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1.  The transcriptome landscape of early maize meiosis 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:118.
A major step in the higher plant life cycle is the decision to leave the mitotic cell cycle and begin the progression through the meiotic cell cycle that leads to the formation of gametes. The molecular mechanisms that regulate this transition and early meiosis remain largely unknown. To gain insight into gene expression features during the initiation of meiotic recombination, we profiled early prophase I meiocytes from maize (Zea mays) using capillary collection to isolate meiocytes, followed by RNA-seq.
We detected ~2,000 genes as preferentially expressed during early meiotic prophase, most of them uncharacterized. Functional analysis uncovered the importance of several cellular processes in early meiosis. Processes significantly enriched in isolated meiocytes included proteolysis, protein targeting, chromatin modification and the regulation of redox homeostasis. The most significantly up-regulated processes in meiocytes were processes involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Consistent with this, many mitochondrial genes were up-regulated in meiocytes, including nuclear- and mitochondrial-encoded genes. The data were validated with real-time PCR and in situ hybridization and also used to generate a candidate maize homologue list of known meiotic genes from Arabidopsis.
Taken together, we present a high-resolution analysis of the transcriptome landscape in early meiosis of an important crop plant, providing support for choosing genes for detailed characterization of recombination initiation and regulation of early meiosis. Our data also reveal an important connection between meiotic processes and altered/increased energy production.
PMCID: PMC4032173  PMID: 24885405
Maize; Meiosis; Meiocytes; Mitochondria; RNA-seq; Transcriptome
2.  Comprehensive Transcriptome Assembly of Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) Using Sanger and Next Generation Sequencing Platforms: Development and Applications 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86039.
A comprehensive transcriptome assembly of chickpea has been developed using 134.95 million Illumina single-end reads, 7.12 million single-end FLX/454 reads and 139,214 Sanger expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from >17 genotypes. This hybrid transcriptome assembly, referred to as Cicer arietinum Transcriptome Assembly version 2 (CaTA v2, available at, comprising 46,369 transcript assembly contigs (TACs) has an N50 length of 1,726 bp and a maximum contig size of 15,644 bp. Putative functions were determined for 32,869 (70.8%) of the TACs and gene ontology assignments were determined for 21,471 (46.3%). The new transcriptome assembly was compared with the previously available chickpea transcriptome assemblies as well as to the chickpea genome. Comparative analysis of CaTA v2 against transcriptomes of three legumes - Medicago, soybean and common bean, resulted in 27,771 TACs common to all three legumes indicating strong conservation of genes across legumes. CaTA v2 was also used for identification of simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and intron spanning regions (ISRs) for developing molecular markers. ISRs were identified by aligning TACs to the Medicago genome, and their putative mapping positions at chromosomal level were identified using transcript map of chickpea. Primer pairs were designed for 4,990 ISRs, each representing a single contig for which predicted positions are inferred and distributed across eight linkage groups. A subset of randomly selected ISRs representing all eight chickpea linkage groups were validated on five chickpea genotypes and showed 20% polymorphism with average polymorphic information content (PIC) of 0.27. In summary, the hybrid transcriptome assembly developed and novel markers identified can be used for a variety of applications such as gene discovery, marker-trait association, diversity analysis etc., to advance genetics research and breeding applications in chickpea and other related legumes.
PMCID: PMC3900451  PMID: 24465857
3.  Development of an Alfalfa SNP Array and Its Use to Evaluate Patterns of Population Structure and Linkage Disequilibrium 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84329.
A large set of genome-wide markers and a high-throughput genotyping platform can facilitate the genetic dissection of complex traits and accelerate molecular breeding applications. Previously, we identified about 0.9 million SNP markers by sequencing transcriptomes of 27 diverse alfalfa genotypes. From this SNP set, we developed an Illumina Infinium array containing 9,277 SNPs. Using this array, we genotyped 280 diverse alfalfa genotypes and several genotypes from related species. About 81% (7,476) of the SNPs met the criteria for quality control and showed polymorphisms. The alfalfa SNP array also showed a high level of transferability for several closely related Medicago species. Principal component analysis and model-based clustering showed clear population structure corresponding to subspecies and ploidy levels. Within cultivated tetraploid alfalfa, genotypes from dormant and nondormant cultivars were largely assigned to different clusters; genotypes from semidormant cultivars were split between the groups. The extent of linkage disequilibrium (LD) across all genotypes rapidly decayed to 26 Kbp at r2 = 0.2, but the rate varied across ploidy levels and subspecies. A high level of consistency in LD was found between and within the two subpopulations of cultivated dormant and nondormant alfalfa suggesting that genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and genomic selection (GS) could be conducted using alfalfa genotypes from throughout the fall dormancy spectrum. However, the relatively low LD levels would require a large number of markers to fully saturate the genome.
PMCID: PMC3887001  PMID: 24416217
4.  Candidate Genes and Genetic Architecture of Symbiotic and Agronomic Traits Revealed by Whole-Genome, Sequence-Based Association Genetics in Medicago truncatula 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e65688.
Genome-wide association study (GWAS) has revolutionized the search for the genetic basis of complex traits. To date, GWAS have generally relied on relatively sparse sampling of nucleotide diversity, which is likely to bias results by preferentially sampling high-frequency SNPs not in complete linkage disequilibrium (LD) with causative SNPs. To avoid these limitations we conducted GWAS with >6 million SNPs identified by sequencing the genomes of 226 accessions of the model legume Medicago truncatula. We used these data to identify candidate genes and the genetic architecture underlying phenotypic variation in plant height, trichome density, flowering time, and nodulation. The characteristics of candidate SNPs differed among traits, with candidates for flowering time and trichome density in distinct clusters of high linkage disequilibrium (LD) and the minor allele frequencies (MAF) of candidates underlying variation in flowering time and height significantly greater than MAF of candidates underlying variation in other traits. Candidate SNPs tagged several characterized genes including nodulation related genes SERK2, MtnodGRP3, MtMMPL1, NFP, CaML3, MtnodGRP3A and flowering time gene MtFD as well as uncharacterized genes that become candidates for further molecular characterization. By comparing sequence-based candidates to candidates identified by in silico 250K SNP arrays, we provide an empirical example of how reliance on even high-density reduced representation genomic makers can bias GWAS results. Depending on the trait, only 30–70% of the top 20 in silico array candidates were within 1 kb of sequence-based candidates. Moreover, the sequence-based candidates tagged by array candidates were heavily biased towards common variants; these comparisons underscore the need for caution when interpreting results from GWAS conducted with sparsely covered genomes.
PMCID: PMC3669257  PMID: 23741505
5.  Comparative genomics of the core and accessory genomes of 48 Sinorhizobium strains comprising five genospecies 
Genome Biology  2013;14(2):R17.
The sinorhizobia are amongst the most well studied members of nitrogen-fixing root nodule bacteria and contribute substantial amounts of fixed nitrogen to the biosphere. While the alfalfa symbiont Sinorhizobium meliloti RM 1021 was one of the first rhizobial strains to be completely sequenced, little information is available about the genomes of this large and diverse species group.
Here we report the draft assembly and annotation of 48 strains of Sinorhizobium comprising five genospecies. While S. meliloti and S. medicae are taxonomically related, they displayed different nodulation patterns on diverse Medicago host plants, and have differences in gene content, including those involved in conjugation and organic sulfur utilization. Genes involved in Nod factor and polysaccharide biosynthesis, denitrification and type III, IV, and VI secretion systems also vary within and between species. Symbiotic phenotyping and mutational analyses indicated that some type IV secretion genes are symbiosis-related and involved in nitrogen fixation efficiency. Moreover, there is a correlation between the presence of type IV secretion systems, heme biosynthesis and microaerobic denitrification genes, and symbiotic efficiency.
Our results suggest that each Sinorhizobium strain uses a slightly different strategy to obtain maximum compatibility with a host plant. This large genome data set provides useful information to better understand the functional features of five Sinorhizobium species, especially compatibility in legume-Sinorhizobium interactions. The diversity of genes present in the accessory genomes of members of this genus indicates that each bacterium has adopted slightly different strategies to interact with diverse plant genera and soil environments.
PMCID: PMC4053727  PMID: 23425606
6.  Prevalence of single nucleotide polymorphism among 27 diverse alfalfa genotypes as assessed by transcriptome sequencing 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:568.
Alfalfa, a perennial, outcrossing species, is a widely planted forage legume producing highly nutritious biomass. Currently, improvement of cultivated alfalfa mainly relies on recurrent phenotypic selection. Marker assisted breeding strategies can enhance alfalfa improvement efforts, particularly if many genome-wide markers are available. Transcriptome sequencing enables efficient high-throughput discovery of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers for a complex polyploid species.
The transcriptomes of 27 alfalfa genotypes, including elite breeding genotypes, parents of mapping populations, and unimproved wild genotypes, were sequenced using an Illumina Genome Analyzer IIx. De novo assembly of quality-filtered 72-bp reads generated 25,183 contigs with a total length of 26.8 Mbp and an average length of 1,065 bp, with an average read depth of 55.9-fold for each genotype. Overall, 21,954 (87.2%) of the 25,183 contigs represented 14,878 unique protein accessions. Gene ontology (GO) analysis suggested that a broad diversity of genes was represented in the resulting sequences. The realignment of individual reads to the contigs enabled the detection of 872,384 SNPs and 31,760 InDels. High resolution melting (HRM) analysis was used to validate 91% of 192 putative SNPs identified by sequencing. Both allelic variants at about 95% of SNP sites identified among five wild, unimproved genotypes are still present in cultivated alfalfa, and all four US breeding programs also contain a high proportion of these SNPs. Thus, little evidence exists among this dataset for loss of significant DNA sequence diversity from either domestication or breeding of alfalfa. Structure analysis indicated that individuals from the subspecies falcata, the diploid subspecies caerulea, and the tetraploid subspecies sativa (cultivated tetraploid alfalfa) were clearly separated.
We used transcriptome sequencing to discover large numbers of SNPs segregating in elite breeding populations of alfalfa. Little loss of SNP diversity was evident between unimproved and elite alfalfa germplasm. The EST and SNP markers generated from this study are publicly available at the Legume Information System ( and can contribute to future alfalfa research and breeding applications.
PMCID: PMC3533575  PMID: 23107476
7.  A high-density genetic map of Arachis duranensis, a diploid ancestor of cultivated peanut 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:469.
Cultivated peanut (Arachis hypogaea) is an allotetraploid species whose ancestral genomes are most likely derived from the A-genome species, A. duranensis, and the B-genome species, A. ipaensis. The very recent (several millennia) evolutionary origin of A. hypogaea has imposed a bottleneck for allelic and phenotypic diversity within the cultigen. However, wild diploid relatives are a rich source of alleles that could be used for crop improvement and their simpler genomes can be more easily analyzed while providing insight into the structure of the allotetraploid peanut genome. The objective of this research was to establish a high-density genetic map of the diploid species A. duranensis based on de novo generated EST databases. Arachis duranensis was chosen for mapping because it is the A-genome progenitor of cultivated peanut and also in order to circumvent the confounding effects of gene duplication associated with allopolyploidy in A. hypogaea.
More than one million expressed sequence tag (EST) sequences generated from normalized cDNA libraries of A. duranensis were assembled into 81,116 unique transcripts. Mining this dataset, 1236 EST-SNP markers were developed between two A. duranensis accessions, PI 475887 and Grif 15036. An additional 300 SNP markers also were developed from genomic sequences representing conserved legume orthologs. Of the 1536 SNP markers, 1054 were placed on a genetic map. In addition, 598 EST-SSR markers identified in A. hypogaea assemblies were included in the map along with 37 disease resistance gene candidate (RGC) and 35 other previously published markers. In total, 1724 markers spanning 1081.3 cM over 10 linkage groups were mapped. Gene sequences that provided mapped markers were annotated using similarity searches in three different databases, and gene ontology descriptions were determined using the Medicago Gene Atlas and TAIR databases. Synteny analysis between A. duranensis, Medicago and Glycine revealed significant stretches of conserved gene clusters spread across the peanut genome. A higher level of colinearity was detected between A. duranensis and Glycine than with Medicago.
The first high-density, gene-based linkage map for A. duranensis was generated that can serve as a reference map for both wild and cultivated Arachis species. The markers developed here are valuable resources for the peanut, and more broadly, to the legume research community. The A-genome map will have utility for fine mapping in other peanut species and has already had application for mapping a nematode resistance gene that was introgressed into A. hypogaea from A. cardenasii.
PMCID: PMC3542255  PMID: 22967170
8.  Population Genomics of the Facultatively Mutualistic Bacteria Sinorhizobium meliloti and S. medicae 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(8):e1002868.
The symbiosis between rhizobial bacteria and legume plants has served as a model for investigating the genetics of nitrogen fixation and the evolution of facultative mutualism. We used deep sequence coverage (>100×) to characterize genomic diversity at the nucleotide level among 12 Sinorhizobium medicae and 32 S. meliloti strains. Although these species are closely related and share host plants, based on the ratio of shared polymorphisms to fixed differences we found that horizontal gene transfer (HGT) between these species was confined almost exclusively to plasmid genes. Three multi-genic regions that show the strongest evidence of HGT harbor genes directly involved in establishing or maintaining the mutualism with host plants. In both species, nucleotide diversity is 1.5–2.5 times greater on the plasmids than chromosomes. Interestingly, nucleotide diversity in S. meliloti but not S. medicae is highly structured along the chromosome – with mean diversity (θπ) on one half of the chromosome five times greater than mean diversity on the other half. Based on the ratio of plasmid to chromosome diversity, this appears to be due to severely reduced diversity on the chromosome half with less diversity, which is consistent with extensive hitchhiking along with a selective sweep. Frequency-spectrum based tests identified 82 genes with a signature of adaptive evolution in one species or another but none of the genes were identified in both species. Based upon available functional information, several genes identified as targets of selection are likely to alter the symbiosis with the host plant, making them attractive targets for further functional characterization.
Author Summary
Facultative mutualisms are relationships between two species that can live independently, but derive benefits when living together with their mutualistic partners. The facultative mutualism between rhizobial bacteria and legume plants contributes approximately half of all biologically fixed nitrogen, an essential plant nutrient, and is an important source of nitrogen to both natural and agricultural ecosystems. We resequenced the genomes of 44 strains of two closely related species of the genus Sinorhizobium that form facultative mutualisms with the model legme Medicago truncatula. These data provide one of the most complete examinations of genomic diversity segregating within microbial species that are not causative agents of human illness. Our analyses reveal that horizontal gene transfer, a common source of new genes in microbial species, disproportionately affects genes with direct roles in the rhizobia-plant symbiosis. Analyses of nucleotide diversity segregating within each species suggests that strong selection, along with genetic hitchhiking has sharply reduced diversity along an entire chromosome half in S. meliloti. Despite the two species' ecological similarity, we did not find evidence for selection acting on the same genetic targets. In addition to providing insight into the evolutionary history of rhizobial, this study shows the feasibility and potential power of applying population genomic analyses to microbial species.
PMCID: PMC3410850  PMID: 22876202
9.  Characterization of a set of novel meiotically-active promoters in Arabidopsis 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:104.
Homologous recombination, together with selection, laid the foundation for traditional plant breeding. The recombination process that takes place during meiotic cell division is crucial for the creation of novel variations of highly desired traits by breeders. Gaining control over this process is important for molecular breeding to achieve more precise, large-scale and quicker plant improvement. As conventional ubiquitous promoters are neither tissue-specific nor efficient in driving gene expression in meiocytes, promoters with high meiotic activities are potential candidates for manipulating the recombination process. So far, only a few meiotically-active promoters have been reported. Recently developed techniques to profile the transcriptome landscape of isolated meiocytes provided the means to discover promoters from genes that are actively expressed in meiosis.
In a screen for meiotically-active promoters, we examined ten promoter sequences that are associated with novel meiotic candidate genes. Each promoter was tested by expressing a GFP reporter gene in Arabidopsis. Characterization of regulatory regions revealed that these meiotically-active promoters possessed conserved motifs and motif arrangement. Some of the promoters unite optimal properties which are invaluable for meiosis-directed studies such as delivering specific gene expression in early meiosis I and/or meiosis II. Furthermore, the examination of homologs of the corresponding genes within green plants points to a great potential of applying the information from Arabidopsis to other species, especially crop plants.
We identified ten novel meiotically-active promoters; which, along with their homologs, are prime candidates to specifically drive gene expression during meiosis in plants and can thus provide important tools for meiosis study and crop breeding.
PMCID: PMC3462685  PMID: 22776406
Meiosis; Homologous recombination; Promoter; GFP; cis-regulatory elements; Plant molecular breeding
10.  The Medicago Genome Provides Insight into the Evolution of Rhizobial Symbioses 
Young, Nevin D. | Debellé, Frédéric | Oldroyd, Giles E. D. | Geurts, Rene | Cannon, Steven B. | Udvardi, Michael K. | Benedito, Vagner A. | Mayer, Klaus F. X. | Gouzy, Jérôme | Schoof, Heiko | Van de Peer, Yves | Proost, Sebastian | Cook, Douglas R. | Meyers, Blake C. | Spannagl, Manuel | Cheung, Foo | De Mita, Stéphane | Krishnakumar, Vivek | Gundlach, Heidrun | Zhou, Shiguo | Mudge, Joann | Bharti, Arvind K. | Murray, Jeremy D. | Naoumkina, Marina A. | Rosen, Benjamin | Silverstein, Kevin A. T. | Tang, Haibao | Rombauts, Stephane | Zhao, Patrick X. | Zhou, Peng | Barbe, Valérie | Bardou, Philippe | Bechner, Michael | Bellec, Arnaud | Berger, Anne | Bergès, Hélène | Bidwell, Shelby | Bisseling, Ton | Choisne, Nathalie | Couloux, Arnaud | Denny, Roxanne | Deshpande, Shweta | Dai, Xinbin | Doyle, Jeff | Dudez, Anne-Marie | Farmer, Andrew D. | Fouteau, Stéphanie | Franken, Carolien | Gibelin, Chrystel | Gish, John | Goldstein, Steven | González, Alvaro J. | Green, Pamela J. | Hallab, Asis | Hartog, Marijke | Hua, Axin | Humphray, Sean | Jeong, Dong-Hoon | Jing, Yi | Jöcker, Anika | Kenton, Steve M. | Kim, Dong-Jin | Klee, Kathrin | Lai, Hongshing | Lang, Chunting | Lin, Shaoping | Macmil, Simone L | Magdelenat, Ghislaine | Matthews, Lucy | McCorrison, Jamison | Monaghan, Erin L. | Mun, Jeong-Hwan | Najar, Fares Z. | Nicholson, Christine | Noirot, Céline | O’Bleness, Majesta | Paule, Charles R. | Poulain, Julie | Prion, Florent | Qin, Baifang | Qu, Chunmei | Retzel, Ernest F. | Riddle, Claire | Sallet, Erika | Samain, Sylvie | Samson, Nicolas | Sanders, Iryna | Saurat, Olivier | Scarpelli, Claude | Schiex, Thomas | Segurens, Béatrice | Severin, Andrew J. | Sherrier, D. Janine | Shi, Ruihua | Sims, Sarah | Singer, Susan R. | Sinharoy, Senjuti | Sterck, Lieven | Viollet, Agnès | Wang, Bing-Bing | Wang, Keqin | Wang, Mingyi | Wang, Xiaohong | Warfsmann, Jens | Weissenbach, Jean | White, Doug D. | White, Jim D. | Wiley, Graham B. | Wincker, Patrick | Xing, Yanbo | Yang, Limei | Yao, Ziyun | Ying, Fu | Zhai, Jixian | Zhou, Liping | Zuber, Antoine | Dénarié, Jean | Dixon, Richard A. | May, Gregory D. | Schwartz, David C. | Rogers, Jane | Quétier, Francis | Town, Christopher D. | Roe, Bruce A.
Nature  2011;480(7378):520-524.
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.
PMCID: PMC3272368  PMID: 22089132
11.  Development and characterization of BAC-end sequence derived SSRs, and their incorporation into a new higher density genetic map for cultivated peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:10.
Cultivated peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) is an important crop worldwide, valued for its edible oil and digestible protein. It has a very narrow genetic base that may well derive from a relatively recent single polyploidization event. Accordingly molecular markers have low levels of polymorphism and the number of polymorphic molecular markers available for cultivated peanut is still limiting.
Here, we report a large set of BAC-end sequences (BES), use them for developing SSR (BES-SSR) markers, and apply them in genetic linkage mapping. The majority of BESs had no detectable homology to known genes (49.5%) followed by sequences with similarity to known genes (44.3%), and miscellaneous sequences (6.2%) such as transposable element, retroelement, and organelle sequences. A total of 1,424 SSRs were identified from 36,435 BESs. Among these identified SSRs, dinucleotide (47.4%) and trinucleotide (37.1%) SSRs were predominant. The new set of 1,152 SSRs as well as about 4,000 published or unpublished SSRs were screened against two parents of a mapping population, generating 385 polymorphic loci. A genetic linkage map was constructed, consisting of 318 loci onto 21 linkage groups and covering a total of 1,674.4 cM, with an average distance of 5.3 cM between adjacent loci. Two markers related to resistance gene homologs (RGH) were mapped to two different groups, thus anchoring 1 RGH-BAC contig and 1 singleton.
The SSRs mined from BESs will be of use in further molecular analysis of the peanut genome, providing a novel set of markers, genetically anchoring BAC clones, and incorporating gene sequences into a linkage map. This will aid in the identification of markers linked to genes of interest and map-based cloning.
PMCID: PMC3298471  PMID: 22260238
12.  A Comprehensive Transcriptome Assembly of Pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan L.) using Sanger and Second-Generation Sequencing Platforms 
Molecular Plant  2012;5(5):1020-1028.
A comprehensive transcriptome assembly for pigeonpea has been developed by analyzing 128.9 million short Illumina GA IIx single end reads, 2.19 million single end FLX/454 reads, and 18 353 Sanger expressed sequenced tags from more than 16 genotypes. The resultant transcriptome assembly, referred to as CcTA v2, comprised 21 434 transcript assembly contigs (TACs) with an N50 of 1510 bp, the largest one being ∼8 kb. Of the 21 434 TACs, 16 622 (77.5%) could be mapped on to the soybean genome build 1.0.9 under fairly stringent alignment parameters. Based on knowledge of intron junctions, 10 009 primer pairs were designed from 5033 TACs for amplifying intron spanning regions (ISRs). By using in silico mapping of BAC-end-derived SSR loci of pigeonpea on the soybean genome as a reference, putative mapping positions at the chromosome level were predicted for 6284 ISR markers, covering all 11 pigeonpea chromosomes. A subset of 128 ISR markers were analyzed on a set of eight genotypes. While 116 markers were validated, 70 markers showed one to three alleles, with an average of 0.16 polymorphism information content (PIC) value. In summary, the CcTA v2 transcript assembly and ISR markers will serve as a useful resource to accelerate genetic research and breeding applications in pigeonpea.
PMCID: PMC3440007  PMID: 22241453
Cajanus cajan (L.); second-generation sequencing; transcriptome assembly; intron spanning region (ISR) markers
13.  Analysis of BAC-end sequences (BESs) and development of BES-SSR markers for genetic mapping and hybrid purity assessment in pigeonpea (Cajanus spp.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:56.
Pigeonpea [Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.] is an important legume crop of rainfed agriculture. Despite of concerted research efforts directed to pigeonpea improvement, stagnated productivity of pigeonpea during last several decades may be accounted to prevalence of various biotic and abiotic constraints and the situation is exacerbated by availability of inadequate genomic resources to undertake any molecular breeding programme for accelerated crop improvement. With the objective of enhancing genomic resources for pigeonpea, this study reports for the first time, large scale development of SSR markers from BAC-end sequences and their subsequent use for genetic mapping and hybridity testing in pigeonpea.
A set of 88,860 BAC (bacterial artificial chromosome)-end sequences (BESs) were generated after constructing two BAC libraries by using HindIII (34,560 clones) and BamHI (34,560 clones) restriction enzymes. Clustering based on sequence identity of BESs yielded a set of >52K non-redundant sequences, comprising 35 Mbp or >4% of the pigeonpea genome. These sequences were analyzed to develop annotation lists and subdivide the BESs into genome fractions (e.g., genes, retroelements, transpons and non-annotated sequences). Parallel analysis of BESs for microsatellites or simple sequence repeats (SSRs) identified 18,149 SSRs, from which a set of 6,212 SSRs were selected for further analysis. A total of 3,072 novel SSR primer pairs were synthesized and tested for length polymorphism on a set of 22 parental genotypes of 13 mapping populations segregating for traits of interest. In total, we identified 842 polymorphic SSR markers that will have utility in pigeonpea improvement. Based on these markers, the first SSR-based genetic map comprising of 239 loci was developed for this previously uncharacterized genome. Utility of developed SSR markers was also demonstrated by identifying a set of 42 markers each for two hybrids (ICPH 2671 and ICPH 2438) for genetic purity assessment in commercial hybrid breeding programme.
In summary, while BAC libraries and BESs should be useful for genomics studies, BES-SSR markers, and the genetic map should be very useful for linking the genetic map with a future physical map as well as for molecular breeding in pigeonpea.
PMCID: PMC3079640  PMID: 21447154
14.  Meiosis-specific gene discovery in plants: RNA-Seq applied to isolated Arabidopsis male meiocytes 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:280.
Meiosis is a critical process in the reproduction and life cycle of flowering plants in which homologous chromosomes pair, synapse, recombine and segregate. Understanding meiosis will not only advance our knowledge of the mechanisms of genetic recombination, but also has substantial applications in crop improvement. Despite the tremendous progress in the past decade in other model organisms (e.g., Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Drosophila melanogaster), the global identification of meiotic genes in flowering plants has remained a challenge due to the lack of efficient methods to collect pure meiocytes for analyzing the temporal and spatial gene expression patterns during meiosis, and for the sensitive identification and quantitation of novel genes.
A high-throughput approach to identify meiosis-specific genes by combining isolated meiocytes, RNA-Seq, bioinformatic and statistical analysis pipelines was developed. By analyzing the studied genes that have a meiosis function, a pipeline for identifying meiosis-specific genes has been defined. More than 1,000 genes that are specifically or preferentially expressed in meiocytes have been identified as candidate meiosis-specific genes. A group of 55 genes that have mitochondrial genome origins and a significant number of transposable element (TE) genes (1,036) were also found to have up-regulated expression levels in meiocytes.
These findings advance our understanding of meiotic genes, gene expression and regulation, especially the transcript profiles of MGI genes and TE genes, and provide a framework for functional analysis of genes in meiosis.
PMCID: PMC3018465  PMID: 21167045
15.  Genome, epigenome and RNA sequences of monozygotic twins discordant for multiple sclerosis 
Nature  2010;464(7293):1351-1356.
Monozygotic (MZ) or “identical” twins have been widely studied to dissect the relative contributions of genetics and environment in human diseases. In multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune demyelinating disease and common cause of neurodegeneration and disability in young adults, disease discordance in MZ twins has been interpreted to indicate environmental importance in its pathogenesis1–8. However, genetic and epigenetic differences between MZ twins have been described, challenging the accepted experimental paradigm in disambiguating effects of nature and nurture.9–12 Here, we report the genome sequences of one MS-discordant MZ twin pair and messenger RNA (mRNA) transcriptome and epigenome sequences of CD4+ lymphocytes from three MS-discordant, MZ twin pairs. No reproducible differences were detected between co-twins among ~3.6 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or ~0.2 million insertion-deletion polymorphisms (indels). Nor were any reproducible differences observed between siblings of the three twin pairs in HLA haplotypes, confirmed MS-susceptibility SNPs, copy number variations, mRNA and genomic SNP and indel genotypes, or expression of ~19,000 genes in CD4+ T cells. Only two to 176 differences in methylation of ~2 million CpG dinucleotides were detected between siblings of the three twin pairs, in contrast to ~800 methylation differences between T cells of unrelated individuals and several thousand differences between tissues or normal and cancerous tissues. In the first systematic effort to estimate sequence variation among MZ co-twins, we did not find evidence for genetic, epigenetic or transcriptome differences that explained disease discordance. These are the first female, twin and autoimmune disease individual genome sequences reported.
PMCID: PMC2862593  PMID: 20428171
16.  RNA-Seq Atlas of Glycine max: A guide to the soybean transcriptome 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:160.
Next generation sequencing is transforming our understanding of transcriptomes. It can determine the expression level of transcripts with a dynamic range of over six orders of magnitude from multiple tissues, developmental stages or conditions. Patterns of gene expression provide insight into functions of genes with unknown annotation.
The RNA Seq-Atlas presented here provides a record of high-resolution gene expression in a set of fourteen diverse tissues. Hierarchical clustering of transcriptional profiles for these tissues suggests three clades with similar profiles: aerial, underground and seed tissues. We also investigate the relationship between gene structure and gene expression and find a correlation between gene length and expression. Additionally, we find dramatic tissue-specific gene expression of both the most highly-expressed genes and the genes specific to legumes in seed development and nodule tissues. Analysis of the gene expression profiles of over 2,000 genes with preferential gene expression in seed suggests there are more than 177 genes with functional roles that are involved in the economically important seed filling process. Finally, the Seq-atlas also provides a means of evaluating existing gene model annotations for the Glycine max genome.
This RNA-Seq atlas extends the analyses of previous gene expression atlases performed using Affymetrix GeneChip technology and provides an example of new methods to accommodate the increase in transcriptome data obtained from next generation sequencing. Data contained within this RNA-Seq atlas of Glycine max can be explored at
PMCID: PMC3017786  PMID: 20687943
17.  Polyploidy Did Not Predate the Evolution of Nodulation in All Legumes 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11630.
Several lines of evidence indicate that polyploidy occurred by around 54 million years ago, early in the history of legume evolution, but it has not been known whether this event was confined to the papilionoid subfamily (Papilionoideae; e.g. beans, medics, lupins) or occurred earlier. Determining the timing of the polyploidy event is important for understanding whether polyploidy might have contributed to rapid diversification and radiation of the legumes near the origin of the family; and whether polyploidy might have provided genetic material that enabled the evolution of a novel organ, the nitrogen-fixing nodule. Although symbioses with nitrogen-fixing partners have evolved in several lineages in the rosid I clade, nodules are widespread only in legume taxa, being nearly universal in the papilionoids and in the mimosoid subfamily (e.g., mimosas, acacias) – which diverged from the papilionoid legumes around 58 million years ago, soon after the origin of the legumes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Using transcriptome sequence data from Chamaecrista fasciculata, a nodulating member of the mimosoid clade, we tested whether this species underwent polyploidy within the timeframe of legume diversification. Analysis of gene family branching orders and synonymous-site divergence data from C. fasciculata, Glycine max (soybean), Medicago truncatula, and Vitis vinifera (grape; an outgroup to the rosid taxa) establish that the polyploidy event known from soybean and Medicago occurred after the separation of the mimosoid and papilionoid clades, and at or shortly before the Papilionoideae radiation.
The ancestral legume genome was not fundamentally polyploid. Moreover, because there has not been an independent instance of polyploidy in the Chamaecrista lineage there is no necessary connection between polyploidy and nodulation in legumes. Chamaecrista may serve as a useful model in the legumes that lacks a paleopolyploid history, at least relative to the widely studied papilionoid models.
PMCID: PMC2905438  PMID: 20661290
18.  Complementary genetic and genomic approaches help characterize the linkage group I seed protein QTL in soybean 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:41.
The nutritional and economic value of many crops is effectively a function of seed protein and oil content. Insight into the genetic and molecular control mechanisms involved in the deposition of these constituents in the developing seed is needed to guide crop improvement. A quantitative trait locus (QTL) on Linkage Group I (LG I) of soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merrill) has a striking effect on seed protein content.
A soybean near-isogenic line (NIL) pair contrasting in seed protein and differing in an introgressed genomic segment containing the LG I protein QTL was used as a resource to demarcate the QTL region and to study variation in transcript abundance in developing seed. The LG I QTL region was delineated to less than 8.4 Mbp of genomic sequence on chromosome 20. Using Affymetrix® Soy GeneChip and high-throughput Illumina® whole transcriptome sequencing platforms, 13 genes displaying significant seed transcript accumulation differences between NILs were identified that mapped to the 8.4 Mbp LG I protein QTL region.
This study identifies gene candidates at the LG I protein QTL for potential involvement in the regulation of protein content in the soybean seed. The results demonstrate the power of complementary approaches to characterize contrasting NILs and provide genome-wide transcriptome insight towards understanding seed biology and the soybean genome.
PMCID: PMC2848761  PMID: 20199683
19.  High-throughput SNP discovery through deep resequencing of a reduced representation library to anchor and orient scaffolds in the soybean whole genome sequence 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:38.
The Soybean Consensus Map 4.0 facilitated the anchoring of 95.6% of the soybean whole genome sequence developed by the Joint Genome Institute, Department of Energy, but its marker density was only sufficient to properly orient 66% of the sequence scaffolds. The discovery and genetic mapping of more single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers were needed to anchor and orient the remaining genome sequence. To that end, next generation sequencing and high-throughput genotyping were combined to obtain a much higher resolution genetic map that could be used to anchor and orient most of the remaining sequence and to help validate the integrity of the existing scaffold builds.
A total of 7,108 to 25,047 predicted SNPs were discovered using a reduced representation library that was subsequently sequenced by the Illumina sequence-by-synthesis method on the clonal single molecule array platform. Using multiple SNP prediction methods, the validation rate of these SNPs ranged from 79% to 92.5%. A high resolution genetic map using 444 recombinant inbred lines was created with 1,790 SNP markers. Of the 1,790 mapped SNP markers, 1,240 markers had been selectively chosen to target existing unanchored or un-oriented sequence scaffolds, thereby increasing the amount of anchored sequence to 97%.
We have demonstrated how next generation sequencing was combined with high-throughput SNP detection assays to quickly discover large numbers of SNPs. Those SNPs were then used to create a high resolution genetic map that assisted in the assembly of scaffolds from the 8× whole genome shotgun sequences into pseudomolecules corresponding to chromosomes of the organism.
PMCID: PMC2817691  PMID: 20078886
20.  Genomic Convergence Analysis of Schizophrenia: mRNA Sequencing Reveals Altered Synaptic Vesicular Transport in Post-Mortem Cerebellum 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(11):e3625.
Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a common, disabling mental illness with high heritability but complex, poorly understood genetic etiology. As the first phase of a genomic convergence analysis of SCZ, we generated 16.7 billion nucleotides of short read, shotgun sequences of cDNA from post-mortem cerebellar cortices of 14 patients and six, matched controls. A rigorous analysis pipeline was developed for analysis of digital gene expression studies. Sequences aligned to approximately 33,200 transcripts in each sample, with average coverage of 450 reads per gene. Following adjustments for confounding clinical, sample and experimental sources of variation, 215 genes differed significantly in expression between cases and controls. Golgi apparatus, vesicular transport, membrane association, Zinc binding and regulation of transcription were over-represented among differentially expressed genes. Twenty three genes with altered expression and involvement in presynaptic vesicular transport, Golgi function and GABAergic neurotransmission define a unifying molecular hypothesis for dysfunction in cerebellar cortex in SCZ.
PMCID: PMC2576459  PMID: 18985160
21.  The Medicago Genome Initiative: a model legume database 
Nucleic Acids Research  2001;29(1):114-117.
The Medicago Genome Initiative (MGI) is a database of EST sequences of the model legume Medicago truncatula. The database is available to the public and has resulted from a collaborative research effort between the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and the National Center for Genome Resources to investigate the genome of M.truncatula. MGI is part of the greater integrated Medicago functional genomics program at the Noble Foundation (http://www.noble .org), which is taking a global approach in studying the genetic and biochemical events associated with the growth, development and environmental interactions of this model legume. Our approach will include: large-scale EST sequencing, gene expression profiling, the generation of M.truncatula activation-tagged and promoter trap insertion mutants, high-throughput metabolic profiling, and proteome studies. These multidisciplinary information pools will be interfaced with one another to provide scientists with an integrated, holistic set of tools to address fundamental questions pertaining to legume biology. The public interface to the MGI database can be accessed at
PMCID: PMC29836  PMID: 11125064

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