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1.  Intricate environment-modulated genetic networks control isoflavone accumulation in soybean seeds 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:105.
Soybean (Glycine max [L] Merr.) seed isoflavones have long been considered a desirable trait to target in selection programs for their contribution to human health and plant defense systems. However, attempts to modify seed isoflavone contents have not always produced the expected results because their genetic basis is polygenic and complex. Undoubtedly, the extreme variability that seed isoflavones display over environments has obscured our understanding of the genetics involved.
In this study, a mapping population of RILs with three replicates was analyzed in four different environments (two locations over two years). We found a total of thirty-five main-effect genomic regions and many epistatic interactions controlling genistein, daidzein, glycitein and total isoflavone accumulation in seeds. The use of distinct environments permitted detection of a great number of environment-modulated and minor-effect QTL. Our findings suggest that isoflavone seed concentration is controlled by a complex network of multiple minor-effect loci interconnected by a dense epistatic map of interactions. The magnitude and significance of the effects of many of the nodes and connections in the network varied depending on the environmental conditions. In an attempt to unravel the genetic architecture underlying the traits studied, we searched on a genome-wide scale for genomic regions homologous to the most important identified isoflavone biosynthetic genes. We identified putative candidate genes for several of the main-effect and epistatic QTL and for QTL reported by other groups.
To better understand the underlying genetics of isoflavone accumulation, we performed a large scale analysis to identify genomic regions associated with isoflavone concentrations. We not only identified a number of such regions, but also found that they can interact with one another and with the environment to form a complex adaptable network controlling seed isoflavone levels. We also found putative candidate genes in several regions and overall we advanced the knowledge of the genetics underlying isoflavone synthesis.
PMCID: PMC3224685  PMID: 20540761
2.  SoyDB: a knowledge database of soybean transcription factors 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:14.
Transcription factors play the crucial rule of regulating gene expression and influence almost all biological processes. Systematically identifying and annotating transcription factors can greatly aid further understanding their functions and mechanisms. In this article, we present SoyDB, a user friendly database containing comprehensive knowledge of soybean transcription factors.
The soybean genome was recently sequenced by the Department of Energy-Joint Genome Institute (DOE-JGI) and is publicly available. Mining of this sequence identified 5,671 soybean genes as putative transcription factors. These genes were comprehensively annotated as an aid to the soybean research community. We developed SoyDB - a knowledge database for all the transcription factors in the soybean genome. The database contains protein sequences, predicted tertiary structures, putative DNA binding sites, domains, homologous templates in the Protein Data Bank (PDB), protein family classifications, multiple sequence alignments, consensus protein sequence motifs, web logo of each family, and web links to the soybean transcription factor database PlantTFDB, known EST sequences, and other general protein databases including Swiss-Prot, Gene Ontology, KEGG, EMBL, TAIR, InterPro, SMART, PROSITE, NCBI, and Pfam. The database can be accessed via an interactive and convenient web server, which supports full-text search, PSI-BLAST sequence search, database browsing by protein family, and automatic classification of a new protein sequence into one of 64 annotated transcription factor families by hidden Markov models.
A comprehensive soybean transcription factor database was constructed and made publicly accessible at
PMCID: PMC2826334  PMID: 20082720
3.  Generation of Phaseolus vulgaris ESTs and investigation of their regulation upon Uromyces appendiculatus infection 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:46.
Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean) is the second most important legume crop in the world after soybean. Consequently, yield losses due to fungal infection, like Uromyces appendiculatus (bean rust), have strong consequences. Several resistant genes were identified that confer resistance to bean rust infection. However, the downstream genes and mechanisms involved in bean resistance to infection are poorly characterized.
A subtractive bean cDNA library composed of 10,581 unisequences was constructed and enriched in sequences regulated by either bean rust race 41, a virulent strain, or race 49, an avirulent strain on cultivar Early Gallatin carrying the resistance gene Ur-4. The construction of this library allowed the identification of 6,202 new bean ESTs, significantly adding to the available sequences for this plant. Regulation of selected bean genes in response to bean rust infection was confirmed by qRT-PCR. Plant gene expression was similar for both race 41 and 49 during the first 48 hours of the infection process but varied significantly at the later time points (72–96 hours after inoculation) mainly due to the presence of the Avr4 gene in the race 49 leading to a hypersensitive response in the bean plants. A biphasic pattern of gene expression was observed for several genes regulated in response to fungal infection.
The enrichment of the public database with over 6,000 bean ESTs significantly adds to the genomic resources available for this important crop plant. The analysis of these genes in response to bean rust infection provides a foundation for further studies of the mechanism of fungal disease resistance. The expression pattern of 90 bean genes upon rust infection shares several features with other legumes infected by biotrophic fungi. This finding suggests that the P. vulgaris-U. appendiculatus pathosystem could serve as a model to explore legume-rust interaction.
PMCID: PMC2684537  PMID: 19397807
4.  Spatial distribution of transcript changes in the maize primary root elongation zone at low water potential 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:32.
Previous work showed that the maize primary root adapts to low Ψw (-1.6 MPa) by maintaining longitudinal expansion in the apical 3 mm (region 1), whereas in the adjacent 4 mm (region 2) longitudinal expansion reaches a maximum in well-watered roots but is progressively inhibited at low Ψw. To identify mechanisms that determine these responses to low Ψw, transcript expression was profiled in these regions of water-stressed and well-watered roots. In addition, comparison between region 2 of water-stressed roots and the zone of growth deceleration in well-watered roots (region 3) distinguished stress-responsive genes in region 2 from those involved in cell maturation.
Responses of gene expression to water stress in regions 1 and 2 were largely distinct. The largest functional categories of differentially expressed transcripts were reactive oxygen species and carbon metabolism in region 1, and membrane transport in region 2. Transcripts controlling sucrose hydrolysis distinguished well-watered and water-stressed states (invertase vs. sucrose synthase), and changes in expression of transcripts for starch synthesis indicated further alteration in carbon metabolism under water deficit. A role for inositols in the stress response was suggested, as was control of proline metabolism. Increased expression of transcripts for wall-loosening proteins in region 1, and for elements of ABA and ethylene signaling were also indicated in the response to water deficit.
The analysis indicates that fundamentally different signaling and metabolic response mechanisms are involved in the response to water stress in different regions of the maize primary root elongation zone.
PMCID: PMC2364623  PMID: 18387193

Results 1-4 (4)