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1.  Quantitative trait loci affecting reproductive phenology in peach 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:52.
The reproductive phenology of perennial plants in temperate climates is largely conditioned by the duration of bud dormancy, and fruit developmental processes. Bud dormancy release and bud break depends on the perception of cumulative chilling and heat during the bud development. The objective of this work was to identify new quantitative trait loci (QTLs) associated to temperature requirements for bud dormancy release and flowering and to fruit harvest date, in a segregating population of peach.
We have identified QTLs for nine traits related to bud dormancy, flowering and fruit harvest in an intraspecific hybrid population of peach in two locations differing in chilling time accumulation. QTLs were located in a genetic linkage map of peach based on single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers for eight linkage groups (LGs) of the peach genome sequence. QTLs for chilling requirements for dormancy release and blooming clustered in seven different genomic regions that partially coincided with loci identified in previous works. The most significant QTL for chilling requirements mapped to LG1, close to the evergrowing locus. QTLs for heat requirement related traits were distributed in nine genomic regions, four of them co-localizing with QTLs for chilling requirement trait. Two major loci in LG4 and LG6 determined fruit harvest time.
We identified QTLs associated to nine traits related to the reproductive phenology in peach. A search of candidate genes for these QTLs rendered different genes related to flowering regulation, chromatin modification and hormone signalling. A better understanding of the genetic factors affecting crop phenology might help scientists and breeders to predict changes in genotype performance in a context of global climate change.
PMCID: PMC3941940  PMID: 24559033
Prunus persica; Bud dormancy; Chilling requirement; Heat requirement; Flowering; Fruit maturation; QTL
2.  Epigenetic regulation of bud dormancy events in perennial plants 
Release of bud dormancy in perennial plants resembles vernalization in Arabidopsis thaliana and cereals. In both cases, a certain period of chilling is required for accomplishing the reproductive phase, and several transcription factors with the MADS-box domain perform a central regulatory role in these processes. The expression of DORMANCY-ASSOCIATED MADS-box (DAM)-related genes has been found to be up-regulated in dormant buds of numerous plant species, such as poplar, raspberry, leafy spurge, blackcurrant, Japanese apricot, and peach. Moreover, functional evidence suggests the involvement of DAM genes in the regulation of seasonal dormancy in peach. Recent findings highlight the presence of genome-wide epigenetic modifications related to dormancy events, and more specifically the epigenetic regulation of DAM-related genes in a similar way to FLOWERING LOCUS C, a key integrator of vernalization effectors on flowering initiation in Arabidopsis. We revise the most relevant molecular and genomic contributions in the field of bud dormancy, and discuss the increasing evidence for chromatin modification involvement in the epigenetic regulation of seasonal dormancy cycles in perennial plants.
PMCID: PMC4042555  PMID: 24917873
bud dormancy; chilling; DAM gene; chromatin; histone modifications
3.  Cytological and molecular characterization of three gametoclones of Citrus clementina 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:129.
Three gametoclonal plants of Citrus clementina Hort. ex Tan., cv. Nules, designated ESP, FRA, and ITA (derived from three labs in Spain, France, and Italy, respectively), were selected for cytological and molecular characterization in order to elucidate genomic rearrangements provoked by haploidization. The study included comparisons of their ploidy, homozygosity, genome integrity, and gene dosage, using chromosome counting, flow cytometry, SSR marker genotyping, and array-Comparative Genomic Hybridization (array-CGH).
Chromosome counting and flow cytometry revealed that ESP and FRA were haploid, but ITA was tri-haploid. Homozygous patterns, represented by a single peak (allele), were observed among the three plants at almost all SSR loci distributed across the entire diploid donor genome. Those few loci with extra peaks visualized as output from automated sequencing runs, generally low or ambiguous, might result from amplicons of paralogous members at the locus, non-specific sites, or unexpected recombinant alleles. No new alleles were found, suggesting the genomes remained stable and intact during gametogenesis and regeneration. The integrity of the haploid genome also was supported by array-CGH studies, in which genomic profiles were comparable to the diploid control.
The presence of few gene hybridization abnormalities, corroborated by gene dosage measurements, were hypothetically due to the segregation of hemizygous alleles and minor genomic rearrangements occurring during the haploidization procedure. In conclusion, these plants that are valuable genetic and breeding materials contain completely homozygous and essentially intact genomes.
PMCID: PMC3847870  PMID: 24020638
Anther culture; Gynogenesis; Gametoclonal variation; Genome sequencing
4.  Prediction of components of the sporopollenin synthesis pathway in peach by genomic and expression analyses 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:40.
The outer cell wall of the pollen grain (exine) is an extremely resistant structure containing sporopollenin, a mixed polymer made up of fatty acids and phenolic compounds. The synthesis of sporopollenin in the tapetal cells and its proper deposition on the pollen surface are essential for the development of viable pollen. The beginning of microsporogenesis and pollen maturation in perennial plants from temperate climates, such as peach, is conditioned by the duration of flower bud dormancy. In order to identify putative genes involved in these processes, we analyzed the results of previous genomic experiments studying the dormancy-dependent gene expression in different peach cultivars.
The expression of 50 genes induced in flower buds after the endodormancy period (flower-bud late genes) was compared in ten cultivars of peach with different dormancy behaviour. We found two co-expression clusters enriched in putative orthologs of sporopollenin synthesis and deposition factors in Arabidopsis. Flower-bud late genes were transiently expressed in anthers coincidently with microsporogenesis and pollen maturation processes. We postulated the participation of some flower-bud late genes in the sporopollenin synthesis pathway and the transcriptional regulation of late anther development in peach.
Peach and the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana show multiple elements in common within the essential sporopollenin synthesis pathway and gene expression regulatory mechanisms affecting anther development. The transcriptomic analysis of dormancy-released flower buds proved to be an efficient procedure for the identification of anther and pollen development genes in perennial plants showing seasonal dormancy.
PMCID: PMC3556096  PMID: 23331975
5.  Root transcriptional responses of two melon genotypes with contrasting resistance to Monosporascus cannonballus (Pollack et Uecker) infection 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:601.
Monosporascus cannonballus is the main causal agent of melon vine decline disease. Several studies have been carried out mainly focused on the study of the penetration of this pathogen into melon roots, the evaluation of symptoms severity on infected roots, and screening assays for breeding programs. However, a detailed molecular view on the early interaction between M. cannonballus and melon roots in either susceptible or resistant genotypes is lacking. In the present study, we used a melon oligo-based microarray to investigate the gene expression responses of two melon genotypes, Cucumis melo ‘Piel de sapo’ (‘PS’) and C. melo ‘Pat 81’, with contrasting resistance to the disease. This study was carried out at 1 and 3 days after infection (DPI) by M. cannonballus.
Our results indicate a dissimilar behavior of the susceptible vs. the resistant genotypes from 1 to 3 DPI. ‘PS’ responded with a more rapid infection response than ‘Pat 81’ at 1 DPI. At 3 DPI the total number of differentially expressed genes identified in ‘PS’ declined from 451 to 359, while the total number of differentially expressed transcripts in ‘Pat 81’ increased from 187 to 849. Several deregulated transcripts coded for components of Ca2+ and jasmonic acid (JA) signalling pathways, as well as for other proteins related to defence mechanisms. Transcriptional differences in the activation of the JA-mediated response in ‘Pat 81’ compared to ‘PS’ suggested that JA response might be partially responsible for their observed differences in resistance.
As a result of this study we have identified for the first time a set of candidate genes involved in the root response to the infection of the pathogen causing melon vine decline. This information is useful for understanding the disease progression and resistance mechanisms few days after inoculation.
PMCID: PMC3542287  PMID: 23134692
6.  Chilling-Dependent Release of Seed and Bud Dormancy in Peach Associates to Common Changes in Gene Expression 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e35777.
Reproductive meristems and embryos display dormancy mechanisms in specialized structures named respectively buds and seeds that arrest the growth of perennial plants until environmental conditions are optimal for survival. Dormancy shows common physiological features in buds and seeds. A genotype-specific period of chilling is usually required to release dormancy by molecular mechanisms that are still poorly understood. In order to find common transcriptional pathways associated to dormancy release, we analyzed the chilling-dependent expression in embryos of certain genes that were previously found related to dormancy in flower buds of peach. We propose the presence of short and long-term dormancy events affecting respectively the germination rate and seedling development by independent mechanisms. Short periods of chilling seem to improve germination in an abscisic acid-dependent manner, whereas the positive effect of longer cold treatments on physiological dwarfing coincides with the accumulation of phenylpropanoids in the seed.
PMCID: PMC3349671  PMID: 22590512
7.  Identification of a GCC transcription factor responding to fruit colour change events in citrus through the transcriptomic analyses of two mutants 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:276.
External ripening in Citrus fruits is morphologically characterized by a colour shift from green to orange due to the degradation of chlorophylls and the accumulation of carotenoid pigments. Although numerous genes coding for enzymes involved in such biochemical pathways have been identified, the molecular control of this process has been scarcely studied. In this work we used the Citrus clementina mutants 39B3 and 39E7, showing delayed colour break, to isolate genes potentially related to the regulation of peel ripening and its physiological or biochemical effects.
Pigment analyses revealed different profiles of carotenoid and chlorophyll modification in 39B3 and 39E7 mutants. Flavedo from 39B3 fruits showed an overall delay in carotenoid accumulation and chlorophyll degradation, while the flavedo of 39E7 was devoid of the apocarotenoid β-citraurin among other carotenoid alterations. A Citrus microarray containing about 20,000 cDNA fragments was used to identify genes that were differentially expressed during colour change in the flavedo of 39B3 and 39E7 mutants respect to the parental variety. The results highlighted 73 and 90 genes that were respectively up- and down-regulated in both mutants. CcGCC1 gene, coding for a GCC type transcriptional factor, was found to be down-regulated. CcGCC1 expression was strongly induced at the onset of colour change in the flavedo of parental clementine fruit. Moreover, treatment of fruits with gibberellins, a retardant of external ripening, delayed both colour break and CcGCC1 overexpression.
In this work, the citrus fruit ripening mutants 39B3 and 39E7 have been characterized at the phenotypic, biochemical and transcriptomic level. A defective synthesis of the apocarotenoid β-citraurin has been proposed to cause the yellowish colour of fully ripe 39E7 flavedo. The analyses of the mutant transcriptomes revealed that colour change during peel ripening was strongly associated with a major mobilization of mineral elements and with other previously known metabolic and photosynthetic changes. The expression of CcGCC1 was associated with peel ripening since CcGCC1 down-regulation correlated with a delay in colour break induced by genetic, developmental and hormonal causes.
PMCID: PMC3014968  PMID: 21159189
8.  Characterization of hemizygous deletions in Citrus using array-Comparative Genomic Hybridization and microsynteny comparisons with the poplar genome 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:381.
Many fruit-tree species, including relevant Citrus spp varieties exhibit a reproductive biology that impairs breeding and strongly constrains genetic improvements. In citrus, juvenility increases the generation time while sexual sterility, inbreeding depression and self-incompatibility prevent the production of homozygous cultivars. Genomic technology may provide citrus researchers with a new set of tools to address these various restrictions. In this work, we report a valuable genomics-based protocol for the structural analysis of deletion mutations on an heterozygous background.
Two independent fast neutron mutants of self-incompatible clementine (Citrus clementina Hort. Ex Tan. cv. Clemenules) were the subject of the study. Both mutants, named 39B3 and 39E7, were expected to carry DNA deletions in hemizygous dosage. Array-based Comparative Genomic Hybridization (array-CGH) using a Citrus cDNA microarray allowed the identification of underrepresented genes in these two mutants. Subsequent comparison of citrus deleted genes with annotated plant genomes, especially poplar, made possible to predict the presence of a large deletion in 39B3 of about 700 kb and at least two deletions of approximately 100 and 500 kb in 39E7. The deletion in 39B3 was further characterized by PCR on available Citrus BACs, which helped us to build a partial physical map of the deletion. Among the deleted genes, ClpC-like gene coding for a putative subunit of a multifunctional chloroplastic protease involved in the regulation of chlorophyll b synthesis was directly related to the mutated phenotype since the mutant showed a reduced chlorophyll a/b ratio in green tissues.
In this work, we report the use of array-CGH for the successful identification of genes included in a hemizygous deletion induced by fast neutron irradiation on Citrus clementina. The study of gene content and order into the 39B3 deletion also led to the unexpected conclusion that microsynteny and local gene colinearity in this species were higher with Populus trichocarpa than with the phylogenetically closer Arabidopsis thaliana. This work corroborates the potential of Citrus genomic resources to assist mutagenesis-based approaches for functional genetics, structural studies and comparative genomics, and hence to facilitate citrus variety improvement.
PMCID: PMC2533677  PMID: 18691431

Results 1-8 (8)