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1.  A Comparison of the Functional Traits of Common Reed (Phragmites australis) in Northern China: Aquatic vs. Terrestrial Ecotypes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89063.
Common reed (Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud.) is distributed widely throughout the world with various ecotypes. This research compares the functional traits and biomass allocation patterns of two contrasting reed ecotypes. Twelve pairs of aquatic and terrestrial reed samples were collected in northern China. Significant differences in functional traits between the two reed ecotypes were observed, while biomass allocation patterns of reed organs did not differ significantly except for at the root. The dry matter content (DMC) in the whole of the reed plant, leaf, root, and rhizome was higher; while the specific leaf area (SLA) and specific root length (SRL) were lower in terrestrial versus aquatic reed. The biomass allocation in organs of the two forms of reed was isometric, only root in the terrestrial habitat increased faster with an increase in the whole plant biomass. It can be affirmed that aquatic and terrestrial reed that adapt to different environments generally has distinct leaf and root functional traits but isometric biomass allocation patterns. This suggests different resource acquisition strategies: (1) aquatic reed grows faster with high SLA and SRL and is more responsive to the environment, while (2) terrestrial reed with high DMC grows slower and is less responsive to the adverse environment (e.g. dry soil conditions).
PMCID: PMC3929632  PMID: 24586505
2.  Effect of the myostatin locus on muscle mass and intramuscular fat content in a cross between mouse lines selected for hypermuscularity 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:16.
This study is aimed at the analysis of genetic and physiological effects of myostatin on economically relevant meat quality traits in a genetic background of high muscularity. For this purpose, we generated G3 populations of reciprocal crosses between the two hypermuscular mouse lines BMMI866, which carries a myostatin mutation and is lean, and BMMI806, which has high intramuscular and body fat content. To assess the relationship between muscle mass, body composition and muscle quality traits, we also analysed intramuscular fat content (IMF), water holding capacity (WHC), and additional physiological parameters in M. quadriceps and M. longissimus in 308 G3-animals.
We found that individuals with larger muscles have significantly lower total body fat (r = −0.28) and IMF (r = −0.64), and in females, a lower WHC (r = −0.35). In males, higher muscle mass was also significantly correlated with higher glycogen contents (r = 0.2) and lower carcass pH-values 24 hours after dissection (r = −0.19). Linkage analyses confirmed the influence of the myostatin mutation on higher lean mass (1.35 g), reduced body fat content (−1.15%), and lower IMF in M. longissimus (−0.13%) and M. quadriceps (−0.07%). No effect was found for WHC. A large proportion of variation of intramuscular fat content of the M. longissimus at the myostatin locus could be explained by sex (23%) and direction-of-cross effects (26%). The effects were higher in males (+0.41%). An additional locus with negative over-dominance effects on total fat mass (−0.55 g) was identified on chromosome 16 at 94 Mb (86–94 Mb) which concurs with fat related QTL in syntenic regions on SSC13 in pigs and BTA1 in cattle.
The data shows QTL effects on mouse muscle that are similar to those previously observed in livestock, supporting the mouse model. New information from the mouse model helps to describe variation in meat quantity and quality, and thus contribute to research in livestock.
PMCID: PMC3626839  PMID: 23324137
3.  Genetic determinants for intramuscular fat content and water-holding capacity in mice selected for high muscle mass 
Mammalian Genome  2011;22(9-10):530-543.
Intramuscular fat content and water-holding capacity are important traits in livestock as they influence meat quality, nutritive value of the muscle, and animal health. As a model for livestock, two inbred lines of the Berlin Muscle Mouse population, which had been long-term selected for high muscle mass, were used to identify genomic regions affecting intramuscular fat content and water-holding capacity. The intramuscular fat content of the Musculus longissimus was on average 1.4 times higher in BMMI806 than in BMMI816 mice. This was accompanied by a 1.5 times lower water-holding capacity of the Musculus quadriceps in BMMI816 mice. Linkage analyses with 332 G3 animals of reciprocal crosses between these two lines revealed quantitative trait loci for intramuscular fat content on chromosome 7 and for water-holding capacity on chromosome 2. In part, the identified loci coincide with syntenic regions in pigs in which genetic effects for the same traits were found. Therefore, these muscle-weight-selected mouse lines and the produced intercross populations are valuable genetic resources to identify genes that could also contribute to meat quality in other species.
PMCID: PMC3318964  PMID: 21732194
4.  NovelSNPer: A Fast Tool for the Identification and Characterization of Novel SNPs and InDels 
Advances in Bioinformatics  2011;2011:657341.
Typically, next-generation resequencing projects produce large lists of variants. NovelSNPer is a software tool that permits fast and efficient processing of such output lists. In a first step, NovelSNPer determines if a variant represents a known variant or a previously unknown variant. In a second step, each variant is classified into one of 15 SNP classes or 19 InDel classes. Beside the classes used by Ensembl, we introduce POTENTIAL_START_GAINED and START_LOST as new functional classes and present a classification scheme for InDels. NovelSNPer is based upon the gene structure information stored in Ensembl. It processes two million SNPs in six hours. The tool can be used online or downloaded.
PMCID: PMC3206323  PMID: 22110502
5.  Genetic and diet effects on Ppar-α and Ppar-γ signaling pathways in the Berlin Fat Mouse Inbred line with genetic predisposition for obesity 
The Berlin Fat Mouse Inbred (BFMI) line is a new mouse model for obesity, which was long-term selected for high fatness. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) are involved in the control of energy homeostasis, nutrient metabolism and cell proliferation. Here, we studied the expression patterns of the different Ppar genes and the genes in the PPAR pathway in the BFMI line in comparison to physiological changes.
At the age of 10 weeks, the BFMI mice exhibited marked obesity with enlarged adipocytes and high serum triglycerides concentrations in comparison to the often used mouse line C57BL/6 (B6). Between these two lines, gene expression analyses revealed differentially expressed genes belonging to the PPAR pathway, in particular genes of the lipogenesis and the fatty acid transport.
Surprisingly, the Ppar-α gene expression was up-regulated in liver and Ppar-γ gene expression was down-regulated in the white adipose tissue, indicating the activation of a mechanism that counteracts the rise of obesity.
PMCID: PMC2944240  PMID: 20831792
6.  Tracking chromosomal positions of oligomers - a case study with Illumina's BovineSNP50 beadchip 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:80.
High density genotyping arrays have become established as a valuable research tool in human genetics. Currently, more than 300 genome wide association studies were published for human reporting about 1,000 SNPs that are associated with a phenotype. Also in animal sciences high density genotyping arrays are harnessed to analyse genetic variation. To exploit the full potential of this technology single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on the chips should be well characterized and their chromosomal position should be precisely known. This, however, is a challenge if the genome sequence is still subject to changes.
We have developed a mapping strategy and a suite of software scripts to update the chromosomal positions of oligomer sequences used for SNP genotyping on high density arrays. We describe the mapping procedure in detail so that scientists with moderate bioinformatics skills can reproduce it. We furthermore present a case study in which we re-mapped 54,001 oligomer sequences from Ilumina's BovineSNP50 beadchip to the bovine genome sequence. We found in 992 cases substantial discrepancies between the manufacturer's annotations and our results. The software scripts in the Perl and R programming languages are provided as supplements.
The positions of oligomer sequences in the genome are volatile even within one build of the genome. To facilitate the analysis of data from a GWAS or from an expression study, especially with species whose genome assembly is still unstable, it is recommended to update the oligomer positions before data analysis.
PMCID: PMC2834638  PMID: 20122154
7.  Deletions in the genomes of fifteen inbred mouse lines and their possible implications for fat accumulation*  
Copy number variants (CNVs) are pieces of genomic DNA of 1000 base pairs or longer which occur in a given genome at a different frequency than in a reference genome. Their importance as a source for phenotypic variability has been recognized only in the last couple of years. Chromosomal deletions can be seen as a special case of CNVs where stretches of DNA are missing in certain lines when compared to the reference genome of the mouse line C57BL/6, for example. Based upon more than 8 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the fifteen inbred mouse lines which were determined in a whole genome chip based resequencing project by Perlegen Sciences, we detected 20 166 such long chromosomal deletions. They cover altogether between 4.4 million and 8.8 million base pairs, depending on the mouse line. Thus, their extent is comparable to that of SNPs. The chromosomal deletions were found by searching for clusters of missing values in the genotyping data by applying bioinformatics and biostatistical methods. In contrast to isolated missing values, clusters are likely the consequence of missing DNA probe rather than of a failed hybridization or deficient oligos. We analyzed these deletion sites in various ways. Twenty-two percent of these deletion sites overlap with exons; they could therefore affect a gene’s functioning. The corresponding genes seem to exist in alternative forms, a phenomenon that reminds of the alternative forms of mRNA generated during gene splicing. We furthermore detected statistically significant association between hundreds of deletion sites and fat weight at the age of eight weeks.
PMCID: PMC2064947  PMID: 17973337
Copy number variants (CNVs); Chromosomal deletions; Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs); Resequencing; Cluster analysis; Association between genotype and phenotype

Results 1-7 (7)