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author:("Wang, xiaohui")
1.  Lineage-specific evolution of Methylthioalkylmalate synthases (MAMs) involved in glucosinolates biosynthesis 
Methylthioalkylmalate synthases (MAMs) encoded by MAM genes are central to the diversification of the glucosinolates, which are important secondary metabolites in Brassicaceae species. However, the evolutionary pathway of MAM genes is poorly understood. We analyzed the phylogenetic and synteny relationships of MAM genes from 13 sequenced Brassicaceae species. Based on these analyses, we propose that the syntenic loci of MAM genes, which underwent frequent tandem duplications, divided into two independent lineage-specific evolution routes and were driven by positive selection after the divergence from Aethionema arabicum. In the lineage I species Capsella rubella, Camelina sativa, Arabidopsis lyrata, and A. thaliana, the MAM loci evolved three tandem genes encoding enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis of aliphatic glucosinolates with different carbon chain-lengths. In lineage II species, the MAM loci encode enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis of short-chain aliphatic glucosinolates. Our proposed model of the evolutionary pathway of MAM genes will be useful for understanding the specific function of these genes in Brassicaceae species.
PMCID: PMC4315028
glucosinolates; MAM genes; syntenic; evolution; Brassicaceae
2.  Morphology, Carbohydrate Composition and Vernalization Response in a Genetically Diverse Collection of Asian and European Turnips (Brassica rapa subsp. rapa) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114241.
Brassica rapa displays enormous morphological diversity, with leafy vegetables, turnips and oil crops. Turnips (Brassica rapa subsp. rapa) represent one of the morphotypes, which form tubers and can be used to study the genetics underlying storage organ formation. In the present study we investigated several characteristics of an extensive turnip collection comprising 56 accessions from both Asia (mainly Japanese origin) and Europe. Population structure was calculated using data from 280 evenly distributed SNP markers over 56 turnip accessions. We studied the anatomy of turnip tubers and measured carbohydrate composition of the mature turnip tubers of a subset of the collection. The variation in 16 leaf traits, 12 tuber traits and flowering time was evaluated in five independent experiments for the entire collection. The effect of vernalization on flowering and tuber formation was also investigated. SNP marker profiling basically divided the turnip accessions into two subpopulations, with admixture, generally corresponding with geographical origin (Europe or Asia). The enlarged turnip tuber consists of both hypocotyl and root tissue, but the proportion of the two tissues differs between accessions. The ratio of sucrose to fructose and glucose differed among accessions, while generally starch content was low. The evaluated traits segregated in both subpopulations, with leaf shape, tuber colour and number of shoots per tuber explaining most variation between the two subpopulations. Vernalization resulted in reduced flowering time and smaller tubers for the Asian turnips whereas the European turnips were less affected by vernalization.
PMCID: PMC4256417  PMID: 25474111
3.  Anthocyanin biosynthetic genes in Brassica rapa 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):426.
Anthocyanins are a group of flavonoid compounds. As a group of important secondary metabolites, they perform several key biological functions in plants. Anthocyanins also play beneficial health roles as potentially protective factors against cancer and heart disease. To elucidate the anthocyanin biosynthetic pathway in Brassica rapa, we conducted comparative genomic analyses between Arabidopsis thaliana and B. rapa on a genome-wide level.
In total, we identified 73 genes in B. rapa as orthologs of 41 anthocyanin biosynthetic genes in A. thaliana. In B. rapa, the anthocyanin biosynthetic genes (ABGs) have expanded and most genes exist in more than one copy. The anthocyanin biosynthetic structural genes have expanded through whole genome and tandem duplication in B. rapa. More structural genes located upstream of the anthocyanin biosynthetic pathway have been retained than downstream. More negative regulatory genes are retained in the anthocyanin biosynthesis regulatory system of B. rapa.
These results will promote an understanding of the genetic mechanism of anthocyanin biosynthesis, as well as help the improvement of the nutritional quality of B. rapa through the breeding of high anthocyanin content varieties.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-15-426) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4072887  PMID: 24893600
Comparative genomics; Anthocyanin biosynthetic genes; Whole genome duplication; Brassica rapa; Cruciferae
4.  Beyond genomic variation - comparison and functional annotation of three Brassica rapa genomes: a turnip, a rapid cycling and a Chinese cabbage 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:250.
Brassica rapa is an economically important crop species. During its long breeding history, a large number of morphotypes have been generated, including leafy vegetables such as Chinese cabbage and pakchoi, turnip tuber crops and oil crops.
To investigate the genetic variation underlying this morphological variation, we re-sequenced, assembled and annotated the genomes of two B. rapa subspecies, turnip crops (turnip) and a rapid cycling. We then analysed the two resulting genomes together with the Chinese cabbage Chiifu reference genome to obtain an impression of the B. rapa pan-genome. The number of genes with protein-coding changes between the three genotypes was lower than that among different accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana, which can be explained by the smaller effective population size of B. rapa due to its domestication. Based on orthology to a number of non-brassica species, we estimated the date of divergence among the three B. rapa morphotypes at approximately 250,000 YA, far predating Brassica domestication (5,000-10,000 YA).
By analysing genes unique to turnip we found evidence for copy number differences in peroxidases, pointing to a role for the phenylpropanoid biosynthesis pathway in the generation of morphological variation. The estimated date of divergence among three B. rapa morphotypes implies that prior to domestication there was already considerably divergence among B. rapa genotypes. Our study thus provides two new B. rapa reference genomes, delivers a set of computer tools to analyse the resulting pan-genome and uses these to shed light on genetic drivers behind the rich morphological variation found in B. rapa.
PMCID: PMC4230417  PMID: 24684742
5.  A naturally occurring InDel variation in BraA.FLC.b (BrFLC2) associated with flowering time variation in Brassica rapa 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:151.
Flowering time is an important trait in Brassica rapa crops. FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) is a MADS-box transcription factor that acts as a potent repressor of flowering. Expression of FLC is silenced when plants are exposed to low temperature, which activates flowering. There are four copies of FLC in B. rapa. Analyses of different segregating populations have suggested that BraA.FLC.a (BrFLC1) and BraA.FLC.b (BrFLC2) play major roles in controlling flowering time in B. rapa.
We analyzed the BrFLC2 sequence in nine B. rapa accessions, and identified a 57-bp insertion/deletion (InDel) across exon 4 and intron 4 resulting in a non-functional allele. In total, three types of transcripts were identified for this mutated BrFLC2 allele. The InDel was used to develop a PCR-based marker, which was used to screen a collection of 159 B. rapa accessions. The deletion genotype was present only in oil-type B. rapa, including ssp. oleifera and ssp. tricolaris, and not in other subspecies. The deletion genotype was significantly correlated with variation in flowering time. In contrast, the reported splicing site variation in BrFLC1, which also leads to a non-functional locus, was detected but not correlated with variation in flowering time in oil-type B. rapa, although it was correlated with variation in flowering time in vegetable-type B. rapa.
Our results suggest that the naturally occurring deletion mutation across exon 4 and intron 4 in BrFLC2 gene contributes greatly to variation in flowering time in oil-type B. rapa. The observed different relationship between BrFLC1 or BrFLC2 and flowering time variation indicates that the control of flowering time has evolved separately between oil-type and vegetable-type B. rapa groups.
PMCID: PMC3487953  PMID: 22925611
6.  Biased Gene Fractionation and Dominant Gene Expression among the Subgenomes of Brassica rapa 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36442.
Polyploidization, both ancient and recent, is frequent among plants. A “two-step theory" was proposed to explain the meso-triplication of the Brassica “A" genome: Brassica rapa. By accurately partitioning of this genome, we observed that genes in the less fractioned subgenome (LF) were dominantly expressed over the genes in more fractioned subgenomes (MFs: MF1 and MF2), while the genes in MF1 were slightly dominantly expressed over the genes in MF2. The results indicated that the dominantly expressed genes tended to be resistant against gene fractionation. By re-sequencing two B. rapa accessions: a vegetable turnip (VT117) and a Rapid Cycling line (L144), we found that genes in LF had less non-synonymous or frameshift mutations than genes in MFs; however mutation rates were not significantly different between MF1 and MF2. The differences in gene expression patterns and on-going gene death among the three subgenomes suggest that “two-step" genome triplication and differential subgenome methylation played important roles in the genome evolution of B. rapa.
PMCID: PMC3342247  PMID: 22567157
7.  Syntenic gene analysis between Brassica rapa and other Brassicaceae species 
Chromosomal synteny analysis is important in genome comparison to reveal genomic evolution of related species. Shared synteny describes genomic fragments from different species that originated from an identical ancestor. Syntenic genes are orthologs located in these syntenic fragments, so they often share similar functions. Syntenic gene analysis is very important in Brassicaceae species to share gene annotations and investigate genome evolution. Here we designed and developed a direct and efficient tool, SynOrths, to identify pairwise syntenic genes between genomes of Brassicaceae species. SynOrths determines whether two genes are a conserved syntenic pair based not only on their sequence similarity, but also by the support of homologous flanking genes. Syntenic genes between Arabidopsis thaliana and Brassica rapa, Arabidopsis lyrata and B. rapa, and Thellungiella parvula and B. rapa were then identified using SynOrths. The occurrence of genome triplication in B. rapa was clearly observed, many genes that were evenly distributed in the genomes of A. thaliana, A. lyrata, and T. parvula had three syntenic copies in B. rapa. Additionally, there were many B. rapa genes that had no syntenic orthologs in A. thaliana, but some of these had syntenic orthologs in A. lyrata or T. parvula. Only 5,851 genes in B. rapa had no syntenic counterparts in any of the other three species. These 5,851 genes could have originated after B. rapa diverged from these species. A tool for syntenic gene analysis between species of Brassicaceae was developed, SynOrths, which could be used to accurately identify syntenic genes in differentiated but closely-related genomes. With this tool, we identified syntenic gene sets between B. rapa and each of A. thaliana, A. lyrata, T. parvula. Syntenic gene analysis is important for not only the gene annotation of newly sequenced Brassicaceae genomes by bridging them to model plant A. thaliana, but also the study of genome evolution in these species.
PMCID: PMC3430884  PMID: 22969786
synteny; ortholog; Brassica rapa; Arabidopsis thaliana; Arabidopsis lyrata; Thellugiella parvula; Brassicaceae
8.  The Impact of Genome Triplication on Tandem Gene Evolution in Brassica rapa 
Whole genome duplication (WGD) and tandem duplication (TD) are both important modes of gene expansion. However, how WGD influences tandemly duplicated genes is not well studied. We used Brassica rapa, which has undergone an additional genome triplication (WGT) and shares a common ancestor with Arabidopsis thaliana, Arabidopsis lyrata, and Thellungiella parvula, to investigate the impact of genome triplication on tandem gene evolution. We identified 2,137, 1,569, 1,751, and 1,135 tandem gene arrays in B. rapa, A. thaliana, A. lyrata, and T. parvula respectively. Among them, 414 conserved tandem arrays are shared by the three species without WGT, which were also considered as existing in the diploid ancestor of B. rapa. Thus, after genome triplication, B. rapa should have 1,242 tandem arrays according to the 414 conserved tandems. Here, we found 400 out of the 414 tandems had at least one syntenic ortholog in the genome of B. rapa. Furthermore, 294 out of the 400 shared syntenic orthologs maintain tandem arrays (more than one gene for each syntenic hit) in B. rapa. For the 294 tandem arrays, we obtained 426 copies of syntenic paralogous tandems in the triplicated genome of B. rapa. In this study, we demonstrated that tandem arrays in B. rapa were dramatically fractionated after WGT when compared either to non-tandem genes in the B. rapa genome or to the tandem arrays in closely related species that have not experienced a recent whole genome polyploidization event.
PMCID: PMC3509317  PMID: 23226149
whole genome duplication; tandem duplication; tandem gene evolution; Brassica rapa; Arabidopsis thaliana; Arabidopsis lyrata; Thellungiella parvula
9.  BRAD, the genetics and genomics database for Brassica plants 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:136.
Brassica species include both vegetable and oilseed crops, which are very important to the daily life of common human beings. Meanwhile, the Brassica species represent an excellent system for studying numerous aspects of plant biology, specifically for the analysis of genome evolution following polyploidy, so it is also very important for scientific research. Now, the genome of Brassica rapa has already been assembled, it is the time to do deep mining of the genome data.
BRAD, the Brassica database, is a web-based resource focusing on genome scale genetic and genomic data for important Brassica crops. BRAD was built based on the first whole genome sequence and on further data analysis of the Brassica A genome species, Brassica rapa (Chiifu-401-42). It provides datasets, such as the complete genome sequence of B. rapa, which was de novo assembled from Illumina GA II short reads and from BAC clone sequences, predicted genes and associated annotations, non coding RNAs, transposable elements (TE), B. rapa genes' orthologous to those in A. thaliana, as well as genetic markers and linkage maps. BRAD offers useful searching and data mining tools, including search across annotation datasets, search for syntenic or non-syntenic orthologs, and to search the flanking regions of a certain target, as well as the tools of BLAST and Gbrowse. BRAD allows users to enter almost any kind of information, such as a B. rapa or A. thaliana gene ID, physical position or genetic marker.
BRAD, a new database which focuses on the genetics and genomics of the Brassica plants has been developed, it aims at helping scientists and breeders to fully and efficiently use the information of genome data of Brassica plants. BRAD will be continuously updated and can be accessed through
PMCID: PMC3213011  PMID: 21995777
10.  A sequence-based genetic linkage map as a reference for Brassica rapa pseudochromosome assembly 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:239.
Brassica rapa is an economically important crop and a model plant for studies concerning polyploidization and the evolution of extreme morphology. The multinational B. rapa Genome Sequencing Project (BrGSP) was launched in 2003. In 2008, next generation sequencing technology was used to sequence the B. rapa genome. Several maps concerning B. rapa pseudochromosome assembly have been published but their coverage of the genome is incomplete, anchoring approximately 73.6% of the scaffolds on to chromosomes. Therefore, a new genetic map to aid pseudochromosome assembly is required.
This study concerns the construction of a reference genetic linkage map for Brassica rapa, forming the backbone for anchoring sequence scaffolds of the B. rapa genome resulting from recent sequencing efforts. One hundred and nineteen doubled haploid (DH) lines derived from microspore cultures of an F1 cross between a Chinese cabbage (B. rapa ssp. pekinensis) DH line (Z16) and a rapid cycling inbred line (L144) were used to construct the linkage map. PCR-based insertion/deletion (InDel) markers were developed by re-sequencing the two parental lines. The map comprises a total of 507 markers including 415 InDels and 92 SSRs. Alignment and orientation using SSR markers in common with existing B. rapa linkage maps allowed ten linkage groups to be identified, designated A01-A10. The total length of the linkage map was 1234.2 cM, with an average distance of 2.43 cM between adjacent marker loci. The lengths of linkage groups ranged from 71.5 cM to 188.5 cM for A08 and A09, respectively. Using the developed linkage map, 152 scaffolds were anchored on to the chromosomes, encompassing more than 82.9% of the B. rapa genome. Taken together with the previously available linkage maps, 183 scaffolds were anchored on to the chromosomes and the total coverage of the genome was 88.9%.
The development of this linkage map is vital for the integration of genome sequences and genetic information, and provides a useful resource for the international Brassica research community.
PMCID: PMC3224973  PMID: 21569561
11.  The Brassica oleracea genome reveals the asymmetrical evolution of polyploid genomes 
Nature Communications  2014;5:3930.
Polyploidization has provided much genetic variation for plant adaptive evolution, but the mechanisms by which the molecular evolution of polyploid genomes establishes genetic architecture underlying species differentiation are unclear. Brassica is an ideal model to increase knowledge of polyploid evolution. Here we describe a draft genome sequence of Brassica oleracea, comparing it with that of its sister species B. rapa to reveal numerous chromosome rearrangements and asymmetrical gene loss in duplicated genomic blocks, asymmetrical amplification of transposable elements, differential gene co-retention for specific pathways and variation in gene expression, including alternative splicing, among a large number of paralogous and orthologous genes. Genes related to the production of anticancer phytochemicals and morphological variations illustrate consequences of genome duplication and gene divergence, imparting biochemical and morphological variation to B. oleracea. This study provides insights into Brassica genome evolution and will underpin research into the many important crops in this genus.
Brassica oleracea is plant species comprising economically important vegetable crops. Here, the authors report the draft genome sequence of B. oleracea and, through a comparative analysis with the closely related B. rapa, reveal insights into Brassica evolution and divergence of interspecific genomes and intraspecific subgenomes.
PMCID: PMC4279128  PMID: 24852848

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