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1.  PT-Flax (phenotyping and TILLinG of flax): development of a flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) mutant population and TILLinG platform for forward and reverse genetics 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:159.
Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) is an economically important fiber and oil crop that has been grown for thousands of years. The genome has been recently sequenced and transcriptomics are providing information on candidate genes potentially related to agronomically-important traits. In order to accelerate functional characterization of these genes we have generated a flax EMS mutant population that can be used as a TILLinG (Targeting Induced Local Lesions in Genomes) platform for forward and reverse genetics.
A population of 4,894 M2 mutant seed families was generated using 3 different EMS concentrations (0.3%, 0.6% and 0.75%) and used to produce M2 plants for subsequent phenotyping and DNA extraction. 10,839 viable M2 plants (4,033 families) were obtained and 1,552 families (38.5%) showed a visual developmental phenotype (stem size and diameter, plant architecture, flower-related). The majority of these families showed more than one phenotype. Mutant phenotype data are organised in a database and can be accessed and searched at UTILLdb ( Preliminary screens were also performed for atypical fiber and seed phenotypes. Genomic DNA was extracted from 3,515 M2 families and eight-fold pooled for subsequent mutant detection by ENDO1 nuclease mis-match cleavage. In order to validate the collection for reverse genetics, DNA pools were screened for two genes coding enzymes of the lignin biosynthesis pathway: Coumarate-3-Hydroxylase (C3H) and Cinnamyl Alcohol Dehydrogenase (CAD). We identified 79 and 76 mutations in the C3H and CAD genes, respectively. The average mutation rate was calculated as 1/41 Kb giving rise to approximately 9,000 mutations per genome. Thirty-five out of the 52 flax cad mutant families containing missense or codon stop mutations showed the typical orange-brown xylem phenotype observed in CAD down-regulated/mutant plants in other species.
We have developed a flax mutant population that can be used as an efficient forward and reverse genetics tool. The collection has an extremely high mutation rate that enables the detection of large numbers of independant mutant families by screening a comparatively low number of M2 families. The population will prove to be a valuable resource for both fundamental research and the identification of agronomically-important genes for crop improvement in flax.
PMCID: PMC3853753  PMID: 24128060
Flax; TILLinG; Mutants; Fiber; Lignin; Lignan; Oil; Fatty acids
2.  Identification of novel genes potentially involved in somatic embryogenesis in chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:122.
In our laboratory we use cultured chicory (Cichorium intybus) explants as a model to investigate cell reactivation and somatic embryogenesis and have produced 2 chicory genotypes (K59, C15) sharing a similar genetic background. K59 is a responsive genotype (embryogenic) capable of undergoing complete cell reactivation i.e. cell de- and re-differentiation leading to somatic embryogenesis (SE), whereas C15 is a non-responsive genotype (non-embryogenic) and is unable to undergo SE. Previous studies [1] showed that the use of the β-D-glucosyl Yariv reagent (β-GlcY) that specifically binds arabinogalactan-proteins (AGPs) blocked somatic embryo production in chicory root explants. This observation indicates that β-GlcY is a useful tool for investigating somatic embryogenesis (SE) in chicory. In addition, a putative AGP (DT212818) encoding gene was previously found to be significantly up-regulated in the embryogenic K59 chicory genotype as compared to the non-embryogenic C15 genotype suggesting that this AGP could be involved in chicory re-differentiation [2]. In order to improve our understanding of the molecular and cellular regulation underlying SE in chicory, we undertook a detailed cytological study of cell reactivation events in K59 and C15 genotypes, and used microarray profiling to compare gene expression in these 2 genotypes. In addition we also used β-GlcY to block SE in order to identify genes potentially involved in this process.
Microscopy confirmed that only the K59, but not the C15 genotype underwent complete cell reactivation leading to SE formation. β-GlcY-treatment of explants blocked in vitro SE induction, but not cell reactivation, and induced cell wall modifications. Microarray analyses revealed that 78 genes were differentially expressed between induced K59 and C15 genotypes. The expression profiles of 19 genes were modified by β-GlcY-treatment. Eight genes were both differentially expressed between K59 and C15 genotypes during SE induction and transcriptionally affected by β-GlcY-treatment: AGP (DT212818), 26 S proteasome AAA ATPase subunit 6 (RPT6), remorin (REM), metallothionein-1 (MT1), two non-specific lipid transfer proteins genes (SDI-9 and DEA1), 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (HMG-CoA reductase), and snakin 2 (SN2). These results suggest that the 8 genes, including the previously-identified AGP gene (DT212818), could be involved in cell fate determination events leading to SE commitment in chicory.
The use of two different chicory genotypes differing in their responsiveness to SE induction, together with β-GlcY-treatment represented an efficient tool to discriminate cell reactivation from the SE morphogenetic pathway. Such an approach, together with microarray analyses, permitted us to identify several putative key genes related to the SE morphogenetic pathway in chicory.
PMCID: PMC3017773  PMID: 20565992
3.  Selection of reference genes for quantitative gene expression normalization in flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:71.
Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) is currently the most accurate method for detecting differential gene expression. Such an approach depends on the identification of uniformly expressed 'housekeeping genes' (HKGs). Extensive transcriptomic data mining and experimental validation in different model plants have shown that the reliability of these endogenous controls can be influenced by the plant species, growth conditions and organs/tissues examined. It is therefore important to identify the best reference genes to use in each biological system before using qRT-PCR to investigate differential gene expression. In this paper we evaluate different candidate HKGs for developmental transcriptomic studies in the economically-important flax fiber- and oil-crop (Linum usitatissimum L).
Specific primers were designed in order to quantify the expression levels of 20 different potential housekeeping genes in flax roots, internal- and external-stem tissues, leaves and flowers at different developmental stages. After calculations of PCR efficiencies, 13 HKGs were retained and their expression stabilities evaluated by the computer algorithms geNorm and NormFinder. According to geNorm, 2 Transcriptional Elongation Factors (TEFs) and 1 Ubiquitin gene are necessary for normalizing gene expression when all studied samples are considered. However, only 2 TEFs are required for normalizing expression in stem tissues. In contrast, NormFinder identified glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GADPH) as the most stably expressed gene when all samples were grouped together, as well as when samples were classed into different sub-groups.
qRT-PCR was then used to investigate the relative expression levels of two splice variants of the flax LuMYB1 gene (homologue of AtMYB59). LuMYB1-1 and LuMYB1-2 were highly expressed in the internal stem tissues as compared to outer stem tissues and other samples. This result was confirmed with both geNorm-designated- and NormFinder-designated-reference genes.
The use of 2 different statistical algorithms results in the identification of different combinations of flax HKGs for expression data normalization. Despite such differences, the use of geNorm-designated- and NormFinder-designated-reference genes enabled us to accurately compare the expression levels of a flax MYB gene in different organs and tissues. Our identification and validation of suitable flax HKGs will facilitate future developmental transcriptomic studies in this economically-important plant.
PMCID: PMC3095345  PMID: 20403198

Results 1-3 (3)