Coffea canephora, also called Robusta, belongs to the Rubiaceae, the fourth largest angiosperm family. This diploid species (2x = 2n = 22) has a fairly small genome size of ≈ 690 Mb and despite its extreme economic importance, particularly for developing countries, knowledge on the genome composition, structure and evolution remain very limited. Here, we report the 160 kb of the first C. canephora Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) clone ever sequenced and its fine analysis.
This clone contains the CcEIN4 gene, encoding an ethylene receptor, and twenty other predicted genes showing a high gene density of one gene per 7.8 kb. Most of them display perfect matches with C. canephora expressed sequence tags or show transcriptional activities through PCR amplifications on cDNA libraries. Twenty-three transposable elements, mainly Class II transposon derivatives, were identified at this locus. Most of these Class II elements are Miniature Inverted-repeat Transposable Elements (MITE) known to be closely associated with plant genes. This BAC composition gives a pattern similar to those found in gene rich regions of Solanum lycopersicum and Medicago truncatula genomes indicating that the CcEIN4 regions may belong to a gene rich region in the C. canephora genome. Comparative sequence analysis indicated an extensive conservation between C. canephora and most of the reference dicotyledonous genomes studied in this work, such as tomato (S. lycopersicum), grapevine (V. vinifera), barrel medic M. truncatula, black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) and Arabidopsis thaliana. The higher degree of microcollinearity was found between C. canephora and V. vinifera, which belong respectively to the Asterids and Rosids, two clades that diverged more than 114 million years ago.
This study provides a first glimpse of C. canephora genome composition and evolution. Our data revealed a remarkable conservation of the microcollinearity between C. canephora and V. vinifera and a high conservation with other distant dicotyledonous reference genomes. Altogether, these results provide valuable information to identify candidate genes in C. canephora genome and serve as a foundation to establish strategies for whole genome sequencing. Future large-scale sequence comparison between C. canephora and reference sequenced genomes will help in understanding the evolutionary history of dicotyledonous plants.