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1.  Draft Genome Sequence of Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086, a Widely Used Spore-Forming Probiotic Strain 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(6):e01080-14.
Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 is a safe strain, already available on the market, and characterized by certified beneficial effects. The draft genome sequence presented here constitutes the first pillar toward the identification of the molecular mechanisms responsible for its positive features and safety.
doi:10.1128/genomeA.01080-14
PMCID: PMC4223449  PMID: 25377698
2.  Genome Sequences of Five Oenococcus oeni Strains Isolated from Nero Di Troia Wine from the Same Terroir in Apulia, Southern Italy 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(5):e01077-14.
Oenococcus oeni is the principal lactic acid bacterium responsible for malolactic fermentation in wine. Here, we announce the genome sequences of five O. oeni strains isolated from Nero di Troia wine undergoing spontaneous malolactic fermentation, and we report, for the first time, several genome sequences of strains isolated from the same terroir.
doi:10.1128/genomeA.01077-14
PMCID: PMC4208331  PMID: 25342687
3.  Genome Sequence of Oenococcus oeni OM27, the First Fully Assembled Genome of a Strain Isolated from an Italian Wine 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(4):e00658-14.
Oenococcus oeni OM27 is a strain selected from “Nero di Troia” wine undergoing spontaneous malolactic fermentation. “Nero di Troia” is a wine made from “Uva di Troia” grapes, an autochthonous black grape variety from the Apulian region (south of Italy). In this paper we present a 1.78-Mb assembly of the O. oeni OM27 genome, the first fully assembled genome of an O. oeni strain from an Italian wine.
doi:10.1128/genomeA.00658-14
PMCID: PMC4082001  PMID: 24994801
4.  De novo genome assembly of the soil-borne fungus and tomato pathogen Pyrenochaeta lycopersici 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:313.
Background
Pyrenochaeta lycopersici is a soil-dwelling ascomycete pathogen that causes corky root rot disease in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and other Solanaceous crops, reducing fruit yields by up to 75%. Fungal pathogens that infect roots receive less attention than those infecting the aerial parts of crops despite their significant impact on plant growth and fruit production.
Results
We assembled a 54.9Mb P. lycopersici draft genome sequence based on Illumina short reads, and annotated approximately 17,000 genes. The P. lycopersici genome is closely related to hemibiotrophs and necrotrophs, in agreement with the phenotypic characteristics of the fungus and its lifestyle. Several gene families related to host–pathogen interactions are strongly represented, including those responsible for nutrient absorption, the detoxification of fungicides and plant cell wall degradation, the latter confirming that much of the genome is devoted to the pathogenic activity of the fungus. We did not find a MAT gene, which is consistent with the classification of P. lycopersici as an imperfect fungus, but we observed a significant expansion of the gene families associated with heterokaryon incompatibility (HI).
Conclusions
The P. lycopersici draft genome sequence provided insight into the molecular and genetic basis of the fungal lifestyle, characterizing previously unknown pathogenic behaviors and defining strategies that allow this asexual fungus to increase genetic diversity and to acquire new pathogenic traits.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-313
PMCID: PMC4234444  PMID: 24767544
Pyrenochaeta lycopersici; Pathogenicity; Genome assembly; Next Generation Sequencing technologies (NGS)
5.  Transcriptomic and proteomic analyses of a pale-green durum wheat mutant shows variations in photosystem components and metabolic deficiencies under drought stress 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:125.
Background
Leaf pigment content is an important trait involved in environmental interactions. In order to determine its impact on drought tolerance in wheat, we characterized a pale-green durum wheat mutant (Triticum turgidum L. var. durum) under contrasting water availability conditions.
Results
The pale-green mutant was investigated by comparing pigment content and gene/protein expression profiles to wild-type plants at anthesis. Under well-watered (control) conditions the mutant had lower levels of chlorophylls and carotenoids, but higher levels of xanthophyll de-epoxidation compared to wild-type. Transcriptomic analysis under control conditions showed that defense genes (encoding e.g. pathogenesis-related proteins, peroxidases and chitinases) were upregulated in the mutant, suggesting the presence of mild oxidative stress that was compensated without altering the net rate of photosynthesis. Transcriptomic analysis under terminal water stress conditions, revealed the modulation of antioxidant enzymes, photosystem components, and enzymes representing carbohydrate metabolism and the tricarboxylic acid cycle, indicating that the mutant was exposed to greater oxidative stress than the wild-type plants, but had a limited capacity to respond. We also compared the two genotypes under irrigated and rain-fed field conditions over three years, finding that the greater oxidative stress and corresponding molecular changes in the pale-green mutant were associated to a yield reduction.
Conclusions
This study provides insight on the effect of pigment content in the molecular response to drought. Identified genes differentially expressed under terminal water stress may be valuable for further studies addressing drought resistance in wheat.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-125
PMCID: PMC3937041  PMID: 24521234
Chlorophyll content; Oxidative stress; Pale-green mutant; Proteomics; Transcriptomics; Triticum turgidum L var. durum; Water stress
6.  Improvement of marker-based predictability of Apparent Amylose Content in japonica rice through GBSSI allele mining 
Rice  2014;7(1):1.
Background
Apparent Amylose Content (AAC), regulated by the Waxy gene, represents the key determinant of rice cooking properties. In occidental countries high AAC rice represents the most requested market class but the availability of molecular markers allowing specific selection of high AAC varieties is limited.
Results
In this study, the effectiveness of available molecular markers in predicting AAC was evaluated in a collection of 127 rice accessions (125 japonica ssp. and 2 indica ssp.) characterized by AAC values from glutinous to 26%. The analyses highlighted the presence of several different allelic patterns identifiable by a few molecular markers, and two of them, i.e., the SNPs at intron1 and exon 6, were able to explain a maximum of 79.5% of AAC variation. However, the available molecular markers haplotypes did not provide tools for predicting accessions with AAC higher than 24.5%. To identify additional polymorphisms, the re-sequencing of the Waxy gene and 1kbp of the putative upstream regulatory region was performed in 21 genotypes representing all the AAC classes identified. Several previously un-characterized SNPs were identified and four of them were used to develop dCAPS markers.
Conclusions
The addition of the SNPs newly identified slightly increased the AAC explained variation and allowed the identification of a haplotype almost unequivocally associated to AAC higher than 24.5%. Haplotypes at the waxy locus were also associated to grain length and length/width (L/W) ratio. In particular, the SNP at the first intron, which identifies the Wx a and Wx b alleles, was associated with differences in the width of the grain, the L/W ratio and the length of the kernel, most likely as a result of human selection.
doi:10.1186/1939-8433-7-1
PMCID: PMC3904453  PMID: 24383761
Apparent amylose content; Grain shape characters; Marker-Assisted Selection (MAS); Molecular markers; Re-sequencing; Rice (Oryza sativa L.)
7.  Flavonoids and Melanins: A Common Strategy across Two Kingdoms 
Ultraviolet (UV) radiations alter a number of metabolic functions in vivant. They produce damages to lipids, nucleic acids and proteins, generating reactive oxygen species such as singlet oxygen (O2), hydroxyl radical (HO) and superoxide anion (O2-). Plants and animals, after their water emersion, have developed biochemical mechanisms to protect themselves from that environmental threat through a common strategy. Melanins in animals and flavonoids in plants are antioxidant pigments acting as free radical scavenging mechanisms. Both are phenol compounds constitutively synthesized and enhanced after exposure to UV rays, often conferring a red-brown-dark tissue pigmentation.
Noteworthy, beside anti-oxidant scavenging activity, melanins and flavonoids have acquired secondary functions that, both in plants and animals, concern reproductions and fitness. Plants highly pigmented are more resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses. Darker wild vertebrates are generally more aggressive, sexually active and resistant to stress than lighter individuals. Flavonoids have been associated with signal attraction between flowers and insects and with plant-plant interaction. Melanin pigmentation has been proposed as trait in bird communication, acting as honest signals of quality.
This review shows how the molecular mechanisms leading to tissue pigmentation have many functional analogies between plants and animals and how their origin lies in simpler organisms such as Cyanobacteria. Comparative studies between plant and animal kingdoms can reveal new insight of the antioxidant strategies in vivant.
doi:10.7150/ijbs.9672
PMCID: PMC4261200  PMID: 25516714
antioxidant strategy, pigments, horizontal gene transfer (HGT); plants, animals, metabolism, genetic bases, mutants.
8.  Cytoplasmic genome substitution in wheat affects the nuclear-cytoplasmic cross-talk leading to transcript and metabolite alterations 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:868.
Background
Alloplasmic lines provide a unique tool to study nuclear-cytoplasmic interactions. Three alloplasmic lines, with nuclear genomes from Triticum aestivum and harboring cytoplasm from Aegilops uniaristata, Aegilops tauschii and Hordeum chilense, were investigated by transcript and metabolite profiling to identify the effects of cytoplasmic substitution on nuclear-cytoplasmic signaling mechanisms.
Results
In combining the wheat nuclear genome with a cytoplasm of H. chilense, 540 genes were significantly altered, whereas 11 and 28 genes were significantly changed in the alloplasmic lines carrying the cytoplasm of Ae. uniaristata or Ae. tauschii, respectively. We identified the RNA maturation-related process as one of the most sensitive to a perturbation of the nuclear-cytoplasmic interaction. Several key components of the ROS chloroplast retrograde signaling, together with the up-regulation of the ROS scavenging system, showed that changes in the chloroplast genome have a direct impact on nuclear-cytoplasmic cross-talk. Remarkably, the H. chilense alloplasmic line down-regulated some genes involved in the determination of cytoplasmic male sterility without expressing the male sterility phenotype. Metabolic profiling showed a comparable response of the central metabolism of the alloplasmic and euplasmic lines to light, while exposing larger metabolite alterations in the H. chilense alloplasmic line as compared with the Aegilops lines, in agreement with the transcriptomic data. Several stress-related metabolites, remarkably raffinose, were altered in content in the H. chilense alloplasmic line when exposed to high light, while amino acids, as well as organic acids were significantly decreased. Alterations in the levels of transcript, related to raffinose, and the photorespiration-related metabolisms were associated with changes in the level of related metabolites.
Conclusion
The replacement of a wheat cytoplasm with the cytoplasm of a related species affects the nuclear-cytoplasmic cross-talk leading to transcript and metabolite alterations. The extent of these modifications was limited in the alloplasmic lines with Aegilops cytoplasm, and more evident in the alloplasmic line with H. chilense cytoplasm. We consider that, this finding might be linked to the phylogenetic distance of the genomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-868
PMCID: PMC4008262  PMID: 24320731
Wheat; Alloplasmic line; Nuclear-cytoplasmic interaction; ROS signaling; Cytoplasmic male sterility
9.  Different stress responsive strategies to drought and heat in two durum wheat cultivars with contrasting water use efficiency 
BMC Genomics  2013;14(1):821.
Background
Durum wheat often faces water scarcity and high temperatures, two events that usually occur simultaneously in the fields. Here we report on the stress responsive strategy of two durum wheat cultivars, characterized by different water use efficiency, subjected to drought, heat and a combination of both stresses.
Results
The cv Ofanto (lower water use efficiency) activated a large set of well-known drought-related genes after drought treatment, while Cappelli (higher water use efficiency) showed the constitutive expression of several genes induced by drought in Ofanto and a modulation of a limited number of genes in response to stress. At molecular level the two cvs differed for the activation of molecular messengers, genes involved in the regulation of chromatin condensation, nuclear speckles and stomatal closure. Noteworthy, the heat response in Cappelli involved also the up-regulation of genes belonging to fatty acid β-oxidation pathway, glyoxylate cycle and senescence, suggesting an early activation of senescence in this cv. A gene of unknown function having the greatest expression difference between the two cultivars was selected and used for expression QTL analysis, the corresponding QTL was mapped on chromosome 6B.
Conclusion
Ofanto and Cappelli are characterized by two opposite stress-responsive strategies. In Ofanto the combination of drought and heat stress led to an increased number of modulated genes, exceeding the simple cumulative effects of the two single stresses, whereas in Cappelli the same treatment triggered a number of differentially expressed genes lower than those altered in response to heat stress alone. This work provides clear evidences that the genetic system based on Cappelli and Ofanto represents an ideal tool for the genetic dissection of the molecular response to drought and other abiotic stresses.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-821) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-821
PMCID: PMC4046701  PMID: 24267539
10.  Solanum torvum responses to the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:540.
Background
Solanum torvum Sw is worldwide employed as rootstock for eggplant cultivation because of its vigour and resistance/tolerance to the most serious soil-borne diseases as bacterial, fungal wilts and root-knot nematodes. The little information on Solanum torvum (hereafter Torvum) resistance mechanisms, is mostly attributable to the lack of genomic tools (e.g. dedicated microarray) as well as to the paucity of database information limiting high-throughput expression studies in Torvum.
Results
As a first step towards transcriptome profiling of Torvum inoculated with the nematode M. incognita, we built a Torvum 3’ transcript catalogue. One-quarter of a 454 full run resulted in 205,591 quality-filtered reads. De novo assembly yielded 24,922 contigs and 11,875 singletons. Similarity searches of the S. torvum transcript tags catalogue produced 12,344 annotations. A 30,0000 features custom combimatrix chip was then designed and microarray hybridizations were conducted for both control and 14 dpi (day post inoculation) with Meloidogyne incognita-infected roots samples resulting in 390 differentially expressed genes (DEG). We also tested the chip with samples from the phylogenetically-related nematode-susceptible eggplant species Solanum melongena. An in-silico validation strategy was developed based on assessment of sequence similarity among Torvum probes and eggplant expressed sequences available in public repositories. GO term enrichment analyses with the 390 Torvum DEG revealed enhancement of several processes as chitin catabolism and sesquiterpenoids biosynthesis, while no GO term enrichment was found with eggplant DEG.
The genes identified from S. torvum catalogue, bearing high similarity to known nematode resistance genes, were further investigated in view of their potential role in the nematode resistance mechanism.
Conclusions
By combining 454 pyrosequencing and microarray technology we were able to conduct a cost-effective global transcriptome profiling in a non-model species. In addition, the development of an in silico validation strategy allowed to further extend the use of the custom chip to a related species and to assess by comparison the expression of selected genes without major concerns of artifacts. The expression profiling of S. torvum responses to nematode infection points to sesquiterpenoids and chitinases as major effectors of nematode resistance. The availability of the long sequence tags in S. torvum catalogue will allow precise identification of active nematocide/nematostatic compounds and associated enzymes posing the basis for exploitation of these resistance mechanisms in other species.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-540
PMCID: PMC3750854  PMID: 23937585
Torvum; Nematode resistance; 454 pyrosequencing; Microarray; Heterologous hybridizations
11.  Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of Tetraploid Wheats (Triticum turgidum L.) Estimated by SSR, DArT and Pedigree Data 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67280.
Levels of genetic diversity and population genetic structure of a collection of 230 accessions of seven tetraploid Triticum turgidum L. subspecies were investigated using six morphological, nine seed storage protein loci, 26 SSRs and 970 DArT markers. The genetic diversity of the morphological traits and seed storage proteins was always lower in the durum wheat compared to the wild and domesticated emmer. Using Bayesian clustering (K = 2), both of the sets of molecular markers distinguished the durum wheat cultivars from the other tetraploid subspecies, and two distinct subgroups were detected within the durum wheat subspecies, which is in agreement with their origin and year of release. The genetic diversity of morphological traits and seed storage proteins was always lower in the improved durum cultivars registered after 1990, than in the intermediate and older ones. This marked effect on diversity was not observed for molecular markers, where there was only a weak reduction. At K >2, the SSR markers showed a greater degree of resolution than for DArT, with their identification of a greater number of groups within each subspecies. Analysis of DArT marker differentiation between the wheat subspecies indicated outlier loci that are potentially linked to genes controlling some important agronomic traits. Among the 211 loci identified under selection, 109 markers were recently mapped, and some of these markers were clustered into specific regions on chromosome arms 2BL, 3BS and 4AL, where several genes/quantitative trait loci (QTLs) are involved in the domestication of tetraploid wheats, such as the tenacious glumes (Tg) and brittle rachis (Br) characteristics. On the basis of these results, it can be assumed that the population structure of the tetraploid wheat collection partially reflects the evolutionary history of Triticum turgidum L. subspecies and the genetic potential of landraces and wild accessions for the detection of unexplored alleles.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067280
PMCID: PMC3694930  PMID: 23826256
12.  The E3 ubiquitin ligase WVIP2 highlights the versatility of protein ubiquitination 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2012;7(9):1155-1157.
Plant cells regulate many cellular processes controlling the half-life of critical proteins through ubiquitination. Previously, we characterized two interacting RING-type E3 ubiquitin ligases of Triticum durum, TdRF1 and WVIP2. We revealed their role in tolerance to dehydration, and existing knowledge about their partners also indicated their involvement in the regulation of some aspects of plant development. Here we located WVIP2 in the regulation of the ABA signaling, based on sequence similarities. Further we acquired general evidence about the versatility of ubiquitination in plant cells. A protein can be target of different E3 ligases for a perfect tuning of its abundance as well as the same E3 ligase can ubiquitinate different and unrelated proteins, thus representing a cross-connections between different signaling pathways for a global coordination of cellular processes.
doi:10.4161/psb.21367
PMCID: PMC3489650  PMID: 22899050
Ubiquitination; E3 ubiquitin ligase; abiotic stress; ABA signalling; embryo dormancy; germination
13.  Secretory Phospholipases A2 in Durum Wheat (Triticum durum Desf.): Gene Expression, Enzymatic Activity, and Relation to Drought Stress Adaptation 
Phospholipases A2 (PLA2s) are known to mediate signaling cascades during plant growth and development, as well as biotic and abiotic stress responses. In this context, the present study provides extensive characterization of specific PLA2s in durum wheat, and assesses their involvement in durum wheat response to drought stress. In durum wheat leaves, four full-length expressed sequences encoding putative PLA2s were isolated and characterized as belonging to the class of secretory PLA2s (sPLA2s): TdsPLA2I, TdsPLA2II, TdsPLA2III and TdsPLA2IV. PLA2 activity was also detected, the characteristics of which resemble those of previously characterized plant sPLA2s: strong preference for phospholipids; requirement for millimolar Ca2+ concentrations; optimal activity at basic pH; heat stability; and inhibition by the reducing agent dithiothreitol. With drought stress imposed at both the vegetative and reproductive stages, accumulation of TdsPLA2I and TdsPLA2III transcripts, and to a lesser extent of TdsPLA2IV transcript, paralleled increased PLA2 activity; both transcript levels and enzymatic activity decreased as a consequence of stress recovery. Consistently, free fatty acid analysis of drought-stressed leaves revealed increased linoleate, linolenate and palmitate contents, which were reversed by plant re-watering. Overall, these findings strongly suggest that there are inducible sPLA2 isoforms in durum wheat that have roles in orchestrating the plant response to drought stress.
doi:10.3390/ijms14035146
PMCID: PMC3634499  PMID: 23455473
drought stress; durum wheat; phospholipase A2
14.  Comparative Transcriptome Profiling of the Early Response to Magnaporthe oryzae in Durable Resistant vs Susceptible Rice (Oryza sativa L.) Genotypes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51609.
Durable resistance to blast, the most significant fungal disease of rice, represents an agronomically relevant character. Gigante Vercelli (GV) and Vialone Nano (VN) are two old temperate japonica Italian rice cultivars with contrasting response to blast infection: GV displays durable and broad resistance while VN is highly susceptible. RNA-seq was used to dissect the early molecular processes deployed during the resistance response of GV at 24 h after blast inoculation. Differential gene expression analysis identified 1,070 and 1,484 modulated genes, of which 726 and 699 were up regulated in response to infection in GV and VN, respectively. Gene ontology (GO) enrichment analyses revealed a set of GO terms enriched in both varieties but, despite this commonality, the gene sets contributing to common GO enriched terms were dissimilar. The expression patterns of genes grouped in GV-specific enriched GO terms were examined in detail including at the transcript isoform level. GV exhibited a dramatic up-regulation of genes encoding diterpene phytoalexin biosynthetic enzymes, flavin-containing monooxygenase, class I chitinase and glycosyl hydrolase 17. The sensitivity and high dynamic range of RNA-seq allowed the identification of genes critically involved in conferring GV resistance during the early steps of defence perception-signalling. These included chitin oligosaccharides sensing factors, wall associated kinases, MAPK cascades and WRKY transcription factors. Candidate genes with expression patterns consistent with a potential role as GV-specific functional resistance (R) gene(s) were also identified. This first application of RNA-seq to dissect durable blast resistance supports a crucial role of the prompt induction of a battery of responses including defence-related genes as well as members of gene families involved in signalling and pathogen-related gene expression regulation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051609
PMCID: PMC3520944  PMID: 23251593
15.  Proteomic characterization of the Rph15 barley resistance gene-mediated defence responses to leaf rust 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:642.
Background
Leaf rust, caused by the biotrophic fungal pathogen Puccinia hordei, is one of the most important foliar disease of barley (Hordeum vulgare) and represents a serious threat in many production regions of the world. The leaf rust resistance gene Rph15 is of outstanding interest for resistance breeding because it confers resistance to over 350 Puccinia hordei isolates collected from around the world. Molecular and biochemical mechanisms responsible for the Rph15 effectiveness are currently not investigated. The aim of the present work was to study the Rph15-based defence responses using a proteomic approach.
Results
Protein pattern changes in response to the leaf rust pathogen infection were investigated in two barley near isogenic lines (NILs), Bowman (leaf rust susceptible) and Bowman-Rph15 (leaf rust resistant), differing for the introgression of the leaf rust resistance gene Rph15. Two infection time points, 24 hours and four days post inoculation (dpi), were analysed. No statistically significant differences were identified at the early time point, while at 4 dpi eighteen protein spots were significantly up or down regulated with a fold-change equal or higher than two in response to pathogen infection. Almost all the pathogen-responsive proteins were identified in the Bowman-Rph15 resistant NIL. Protein spots were characterized by LC-MS/MS analysis and found to be involved in photosynthesis and energy metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism, protein degradation and defence. Proteomic data were complemented by transcriptional analysis of the respective genes. The identified proteins can be related to modulation of the photosynthetic apparatus components, re-direction of the metabolism to sustain defence responses and deployment of defence proteins.
Conclusions
The identification of leaf rust infection-modulated defence responses restricted to the resistant NIL support the hypothesis that basal defence responses of Bowman, but not the Rph15 resistance gene-based ones, are suppressed or delayed by pathogen effectors to levels below the detection power of the adopted proteomic approach. Additionally, Rph15-mediated resistance processes identified mainly resides on a modulation of primary metabolism, affecting photosyntesis and carbohydrate pool.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-642
PMCID: PMC3541957  PMID: 23167439
Barley; Leaf rust; Resistance gene; Rph15; Proteomics; Near isogenic lines
16.  A high-density consensus map of A and B wheat genomes 
A durum wheat consensus linkage map was developed by combining segregation data from six mapping populations. All of the crosses were derived from durum wheat cultivars, except for one accession of T. ssp. dicoccoides. The consensus map was composed of 1,898 loci arranged into 27 linkage groups covering all 14 chromosomes. The length of the integrated map and the average marker distance were 3,058.6 and 1.6 cM, respectively. The order of the loci was generally in agreement with respect to the individual maps and with previously published maps. When the consensus map was aligned to the deletion bin map, 493 markers were assigned to specific bins. Segregation distortion was found across many durum wheat chromosomes, with a higher frequency for the B genome. This high-density consensus map allowed the scanning of the genome for chromosomal rearrangements occurring during the wheat evolution. Translocations and inversions that were already known in literature were confirmed, and new putative rearrangements are proposed. The consensus map herein described provides a more complete coverage of the durum wheat genome compared with previously developed maps. It also represents a step forward in durum wheat genomics and an essential tool for further research and studies on evolution of the wheat genome.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00122-012-1939-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00122-012-1939-y
PMCID: PMC3493672  PMID: 22872151
17.  On the complexity of miRNA-mediated regulation in plants: novel insights into the genomic organization of plant miRNAs 
Biology Direct  2012;7:15.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous small non-coding RNAs of about 20–24 nt, known to play key roles in post-transcriptional gene regulation, that can be coded either by intergenic or intragenic loci. Intragenic (exonic and intronic) miRNAs can exert a role in the transcriptional regulation and RNA processing of their host gene. Moreover, the possibility that the biogenesis of exonic miRNAs could destabilize the corresponding protein-coding transcript and reduce protein synthesis makes their characterization very intriguing and suggests a possible novel mechanism of post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression.
This work was designed to carry out the computational identification of putative exonic miRNAs in 30 plant species and the analysis of possible mechanisms involved in their regulation.
The results obtained represent a useful starting point for future studies on the complex networks involved in microRNA-mediated gene regulation in plants.
doi:10.1186/1745-6150-7-15
PMCID: PMC3464803  PMID: 22569316
Gene regulation; Exonic miRNA; miRNA self regulation; Plants
18.  Metabolic Profiling of a Mapping Population Exposes New Insights in the Regulation of Seed Metabolism and Seed, Fruit, and Plant Relations 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(3):e1002612.
To investigate the regulation of seed metabolism and to estimate the degree of metabolic natural variability, metabolite profiling and network analysis were applied to a collection of 76 different homozygous tomato introgression lines (ILs) grown in the field in two consecutive harvest seasons. Factorial ANOVA confirmed the presence of 30 metabolite quantitative trait loci (mQTL). Amino acid contents displayed a high degree of variability across the population, with similar patterns across the two seasons, while sugars exhibited significant seasonal fluctuations. Upon integration of data for tomato pericarp metabolite profiling, factorial ANOVA identified the main factor for metabolic polymorphism to be the genotypic background rather than the environment or the tissue. Analysis of the coefficient of variance indicated greater phenotypic plasticity in the ILs than in the M82 tomato cultivar. Broad-sense estimate of heritability suggested that the mode of inheritance of metabolite traits in the seed differed from that in the fruit. Correlation-based metabolic network analysis comparing metabolite data for the seed with that for the pericarp showed that the seed network displayed tighter interdependence of metabolic processes than the fruit. Amino acids in the seed metabolic network were shown to play a central hub-like role in the topology of the network, maintaining high interactions with other metabolite categories, i.e., sugars and organic acids. Network analysis identified six exceptionally highly co-regulated amino acids, Gly, Ser, Thr, Ile, Val, and Pro. The strong interdependence of this group was confirmed by the mQTL mapping. Taken together these results (i) reflect the extensive redundancy of the regulation underlying seed metabolism, (ii) demonstrate the tight co-ordination of seed metabolism with respect to fruit metabolism, and (iii) emphasize the centrality of the amino acid module in the seed metabolic network. Finally, the study highlights the added value of integrating metabolic network analysis with mQTL mapping.
Author Summary
Seeds represent 70% of the food source for man and livestock. However, as a result of millennia of domestication, crop plants have undergone major genetic deterioration, leading to a loss of important quality traits. Thus, the reintroduction of these quality traits is the key to the improvement of crops in modern agriculture. Seed quality traits include nutritional components, such as proteins and amino acids, and seed germination and storability, which are, in turn, inherently related to metabolism. To understand the genetic basis of seed metabolism—a strategic need in the improvement of seed crops—we studied a collection of offspring plants stemming from the cross between a domesticated tomato cultivar Solanum lycopersicum cv M82 and its distant wild relative S. pennellii. We monitored the changes in metabolism and studied the mode of regulation of the concentration of metabolites in the seeds as a result of genetic introgression, by taking advantage of state-of-the-art technologies and methods of data elaboration such as network-based analysis. We identified a number of candidate genes that may be useful in manipulations to enhance nutritional values in seeds. Finally, in an effort to study the relation among the seed, the fruit, and the mother plant, we determined potential yield-associated metabolic markers.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002612
PMCID: PMC3315483  PMID: 22479206
19.  A Survey of MicroRNA Length Variants Contributing to miRNome Complexity in Peach (Prunus Persica L.) 
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNA molecules produced from hairpin structures and involved in gene expression regulation with major roles in plant development and stress response. Although each annotated miRNA in miRBase (www.mirbase.org) is a single defined sequence with no further details on possible variable sequence length, isomiRs – namely the population of variants of miRNAs coming from the same precursors – have been identified in several species and could represent a way of broadening the regulatory network of the cell. Next-gen-based sequencing makes it possible to comprehensively and accurately assess the entire miRNA repertoire including isomiRs. The aim of this work was to survey the complexity of the peach miRNome by carrying out Illumina high-throughput sequencing of miRNAs in three replicates of five biological samples arising from a set of different peach organs and/or phenological stages. Three hundred-ninety-two isomiRs (miRNA and miRNA*-related) corresponding to 26 putative miRNA coding loci, have been highlighted by mirDeep-P and analyzed. The presence of the same isomiRs in different biological replicates of a sample and in different tissues demonstrates that the generation of most of the detected isomiRs is not random. The degree of mature sequence heterogeneity is very different for each individual locus. Results obtained in the present work can thus contribute to a deeper view of the miRNome complexity and to better explore the mechanism of action of these tiny regulators.
doi:10.3389/fpls.2012.00165
PMCID: PMC3405489  PMID: 22855688
microRNA; isomiRs; next generation sequencing
20.  First Survey of the Wheat Chromosome 5A Composition through a Next Generation Sequencing Approach 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26421.
Wheat is one of the world's most important crops and is characterized by a large polyploid genome. One way to reduce genome complexity is to isolate single chromosomes using flow cytometry. Low coverage DNA sequencing can provide a snapshot of individual chromosomes, allowing a fast characterization of their main features and comparison with other genomes. We used massively parallel 454 pyrosequencing to obtain a 2x coverage of wheat chromosome 5A. The resulting sequence assembly was used to identify TEs, genes and miRNAs, as well as to infer a virtual gene order based on the synteny with other grass genomes. Repetitive elements account for more than 75% of the genome. Gene content was estimated considering non-redundant reads showing at least one match to ESTs or proteins. The results indicate that the coding fraction represents 1.08% and 1.3% of the short and long arm respectively, projecting the number of genes of the whole chromosome to approximately 5,000. 195 candidate miRNA precursors belonging to 16 miRNA families were identified. The 5A genes were used to search for syntenic relationships between grass genomes. The short arm is closely related to Brachypodium chromosome 4, sorghum chromosome 8 and rice chromosome 12; the long arm to regions of Brachypodium chromosomes 4 and 1, sorghum chromosomes 1 and 2 and rice chromosomes 9 and 3. From these similarities it was possible to infer the virtual gene order of 392 (5AS) and 1,480 (5AL) genes of chromosome 5A, which was compared to, and found to be largely congruent with the available physical map of this chromosome.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026421
PMCID: PMC3196578  PMID: 22028874
21.  Reactive oxygen species and transcript analysis upon excess light treatment in wild-type Arabidopsis thaliana vs a photosensitive mutant lacking zeaxanthin and lutein 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:62.
Background
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are unavoidable by-products of oxygenic photosynthesis, causing progressive oxidative damage and ultimately cell death. Despite their destructive activity they are also signalling molecules, priming the acclimatory response to stress stimuli.
Results
To investigate this role further, we exposed wild type Arabidopsis thaliana plants and the double mutant npq1lut2 to excess light. The mutant does not produce the xanthophylls lutein and zeaxanthin, whose key roles include ROS scavenging and prevention of ROS synthesis. Biochemical analysis revealed that singlet oxygen (1O2) accumulated to higher levels in the mutant while other ROS were unaffected, allowing to define the transcriptomic signature of the acclimatory response mediated by 1O2 which is enhanced by the lack of these xanthophylls species. The group of genes differentially regulated in npq1lut2 is enriched in sequences encoding chloroplast proteins involved in cell protection against the damaging effect of ROS. Among the early fine-tuned components, are proteins involved in tetrapyrrole biosynthesis, chlorophyll catabolism, protein import, folding and turnover, synthesis and membrane insertion of photosynthetic subunits. Up to now, the flu mutant was the only biological system adopted to define the regulation of gene expression by 1O2. In this work, we propose the use of mutants accumulating 1O2 by mechanisms different from those activated in flu to better identify ROS signalling.
Conclusions
We propose that the lack of zeaxanthin and lutein leads to 1O2 accumulation and this represents a signalling pathway in the early stages of stress acclimation, beside the response to ADP/ATP ratio and to the redox state of both plastoquinone pool. Chloroplasts respond to 1O2 accumulation by undergoing a significant change in composition and function towards a fast acclimatory response. The physiological implications of this signalling specificity are discussed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-11-62
PMCID: PMC3083342  PMID: 21481232
22.  Transcriptional responses of winter barley to cold indicate nucleosome remodelling as a specific feature of crown tissues 
Functional & Integrative Genomics  2011;11(2):307-325.
We report a series of microarray-based comparisons of gene expression in the leaf and crown of the winter barley cultivar Luxor, following the exposure of young plants to various periods of low (above and below zero) temperatures. A transcriptomic analysis identified genes which were either expressed in both the leaf and crown, or specifically in one or the other. Among the former were genes responsible for calcium and abscisic acid signalling, polyamine synthesis, late embryogenesis abundant proteins and dehydrins. In the crown, the key organ for cereal overwintering, cold treatment induced transient changes in the transcription of nucleosome assembly genes, and especially H2A and HTA11, which have been implicated in cold sensing in Arabidopsis thaliana. In the leaf, various heat-shock proteins were induced. Differences in expression pattern between the crown and leaf were frequent for genes involved in certain pathways responsible for osmolyte production (sucrose and starch, raffinose, γ-aminobutyric acid metabolism), sugar signalling (trehalose metabolism) and secondary metabolism (lignin synthesis). The action of proteins with antifreeze activity, which were markedly induced during hardening, was demonstrated by a depression in the ice nucleation temperature.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10142-011-0213-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s10142-011-0213-8
PMCID: PMC3098344  PMID: 21360135
Barley; Differentially expressed genes; Cold acclimation; Crown; Leaf; Metabolic pathways
23.  Insight into durum wheat Lpx-B1: a small gene family coding for the lipoxygenase responsible for carotenoid bleaching in mature grains 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:263.
Background
The yellow colour of pasta products is one of the main criteria used by consumers to assess pasta quality. This character is due to the presence of carotenoid pigments in semolina. During pasta processing, oxidative degradation of carotenoid pigments occurs mainly due to lipoxygenase (LOX). In durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.), two Lpx-1 genes have been identified on chromosome 4B, Lpx-B1.1 and Lpx-B1.2, and evidences have been reported that the deletion of Lpx-B1.1 is associated with a strong reduction in LOX activity in semolina. In the present study, we characterised the Lpx-B1 gene family identified in a durum wheat germplasm collection and related the distribution and expression of the Lpx-B1 genes and alleles to variations in LOX activity in the mature grains.
Results
In addition to the already known Lpx-B1.1 and Lpx-B1.2 genes, a new gene was identified, Lpx-B1.3, along with three different Lpx-B1.1 alleles, Lpx-B1.1a, Lpx-B1.1b and the partially deleted Lpx-B1.1c. Screening of the germplasm collection showed that all of the genotypes have one of the three Lpx-B1.1 alleles, associated with either Lpx-B1.2 or Lpx-B1.3, thus showing that in this collection the two genes are alternatives. Therefore, based on Lpx-B1 distribution, three different haplotypes were distinguished: haplotype I, carrying Lpx-B1.3 and the Lpx-B1.1b allele; haplotype II carrying Lpx-B1.2 and the Lpx-B1.1a allele; and haplotype III carrying Lpx-B1.2 and the Lpx-B1.1c allele. Determination of Lpx-B1 transcript abundance and total LOX activity in mature grains revealed differences among these three haplotypes: haplotypes I, II and III showed high, intermediate and low levels, respectively, of functional Lpx-B1 transcripts and enzymatic activity.
Conclusions
In this germplasm collection, the Lpx-B1 gene family accounts for most of the total LOX activity in the mature grains. Information on these Lpx-B1 haplotypes provides significant improvement for prediction of LOX-1 activity levels in mature grains, and will therefore help in breeding programmes aimed at selection of new durum wheat genotypes with higher carotenoid contents in their end products.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-263
PMCID: PMC3017847  PMID: 21110856
24.  A computational-based update on microRNAs and their targets in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:595.
Background
Many plant species have been investigated in the last years for the identification and characterization of the corresponding miRNAs, nevertheless extensive studies are not yet available on barley (at the time of this writing). To extend and to update information on miRNAs and their targets in barley and to identify candidate polymorphisms at miRNA target sites, the features of previously known plant miRNAs have been used to systematically search for barley miRNA homologues and targets in the publicly available ESTs database. Matching sequences have then been related to Unigene clusters on which most of this study was based.
Results
One hundred-fifty-six microRNA mature sequences belonging to 50 miRNA families have been found to significantly match at least one EST sequence in barley. As expected on the basis of phylogenetic relations, miRNAs putatively orthologous to those of Triticum are significantly over-represented inside the set of identified barley microRNA mature sequences. Many previously known and several putatively new miRNA/target pairs have been identified. When the predicted microRNA targets were grouped into functional categories, biological processes previously known to be regulated by miRNAs, such as development and response to biotic and abiotic stress, have been highlighted and most of the target molecular functions were related to transcription regulation. Candidate microRNA coding genes have been reported and genetic variation (SNPs/indels) both in functional regions of putative miRNAs (mature sequence) and at miRNA target sites has been found.
Conclusions
This study has provided an update of the information on barley miRNAs and their targets representing a foundation for future studies. Many of previously known plant microRNAs have homologues in barley with expected important roles during development, nutrient deprivation, biotic and abiotic stress response and other important physiological processes. Putative polymorphisms at miRNA target sites have been identified and they can represent an interesting source for the identification of functional genetic variability.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-595
PMCID: PMC3091740  PMID: 20969764
25.  Genetic variants of HvCbf14 are statistically associated with frost tolerance in a European germplasm collection of Hordeum vulgare 
Two quantitative trait loci (Fr-H1 and Fr-H2) for frost tolerance (FT) have been discovered on the long arm of chromosome 5H in barley. Two tightly linked groups of CBF genes, known to play a key role in the FT regulatory network in A. thaliana, have been found to co-segregate with Fr-H2. Here, we investigate the allelic variations of four barley CBF genes (HvCbf3, HvCbf6, HvCbf9 and HvCbf14) in a panel of European cultivars, landraces and H. spontaneum accessions. In the cultivars a reduction of nucleotide and haplotype diversities in CBFs compared with the landraces and the wild ancestor H. spontaneum, was evident. In particular, in cultivars the loss of HvCbf9 genetic variants was higher compared to other sequences. In order to verify if the pattern of CBF genetic variants correlated with the level of FT, an association procedure was adopted. The pairwise analysis of linkage disequilibrium (LD) among the genetic variants in four CBF genes was computed to evaluate the resolution of the association procedure. The pairwise plotting revealed a low level of LD in cultivated varieties, despite the tight physical linkage of CBF genes analysed. A structured association procedure based on a general liner model was implemented, including the variants in CBFs, of Vrn-H1, and of two reference genes not involved in FT (α-Amy1 and Gapdh) and considering the phenotypic data for FT. Association analysis recovered two nucleotide variants of HvCbf14 and one nucleotide variant of Vrn-H1 as statistically associated to FT.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00122-009-1138-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00122-009-1138-7
PMCID: PMC2765646  PMID: 19756475

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