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1.  Varietal Tracing of Virgin Olive Oils Based on Plastid DNA Variation Profiling 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70507.
Olive oil traceability remains a challenge nowadays. DNA analysis is the preferred approach to an effective varietal identification, without any environmental influence. Specifically, olive organelle genomics is the most promising approach for setting up a suitable set of markers as they would not interfere with the pollinator variety DNA traces. Unfortunately, plastid DNA (cpDNA) variation of the cultivated olive has been reported to be low. This feature could be a limitation for the use of cpDNA polymorphisms in forensic analyses or oil traceability, but rare cpDNA haplotypes may be useful as they can help to efficiently discriminate some varieties. Recently, the sequencing of olive plastid genomes has allowed the generation of novel markers. In this study, the performance of cpDNA markers on olive oil matrices, and their applicability on commercial Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) oils were assessed. By using a combination of nine plastid loci (including multi-state microsatellites and short indels), it is possible to fingerprint six haplotypes (in 17 Spanish olive varieties), which can discriminate high-value commercialized cultivars with PDO. In particular, a rare haplotype was detected in genotypes used to produce a regional high-value commercial oil. We conclude that plastid haplotypes can help oil traceability in commercial PDO oils and set up an experimental methodology suitable for organelle polymorphism detection in the complex olive oil matrices.
PMCID: PMC3737381  PMID: 23950947
2.  Nutrition Metabolism Plays an Important Role in the Alternate Bearing of the Olive Tree (Olea europaea L.) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59876.
The olive tree (Olea europaea L.) is widely known for its strong tendency for alternate bearing, which severely affects the fruit yield from year to year. Microarray based gene expression analysis using RNA from olive samples (on-off years leaves and ripe-unripe fruits) are particularly useful to understand the molecular mechanisms influencing the periodicity in the olive tree. Thus, we carried out genome wide transcriptome analyses involving different organs and temporal stages of the olive tree using the NimbleGen Array containing 136,628 oligonucleotide probe sets. Cluster analyses of the genes showed that cDNAs originated from different organs could be sorted into separate groups. The nutritional control had a particularly remarkable impact on the alternate bearing of olive, as shown by the differential expression of transcripts under different temporal phases and organs. Additionally, hormonal control and flowering processes also played important roles in this phenomenon. Our analyses provide further insights into the transcript changes between ”on year” and “off year” leaves along with the changes from unrpipe to ripe fruits, which shed light on the molecular mechanisms underlying the olive tree alternate bearing. These findings have important implications for the breeding and agriculture of the olive tree and other crops showing periodicity. To our knowledge, this is the first study reporting the development and use of an olive array to document the gene expression profiling associated with the alternate bearing in olive tree.
PMCID: PMC3610735  PMID: 23555820
3.  Genome-wide identification of alternate bearing-associated microRNAs (miRNAs) in olive (Olea europaea L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:10.
Alternate bearing is a widespread phenomenon among crop plants, defined as the tendency of certain fruit trees to produce a high-yield crop one year ("on-year"), followed by a low-yield or even no crop the following year ("off-year"). Several factors may affect the balance between such developmental phase-transition processes. Among them are the microRNA (miRNA), being gene-expression regulators that have been found to be involved as key determinants in several physiological processes.
Six olive (Olea europaea L. cv. Ayvalik variety) small RNA libraries were constructed from fruits (ripe and unripe) and leaves (”on year” and ”off year” leaves in July and in November, respectively) and sequenced by high-throughput Illumina sequencing. The RNA was retrotranscribed and sequenced using the high-throughput Illumina platform. Bioinformatics analyses of 93,526,915 reads identified 135 conserved miRNA, belonging to 22 miRNA families in the olive. In addition, 38 putative novel miRNAs were discovered in the datasets. Expression of olive tree miRNAs varied greatly among the six libraries, indicating the contribution of diverse miRNA in balancing between reproductive and vegetative phases. Predicted targets of miRNA were categorized into 108 process ontology groups with significance abundance. Among those, potential alternate bearing-associated processes were found, such as development, hormone-mediated signaling and organ morphogenesis. The KEGG analyses revealed that the miRNA-targeted genes are involved in seven main pathways, belonging to carbohydrate metabolism and hormone signal-transduction pathways.
A comprehensive study on olive miRNA related to alternate bearing was performed. Regulation of miRNA under different developmental phases and tissues indicated that control of nutrition and hormone, together with flowering processes had a noteworthy impact on the olive tree alternate bearing. Our results also provide significant data on the miRNA-fruit development interaction and advance perspectives in the miRNA profile of the olive tree.
PMCID: PMC3564680  PMID: 23320600
High-throughput small RNA sequencing; MicroRNA; Olive; Periodicity
4.  Pharmacogenetics of Efficacy and Safety of HCV Treatment in HCV-HIV Coinfected Patients: Significant Associations with IL28B and SOCS3 Gene Variants 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e47725.
Background and Aims
This was a safety and efficacy pharmacogenetic study of a previously performed randomized trial which compared the effectiveness of treatment of hepatitis C virus infection with pegylated interferon alpha (pegIFNα) 2a vs. 2b, both with ribavirin, for 48 weeks, in HCV-HIV coinfected patients.
The study groups were made of 99 patients (efficacy pharmacogenetic substudy) and of 114 patients (safety pharmacogenetic substudy). Polymorphisms in the following candidate genes IL28B, IL6, IL10, TNFα, IFNγ, CCL5, MxA, OAS1, SOCS3, CTLA4 and ITPA were assessed. Genotyping was carried out using Sequenom iPLEX-Gold, a single-base extension polymerase chain reaction. Efficacy end-points assessed were: rapid, early and sustained virological response (RVR, EVR and SVR, respectively). Safety end-points assessed were: anemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, flu-like syndrome, gastrointestinal disturbances and depression. Chi square test, Student's T test, Mann-Whitney U test and logistic regression were used for statistic analyses.
As efficacy is concerned, IL28B and CTLA4 gene polymorphisms were associated with RVR (p<0.05 for both comparisons). Nevertheless, only polymorphism in the IL28B gene was associated with SVR (p = 0.004). In the multivariate analysis, the only gene independently associated with SVR was IL28B (OR 2.61, 95%CI 1.2–5.6, p = 0.01). With respect to safety, there were no significant associations between flu-like syndrome or depression and the genetic variants studied. Gastrointestinal disturbances were associated with ITPA gene polymorphism (p = 0.04). Anemia was associated with OAS1 and CTLA4 gene polymorphisms (p = 0.049 and p = 0.045, respectively), neutropenia and thromobocytopenia were associated with SOCS3 gene polymorphism (p = 0.02 and p = 0.002, respectively). In the multivariate analysis, the associations of the SOCS3 gene polymorphism with neutropenia (OR 0.26, 95%CI 0.09–0.75, p = 0.01) and thrombocytopenia (OR 0.07, 95%CI 0.008–0.57, p = 0.01) remained significant.
In HCV-HIV coinfected patients treated with PegIFNα and ribavirin, SVR is associated with IL28B rs8099917 polymorphism. HCV treatment-induced neutropenia and thrombocytopenia are associated with SOCS3 rs4969170 polymorphism.
PMCID: PMC3487790  PMID: 23133602
5.  Plant and animal endemism in the eastern Andean slope: challenges to conservation 
BMC Ecology  2012;12:1.
The Andes-Amazon basin of Peru and Bolivia is one of the most data-poor, biologically rich, and rapidly changing areas of the world. Conservation scientists agree that this area hosts extremely high endemism, perhaps the highest in the world, yet we know little about the geographic distributions of these species and ecosystems within country boundaries. To address this need, we have developed conservation data on endemic biodiversity (~800 species of birds, mammals, amphibians, and plants) and terrestrial ecological systems (~90; groups of vegetation communities resulting from the action of ecological processes, substrates, and/or environmental gradients) with which we conduct a fine scale conservation prioritization across the Amazon watershed of Peru and Bolivia. We modelled the geographic distributions of 435 endemic plants and all 347 endemic vertebrate species, from existing museum and herbaria specimens at a regional conservation practitioner's scale (1:250,000-1:1,000,000), based on the best available tools and geographic data. We mapped ecological systems, endemic species concentrations, and irreplaceable areas with respect to national level protected areas.
We found that sizes of endemic species distributions ranged widely (< 20 km2 to > 200,000 km2) across the study area. Bird and mammal endemic species richness was greatest within a narrow 2500-3000 m elevation band along the length of the Andes Mountains. Endemic amphibian richness was highest at 1000-1500 m elevation and concentrated in the southern half of the study area. Geographical distribution of plant endemism was highly taxon-dependent. Irreplaceable areas, defined as locations with the highest number of species with narrow ranges, overlapped slightly with areas of high endemism, yet generally exhibited unique patterns across the study area by species group. We found that many endemic species and ecological systems are lacking national-level protection; a third of endemic species have distributions completely outside of national protected areas. Protected areas cover only 20% of areas of high endemism and 20% of irreplaceable areas. Almost 40% of the 91 ecological systems are in serious need of protection (= < 2% of their ranges protected).
We identify for the first time, areas of high endemic species concentrations and high irreplaceability that have only been roughly indicated in the past at the continental scale. We conclude that new complementary protected areas are needed to safeguard these endemics and ecosystems. An expansion in protected areas will be challenged by geographically isolated micro-endemics, varied endemic patterns among taxa, increasing deforestation, resource extraction, and changes in climate. Relying on pre-existing collections, publically accessible datasets and tools, this working framework is exportable to other regions plagued by incomplete conservation data.
PMCID: PMC3311091  PMID: 22284854
Andes-Amazon; conservation planning; ecological systems; endemic species richness; irreplaceability; Latin America
6.  Systematic Analysis of Transrectal Prostate Biopsies Using an Ink Method and Specific Histopathologic Protocol: A Prospective Study 
Prostate Cancer  2011;2011:380249.
Background. Transrectal prostate biopsy is the standard protocol for the screening for prostate cancer. It helps to locate prostatic adenocarcinoma and plan treatment. However, the increasing number of prostate biopsies leads to considerably greater costs for the pathology laboratories. In this study, we compare the traditional method with an ink method in combination with a systematic histopathologic protocol. Methods. Two hundred consecutive transrectal prostate biopsy specimens were received from the radiology department. They were separated into two groups: one hundred were processed as six different specimens in the usual manner. The other one hundred were submitted in six containers, the apex, base, and middle section of which were stained different colours. The samples subject to the ink method were embedded in paraffin and placed in two cassettes which were sectioned using a specific protocol. Results. The comparative study of the nonink and ink methods for histopathologic diagnosis showed no statistical differences as far as diagnostic categories were concerned (P  value < .005). The number of PIN diagnoses increased when the ink method was used, but no statistical differences were found. The ink method led to a cost reduction of 48.86%. Conclusions. Our ink method combined with a specific histopathologic protocol provided the same diagnostic quality, tumor location information as the traditional method, and lower pathology expenses.
PMCID: PMC3200289  PMID: 22096657
7.  Genetic structure and ecogeographical adaptation in wild barley (Hordeum chilense Roemer et Schultes) as revealed by microsatellite markers 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:266.
Multi-allelic microsatellite markers have become the markers of choice for the determination of genetic structure in plants. Synteny across cereals has allowed the cross-species and cross-genera transferability of SSR markers, which constitute a valuable and cost-effective tool for the genetic analysis and marker-assisted introgression of wild related species. Hordeum chilense is one of the wild relatives with a high potential for cereal breeding, due to its high crossability (both interspecies and intergenera) and polymorphism for adaptation traits. In order to analyze the genetic structure and ecogeographical adaptation of this wild species, it is necessary to increase the number of polymorphic markers currently available for the species. In this work, the possibility of using syntenic wheat SSRs as a new source of markers for this purpose has been explored.
From the 98 wheat EST-SSR markers tested for transferability and polymorphism in the wild barley genome, 53 primer pairs (54.0%) gave cross-species transferability and 20 primer pairs (20.4%) showed polymorphism. The latter were used for further analysis in the H. chilense germplasm. The H. chilense-Triticum aestivum addition lines were used to test the chromosomal location of the new polymorphic microsatellite markers. The genetic structure and diversity was investigated in a collection of 94 H. chilense accessions, using a set of 49 SSR markers distributed across the seven chromosomes. Microsatellite markers showed a total of 351 alleles over all loci. The number of alleles per locus ranged from two to 27, with a mean of 7.2 alleles per locus and a mean Polymorphic Information Content (PIC) of 0.5.
According to the results, the germplasm can be divided into two groups, with morphological and ecophysiological characteristics being key determinants of the population structure. Geographic and ecological structuring was also revealed in the analyzed germplasm. A significant correlation between geographical and genetic distance was detected in the Central Chilean region for the first time in the species. In addition, significant ecological influence in genetic distance has been detected for one of the population structure groups (group II) in the Central Chilean region. Finally, the association of the SSR markers with ecogeographical variables was investigated and one marker was found significantly associated with precipitation. These findings have a potential application in cereal breeding.
PMCID: PMC3014967  PMID: 21118494
8.  Transferability and polymorphism of barley EST-SSR markers used for phylogenetic analysis in Hordeum chilense 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:97.
Hordeum chilense, a native South American diploid wild barley, is a potential source of useful genes for cereal breeding. The use of this wild species to increase genetic variation in cereals will be greatly facilitated by marker-assisted selection. Different economically feasible approaches have been undertaken for this wild species with limited direct agricultural use in a search for suitable and cost-effective markers. The availability of Expressed Sequence Tags (EST) derived microsatellites or simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers, commonly called as EST-SSRs, for barley (Hordeum vulgare) represents a promising source to increase the number of genetic markers available for the H. chilense genome.
All of the 82 barley EST-derived SSR primer pairs tested for transferability to H. chilense amplified products of correct size from this species. Of these 82 barley EST-SSRs, 21 (26%) showed polymorphism among H. chilense lines. Identified polymorphic markers were used to test the transferability and polymorphism in other Poaceae family species with the aim of establishing H. chilense phylogenetic relationships. Triticum aestivum-H. chilense addition lines allowed us to determine the chromosomal localizations of EST-SSR markers and confirm conservation of the linkage group.
From the present study a set of 21 polymorphic EST-SSR markers have been identified to be useful for diversity analysis of H. chilense, related wild barleys like H. murinum, and for wheat marker-assisted introgression breeding. Across-genera transferability of the barley EST-SSR markers has allowed phylogenetic inference within the Triticeae complex.
PMCID: PMC2569940  PMID: 18822176
9.  Brachypodium Genomics 
Brachypodium distachyon (L.) Beauv. is a temperate wild grass species; its morphological and genomic characteristics make it a model system when compared to many other grass species. It has a small genome, short growth cycle, self-fertility, many diploid accessions, and simple growth requirements. In addition, it is phylogenetically close to economically important crops, like wheat and barley, and several potential biofuel grasses. It exhibits agricultural traits similar to those of these target crops. For cereal genomes, it is a better model than Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa (rice), the former used as a model for all flowering plants and the latter hitherto used as model for genomes of all temperate grass species including major cereals like barley and wheat. Increasing interest in this species has resulted in the development of a series of genomics resources, including nuclear sequences and BAC/EST libraries, together with the collection and characterization of other genetic resources. It is expected that the use of this model will allow rapid advances in generation of genomics information for the improvement of all temperate crops, particularly the cereals.
PMCID: PMC2246064  PMID: 18309367

Results 1-9 (9)