The substantially large bread wheat genome, organized into highly similar three sub-genomes, renders genomic research challenging. The construction of BAC-based physical maps of individual chromosomes reduces the complexity of this allohexaploid genome, enables elucidation of gene space and evolutionary relationships, provides tools for map-based cloning, and serves as a framework for reference sequencing efforts. In this study, we constructed the first comprehensive physical map of wheat chromosome arm 5DS, thereby exploring its gene space organization and evolution.
The physical map of 5DS was comprised of 164 contigs, of which 45 were organized into 21 supercontigs, covering 176 Mb with an N50 value of 2,173 kb. Fifty-eight of the contigs were larger than 1 Mb, with the largest contig spanning 6,649 kb. A total of 1,864 molecular markers were assigned to the map at a density of 10.5 markers/Mb, anchoring 100 of the 120 contigs (>5 clones) that constitute ~95 % of the cumulative length of the map. Ordering of 80 contigs along the deletion bins of chromosome arm 5DS revealed small-scale breaks in syntenic blocks. Analysis of the gene space of 5DS suggested an increasing gradient of genes organized in islands towards the telomere, with the highest gene density of 5.17 genes/Mb in the 0.67-0.78 deletion bin, 1.4 to 1.6 times that of all other bins.
Here, we provide a chromosome-specific view into the organization and evolution of the D genome of bread wheat, in comparison to one of its ancestors, revealing recent genome rearrangements. The high-quality physical map constructed in this study paves the way for the assembly of a reference sequence, from which breeding efforts will greatly benefit.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1641-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Triticum aestivum; 5DS, Hexaploid wheat; Physical mapping; Gene space; Grass evolution
The passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) is a tropical crop of economic importance both for juice production and consumption as fresh fruit. The juice is also used in concentrate blends that are consumed worldwide. However, very little is known about the genome of the species. Therefore, improving our understanding of passion fruit genomics is essential and to some degree a pre-requisite if its genetic resources are to be used more efficiently. In this study, we have constructed a large-insert BAC library and provided the first view on the structure and content of the passion fruit genome, using BAC-end sequence (BES) data as a major resource.
The library consisted of 82,944 clones and its levels of organellar DNA were very low. The library represents six haploid genome equivalents, and the average insert size was 108 kb. To check its utility for gene isolation, successful macroarray screening experiments were carried out with probes complementary to eight Passiflora gene sequences available in public databases. BACs harbouring those genes were used in fluorescent in situ hybridizations and unique signals were detected for four BACs in three chromosomes (n = 9). Then, we explored 10,000 BES and we identified reads likely to contain repetitive mobile elements (19.6% of all BES), simple sequence repeats and putative proteins, and to estimate the GC content (~42%) of the reads. Around 9.6% of all BES were found to have high levels of similarity to plant genes and ontological terms were assigned to more than half of the sequences analysed (940). The vast majority of the top-hits made by our sequences were to Populus trichocarpa (24.8% of the total occurrences), Theobroma cacao (21.6%), Ricinus communis (14.3%), Vitis vinifera (6.5%) and Prunus persica (3.8%).
We generated the first large-insert library for a member of Passifloraceae. This BAC library provides a new resource for genetic and genomic studies, as well as it represents a valuable tool for future whole genome study. Remarkably, a number of BAC-end pair sequences could be mapped to intervals of the sequenced Arabidopsis thaliana, V. vinifera and P. trichocarpa chromosomes, and putative collinear microsyntenic regions were identified.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-816) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Passiflora; Passion fruit; Genomics; BAC-end sequencing; Repetitive elements; Gene content; Microsynteny; Fluorescent in situ hybridization
Sugarcane is the source of sugar in all tropical and subtropical countries and is becoming increasingly important for bio-based fuels. However, its large (10 Gb), polyploid, complex genome has hindered genome based breeding efforts. Here we release the largest and most diverse set of sugarcane genome sequences to date, as part of an on-going initiative to provide a sugarcane genomic information resource, with the ultimate goal of producing a gold standard genome.
Three hundred and seventeen chiefly euchromatic BACs were sequenced. A reference set of one thousand four hundred manually-annotated protein-coding genes was generated. A small RNA collection and a RNA-seq library were used to explore expression patterns and the sRNA landscape. In the sucrose and starch metabolism pathway, 16 non-redundant enzyme-encoding genes were identified. One of the sucrose pathway genes, sucrose-6-phosphate phosphohydrolase, is duplicated in sugarcane and sorghum, but not in rice and maize. A diversity analysis of the s6pp duplication region revealed haplotype-structured sequence composition. Examination of hom(e)ologous loci indicate both sequence structural and sRNA landscape variation. A synteny analysis shows that the sugarcane genome has expanded relative to the sorghum genome, largely due to the presence of transposable elements and uncharacterized intergenic and intronic sequences.
This release of sugarcane genomic sequences will advance our understanding of sugarcane genetics and contribute to the development of molecular tools for breeding purposes and gene discovery.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-540) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Saccharum; Bacterial artificial chromosome sequencing; Polyploidy; Genome; Genetics; Grasses
The wheat genome sequence is an essential tool for advanced genomic research and improvements. The generation of a high-quality wheat genome sequence is challenging due to its complex 17 Gb polyploid genome. To overcome these difficulties, sequencing through the construction of BAC-based physical maps of individual chromosomes is employed by the wheat genomics community. Here, we present the construction of the first comprehensive physical map of chromosome 1BS, and illustrate its unique gene space organization and evolution.
Fingerprinted BAC clones were assembled into 57 long scaffolds, anchored and ordered with 2,438 markers, covering 83% of chromosome 1BS. The BAC-based chromosome 1BS physical map and gene order of the orthologous regions of model grass species were consistent, providing strong support for the reliability of the chromosome 1BS assembly. The gene space for chromosome 1BS spans the entire length of the chromosome arm, with 76% of the genes organized in small gene islands, accompanied by a two-fold increase in gene density from the centromere to the telomere.
This study provides new evidence on common and chromosome-specific features in the organization and evolution of the wheat genome, including a non-uniform distribution of gene density along the centromere-telomere axis, abundance of non-syntenic genes, the degree of colinearity with other grass genomes and a non-uniform size expansion along the centromere-telomere axis compared with other model cereal genomes. The high-quality physical map constructed in this study provides a solid basis for the assembly of a reference sequence of chromosome 1BS and for breeding applications.
Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) has a large and highly repetitive genome which poses major technical challenges for its study. To aid map-based cloning and future genome sequencing projects, we constructed a BAC-based physical map of the short arm of wheat chromosome 1A (1AS). From the assembly of 25,918 high information content (HICF) fingerprints from a 1AS-specific BAC library, 715 physical contigs were produced that cover almost 99% of the estimated size of the chromosome arm. The 3,414 BAC clones constituting the minimum tiling path were end-sequenced. Using a gene microarray containing ∼40 K NCBI UniGene EST clusters, PCR marker screening and BAC end sequences, we arranged 160 physical contigs (97 Mb or 35.3% of the chromosome arm) in a virtual order based on synteny with Brachypodium, rice and sorghum. BAC end sequences and information from microarray hybridisation was used to anchor 3.8 Mbp of Illumina sequences from flow-sorted chromosome 1AS to BAC contigs. Comparison of genetic and synteny-based physical maps indicated that ∼50% of all genetic recombination is confined to 14% of the physical length of the chromosome arm in the distal region. The 1AS physical map provides a framework for future genetic mapping projects as well as the basis for complete sequencing of chromosome arm 1AS.
As for other major crops, achieving a complete wheat genome sequence is essential for the application of genomics to breeding new and improved varieties. To overcome the complexities of the large, highly repetitive and hexaploid wheat genome, the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium established a chromosome-based strategy that was validated by the construction of the physical map of chromosome 3B. Here, we present improved strategies for the construction of highly integrated and ordered wheat physical maps, using chromosome 1BL as a template, and illustrate their potential for evolutionary studies and map-based cloning.
Using a combination of novel high throughput marker assays and an assembly program, we developed a high quality physical map representing 93% of wheat chromosome 1BL, anchored and ordered with 5,489 markers including 1,161 genes. Analysis of the gene space organization and evolution revealed that gene distribution and conservation along the chromosome results from the superimposition of the ancestral grass and recent wheat evolutionary patterns, leading to a peak of synteny in the central part of the chromosome arm and an increased density of non-collinear genes towards the telomere. With a density of about 11 markers per Mb, the 1BL physical map provides 916 markers, including 193 genes, for fine mapping the 40 QTLs mapped on this chromosome.
Here, we demonstrate that high marker density physical maps can be developed in complex genomes such as wheat to accelerate map-based cloning, gain new insights into genome evolution, and provide a foundation for reference sequencing.
chromosome 1BL; evolution; gene space; grasses; hexaploid wheat; map-based cloning; physical mapping; sequencing; synteny
Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is one of the most important crops worldwide and its production faces pressing challenges, the solution of which demands genome information. However, the large, highly repetitive hexaploid wheat genome has been considered intractable to standard sequencing approaches. Therefore the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) proposes to map and sequence the genome on a chromosome-by-chromosome basis.
We have constructed a physical map of the long arm of bread wheat chromosome 1A using chromosome-specific BAC libraries by High Information Content Fingerprinting (HICF). Two alternative methods (FPC and LTC) were used to assemble the fingerprints into a high-resolution physical map of the chromosome arm. A total of 365 molecular markers were added to the map, in addition to 1122 putative unique transcripts that were identified by microarray hybridization. The final map consists of 1180 FPC-based or 583 LTC-based contigs.
The physical map presented here marks an important step forward in mapping of hexaploid bread wheat. The map is orders of magnitude more detailed than previously available maps of this chromosome, and the assignment of over a thousand putative expressed gene sequences to specific map locations will greatly assist future functional studies. This map will be an essential tool for future sequencing of and positional cloning within chromosome 1A.
Polyploidization is considered one of the main mechanisms of plant genome evolution. The presence of multiple copies of the same gene reduces selection pressure and permits sub-functionalization and neo-functionalization leading to plant diversification, adaptation and speciation. In bread wheat, polyploidization and the prevalence of transposable elements resulted in massive gene duplication and movement. As a result, the number of genes which are non-collinear to genomes of related species seems markedly increased in wheat.
We used new-generation sequencing (NGS) to generate sequence of a Mb-sized region from wheat chromosome arm 3DS. Sequence assembly of 24 BAC clones resulted in two scaffolds of 1,264,820 and 333,768 bases. The sequence was annotated and compared to the homoeologous region on wheat chromosome 3B and orthologous loci of Brachypodium distachyon and rice. Among 39 coding sequences in the 3DS scaffolds, 32 have a homoeolog on chromosome 3B. In contrast, only fifteen and fourteen orthologs were identified in the corresponding regions in rice and Brachypodium, respectively. Interestingly, five pseudogenes were identified among the non-collinear coding sequences at the 3B locus, while none was found at the 3DS locus.
Direct comparison of two Mb-sized regions of the B and D genomes of bread wheat revealed similar rates of non-collinear gene insertion in both genomes with a majority of gene duplications occurring before their divergence. Relatively low proportion of pseudogenes was identified among non-collinear coding sequences. Our data suggest that the pseudogenes did not originate from insertion of non-functional copies, but were formed later during the evolution of hexaploid wheat. Some evidence was found for gene erosion along the B genome locus.
Wheat; BAC sequencing; Homoeologous genomes; Gene duplication; Non-collinear genes; Allopolyploidy
The PIN-FORMED (PIN) auxin efflux transport protein family has been well characterized in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, where these proteins are crucial for auxin regulation of various aspects of plant development. Recent evidence indicates that PIN proteins may play a role in fruit set and early fruit development in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), but functional analyses of PIN-silenced plants failed to corroborate this hypothesis. Here it is demonstrated that silencing specifically the tomato SlPIN4 gene, which is predominantly expressed in tomato flower bud and young developing fruit, leads to parthenocarpic fruits due to precocious fruit development before fertilization. This phenotype was associated with only slight modifications of auxin homeostasis at early stages of flower bud development and with minor alterations of ARF and Aux/IAA gene expression. However, microarray transcriptome analysis and large-scale quantitative RT-PCR profiling of transcription factors in developing flower bud and fruit highlighted differentially expressed regulatory genes, which are potential targets for auxin control of fruit set and development in tomato. In conclusion, this work provides clear evidence that the tomato PIN protein SlPIN4 plays a major role in auxin regulation of tomato fruit set, possibly by preventing precocious fruit development in the absence of pollination, and further gives new insights into the target genes involved in fruit set.
Auxin efflux transport protein (PIN); CRABS-CLAW; fruit set; MADS-BOX; parthenocarpy; tomato (Solanum lycopersicum); transcription factor
Legumes (Fabaceae or Leguminosae) are unique among cultivated plants for their ability to carry out endosymbiotic nitrogen fixation with rhizobial bacteria, a process that takes place in a specialized structure known as the nodule. Legumes belong to one of the two main groups of eurosids, the Fabidae, which includes most species capable of endosymbiotic nitrogen fixation 1. Legumes comprise several evolutionary lineages derived from a common ancestor 60 million years ago (Mya). Papilionoids are the largest clade, dating nearly to the origin of legumes and containing most cultivated species 2. Medicago truncatula (Mt) is a long-established model for the study of legume biology. Here we describe the draft sequence of the Mt euchromatin based on a recently completed BAC-assembly supplemented with Illumina-shotgun sequence, together capturing ~94% of all Mt genes. A whole-genome duplication (WGD) approximately 58 Mya played a major role in shaping the Mt genome and thereby contributed to the evolution of endosymbiotic nitrogen fixation. Subsequent to the WGD, the Mt genome experienced higher levels of rearrangement than two other sequenced legumes, Glycine max (Gm) and Lotus japonicus (Lj). Mt is a close relative of alfalfa (M. sativa), a widely cultivated crop with limited genomics tools and complex autotetraploid genetics. As such, the Mt genome sequence provides significant opportunities to expand alfalfa’s genomic toolbox.
Carotenoids are isoprenoid pigments, essential for photosynthesis and photoprotection in plants. The enzyme phytoene synthase (PSY) plays an essential role in mediating condensation of two geranylgeranyl diphosphate molecules, the first committed step in carotenogenesis. PSY are nuclear enzymes encoded by a small gene family consisting of three paralogous genes (PSY1-3) that have been widely characterized in rice, maize and sorghum.
In wheat, for which yellow pigment content is extremely important for flour colour, only PSY1 has been extensively studied because of its association with QTLs reported for yellow pigment whereas PSY2 has been partially characterized. Here, we report the isolation of bread wheat PSY3 genes from a Renan BAC library using Brachypodium as a model genome for the Triticeae to develop Conserved Orthologous Set markers prior to gene cloning and sequencing. Wheat PSY3 homoeologous genes were sequenced and annotated, unravelling their novel structure associated with intron-loss events and consequent exonic fusions. A wheat PSY3 promoter region was also investigated for the presence of cis-acting elements involved in the response to abscisic acid (ABA), since carotenoids also play an important role as precursors of signalling molecules devoted to plant development and biotic/abiotic stress responses. Expression of wheat PSYs in leaves and roots was investigated during ABA treatment to confirm the up-regulation of PSY3 during abiotic stress.
We investigated the structural and functional determinisms of PSY genes in wheat. More generally, among eudicots and monocots, the PSY gene family was found to be associated with differences in gene copy numbers, allowing us to propose an evolutionary model for the entire PSY gene family in Grasses.
Carotenoids; Phytoene synthase; Wheat; Intron loss; Abiotic stress; Evolution
Self-incompatibility has been considered by geneticists a model system for reproductive biology and balancing selection, but our understanding of the genetic basis and evolution of this molecular lock-and-key system has remained limited by the extreme level of sequence divergence among haplotypes, resulting in a lack of appropriate genomic sequences. In this study, we report and analyze the full sequence of eleven distinct haplotypes of the self-incompatibility locus (S-locus) in two closely related Arabidopsis species, obtained from individual BAC libraries. We use this extensive dataset to highlight sharply contrasted patterns of molecular evolution of each of the two genes controlling self-incompatibility themselves, as well as of the genomic region surrounding them. We find strong collinearity of the flanking regions among haplotypes on each side of the S-locus together with high levels of sequence similarity. In contrast, the S-locus region itself shows spectacularly deep gene genealogies, high variability in size and gene organization, as well as complete absence of sequence similarity in intergenic sequences and striking accumulation of transposable elements. Of particular interest, we demonstrate that dominant and recessive S-haplotypes experience sharply contrasted patterns of molecular evolution. Indeed, dominant haplotypes exhibit larger size and a much higher density of transposable elements, being matched only by that in the centromere. Overall, these properties highlight that the S-locus presents many striking similarities with other regions involved in the determination of mating-types, such as sex chromosomes in animals or in plants, or the mating-type locus in fungi and green algae.
Self-incompatibility is a common genetic system preventing selfing through recognition and rejection of self-pollen in hermaphroditic flowering plants. In the Brassicaceae family, this system is controlled by a single genomic region, called the S-locus, where many distinct specificities segregate in natural populations. In this study, we obtained genomic sequences comprising the S-locus in two closely related Brassicaceae species, Arabidopsis lyrata and A. halleri, and analyzed their diversity and patterns of molecular evolution. We report compelling evidence that the S-locus presents many similar properties with other genomic regions involved in the determination of mating-types in mammals, insects, plants, or fungi. In particular, in spite of their diversity, these genomic regions all show absence of similarity in intergenic sequences, large depth of genealogies, highly divergent organization, and accumulation of transposable elements. Moreover, some of these features were found to vary according to dominance of the S-locus specificities, suggesting that dominance/recessivity interactions are key drivers of the evolution of this genomic region.
One of the key goals of oak genomics research is to identify genes of adaptive significance. This information may help to improve the conservation of adaptive genetic variation and the management of forests to increase their health and productivity. Deep-coverage large-insert genomic libraries are a crucial tool for attaining this objective. We report herein the construction of a BAC library for Quercus robur, its characterization and an analysis of BAC end sequences.
The EcoRI library generated consisted of 92,160 clones, 7% of which had no insert. Levels of chloroplast and mitochondrial contamination were below 3% and 1%, respectively. Mean clone insert size was estimated at 135 kb. The library represents 12 haploid genome equivalents and, the likelihood of finding a particular oak sequence of interest is greater than 99%. Genome coverage was confirmed by PCR screening of the library with 60 unique genetic loci sampled from the genetic linkage map. In total, about 20,000 high-quality BAC end sequences (BESs) were generated by sequencing 15,000 clones. Roughly 5.88% of the combined BAC end sequence length corresponded to known retroelements while ab initio repeat detection methods identified 41 additional repeats. Collectively, characterized and novel repeats account for roughly 8.94% of the genome. Further analysis of the BESs revealed 1,823 putative genes suggesting at least 29,340 genes in the oak genome. BESs were aligned with the genome sequences of Arabidopsis thaliana, Vitis vinifera and Populus trichocarpa. One putative collinear microsyntenic region encoding an alcohol acyl transferase protein was observed between oak and chromosome 2 of V. vinifera.
This BAC library provides a new resource for genomic studies, including SSR marker development, physical mapping, comparative genomics and genome sequencing. BES analysis provided insight into the structure of the oak genome. These sequences will be used in the assembly of a future genome sequence for oak.
Eucalyptus species are among the most planted hardwoods in the world because of their rapid growth, adaptability and valuable wood properties. The development and integration of genomic resources into breeding practice will be increasingly important in the decades to come. Bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) libraries are key genomic tools that enable positional cloning of important traits, synteny evaluation, and the development of genome framework physical maps for genetic linkage and genome sequencing.
We describe the construction and characterization of two deep-coverage BAC libraries EG_Ba and EG_Bb obtained from nuclear DNA fragments of E. grandis (clone BRASUZ1) digested with HindIII and BstYI, respectively. Genome coverages of 17 and 15 haploid genome equivalents were estimated for EG_Ba and EG_Bb, respectively. Both libraries contained large inserts, with average sizes ranging from 135 Kb (Eg_Bb) to 157 Kb (Eg_Ba), very low extra-nuclear genome contamination providing a probability of finding a single copy gene ≥ 99.99%. Libraries were screened for the presence of several genes of interest via hybridizations to high-density BAC filters followed by PCR validation. Five selected BAC clones were sequenced and assembled using the Roche GS FLX technology providing the whole sequence of the E. grandis chloroplast genome, and complete genomic sequences of important lignin biosynthesis genes.
The two E. grandis BAC libraries described in this study represent an important milestone for the advancement of Eucalyptus genomics and forest tree research. These BAC resources have a highly redundant genome coverage (> 15×), contain large average inserts and have a very low percentage of clones with organellar DNA or empty vectors. These publicly available BAC libraries are thus suitable for a broad range of applications in genetic and genomic research in Eucalyptus and possibly in related species of Myrtaceae, including genome sequencing, gene isolation, functional and comparative genomics. Because they have been constructed using the same tree (E. grandis BRASUZ1) whose full genome is being sequenced, they should prove instrumental for assembly and gap filling of the upcoming Eucalyptus reference genome sequence.
The Asteraceae represents an important plant family with respect to the numbers of species present in the wild and used by man. Nonetheless, genomic resources for Asteraceae species are relatively underdeveloped, hampering within species genetic studies as well as comparative genomics studies at the family level. So far, six BAC libraries have been described for the main crops of the family, i.e. lettuce and sunflower. Here we present the characterization of BAC libraries of chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) constructed from two genotypes differing in traits related to sexual and vegetative reproduction. Resolving the molecular mechanisms underlying traits controlling the reproductive system of chicory is a key determinant for hybrid development, and more generally will provide new insights into these traits, which are poorly investigated so far at the molecular level in Asteraceae.
Two bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) libraries, CinS2S2 and CinS1S4, were constructed from HindIII-digested high molecular weight DNA of the contrasting genotypes C15 and C30.01, respectively. C15 was hermaphrodite, non-embryogenic, and S2S2 for the S-locus implicated in self-incompatibility, whereas C30.01 was male sterile, embryogenic, and S1S4. The CinS2S2 and CinS1S4 libraries contain 89,088 and 81,408 clones. Mean insert sizes of the CinS2S2 and CinS1S4 clones are 90 and 120 kb, respectively, and provide together a coverage of 12.3 haploid genome equivalents. Contamination with mitochondrial and chloroplast DNA sequences was evaluated with four mitochondrial and four chloroplast specific probes, and was estimated to be 0.024% and 1.00% for the CinS2S2 library, and 0.028% and 2.35% for the CinS1S4 library. Using two single copy genes putatively implicated in somatic embryogenesis, screening of both libraries resulted in detection of 12 and 13 positive clones for each gene, in accordance with expected numbers.
This indicated that both BAC libraries are valuable tools for molecular studies in chicory, one goal being the positional cloning of the S-locus in this Asteraceae species.
As part of a research programme focused on flavonoid biosynthesis in the seed coat of Brassica napus L. (oilseed rape), orthologs of the BANYULS gene that encoded anthocyanidin reductase were cloned in B. napus as well as in the related species Brassica rapa and Brassica oleracea. B. napus genome contained four functional copies of BAN, two originating from each diploid progenitor. Amino acid sequences were highly conserved between the Brassicaceae including B. napus, B. rapa, B. oleracea as well as the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Along the 200 bp in 5′ of the ATG codon, Bna.BAN promoters (ProBna.BAN) were conserved with AtANR promoter and contained putative cis-acting elements. In addition, transgenic Arabidopsis and oilseed rape plants carrying the first 230 bp of ProBna.BAN fused to the UidA reporter gene were generated. In the two Brassicaceae backgrounds, ProBna.BAN activity was restricted to the seed coat. In B. napus seed, ProBna.BAN was activated in procyanidin-accumulating cells, namely the innermost layer of the inner integument and the micropyle-chalaza area. At the transcriptional level, the four Bna.BAN genes were expressed in the seed. Laser microdissection assays of the seed integuments showed that Bna.BAN expression was restricted to the inner integument, which was consistent with the activation profile of ProBna.BAN. Finally, Bna.BAN genes were mapped onto oilseed rape genetic maps and potential co-localisations with seed colour quantitative trait loci are discussed.
Anthocyanidin reductase; BANYULS genes; Brassica; Flavonoid metabolism; Seed coat-specific promoter
In order to prepare for whole-genome expression analysis in Sinorhizobium meliloti, pilot DNA macroarrays were designed for 34 genes of known regulation. The experimental parameters assessed were the length of the PCR products, the influence of a tag at the 5′ end of the primers, and the method of RNA labeling. Variance and principal-component analysis showed that the most important nonbiological parameter was the labeling method. The sizes of PCR products were also found to be important, whereas the influence of 5′ tags was minimal. The variability between replicated spots on a membrane was found to be low. These experimental procedures were validated by analyzing the effects of microaerobic conditions on gene expression.
Nitrogen fixation gene expression in Sinorhizobium meliloti, the alfalfa symbiont, depends on a cascade of regulation that involves both positive and negative control. On top of the cascade, the two-component regulatory system FixLJ is activated under the microoxic conditions of the nodule. In addition, activity of the FixLJ system is inhibited by a specific anti-kinase protein, FixT. The physiological significance of this negative regulation by FixT was so far unknown.
We have isolated by random Tn5 mutagenesis a S. meliloti mutant strain that escapes repression by FixT. Complementation test and DNA analysis revealed that inactivation of an asparagine synthetase-like gene was responsible for the phenotype of the mutant. This gene, that was named asnO, encodes a protein homologous to glutamine-dependent asparagine synthetases. The asnO gene did not appear to affect asparagine biosynthesis and may instead serve a regulatory function in S. meliloti. We provide evidence that asnO is active during symbiosis .
Isolation of the asnO mutant argues for the existence of a physiological regulation associated with fixT and makes it unlikely that fixT serves a mere homeostatic function in S. meliloti. Our data suggest that asnO might control activity of the FixT protein, in a way that remains to be elucidated. A proposed role for asnO might be to couple nitrogen fixation gene expression in S. meliloti to the nitrogen needs of the cells.