Publications by authors named "Andrew D Farmer"

49 Publications

Expression Partitioning of Duplicate Genes at Single Cell Resolution in Roots.

Front Genet 2020 3;11:596150. Epub 2020 Nov 3.

School of Integrative Plant Science, Plant Biology Section, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States.

Gene duplication is a key evolutionary phenomenon, prevalent in all organisms but particularly so in plants, where whole genome duplication (WGD; polyploidy) is a major force in genome evolution. Much effort has been expended in attempting to understand the evolution of duplicate genes, addressing such questions as why some paralog pairs rapidly return to single copy status whereas, in other pairs, both paralogs are retained and may diverge in expression pattern or function. The effect of a gene - its site of expression and thus the initial locus of its function - occurs at the level of a cell comprising a single cell type at a given state of the cell's development. Using single cell transcriptomic data we categorized patterns of expression for 11,470 duplicate gene pairs across 36 cell clusters comprising nine cell types and their developmental states. Among these 11,470 pairs, 10,187 (88.8%) had at least one copy expressed in at least one of the 36 cell clusters. Pairs produced by WGD more often had both paralogs expressed in root cells than did pairs produced by small scale duplications. Three quarters of gene pairs expressed in the 36 cell clusters (7,608/10,187) showed extreme expression bias in at least one cluster, including 352 cases of reciprocal bias, a pattern consistent with expression subfunctionalization. More than twice as many pairs showed reciprocal expression bias between cell states than between cell types or between roots and leaves. A group of 33 gene pairs with reciprocal expression bias showed evidence of concerted divergence of gene networks in stele vs. epidermis. Pairs with both paralogs expressed without bias were less likely to have paralogs with divergent mutant phenotypes; such bias-free pairs showed evidence of preservation by maintenance of dosage balance. Overall, we found considerable evidence of shifts in gene expression following duplication, including in >80% of pairs encoding 7,653 genes expressed ubiquitously in all root cell types and states for which we inferred the polarity of change.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2020.596150DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7670048PMC
November 2020

A genome-wide association and meta-analysis reveal regions associated with seed size in cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp].

Theor Appl Genet 2019 Nov 31;132(11):3079-3087. Epub 2019 Jul 31.

Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California, Riverside, CA, 92521, USA.

Key Message: This paper combined GWAS, meta-analysis and sequence homology comparison with common bean to identify regions associated with seed size variation in domesticated cowpea. Seed size is an important trait for yield and commercial value in dry-grain cowpea. Seed size varies widely among different cowpea accessions, and the genetic basis of such variation is not yet well understood. To better decipher the genetic basis of seed size, a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and meta-analysis were conducted on a panel of 368 cowpea diverse accessions from 51 countries. Four traits, including seed weight, length, width and density were evaluated across three locations. Using 51,128 single nucleotide polymorphisms covering the cowpea genome, 17 loci were identified for these traits. One locus was common to weight, width and length, suggesting pleiotropy. By integrating synteny-based analysis with common bean, six candidate genes (Vigun05g036000, Vigun05g039600, Vigun05g204200, Vigun08g217000, Vigun11g187000, and Vigun11g191300) which are implicated in multiple functional categories related to seed size such as endosperm development, embryo development, and cell elongation were identified. These results suggest that a combination of GWAS meta-analysis with synteny comparison in a related plant is an efficient approach to identify candidate gene (s) for complex traits in cowpea. The identified loci and candidate genes provide useful information for improving cowpea varieties and for molecular investigation of seed size.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00122-019-03407-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6791911PMC
November 2019

The genome sequence of segmental allotetraploid peanut Arachis hypogaea.

Nat Genet 2019 05 1;51(5):877-884. Epub 2019 May 1.

HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology, Huntsville, AL, USA.

Like many other crops, the cultivated peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) is of hybrid origin and has a polyploid genome that contains essentially complete sets of chromosomes from two ancestral species. Here we report the genome sequence of peanut and show that after its polyploid origin, the genome has evolved through mobile-element activity, deletions and by the flow of genetic information between corresponding ancestral chromosomes (that is, homeologous recombination). Uniformity of patterns of homeologous recombination at the ends of chromosomes favors a single origin for cultivated peanut and its wild counterpart A. monticola. However, through much of the genome, homeologous recombination has created diversity. Using new polyploid hybrids made from the ancestral species, we show how this can generate phenotypic changes such as spontaneous changes in the color of the flowers. We suggest that diversity generated by these genetic mechanisms helped to favor the domestication of the polyploid A. hypogaea over other diploid Arachis species cultivated by humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0405-zDOI Listing
May 2019

The genome of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata [L.] Walp.).

Plant J 2019 06;98(5):767-782

Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California, Riverside, CA, 92521, USA.

Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata [L.] Walp.) is a major crop for worldwide food and nutritional security, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, that is resilient to hot and drought-prone environments. An assembly of the single-haplotype inbred genome of cowpea IT97K-499-35 was developed by exploiting the synergies between single-molecule real-time sequencing, optical and genetic mapping, and an assembly reconciliation algorithm. A total of 519 Mb is included in the assembled sequences. Nearly half of the assembled sequence is composed of repetitive elements, which are enriched within recombination-poor pericentromeric regions. A comparative analysis of these elements suggests that genome size differences between Vigna species are mainly attributable to changes in the amount of Gypsy retrotransposons. Conversely, genes are more abundant in more distal, high-recombination regions of the chromosomes; there appears to be more duplication of genes within the NBS-LRR and the SAUR-like auxin superfamilies compared with other warm-season legumes that have been sequenced. A surprising outcome is the identification of an inversion of 4.2 Mb among landraces and cultivars, which includes a gene that has been associated in other plants with interactions with the parasitic weed Striga gesnerioides. The genome sequence facilitated the identification of a putative syntelog for multiple organ gigantism in legumes. A revised numbering system has been adopted for cowpea chromosomes based on synteny with common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). An estimate of nuclear genome size of 640.6 Mbp based on cytometry is presented.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tpj.14349DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6852540PMC
June 2019

Uneven recombination rate and linkage disequilibrium across a reference SNP map for common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.).

PLoS One 2018 9;13(3):e0189597. Epub 2018 Mar 9.

Iowa State University (ISU), Ames, Iowa, United States of America.

Recombination (R) rate and linkage disequilibrium (LD) analyses are the basis for plant breeding. These vary by breeding system, by generation of inbreeding or outcrossing and by region in the chromosome. Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is a favored food legume with a small sequenced genome (514 Mb) and n = 11 chromosomes. The goal of this study was to describe R and LD in the common bean genome using a 768-marker array of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) based on Trans-legume Orthologous Group (TOG) genes along with an advanced-generation Recombinant Inbred Line reference mapping population (BAT93 x Jalo EEP558) and an internationally available diversity panel. A whole genome genetic map was created that covered all eleven linkage groups (LG). The LGs were linked to the physical map by sequence data of the TOGs compared to each chromosome sequence of common bean. The genetic map length in total was smaller than for previous maps reflecting the precision of allele calling and mapping with SNP technology as well as the use of gene-based markers. A total of 91.4% of TOG markers had singleton hits with annotated Pv genes and all mapped outside of regions of resistance gene clusters. LD levels were found to be stronger within the Mesoamerican genepool and decay more rapidly within the Andean genepool. The recombination rate across the genome was 2.13 cM / Mb but R was found to be highly repressed around centromeres and frequent outside peri-centromeric regions. These results have important implications for association and genetic mapping or crop improvement in common bean.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0189597PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5844515PMC
June 2018

Correction to: The transcriptome landscape of early maize meiosis.

BMC Plant Biol 2018 01 15;18(1):12. Epub 2018 Jan 15.

Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, 55108, USA.

Correction: Following publication of the original article [1], the authors reported that the number of genes overlaying the bar graph in Fig. 3A were incorrectly counted and inserted (i.e. including a title tile, and in inverse order). The corrected numbers are below and match with the listed genes supplied in Additional File: Table S2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12870-017-1224-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5767970PMC
January 2018

Anilinopyrimidine Resistance in Is Linked to Mitochondrial Function.

Front Microbiol 2017 30;8:2361. Epub 2017 Nov 30.

Syngenta Crop Protection AG, Stein, Switzerland.

Crop protection anilinopyrimidine (AP) fungicides were introduced more than 20 years ago for the control of a range of diseases caused by ascomycete plant pathogens, and in particular for the control of gray mold caused by . Although early mode of action studies suggested an inhibition of methionine biosynthesis, the molecular target of this class of fungicides was never fully clarified. Despite AP-specific resistance having been described in . field isolates and in multiple other targeted species, the underlying resistance mechanisms were unknown. It was therefore expected that the genetic characterization of resistance mechanisms would permit the identification of the molecular target of these fungicides. In order to explore the widest range of possible resistance mechanisms, AP-resistant . UV laboratory mutants were generated and the mutations conferring resistance were determined by combining whole-genome sequencing and reverse genetics. Genetic mapping from a cross between a resistant field isolate and a sensitive reference isolate was used in parallel and led to the identification of an additional molecular determinant not found from the characterized UV mutant collection. Together, these two approaches enabled the characterization of an unrivaled diversity of resistance mechanisms. In total, we report the elucidation of resistance-conferring mutations within nine individual genes, two of which are responsible for almost all instances of AP resistance in the field. All identified resistance-conferring genes encode proteins that are involved in mitochondrial processes, suggesting that APs primarily target the mitochondria. The functions of these genes and their possible interactions are discussed in the context of the potential mode of action for this important class of fungicides.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2017.02361DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5714876PMC
November 2017

A transcriptome-SNP-derived linkage map of Apios americana (potato bean) provides insights about genome re-organization and synteny conservation in the phaseoloid legumes.

Theor Appl Genet 2018 Feb 25;131(2):333-351. Epub 2017 Oct 25.

Crop Genome Informatics Laboratory, Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research Unit, USDA-ARS, Ames, IA, 50011, USA.

Key Message: We report a linkage map for Apios americana and describe synteny with selected warm-season legumes. A translocation event in common bean and soybean is confirmed against Apios and Vigna species. Apios (Apios americana; "apios"), a tuberous perennial legume in the Phaseoleae tribe, was widely used as a food by Native Americans. Work in the last 40 years has led to several improved breeding lines. Aspects of the pollination biology (complex floral structure and tripping mechanism) have made controlled crosses difficult, and the previous reports indicated that the plant is likely primarily an outcrosser. We used a pseudo-testcross strategy to construct a genetic map specific to the maternal parent. The map was built using single-nucleotide polymorphism markers identified by comparing the expressed sequences of individuals in the mapping population against a de novo maternal reference transcriptome assembly. The apios map consists of 11 linkage groups and 1121 recombinationally distinct loci, covering ~ 938.6 cM. By sequencing the transcriptomes of all potential pollen parents, we were able to identify the probable pollen donors and to discover new aspects of the pollination biology in apios. No selfing was observed, but multiple pollen parents were seen within individual pods. Comparisons with genome sequences in other species in the Phaseoleae showed extended synteny for most apios linkage groups. This synteny supports the robustness of the map, and also sheds light on the history of the Phaseoleae, as apios is relatively early diverging in this tribe. We detected a translocation event that separates apios and two Vigna species from Phaseolus vulgaris and Glycine max. This apios mapping work provides a general protocol for sequencing-based construction of high-density linkage maps in outcrossing species with heterogeneous pollen parents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00122-017-3004-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5787225PMC
February 2018

Exploring structural variation and gene family architecture with De Novo assemblies of 15 Medicago genomes.

BMC Genomics 2017 03 27;18(1):261. Epub 2017 Mar 27.

Department of Plant Pathology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, USA.

Background: Previous studies exploring sequence variation in the model legume, Medicago truncatula, relied on mapping short reads to a single reference. However, read-mapping approaches are inadequate to examine large, diverse gene families or to probe variation in repeat-rich or highly divergent genome regions. De novo sequencing and assembly of M. truncatula genomes enables near-comprehensive discovery of structural variants (SVs), analysis of rapidly evolving gene families, and ultimately, construction of a pan-genome.

Results: Genome-wide synteny based on 15 de novo M. truncatula assemblies effectively detected different types of SVs indicating that as much as 22% of the genome is involved in large structural changes, altogether affecting 28% of gene models. A total of 63 million base pairs (Mbp) of novel sequence was discovered, expanding the reference genome space for Medicago by 16%. Pan-genome analysis revealed that 42% (180 Mbp) of genomic sequences is missing in one or more accession, while examination of de novo annotated genes identified 67% (50,700) of all ortholog groups as dispensable - estimates comparable to recent studies in rice, maize and soybean. Rapidly evolving gene families typically associated with biotic interactions and stress response were found to be enriched in the accession-specific gene pool. The nucleotide-binding site leucine-rich repeat (NBS-LRR) family, in particular, harbors the highest level of nucleotide diversity, large effect single nucleotide change, protein diversity, and presence/absence variation. However, the leucine-rich repeat (LRR) and heat shock gene families are disproportionately affected by large effect single nucleotide changes and even higher levels of copy number variation.

Conclusions: Analysis of multiple M. truncatula genomes illustrates the value of de novo assemblies to discover and describe structural variation, something that is often under-estimated when using read-mapping approaches. Comparisons among the de novo assemblies also indicate that different large gene families differ in the architecture of their structural variation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12864-017-3654-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5369179PMC
March 2017

Small RNA profiles in soybean primary root tips under water deficit.

BMC Syst Biol 2016 Dec 5;10(Suppl 5):126. Epub 2016 Dec 5.

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, 74078, USA.

Background: Soybean (Glycine max) production is significantly hampered by frequent droughts in many regions of the world including the United States. Identifying microRNA (miRNA)-controlled posttranscriptional gene regulation under drought will enhance our understanding of molecular basis of drought tolerance in this important cash crop. Indeed, miRNA profiles in soybean exposed to drought were studied but not from the primary root tips, which is not only a main zone of water uptake but also critical for water stress sensing and signaling.

Methods: Here we report miRNA profiles specifically from well-watered and water-stressed primary root tips (0 to 8 mm from the root apex) of soybean. Small RNA sequencing confirmed the expression of vastly diverse miRNA (303 individual miRNAs) population, and, importantly several conserved miRNAs were abundantly expressed in primary root tips.

Results: Notably, 12 highly conserved miRNA families were differentially regulated in response to water-deficit; six were upregulated while six others were downregulated at least by one fold (log2) change. Differentially regulated soybean miRNAs are targeting genes include auxin response factors, Cu/Zn Superoxide dismutases, laccases and plantacyanin and several others.

Conclusions: These results highlighted the importance of miRNAs in primary root tips both under control and water-deficit conditions; under control conditions, miRNAs could be important for cell division, cell elongation and maintenance of the root apical meristem activity including quiescent centre whereas under water stress differentially regulated miRNAs could decrease auxin signaling and oxidative stress as well as other metabolic processes that save energy and water.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12918-016-0374-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5249032PMC
December 2016

Genomics-assisted characterization of a breeding collection of Apios americana, an edible tuberous legume.

Sci Rep 2016 10 10;6:34908. Epub 2016 Oct 10.

Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA.

For species with potential as new crops, rapid improvement may be facilitated by new genomic methods. Apios (Apios americana Medik.), once a staple food source of Native American Indians, produces protein-rich tubers, tolerates a wide range of soils, and symbiotically fixes nitrogen. We report the first high-quality de novo transcriptome assembly, an expression atlas, and a set of 58,154 SNP and 39,609 gene expression markers (GEMs) for characterization of a breeding collection. Both SNPs and GEMs identify six genotypic clusters in the collection. Transcripts mapped to the Phaseolus vulgaris genome-another phaseoloid legume with the same chromosome number-provide provisional genetic locations for 46,852 SNPs. Linkage disequilibrium decays within 10 kb (based on the provisional genetic locations), consistent with outcrossing reproduction. SNPs and GEMs identify more than 21 marker-trait associations for at least 11 traits. This study demonstrates a holistic approach for mining plant collections to accelerate crop improvement.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep34908DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5056515PMC
October 2016

Combating a Global Threat to a Clonal Crop: Banana Black Sigatoka Pathogen Pseudocercospora fijiensis (Synonym Mycosphaerella fijiensis) Genomes Reveal Clues for Disease Control.

PLoS Genet 2016 08 11;12(8):e1005876. Epub 2016 Aug 11.

Plant Research International, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Black Sigatoka or black leaf streak disease, caused by the Dothideomycete fungus Pseudocercospora fijiensis (previously: Mycosphaerella fijiensis), is the most significant foliar disease of banana worldwide. Due to the lack of effective host resistance, management of this disease requires frequent fungicide applications, which greatly increase the economic and environmental costs to produce banana. Weekly applications in most banana plantations lead to rapid evolution of fungicide-resistant strains within populations causing disease-control failures throughout the world. Given its extremely high economic importance, two strains of P. fijiensis were sequenced and assembled with the aid of a new genetic linkage map. The 74-Mb genome of P. fijiensis is massively expanded by LTR retrotransposons, making it the largest genome within the Dothideomycetes. Melting-curve assays suggest that the genomes of two closely related members of the Sigatoka disease complex, P. eumusae and P. musae, also are expanded. Electrophoretic karyotyping and analyses of molecular markers in P. fijiensis field populations showed chromosome-length polymorphisms and high genetic diversity. Genetic differentiation was also detected using neutral markers, suggesting strong selection with limited gene flow at the studied geographic scale. Frequencies of fungicide resistance in fungicide-treated plantations were much higher than those in untreated wild-type P. fijiensis populations. A homologue of the Cladosporium fulvum Avr4 effector, PfAvr4, was identified in the P. fijiensis genome. Infiltration of the purified PfAVR4 protein into leaves of the resistant banana variety Calcutta 4 resulted in a hypersensitive-like response. This result suggests that Calcutta 4 could carry an unknown resistance gene recognizing PfAVR4. Besides adding to our understanding of the overall Dothideomycete genome structures, the P. fijiensis genome will aid in developing fungicide treatment schedules to combat this pathogen and in improving the efficiency of banana breeding programs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1005876DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4981457PMC
August 2016

Multiple post-domestication origins of kabuli chickpea through allelic variation in a diversification-associated transcription factor.

New Phytol 2016 09 19;211(4):1440-51. Epub 2016 May 19.

Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, One Shields Ave, Davis, CA, 95616, USA.

Chickpea (Cicer arietinum) is among the founder crops domesticated in the Fertile Crescent. One of two major forms of chickpea, the so-called kabuli type, has white flowers and light-colored seed coats, properties not known to exist in the wild progenitor. The origin of the kabuli form has been enigmatic. We genotyped a collection of wild and cultivated chickpea genotypes with 538 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and examined patterns of molecular diversity relative to geographical sources and market types. In addition, we examined sequence and expression variation in candidate anthocyanin biosynthetic pathway genes. A reduction in genetic diversity and extensive genetic admixture distinguish cultivated chickpea from its wild progenitor species. Among germplasm, the kabuli form is polyphyletic. We identified a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor at chickpea's B locus that conditions flower and seed colors, orthologous to Mendel's A gene of garden pea, whose loss of function is associated invariantly with the kabuli type of chickpea. From the polyphyletic distribution of the kabuli form in germplasm, an absence of nested variation within the bHLH gene and invariant association of loss of function of bHLH among the kabuli type, we conclude that the kabuli form arose multiple times during the phase of phenotypic diversification after initial domestication of cultivated chickpea.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nph.14010DOI Listing
September 2016

A gapless genome sequence of the fungus Botrytis cinerea.

Mol Plant Pathol 2017 01 9;18(1):75-89. Epub 2016 Jun 9.

Syngenta Crop Protection Münchwilen AG, Crop Protection Research, CH-4332, Stein, Switzerland.

Following earlier incomplete and fragmented versions of a genome sequence for the grey mould Botrytis cinerea, a gapless, near-finished genome sequence for B. cinerea strain B05.10 is reported. The assembly comprised 18 chromosomes and was confirmed by an optical map and a genetic map based on approximately 75 000 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers. All chromosomes contained fully assembled centromeric regions, and 10 chromosomes had telomeres on both ends. The genetic map consisted of 4153 cM and a comparison of the genetic distances with the physical distances identified 40 recombination hotspots. The linkage map also identified two mutations, located in the previously described genes Bos1 and BcsdhB, that conferred resistance to the fungicides boscalid and iprodione. The genome was predicted to encode 11 701 proteins. RNAseq data from >20 different samples were used to validate and improve gene models. Manual curation of chromosome 1 revealed interesting features, such as the occurrence of a dicistronic transcript and fully overlapping genes in opposite orientations, as well as many spliced antisense transcripts. Manual curation also revealed that the untranslated regions (UTRs) of genes can be complex and long, with many UTRs exceeding lengths of 1 kb and possessing multiple introns. Community annotation is in progress.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mpp.12384DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6638203PMC
January 2017

The genome sequences of Arachis duranensis and Arachis ipaensis, the diploid ancestors of cultivated peanut.

Nat Genet 2016 Apr 22;48(4):438-46. Epub 2016 Feb 22.

Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics, University of Georgia, Tifton, Georgia, USA.

Cultivated peanut (Arachis hypogaea) is an allotetraploid with closely related subgenomes of a total size of ∼2.7 Gb. This makes the assembly of chromosomal pseudomolecules very challenging. As a foundation to understanding the genome of cultivated peanut, we report the genome sequences of its diploid ancestors (Arachis duranensis and Arachis ipaensis). We show that these genomes are similar to cultivated peanut's A and B subgenomes and use them to identify candidate disease resistance genes, to guide tetraploid transcript assemblies and to detect genetic exchange between cultivated peanut's subgenomes. On the basis of remarkably high DNA identity of the A. ipaensis genome and the B subgenome of cultivated peanut and biogeographic evidence, we conclude that A. ipaensis may be a direct descendant of the same population that contributed the B subgenome to cultivated peanut.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.3517DOI Listing
April 2016

Legume information system (LegumeInfo.org): a key component of a set of federated data resources for the legume family.

Nucleic Acids Res 2016 Jan 5;44(D1):D1181-8. Epub 2015 Nov 5.

Dept. of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA USDA-ARS Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research Unit, Crop Genome Informatics Lab, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA

Legume Information System (LIS), at http://legumeinfo.org, is a genomic data portal (GDP) for the legume family. LIS provides access to genetic and genomic information for major crop and model legumes. With more than two-dozen domesticated legume species, there are numerous specialists working on particular species, and also numerous GDPs for these species. LIS has been redesigned in the last three years both to better integrate data sets across the crop and model legumes, and to better accommodate specialized GDPs that serve particular legume species. To integrate data sets, LIS provides genome and map viewers, holds synteny mappings among all sequenced legume species and provides a set of gene families to allow traversal among orthologous and paralogous sequences across the legumes. To better accommodate other specialized GDPs, LIS uses open-source GMOD components where possible, and advocates use of common data templates, formats, schemas and interfaces so that data collected by one legume research community are accessible across all legume GDPs, through similar interfaces and using common APIs. This federated model for the legumes is managed as part of the 'Legume Federation' project (accessible via http://legumefederation.org), which can be thought of as an umbrella project encompassing LIS and other legume GDPs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkv1159DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4702835PMC
January 2016

The plant-specific protein FEHLSTART controls male meiotic entry, initializing meiotic synchronization in Arabidopsis.

Plant J 2015 Nov 22;84(4):659-71. Epub 2015 Oct 22.

Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota, 1970 Folwell Avenue, St Paul, MN, 55108, USA.

Meiosis marks the transition from the sporophyte to the gametophyte generation in the life cycle of flowering plants, and creates genetic variations through homologous recombination. In most flowering plants, meiosis is highly synchronized within each anther, which is significant for efficient fertilization. To date, little is known about the molecular mechanisms of entry into meiosis and exit from it, and only a few genes in Arabidopsis have been characterized with a role in regulating meiotic progression. In this study, we report the functional characterization of a plant-specific basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) protein, FEHLSTART (FST), a defect in which leads to premature meiotic entry and asynchronous meiosis, and results in decreased seed yield. Investigation of the time course of meiosis showed that the onset of leptotene, the first stage of prophase I, frequently occurred earlier in fst-1 than in the wild type. Asynchronous meiosis followed, which could manifest in the disruption of regular spindle structures and symmetric cell divisions in fst-1 mutants during the meiosis I/II transition. In accordance with frequently accelerated meiotic entry, whole-transcriptome analysis of fst-1 anthers undergoing meiosis revealed that 19 circadian rhythm genes were affected and 47 pollen-related genes were prematurely expressed at a higher level. Taken together, we propose that FST is required for normal meiotic entry and the establishment of meiotic synchrony.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tpj.13026DOI Listing
November 2015

Genetic mapping of legume orthologs reveals high conservation of synteny between lentil species and the sequenced genomes of Medicago and chickpea.

Front Plant Sci 2014 5;5:676. Epub 2014 Dec 5.

Department of Plant Sciences, University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) is a global food crop with increasing importance for food security in south Asia and other regions. Lens ervoides, a wild relative of cultivated lentil, is an important source of agronomic trait variation. Lens is a member of the galegoid clade of the Papilionoideae family, which includes other important dietary legumes such as chickpea (Cicer arietinum) and pea (Pisum sativum), and the sequenced model legume Medicago truncatula. Understanding the genetic structure of Lens spp. in relation to more fully sequenced legumes would allow leveraging of genomic resources. A set of 1107 TOG-based amplicons were identified in L. ervoides and a subset thereof used to design SNP markers for mapping. A map of L. ervoides consisting of 377 SNP markers spread across seven linkage groups was developed using a GoldenGate genotyping array and single SNP marker assays. Comparison with maps of M. truncatula and L. culinaris documented considerable shared synteny and led to the identification of a few major translocations and a major inversion that distinguish Lens from M. truncatula, as well as a translocation that distinguishes L. culinaris from L. ervoides. The identification of chromosome-level differences among Lens spp. will aid in the understanding of introgression of genes from L. ervoides into cultivated L. culinaris, furthering genetic research and breeding applications in lentil.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2014.00676DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4256995PMC
December 2014

Comprehensive characterization and RNA-Seq profiling of the HD-Zip transcription factor family in soybean (Glycine max) during dehydration and salt stress.

BMC Genomics 2014 Nov 3;15:950. Epub 2014 Nov 3.

Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA.

Background: The homeodomain leucine zipper (HD-Zip) transcription factor family is one of the largest plant specific superfamilies, and includes genes with roles in modulation of plant growth and response to environmental stresses. Many HD-Zip genes are characterized in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), and members of the family are being investigated for abiotic stress responses in rice (Oryza sativa), maize (Zea mays), poplar (Populus trichocarpa) and cucumber (Cucmis sativus). Findings in these species suggest HD-Zip genes as high priority candidates for crop improvement.

Results: In this study we have identified members of the HD-Zip gene family in soybean cv. 'Williams 82', and characterized their expression under dehydration and salt stress. Homology searches with BLASTP and Hidden Markov Model guided sequence alignments identified 101 HD-Zip genes in the soybean genome. Phylogeny reconstruction coupled with domain and gene structure analyses using soybean, Arabidopsis, rice, grape (Vitis vinifera), and Medicago truncatula homologues enabled placement of these sequences into four previously described subfamilies. Of the 101 HD-Zip genes identified in soybean, 88 exist as whole-genome duplication-derived gene pairs, indicating high retention of these genes following polyploidy in Glycine ~13 Mya. The HD-Zip genes exhibit ubiquitous expression patterns across 24 conditions that include 17 tissues of soybean. An RNA-Seq experiment performed to study differential gene expression at 0, 1, 6 and 12 hr soybean roots under dehydration and salt stress identified 20 differentially expressed (DE) genes. Several of these DE genes are orthologs of genes previously reported to play a role under abiotic stress, implying conservation of HD-Zip gene functions across species. Screening of HD-Zip promoters identified transcription factor binding sites that are overrepresented in the DE genes under both dehydration and salt stress, providing further support for the role of HD-Zip genes in abiotic stress responses.

Conclusions: We provide a thorough description of soybean HD-Zip genes, and identify potential candidates with probable roles in dehydration and salt stress. Expression profiles generated for all soybean genes, under dehydration and salt stress, at four time points, will serve as an important resource for the soybean research community, and will aid in understanding plant responses to abiotic stress.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2164-15-950DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4226900PMC
November 2014

The transcriptome landscape of early maize meiosis.

BMC Plant Biol 2014 May 3;14:118. Epub 2014 May 3.

Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota, St, Paul, MN 55108, USA.

Background: A major step in the higher plant life cycle is the decision to leave the mitotic cell cycle and begin the progression through the meiotic cell cycle that leads to the formation of gametes. The molecular mechanisms that regulate this transition and early meiosis remain largely unknown. To gain insight into gene expression features during the initiation of meiotic recombination, we profiled early prophase I meiocytes from maize (Zea mays) using capillary collection to isolate meiocytes, followed by RNA-seq.

Results: We detected ~2,000 genes as preferentially expressed during early meiotic prophase, most of them uncharacterized. Functional analysis uncovered the importance of several cellular processes in early meiosis. Processes significantly enriched in isolated meiocytes included proteolysis, protein targeting, chromatin modification and the regulation of redox homeostasis. The most significantly up-regulated processes in meiocytes were processes involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Consistent with this, many mitochondrial genes were up-regulated in meiocytes, including nuclear- and mitochondrial-encoded genes. The data were validated with real-time PCR and in situ hybridization and also used to generate a candidate maize homologue list of known meiotic genes from Arabidopsis.

Conclusions: Taken together, we present a high-resolution analysis of the transcriptome landscape in early meiosis of an important crop plant, providing support for choosing genes for detailed characterization of recombination initiation and regulation of early meiosis. Our data also reveal an important connection between meiotic processes and altered/increased energy production.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2229-14-118DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4032173PMC
May 2014

Comprehensive transcriptome assembly of Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) using sanger and next generation sequencing platforms: development and applications.

PLoS One 2014 23;9(1):e86039. Epub 2014 Jan 23.

Research Program on Grain Legumes, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh, India ; CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme (GCP), c/o CIMMYT, Mexico DF, Mexico.

A comprehensive transcriptome assembly of chickpea has been developed using 134.95 million Illumina single-end reads, 7.12 million single-end FLX/454 reads and 139,214 Sanger expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from >17 genotypes. This hybrid transcriptome assembly, referred to as Cicer arietinumTranscriptome Assembly version 2 (CaTA v2, available at http://data.comparative-legumes.org/transcriptomes/cicar/lista_cicar-201201), comprising 46,369 transcript assembly contigs (TACs) has an N50 length of 1,726 bp and a maximum contig size of 15,644 bp. Putative functions were determined for 32,869 (70.8%) of the TACs and gene ontology assignments were determined for 21,471 (46.3%). The new transcriptome assembly was compared with the previously available chickpea transcriptome assemblies as well as to the chickpea genome. Comparative analysis of CaTA v2 against transcriptomes of three legumes - Medicago, soybean and common bean, resulted in 27,771 TACs common to all three legumes indicating strong conservation of genes across legumes. CaTA v2 was also used for identification of simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and intron spanning regions (ISRs) for developing molecular markers. ISRs were identified by aligning TACs to the Medicago genome, and their putative mapping positions at chromosomal level were identified using transcript map of chickpea. Primer pairs were designed for 4,990 ISRs, each representing a single contig for which predicted positions are inferred and distributed across eight linkage groups. A subset of randomly selected ISRs representing all eight chickpea linkage groups were validated on five chickpea genotypes and showed 20% polymorphism with average polymorphic information content (PIC) of 0.27. In summary, the hybrid transcriptome assembly developed and novel markers identified can be used for a variety of applications such as gene discovery, marker-trait association, diversity analysis etc., to advance genetics research and breeding applications in chickpea and other related legumes.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0086039PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3900451PMC
November 2014

Development of an alfalfa SNP array and its use to evaluate patterns of population structure and linkage disequilibrium.

PLoS One 2014 9;9(1):e84329. Epub 2014 Jan 9.

Forage Improvement Division, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, Oklahoma, United States of America.

A large set of genome-wide markers and a high-throughput genotyping platform can facilitate the genetic dissection of complex traits and accelerate molecular breeding applications. Previously, we identified about 0.9 million SNP markers by sequencing transcriptomes of 27 diverse alfalfa genotypes. From this SNP set, we developed an Illumina Infinium array containing 9,277 SNPs. Using this array, we genotyped 280 diverse alfalfa genotypes and several genotypes from related species. About 81% (7,476) of the SNPs met the criteria for quality control and showed polymorphisms. The alfalfa SNP array also showed a high level of transferability for several closely related Medicago species. Principal component analysis and model-based clustering showed clear population structure corresponding to subspecies and ploidy levels. Within cultivated tetraploid alfalfa, genotypes from dormant and nondormant cultivars were largely assigned to different clusters; genotypes from semidormant cultivars were split between the groups. The extent of linkage disequilibrium (LD) across all genotypes rapidly decayed to 26 Kbp at r(2) = 0.2, but the rate varied across ploidy levels and subspecies. A high level of consistency in LD was found between and within the two subpopulations of cultivated dormant and nondormant alfalfa suggesting that genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and genomic selection (GS) could be conducted using alfalfa genotypes from throughout the fall dormancy spectrum. However, the relatively low LD levels would require a large number of markers to fully saturate the genome.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0084329PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3887001PMC
September 2014

Candidate genes and genetic architecture of symbiotic and agronomic traits revealed by whole-genome, sequence-based association genetics in Medicago truncatula.

PLoS One 2013 31;8(5):e65688. Epub 2013 May 31.

Department of Plant Biology, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States of America.

Genome-wide association study (GWAS) has revolutionized the search for the genetic basis of complex traits. To date, GWAS have generally relied on relatively sparse sampling of nucleotide diversity, which is likely to bias results by preferentially sampling high-frequency SNPs not in complete linkage disequilibrium (LD) with causative SNPs. To avoid these limitations we conducted GWAS with >6 million SNPs identified by sequencing the genomes of 226 accessions of the model legume Medicago truncatula. We used these data to identify candidate genes and the genetic architecture underlying phenotypic variation in plant height, trichome density, flowering time, and nodulation. The characteristics of candidate SNPs differed among traits, with candidates for flowering time and trichome density in distinct clusters of high linkage disequilibrium (LD) and the minor allele frequencies (MAF) of candidates underlying variation in flowering time and height significantly greater than MAF of candidates underlying variation in other traits. Candidate SNPs tagged several characterized genes including nodulation related genes SERK2, MtnodGRP3, MtMMPL1, NFP, CaML3, MtnodGRP3A and flowering time gene MtFD as well as uncharacterized genes that become candidates for further molecular characterization. By comparing sequence-based candidates to candidates identified by in silico 250K SNP arrays, we provide an empirical example of how reliance on even high-density reduced representation genomic makers can bias GWAS results. Depending on the trait, only 30-70% of the top 20 in silico array candidates were within 1 kb of sequence-based candidates. Moreover, the sequence-based candidates tagged by array candidates were heavily biased towards common variants; these comparisons underscore the need for caution when interpreting results from GWAS conducted with sparsely covered genomes.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0065688PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3669257PMC
January 2014

Comparative genomics of the core and accessory genomes of 48 Sinorhizobium strains comprising five genospecies.

Genome Biol 2013 Feb 20;14(2):R17. Epub 2013 Feb 20.

Background: The sinorhizobia are amongst the most well studied members of nitrogen-fixing root nodule bacteria and contribute substantial amounts of fixed nitrogen to the biosphere. While the alfalfa symbiont Sinorhizobium meliloti RM 1021 was one of the first rhizobial strains to be completely sequenced, little information is available about the genomes of this large and diverse species group.

Results: Here we report the draft assembly and annotation of 48 strains of Sinorhizobium comprising five genospecies. While S. meliloti and S. medicae are taxonomically related, they displayed different nodulation patterns on diverse Medicago host plants, and have differences in gene content, including those involved in conjugation and organic sulfur utilization. Genes involved in Nod factor and polysaccharide biosynthesis, denitrification and type III, IV, and VI secretion systems also vary within and between species. Symbiotic phenotyping and mutational analyses indicated that some type IV secretion genes are symbiosis-related and involved in nitrogen fixation efficiency. Moreover, there is a correlation between the presence of type IV secretion systems, heme biosynthesis and microaerobic denitrification genes, and symbiotic efficiency.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that each Sinorhizobium strain uses a slightly different strategy to obtain maximum compatibility with a host plant. This large genome data set provides useful information to better understand the functional features of five Sinorhizobium species, especially compatibility in legume-Sinorhizobium interactions. The diversity of genes present in the accessory genomes of members of this genus indicates that each bacterium has adopted slightly different strategies to interact with diverse plant genera and soil environments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/gb-2013-14-2-r17DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4053727PMC
February 2013

Draft genome sequence of chickpea (Cicer arietinum) provides a resource for trait improvement.

Nat Biotechnol 2013 Mar 27;31(3):240-6. Epub 2013 Jan 27.

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India.

Chickpea (Cicer arietinum) is the second most widely grown legume crop after soybean, accounting for a substantial proportion of human dietary nitrogen intake and playing a crucial role in food security in developing countries. We report the ∼738-Mb draft whole genome shotgun sequence of CDC Frontier, a kabuli chickpea variety, which contains an estimated 28,269 genes. Resequencing and analysis of 90 cultivated and wild genotypes from ten countries identifies targets of both breeding-associated genetic sweeps and breeding-associated balancing selection. Candidate genes for disease resistance and agronomic traits are highlighted, including traits that distinguish the two main market classes of cultivated chickpea--desi and kabuli. These data comprise a resource for chickpea improvement through molecular breeding and provide insights into both genome diversity and domestication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nbt.2491DOI Listing
March 2013

Prevalence of single nucleotide polymorphism among 27 diverse alfalfa genotypes as assessed by transcriptome sequencing.

BMC Genomics 2012 Oct 29;13:568. Epub 2012 Oct 29.

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, OK 73401, USA.

Background: Alfalfa, a perennial, outcrossing species, is a widely planted forage legume producing highly nutritious biomass. Currently, improvement of cultivated alfalfa mainly relies on recurrent phenotypic selection. Marker assisted breeding strategies can enhance alfalfa improvement efforts, particularly if many genome-wide markers are available. Transcriptome sequencing enables efficient high-throughput discovery of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers for a complex polyploid species.

Result: The transcriptomes of 27 alfalfa genotypes, including elite breeding genotypes, parents of mapping populations, and unimproved wild genotypes, were sequenced using an Illumina Genome Analyzer IIx. De novo assembly of quality-filtered 72-bp reads generated 25,183 contigs with a total length of 26.8 Mbp and an average length of 1,065 bp, with an average read depth of 55.9-fold for each genotype. Overall, 21,954 (87.2%) of the 25,183 contigs represented 14,878 unique protein accessions. Gene ontology (GO) analysis suggested that a broad diversity of genes was represented in the resulting sequences. The realignment of individual reads to the contigs enabled the detection of 872,384 SNPs and 31,760 InDels. High resolution melting (HRM) analysis was used to validate 91% of 192 putative SNPs identified by sequencing. Both allelic variants at about 95% of SNP sites identified among five wild, unimproved genotypes are still present in cultivated alfalfa, and all four US breeding programs also contain a high proportion of these SNPs. Thus, little evidence exists among this dataset for loss of significant DNA sequence diversity from either domestication or breeding of alfalfa. Structure analysis indicated that individuals from the subspecies falcata, the diploid subspecies caerulea, and the tetraploid subspecies sativa (cultivated tetraploid alfalfa) were clearly separated.

Conclusion: We used transcriptome sequencing to discover large numbers of SNPs segregating in elite breeding populations of alfalfa. Little loss of SNP diversity was evident between unimproved and elite alfalfa germplasm. The EST and SNP markers generated from this study are publicly available at the Legume Information System ( http://medsa.comparative-legumes.org/) and can contribute to future alfalfa research and breeding applications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2164-13-568DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3533575PMC
October 2012

A high-density genetic map of Arachis duranensis, a diploid ancestor of cultivated peanut.

BMC Genomics 2012 Sep 11;13:469. Epub 2012 Sep 11.

Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics, University of Georgia,111 Riverbend Rd, Athens, GA 30605, USA.

Background: Cultivated peanut (Arachis hypogaea) is an allotetraploid species whose ancestral genomes are most likely derived from the A-genome species, A. duranensis, and the B-genome species, A. ipaensis. The very recent (several millennia) evolutionary origin of A. hypogaea has imposed a bottleneck for allelic and phenotypic diversity within the cultigen. However, wild diploid relatives are a rich source of alleles that could be used for crop improvement and their simpler genomes can be more easily analyzed while providing insight into the structure of the allotetraploid peanut genome. The objective of this research was to establish a high-density genetic map of the diploid species A. duranensis based on de novo generated EST databases. Arachis duranensis was chosen for mapping because it is the A-genome progenitor of cultivated peanut and also in order to circumvent the confounding effects of gene duplication associated with allopolyploidy in A. hypogaea.

Results: More than one million expressed sequence tag (EST) sequences generated from normalized cDNA libraries of A. duranensis were assembled into 81,116 unique transcripts. Mining this dataset, 1236 EST-SNP markers were developed between two A. duranensis accessions, PI 475887 and Grif 15036. An additional 300 SNP markers also were developed from genomic sequences representing conserved legume orthologs. Of the 1536 SNP markers, 1054 were placed on a genetic map. In addition, 598 EST-SSR markers identified in A. hypogaea assemblies were included in the map along with 37 disease resistance gene candidate (RGC) and 35 other previously published markers. In total, 1724 markers spanning 1081.3 cM over 10 linkage groups were mapped. Gene sequences that provided mapped markers were annotated using similarity searches in three different databases, and gene ontology descriptions were determined using the Medicago Gene Atlas and TAIR databases. Synteny analysis between A. duranensis, Medicago and Glycine revealed significant stretches of conserved gene clusters spread across the peanut genome. A higher level of colinearity was detected between A. duranensis and Glycine than with Medicago.

Conclusions: The first high-density, gene-based linkage map for A. duranensis was generated that can serve as a reference map for both wild and cultivated Arachis species. The markers developed here are valuable resources for the peanut, and more broadly, to the legume research community. The A-genome map will have utility for fine mapping in other peanut species and has already had application for mapping a nematode resistance gene that was introgressed into A. hypogaea from A. cardenasii.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2164-13-469DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3542255PMC
September 2012

Population genomics of the facultatively mutualistic bacteria Sinorhizobium meliloti and S. medicae.

PLoS Genet 2012 2;8(8):e1002868. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

Department of Plant Biology, University of Minnesota, St Paul, Minnesota, United States of America.

The symbiosis between rhizobial bacteria and legume plants has served as a model for investigating the genetics of nitrogen fixation and the evolution of facultative mutualism. We used deep sequence coverage (>100×) to characterize genomic diversity at the nucleotide level among 12 Sinorhizobium medicae and 32 S. meliloti strains. Although these species are closely related and share host plants, based on the ratio of shared polymorphisms to fixed differences we found that horizontal gene transfer (HGT) between these species was confined almost exclusively to plasmid genes. Three multi-genic regions that show the strongest evidence of HGT harbor genes directly involved in establishing or maintaining the mutualism with host plants. In both species, nucleotide diversity is 1.5-2.5 times greater on the plasmids than chromosomes. Interestingly, nucleotide diversity in S. meliloti but not S. medicae is highly structured along the chromosome - with mean diversity (θ(π)) on one half of the chromosome five times greater than mean diversity on the other half. Based on the ratio of plasmid to chromosome diversity, this appears to be due to severely reduced diversity on the chromosome half with less diversity, which is consistent with extensive hitchhiking along with a selective sweep. Frequency-spectrum based tests identified 82 genes with a signature of adaptive evolution in one species or another but none of the genes were identified in both species. Based upon available functional information, several genes identified as targets of selection are likely to alter the symbiosis with the host plant, making them attractive targets for further functional characterization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1002868DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3410850PMC
December 2012

Characterization of a set of novel meiotically-active promoters in Arabidopsis.

BMC Plant Biol 2012 Jul 9;12:104. Epub 2012 Jul 9.

Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota, St, Paul, MN 55108, USA.

Background: Homologous recombination, together with selection, laid the foundation for traditional plant breeding. The recombination process that takes place during meiotic cell division is crucial for the creation of novel variations of highly desired traits by breeders. Gaining control over this process is important for molecular breeding to achieve more precise, large-scale and quicker plant improvement. As conventional ubiquitous promoters are neither tissue-specific nor efficient in driving gene expression in meiocytes, promoters with high meiotic activities are potential candidates for manipulating the recombination process. So far, only a few meiotically-active promoters have been reported. Recently developed techniques to profile the transcriptome landscape of isolated meiocytes provided the means to discover promoters from genes that are actively expressed in meiosis.

Results: In a screen for meiotically-active promoters, we examined ten promoter sequences that are associated with novel meiotic candidate genes. Each promoter was tested by expressing a GFP reporter gene in Arabidopsis. Characterization of regulatory regions revealed that these meiotically-active promoters possessed conserved motifs and motif arrangement. Some of the promoters unite optimal properties which are invaluable for meiosis-directed studies such as delivering specific gene expression in early meiosis I and/or meiosis II. Furthermore, the examination of homologs of the corresponding genes within green plants points to a great potential of applying the information from Arabidopsis to other species, especially crop plants.

Conclusions: We identified ten novel meiotically-active promoters; which, along with their homologs, are prime candidates to specifically drive gene expression during meiosis in plants and can thus provide important tools for meiosis study and crop breeding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2229-12-104DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3462685PMC
July 2012