologs contributed by their shared diploid parent, T. dubius. Further studies are required to assess whether the results for the 30 genes so far examined are representative of the entire genome.
PMCID: PMC2829515  PMID: 20141639
23.  Comparison of next generation sequencing technologies for transcriptome characterization 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:347.
We have developed a simulation approach to help determine the optimal mixture of sequencing methods for most complete and cost effective transcriptome sequencing. We compared simulation results for traditional capillary sequencing with "Next Generation" (NG) ultra high-throughput technologies. The simulation model was parameterized using mappings of 130,000 cDNA sequence reads to the Arabidopsis genome (NCBI Accession SRA008180.19). We also generated 454-GS20 sequences and de novo assemblies for the basal eudicot California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) and the magnoliid avocado (Persea americana) using a variety of methods for cDNA synthesis.
The Arabidopsis reads tagged more than 15,000 genes, including new splice variants and extended UTR regions. Of the total 134,791 reads (13.8 MB), 119,518 (88.7%) mapped exactly to known exons, while 1,117 (0.8%) mapped to introns, 11,524 (8.6%) spanned annotated intron/exon boundaries, and 3,066 (2.3%) extended beyond the end of annotated UTRs. Sequence-based inference of relative gene expression levels correlated significantly with microarray data. As expected, NG sequencing of normalized libraries tagged more genes than non-normalized libraries, although non-normalized libraries yielded more full-length cDNA sequences. The Arabidopsis data were used to simulate additional rounds of NG and traditional EST sequencing, and various combinations of each. Our simulations suggest a combination of FLX and Solexa sequencing for optimal transcriptome coverage at modest cost. We have also developed ESTcalc, an online webtool, which allows users to explore the results of this study by specifying individualized costs and sequencing characteristics.
NG sequencing technologies are a highly flexible set of platforms that can be scaled to suit different project goals. In terms of sequence coverage alone, the NG sequencing is a dramatic advance over capillary-based sequencing, but NG sequencing also presents significant challenges in assembly and sequence accuracy due to short read lengths, method-specific sequencing errors, and the absence of physical clones. These problems may be overcome by hybrid sequencing strategies using a mixture of sequencing methodologies, by new assemblers, and by sequencing more deeply. Sequencing and microarray outcomes from multiple experiments suggest that our simulator will be useful for guiding NG transcriptome sequencing projects in a wide range of organisms.
PMCID: PMC2907694  PMID: 19646272
24.  On the road to diploidization? Homoeolog loss in independently formed populations of the allopolyploid Tragopogon miscellus (Asteraceae) 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:80.
Polyploidy (whole-genome duplication) is an important speciation mechanism, particularly in plants. Gene loss, silencing, and the formation of novel gene complexes are some of the consequences that the new polyploid genome may experience. Despite the recurrent nature of polyploidy, little is known about the genomic outcome of independent polyploidization events. Here, we analyze the fate of genes duplicated by polyploidy (homoeologs) in multiple individuals from ten natural populations of Tragopogon miscellus (Asteraceae), all of which formed independently from T. dubius and T. pratensis less than 80 years ago.
Of the 13 loci analyzed in 84 T. miscellus individuals, 11 showed loss of at least one parental homoeolog in the young allopolyploids. Two loci were retained in duplicate for all polyploid individuals included in this study. Nearly half (48%) of the individuals examined lost a homoeolog of at least one locus, with several individuals showing loss at more than one locus. Patterns of loss were stochastic among individuals from the independently formed populations, except that the T. dubius copy was lost twice as often as T. pratensis.
This study represents the most extensive survey of the fate of genes duplicated by allopolyploidy in individuals from natural populations. Our results indicate that the road to genome downsizing and ultimate genetic diploidization may occur quickly through homoeolog loss, but with some genes consistently maintained as duplicates. Other genes consistently show evidence of homoeolog loss, suggesting repetitive aspects to polyploid genome evolution.
PMCID: PMC2708164  PMID: 19558696
25.  Rapid Chromosome Evolution in Recently Formed Polyploids in Tragopogon (Asteraceae) 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3353.
Polyploidy, frequently termed “whole genome duplication”, is a major force in the evolution of many eukaryotes. Indeed, most angiosperm species have undergone at least one round of polyploidy in their evolutionary history. Despite enormous progress in our understanding of many aspects of polyploidy, we essentially have no information about the role of chromosome divergence in the establishment of young polyploid populations. Here we investigate synthetic lines and natural populations of two recently and recurrently formed allotetraploids Tragopogon mirus and T. miscellus (formed within the past 80 years) to assess the role of aberrant meiosis in generating chromosomal/genomic diversity. That diversity is likely important in the formation, establishment and survival of polyploid populations and species.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Applications of fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) to natural populations of T. mirus and T. miscellus suggest that chromosomal rearrangements and other chromosomal changes are common in both allotetraploids. We detected extensive chromosomal polymorphism between individuals and populations, including (i) plants monosomic and trisomic for particular chromosomes (perhaps indicating compensatory trisomy), (ii) intergenomic translocations and (iii) variable sizes and expression patterns of individual ribosomal DNA (rDNA) loci. We even observed karyotypic variation among sibling plants. Significantly, translocations, chromosome loss, and meiotic irregularities, including quadrivalent formation, were observed in synthetic (S0 and S1 generations) polyploid lines. Our results not only provide a mechanism for chromosomal variation in natural populations, but also indicate that chromosomal changes occur rapidly following polyploidisation.
These data shed new light on previous analyses of genome and transcriptome structures in de novo and establishing polyploid species. Crucially our results highlight the necessity of studying karyotypes in young (<150 years old) polyploid species and synthetic polyploids that resemble natural species. The data also provide insight into the mechanisms that perturb inheritance patterns of genetic markers in synthetic polyploids and populations of young natural polyploid species.
PMCID: PMC2556386  PMID: 18843372

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