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1.  Genetic Differentiation and Genetic Diversity of Castanopsis (Fagaceae), the Dominant Tree Species in Japanese Broadleaved Evergreen Forests, Revealed by Analysis of EST-Associated Microsatellites 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87429.
The broadleaved evergreen forests of the East Asian warm temperate zone are characterised by their high biodiversity and endemism, and there is therefore a need to extend our understanding of its genetic diversity and phylogeographic patterns. Castanopsis (Fagaceae) is one of the dominant tree species in the broadleaved evergreen forests of Japan. In this study we investigate the genetic diversity, genetic structure and leaf epidermal morphology of 63 natural populations of C. sieboldii and C. cuspidata, using 32 Expressed Sequence Tag associated microsatellites. The overall genetic differentiation between populations was low (GST = 0.069 in C. sieboldii and GST = 0.057 in C. cuspidata). Neighbor-joining tree and Bayesian clustering analyses revealed that the populations of C. sieboldii and C. cuspidata were genetically clearly differentiated, a result which is consistent with the morphology of their epidermal cell layers. This suggests that C. sieboldii and C. cuspidata should be treated as independent species, although intermediate morphologies are often observed, especially at sites where the two species coexist. The higher level of genetic diversity observed in the Kyushu region (for both species) and the Ryukyu Islands (for C. sieboldii) is consistent with the available fossil pollen data for Castanopsis-type broadleaved evergreen trees during the Last Glacial Maximum and suggests the existence of refugia for Castanopsis forests in southern Japan. Within the C. sieboldii populations, Bayesian clustering analyses detected three clusters, in the western and eastern parts of the main islands and in the Ryukyu Islands. The west-east genetic differentiation observed for this species in the main islands, a pattern which is also found in several plant and animal species inhabiting Castanopsis forests in Japan, suggests that they have been isolated from each other in the western and eastern populations for an extended period of time, and may imply the existence of eastern refugia.
PMCID: PMC3907500  PMID: 24498103
2.  Non-Density Dependent Pollen Dispersal of Shorea maxwelliana (Dipterocarpaceae) Revealed by a Bayesian Mating Model Based on Paternity Analysis in Two Synchronized Flowering Seasons 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82039.
Pollinator syndrome is one of the most important determinants regulating pollen dispersal in tropical tree species. It has been widely accepted that the reproduction of tropical forest species, especially dipterocarps that rely on insects with weak flight for their pollination, is positively density-dependent. However differences in pollinator syndrome should affect pollen dispersal patterns and, consequently, influence genetic diversity via the mating process. We examined the pollen dispersal pattern and mating system of Shorea maxwelliana, the flowers of which are larger than those of Shorea species belonging to section Mutica which are thought to be pollinated by thrips (weak flyers). A Bayesian mating model based on the paternity of seeds collected from mother trees during sporadic and mass flowering events revealed that the estimated pollen dispersal kernel and average pollen dispersal distance were similar for both flowering events. This evidence suggests that the putative pollinators – small beetles and weevils – effectively contribute to pollen dispersal and help to maintain a high outcrossing rate even during sporadic flowering events. However, the reduction in pollen donors during a sporadic event results in a reduction in effective pollen donors, which should lead to lower genetic diversity in the next generation derived from seeds produced during such an event. Although sporadic flowering has been considered less effective for outcrossing in Shorea species that depend on thrips for their pollination, effective pollen dispersal by the small beetles and weevils ensures outcrossing during periods of low flowering tree density, as occurs in a sporadic flowering event.
PMCID: PMC3876983  PMID: 24391712
3.  Demonstration of Genome-Wide Association Studies for Identifying Markers for Wood Property and Male Strobili Traits in Cryptomeria japonica 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79866.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are an alternative to bi-parental QTL mapping in long-lived perennials. In the present study, we examined the potential of GWAS in conifers using 367 unrelated plus trees of Cryptomeria japonica D. Don, which is the most widely planted and commercially important tree species in Japan, and tried to detect significant associations between wood property traits and quantity of male strobili on the one hand, and 1,032 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) assigned to 1,032 genes on the other. Association analysis was performed with the mixed linear model taking into account kinship relationships and subpopulation structure. In total, 6 SNPs were found to have significant associations with the variations in phenotype. These SNPs were not associated with the positions of known genes and QTLs that have been reported to date, thus they may identify novel QTLs. These 6 SNPs were all found in sequences showing similarities with known genes, although further analysis is required to dissect the ways in which they affect wood property traits and abundance of male strobili. These presumptive QTL loci provide opportunities for improvement of C. japonica, based on a marker approach. The results suggest that GWAS has potential for use in future breeding programs in C. japonica.
PMCID: PMC3833940  PMID: 24260312
4.  QTL analysis of heterostyly in Primula sieboldii and its application for morph identification in wild populations 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(1):133-142.
Background and Aims
Primula sieboldii is a perennial clonal herb that is distributed around the Sea of Japan and is endangered in Japan. Its breeding system is characterized by heteromorphic self-incompatibility, and the morph ratio within a population is very important for reproductive success. The aims of this study were to construct a linkage map, map the S locus as a qualitative trait and quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for floral morphological traits related to heterostyly, and predict the morph type in wild populations by using molecular markers for devising a conservation strategy.
A linkage map was constructed with 126 markers. The QTLs for four floral traits and the S locus were mapped. Using the genotypes of loci that were located near both the S locus and the QTLs with large effects, morphs of 59 wild genets were predicted.
Key Results
The linkage map consisted of 14 linkage groups (LGs). The S locus was mapped to LG 7. Major QTLs for stigma and anther heights were detected in the same region as the S locus. These QTLs exhibited high logarithm of the odds scores and explained a high percentage of the phenotypic variance (>85 %). By analysing these two traits within each morph, additional QTLs for each trait were detected. Using the four loci linked to the S locus, the morphs of 43 genets in three wild populations could be predicted.
This is the first report of a linkage map and QTL analysis for floral morphology related to heterostyly in P. sieboldii. Floral morphologies related to heterostyly are controlled by the S locus in LG 7 and by several QTLs in other LGs. Additionally, this study showed that molecular markers are effective tools for investigating morph ratios in a population containing the non-flowering individuals or during the non-flowering seasons.
PMCID: PMC3119624  PMID: 21693668
Heterostyly; floral morphology; QTL analysis; Primula sieboldii; morph identification; monitoring of morph ratio
5.  A second generation framework for the analysis of microsatellites in expressed sequence tags and the development of EST-SSR markers for a conifer, Cryptomeria japonica 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:136.
Microsatellites or simple sequence repeats (SSRs) in expressed sequence tags (ESTs) are useful resources for genome analysis because of their abundance, functionality and polymorphism. The advent of commercial second generation sequencing machines has lead to new strategies for developing EST-SSR markers, necessitating the development of bioinformatic framework that can keep pace with the increasing quality and quantity of sequence data produced. We describe an open scheme for analyzing ESTs and developing EST-SSR markers from reads collected by Sanger sequencing and pyrosequencing of sugi (Cryptomeria japonica).
We collected 141,097 sequence reads by Sanger sequencing and 1,333,444 by pyrosequencing. After trimming contaminant and low quality sequences, 118,319 Sanger and 1,201,150 pyrosequencing reads were passed to the MIRA assembler, generating 81,284 contigs that were analysed for SSRs. 4,059 SSRs were found in 3,694 (4.54%) contigs, giving an SSR frequency lower than that in seven other plant species with gene indices (5.4–21.9%). The average GC content of the SSR-containing contigs was 41.55%, compared to 40.23% for all contigs. Tri-SSRs were the most common SSRs; the most common motif was AT, which was found in 655 (46.3%) di-SSRs, followed by the AAG motif, found in 342 (25.9%) tri-SSRs. Most (72.8%) tri-SSRs were in coding regions, but 55.6% of the di-SSRs were in non-coding regions; the AT motif was most abundant in 3′ untranslated regions. Gene ontology (GO) annotations showed that six GO terms were significantly overrepresented within SSR-containing contigs. Forty–four EST-SSR markers were developed from 192 primer pairs using two pipelines: read2Marker and the newly-developed CMiB, which combines several open tools. Markers resulting from both pipelines showed no differences in PCR success rate and polymorphisms, but PCR success and polymorphism were significantly affected by the expected PCR product size and number of SSR repeats, respectively. EST-SSR markers exhibited less polymorphism than genomic SSRs.
We have created a new open pipeline for developing EST-SSR markers and applied it in a comprehensive analysis of EST-SSRs and EST-SSR markers in C. japonica. The results will be useful in genomic analyses of conifers and other non-model species.
PMCID: PMC3424129  PMID: 22507374
6.  The construction of a high-density linkage map for identifying SNP markers that are tightly linked to a nuclear-recessive major gene for male sterility in Cryptomeria japonica D. Don 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:95.
High-density linkage maps facilitate the mapping of target genes and the construction of partial linkage maps around target loci to develop markers for marker-assisted selection (MAS). MAS is quite challenging in conifers because of their large, complex, and poorly-characterized genomes. Our goal was to construct a high-density linkage map to facilitate the identification of markers that are tightly linked to a major recessive male-sterile gene (ms1) for MAS in C. japonica, a species that is important in Japanese afforestation but which causes serious social pollinosis problems.
We constructed a high-density saturated genetic linkage map for C. japonica using expressed sequence-derived co-dominant single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers, most of which were genotyped using the GoldenGate genotyping assay. A total of 1261 markers were assigned to 11 linkage groups with an observed map length of 1405.2 cM and a mean distance between two adjacent markers of 1.1 cM; the number of linkage groups matched the basic chromosome number in C. japonica. Using this map, we located ms1 on the 9th linkage group and constructed a partial linkage map around the ms1 locus. This enabled us to identify a marker (hrmSNP970_sf) that is closely linked to the ms1 gene, being separated from it by only 0.5 cM.
Using the high-density map, we located the ms1 gene on the 9th linkage group and constructed a partial linkage map around the ms1 locus. The map distance between the ms1 gene and the tightly linked marker was only 0.5 cM. The identification of markers that are tightly linked to the ms1 gene will facilitate the early selection of male-sterile trees, which should expedite C. japonica breeding programs aimed at alleviating pollinosis problems without harming productivity.
PMCID: PMC3386010  PMID: 22424262
8.  Bioinformatic analysis of ESTs collected by Sanger and pyrosequencing methods for a keystone forest tree species: oak 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:650.
The Fagaceae family comprises about 1,000 woody species worldwide. About half belong to the Quercus family. These oaks are often a source of raw material for biomass wood and fiber. Pedunculate and sessile oaks, are among the most important deciduous forest tree species in Europe. Despite their ecological and economical importance, very few genomic resources have yet been generated for these species. Here, we describe the development of an EST catalogue that will support ecosystem genomics studies, where geneticists, ecophysiologists, molecular biologists and ecologists join their efforts for understanding, monitoring and predicting functional genetic diversity.
We generated 145,827 sequence reads from 20 cDNA libraries using the Sanger method. Unexploitable chromatograms and quality checking lead us to eliminate 19,941 sequences. Finally a total of 125,925 ESTs were retained from 111,361 cDNA clones. Pyrosequencing was also conducted for 14 libraries, generating 1,948,579 reads, from which 370,566 sequences (19.0%) were eliminated, resulting in 1,578,192 sequences. Following clustering and assembly using TGICL pipeline, 1,704,117 EST sequences collapsed into 69,154 tentative contigs and 153,517 singletons, providing 222,671 non-redundant sequences (including alternative transcripts). We also assembled the sequences using MIRA and PartiGene software and compared the three unigene sets. Gene ontology annotation was then assigned to 29,303 unigene elements. Blast search against the SWISS-PROT database revealed putative homologs for 32,810 (14.7%) unigene elements, but more extensive search with Pfam, Refseq_protein, Refseq_RNA and eight gene indices revealed homology for 67.4% of them. The EST catalogue was examined for putative homologs of candidate genes involved in bud phenology, cuticle formation, phenylpropanoids biosynthesis and cell wall formation. Our results suggest a good coverage of genes involved in these traits. Comparative orthologous sequences (COS) with other plant gene models were identified and allow to unravel the oak paleo-history. Simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were searched, resulting in 52,834 SSRs and 36,411 SNPs. All of these are available through the Oak Contig Browser
This genomic resource provides a unique tool to discover genes of interest, study the oak transcriptome, and develop new markers to investigate functional diversity in natural populations.
PMCID: PMC3017864  PMID: 21092232
9.  A fast and cost-effective approach to develop and map EST-SSR markers: oak as a case study 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:570.
Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) are a source of simple sequence repeats (SSRs) that can be used to develop molecular markers for genetic studies. The availability of ESTs for Quercus robur and Quercus petraea provided a unique opportunity to develop microsatellite markers to accelerate research aimed at studying adaptation of these long-lived species to their environment. As a first step toward the construction of a SSR-based linkage map of oak for quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping, we describe the mining and survey of EST-SSRs as well as a fast and cost-effective approach (bin mapping) to assign these markers to an approximate map position. We also compared the level of polymorphism between genomic and EST-derived SSRs and address the transferability of EST-SSRs in Castanea sativa (chestnut).
A catalogue of 103,000 Sanger ESTs was assembled into 28,024 unigenes from which 18.6% presented one or more SSR motifs. More than 42% of these SSRs corresponded to trinucleotides. Primer pairs were designed for 748 putative unigenes. Overall 37.7% (283) were found to amplify a single polymorphic locus in a reference full-sib pedigree of Quercus robur. The usefulness of these loci for establishing a genetic map was assessed using a bin mapping approach. Bin maps were constructed for the male and female parental tree for which framework linkage maps based on AFLP markers were available. The bin set consisting of 14 highly informative offspring selected based on the number and position of crossover sites. The female and male maps comprised 44 and 37 bins, with an average bin length of 16.5 cM and 20.99 cM, respectively. A total of 256 EST-SSRs were assigned to bins and their map position was further validated by linkage mapping. EST-SSRs were found to be less polymorphic than genomic SSRs, but their transferability rate to chestnut, a phylogenetically related species to oak, was higher.
We have generated a bin map for oak comprising 256 EST-SSRs. This resource constitutes a first step toward the establishment of a gene-based map for this genus that will facilitate the dissection of QTLs affecting complex traits of ecological importance.
PMCID: PMC3091719  PMID: 20950475
10.  Molecular database for classifying Shorea species (Dipterocarpaceae) and techniques for checking the legitimacy of timber and wood products 
Journal of Plant Research  2010;124(1):35-48.
The extent of tropical forest has been declining, due to over-exploitation and illegal logging activities. Large quantities of unlawfully extracted timber and other wood products have been exported, mainly to developed countries. As part of the export monitoring effort, we have developed methods for extracting and analyzing DNA from wood products, such as veneers and sawn timbers made from dipterocarps, in order to identify the species from which they originated. We have also developed a chloroplast DNA database for classifying Shorea species, which are both ecologically and commercially important canopy tree species in the forests of Southeast Asia. We are able to determine the candidate species of wood samples, based on DNA sequences and anatomical data. The methods for analyzing DNA from dipterocarp wood products may have strong deterrent effects on international trade of illegitimate dipterocarp products. However, the method for analyzing DNA from wood is not perfect for all wood products and need for more improvement, especially for plywood sample. Consequently, there may be benefits for the conservation of tropical forests in Southeast Asia.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10265-010-0348-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3388261  PMID: 20473629
cpDNA; Conservation; Database; Tropical forest; Illegal logging; Southeast Asia

Results 1-10 (10)