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1.  A Genome-Wide Survey of the Microsatellite Content of the Globe Artichoke Genome and the Development of a Web-Based Database 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(9):e0162841.
The recently acquired genome sequence of globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) has been used to catalog the genome’s content of simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. More than 177,000 perfect SSRs were revealed, equivalent to an overall density across the genome of 244.5 SSRs/Mbp, but some 224,000 imperfect SSRs were also identified. About 21% of these SSRs were complex (two stretches of repeats separated by <100 nt). Some 73% of the SSRs were composed of dinucleotide motifs. The SSRs were categorized for the numbers of repeats present, their overall length and were allocated to their linkage group. A total of 4,761 perfect and 6,583 imperfect SSRs were present in 3,781 genes (14.11% of the total), corresponding to an overall density across the gene space of 32,5 and 44,9 SSRs/Mbp for perfect and imperfect motifs, respectively. A putative function has been assigned, using the gene ontology approach, to the set of genes harboring at least one SSR. The same search parameters were applied to reveal the SSR content of 14 other plant species for which genome sequence is available. Certain species-specific SSR motifs were identified, along with a hexa-nucleotide motif shared only with the other two Compositae species (sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and horseweed (Conyza canadensis)) included in the study. Finally, a database, called “Cynara cardunculus MicroSatellite DataBase” (CyMSatDB) was developed to provide a searchable interface to the SSR data. CyMSatDB facilitates the retrieval of SSR markers, as well as suggested forward and reverse primers, on the basis of genomic location, genomic vs genic context, perfect vs imperfect repeat, motif type, motif sequence and repeat number. The SSR markers were validated via an in silico based PCR analysis adopting two available assembled transcriptomes, derived from contrasting globe artichoke accessions, as templates.
PMCID: PMC5029897  PMID: 27648830
3.  The genome sequence of the outbreeding globe artichoke constructed de novo incorporating a phase-aware low-pass sequencing strategy of F1 progeny 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:19427.
Globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) is an out-crossing, perennial, multi-use crop species that is grown worldwide and belongs to the Compositae, one of the most successful Angiosperm families. We describe the first genome sequence of globe artichoke. The assembly, comprising of 13,588 scaffolds covering 725 of the 1,084 Mb genome, was generated using ~133-fold Illumina sequencing data and encodes 26,889 predicted genes. Re-sequencing (30×) of globe artichoke and cultivated cardoon (C. cardunculus var. altilis) parental genotypes and low-coverage (0.5 to 1×) genotyping-by-sequencing of 163 F1 individuals resulted in 73% of the assembled genome being anchored in 2,178 genetic bins ordered along 17 chromosomal pseudomolecules. This was achieved using a novel pipeline, SOILoCo (Scaffold Ordering by Imputation with Low Coverage), to detect heterozygous regions and assign parental haplotypes with low sequencing read depth and of unknown phase. SOILoCo provides a powerful tool for de novo genome analysis of outcrossing species. Our data will enable genome-scale analyses of evolutionary processes among crops, weeds, and wild species within and beyond the Compositae, and will facilitate the identification of economically important genes from related species.
PMCID: PMC4726258  PMID: 26786968
4.  Genome-Wide Identification of BAHD Acyltransferases and In vivo Characterization of HQT-like Enzymes Involved in Caffeoylquinic Acid Synthesis in Globe Artichoke 
Globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus L. var. scolymus) is a rich source of compounds promoting human health (phytonutrients), among them caffeoylquinic acids (CQAs), mainly represented by chlorogenic acid (CGA), and dicaffeoylquinic acids (diCQAs). The enzymes involved in their biosynthesis belong to the large family of BAHD acyltransferases. Following a survey of the globe artichoke genome, we identified 69 BAHD proteins carrying the catalytic site (HXXXD). Their phylogenetic analysis together with another 43 proteins, from 21 species, representative of the BAHD family, highlighted their grouping in seven major clades. Nine globe artichoke acyltransferases clustered in a sub-group of Clade V, with 3 belonging to hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA:quinate hydroxycinnamoyl transferase (HQT) and 2 to hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA:shikimate/quinate hydroxycinnamoyl transferase (HCT) like proteins. We focused our attention on the former, HQT1, HQT2, and HQT3, as they are known to play a key role in CGA biosynthesis. The expression of genes coding for the three HQTs and correlation of expression with the CQA content is reported for different globe artichoke tissues. For the first time in the globe artichoke, we developed and applied the virus-induced gene silencing approach with the goal of assessing in vivo the effect of HQT1 silencing, which resulted in a marked reduction of both CGA and diCQAs. On the other hand, when the role of the three HQTs was assessed in leaves of Nicotiana benthamiana through their transient overexpression, significant increases in mono- and diCQAs content were observed. Using transient GFP fusion proteins expressed in N. benthamiana leaves we also established the sub-cellular localization of these three enzymes.
PMCID: PMC5033976  PMID: 27721818
Cynara cardunculus; caffeoylquinic acids; BAHD acyltransferases; functional characterization; VIGS
5.  Genetic mapping and identification of QTL for earliness in the globe artichoke/cultivated cardoon complex 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:252.
The Asteraceae species Cynara cardunculus (2n = 2x = 34) includes the two fully cross-compatible domesticated taxa globe artichoke (var. scolymus L.) and cultivated cardoon (var. altilis DC). As both are out-pollinators and suffer from marked inbreeding depression, linkage analysis has focussed on the use of a two way pseudo-test cross approach.
A set of 172 microsatellite (SSR) loci derived from expressed sequence tag DNA sequence were integrated into the reference C. cardunculus genetic maps, based on segregation among the F1 progeny of a cross between a globe artichoke and a cultivated cardoon. The resulting maps each detected 17 major linkage groups, corresponding to the species’ haploid chromosome number. A consensus map based on 66 co-dominant shared loci (64 SSRs and two SNPs) assembled 694 loci, with a mean inter-marker spacing of 2.5 cM. When the maps were used to elucidate the pattern of inheritance of head production earliness, a key commercial trait, seven regions were shown to harbour relevant quantitative trait loci (QTL). Together, these QTL accounted for up to 74% of the overall phenotypic variance.
The newly developed consensus as well as the parental genetic maps can accelerate the process of tagging and eventually isolating the genes underlying earliness in both the domesticated C. cardunculus forms. The largest single effect mapped to the same linkage group in each parental maps, and explained about one half of the phenotypic variance, thus representing a good candidate for marker assisted selection.
PMCID: PMC3434057  PMID: 22621324
Cynara cardunculus; Linkage map; Microsatellite; QTL; Earliness
6.  RAD tag sequencing as a source of SNP markers in Cynara cardunculus L 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:3.
The globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus L. var. scolymus) genome is relatively poorly explored, especially compared to those of the other major Asteraceae crops sunflower and lettuce. No SNP markers are in the public domain. We have combined the recently developed restriction-site associated DNA (RAD) approach with the Illumina DNA sequencing platform to effect the rapid and mass discovery of SNP markers for C. cardunculus.
RAD tags were sequenced from the genomic DNA of three C. cardunculus mapping population parents, generating 9.7 million reads, corresponding to ~1 Gbp of sequence. An assembly based on paired ends produced ~6.0 Mbp of genomic sequence, separated into ~19,000 contigs (mean length 312 bp), of which ~21% were fragments of putative coding sequence. The shared sequences allowed for the discovery of ~34,000 SNPs and nearly 800 indels, equivalent to a SNP frequency of 5.6 per 1,000 nt, and an indel frequency of 0.2 per 1,000 nt. A sample of heterozygous SNP loci was mapped by CAPS assays and this exercise provided validation of our mining criteria. The repetitive fraction of the genome had a high representation of retrotransposon sequence, followed by simple repeats, AT-low complexity regions and mobile DNA elements. The genomic k-mers distribution and CpG rate of C. cardunculus, compared with data derived from three whole genome-sequenced dicots species, provided a further evidence of the random representation of the C. cardunculus genome generated by RAD sampling.
The RAD tag sequencing approach is a cost-effective and rapid method to develop SNP markers in a highly heterozygous species. Our approach permitted to generate a large and robust SNP datasets by the adoption of optimized filtering criteria.
PMCID: PMC3269995  PMID: 22214349
7.  Identification of SNP and SSR markers in eggplant using RAD tag sequencing 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:304.
The eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) genome is relatively unexplored, especially compared to those of the other major Solanaceae crops tomato and potato. In particular, no SNP markers are publicly available; on the other hand, over 1,000 SSR markers were developed and publicly available. We have combined the recently developed Restriction-site Associated DNA (RAD) approach with Illumina DNA sequencing for rapid and mass discovery of both SNP and SSR markers for eggplant.
RAD tags were generated from the genomic DNA of a pair of eggplant mapping parents, and sequenced to produce ~17.5 Mb of sequences arrangeable into ~78,000 contigs. The resulting non-redundant genomic sequence dataset consisted of ~45,000 sequences, of which ~29% were putative coding sequences and ~70% were in common between the mapping parents. The shared sequences allowed the discovery of ~10,000 SNPs and nearly 1,000 indels, equivalent to a SNP frequency of 0.8 per Kb and an indel frequency of 0.07 per Kb. Over 2,000 of the SNPs are likely to be mappable via the Illumina GoldenGate assay. A subset of 384 SNPs was used to successfully fingerprint a panel of eggplant germplasm, producing a set of informative diversity data. The RAD sequences also included nearly 2,000 putative SSRs, and primer pairs were designed to amplify 1,155 loci.
The high throughput sequencing of the RAD tags allowed the discovery of a large number of DNA markers, which will prove useful for extending our current knowledge of the genome organization of eggplant, for assisting in marker-aided selection and for carrying out comparative genomic analyses within the Solanaceae family.
PMCID: PMC3128069  PMID: 21663628
8.  Ontology and diversity of transcript-associated microsatellites mined from a globe artichoke EST database 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:454.
The globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus L.) is a significant crop in the Mediterranean basin. Despite its commercial importance and its both dietary and pharmaceutical value, knowledge of its genetics and genomics remains scant. Microsatellite markers have become a key tool in genetic and genomic analysis, and we have exploited recently acquired EST (expressed sequence tag) sequence data (Composite Genome Project - CGP) to develop an extensive set of microsatellite markers.
A unigene assembly was created from over 36,000 globe artichoke EST sequences, containing 6,621 contigs and 12,434 singletons. Over 12,000 of these unigenes were functionally assigned on the basis of homology with Arabidopsis thaliana reference proteins. A total of 4,219 perfect repeats, located within 3,308 unigenes was identified and the gene ontology (GO) analysis highlighted some GO term's enrichments among different classes of microsatellites with respect to their position. Sufficient flanking sequence was available to enable the design of primers to amplify 2,311 of these microsatellites, and a set of 300 was tested against a DNA panel derived from 28 C. cardunculus genotypes. Consistent amplification and polymorphism was obtained from 236 of these assays. Their polymorphic information content (PIC) ranged from 0.04 to 0.90 (mean 0.66). Between 176 and 198 of the assays were informative in at least one of the three available mapping populations.
EST-based microsatellites have provided a large set of de novo genetic markers, which show significant amounts of polymorphism both between and within the three taxa of C. cardunculus. They are thus well suited as assays for phylogenetic analysis, the construction of genetic maps, marker-assisted breeding, transcript mapping and other genomic applications in the species.
PMCID: PMC2760586  PMID: 19785740
9.  Isolation and functional characterization of a cDNA coding a hydroxycinnamoyltransferase involved in phenylpropanoid biosynthesis in Cynara cardunculus L 
BMC Plant Biology  2007;7:14.
Cynara cardunculus L. is an edible plant of pharmaceutical interest, in particular with respect to the polyphenolic content of its leaves. It includes three taxa: globe artichoke, cultivated cardoon, and wild cardoon. The dominating phenolics are the di-caffeoylquinic acids (such as cynarin), which are largely restricted to Cynara species, along with their precursor, chlorogenic acid (CGA). The scope of this study is to better understand CGA synthesis in this plant.
A gene sequence encoding a hydroxycinnamoyltransferase (HCT) involved in the synthesis of CGA, was identified. Isolation of the gene sequence was achieved by using a PCR strategy with degenerated primers targeted to conserved regions of orthologous HCT sequences available. We have isolated a 717 bp cDNA which shares 84% aminoacid identity and 92% similarity with a tobacco gene responsible for the biosynthesis of CGA from p-coumaroyl-CoA and quinic acid. In silico studies revealed the globe artichoke HCT sequence clustering with one of the main acyltransferase groups (i.e. anthranilate N-hydroxycinnamoyl/benzoyltransferase). Heterologous expression of the full length HCT (GenBank accession DQ104740) cDNA in E. coli demonstrated that the recombinant enzyme efficiently synthesizes both chlorogenic acid and p-coumaroyl quinate from quinic acid and caffeoyl-CoA or p-coumaroyl-CoA, respectively, confirming its identity as a hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA: quinate HCT. Variable levels of HCT expression were shown among wild and cultivated forms of C. cardunculus subspecies. The level of expression was correlated with CGA content.
The data support the predicted involvement of the Cynara cardunculus HCT in the biosynthesis of CGA before and/or after the hydroxylation step of hydroxycinnamoyl esters.
PMCID: PMC1847684  PMID: 17374149

Results 1-9 (9)