July 19, 2019  |  

The genome sequence of African rice (Oryza glaberrima) and evidence for independent domestication.

The cultivation of rice in Africa dates back more than 3,000 years. Interestingly, African rice is not of the same origin as Asian rice (Oryza sativa L.) but rather is an entirely different species (i.e., Oryza glaberrima Steud.). Here we present a high-quality assembly and annotation of the O. glaberrima genome and detailed analyses of its evolutionary history of domestication and selection. Population genomics analyses of 20 O. glaberrima and 94 Oryza barthii accessions support the hypothesis that O. glaberrima was domesticated in a single region along the Niger river as opposed to noncentric domestication events across Africa. We detected evidence for artificial selection at a genome-wide scale, as well as with a set of O. glaberrima genes orthologous to O. sativa genes that are known to be associated with domestication, thus indicating convergent yet independent selection of a common set of genes during two geographically and culturally distinct domestication processes.

July 7, 2019  |  

Association mapping, patterns of linkage disequilibrium and selection in the vicinity of the PHYTOCHROME C gene in pearl millet.

Linkage analysis confirmed the association in the region of PHYC in pearl millet. The comparison of genes found in this region suggests that PHYC is the best candidate. Major efforts are currently underway to dissect the phenotype-genotype relationship in plants and animals using existing populations. This method exploits historical recombinations accumulated in these populations. However, linkage disequilibrium sometimes extends over a relatively long distance, particularly in genomic regions containing polymorphisms that have been targets for selection. In this case, many genes in the region could be statistically associated with the trait shaped by the selected polymorphism. Statistical analyses could help in identifying the best candidate genes into such a region where an association is found. In a previous study, we proposed that a fragment of the PHYTOCHROME C gene (PHYC) is associated with flowering time and morphological variations in pearl millet. In the present study, we first performed linkage analyses using three pearl millet F2 families to confirm the presence of a QTL in the vicinity of PHYC. We then analyzed a wider genomic region of ~100 kb around PHYC to pinpoint the gene that best explains the association with the trait in this region. A panel of 90 pearl millet inbred lines was used to assess the association. We used a Markov chain Monte Carlo approach to compare 75 markers distributed along this 100-kb region. We found the best candidate markers on the PHYC gene. Signatures of selection in this region were assessed in an independent data set and pointed to the same gene. These results foster confidence in the likely role of PHYC in phenotypic variation and encourage the development of functional studies.

July 7, 2019  |  

A Y-chromosome-encoded small RNA acts as a sex determinant in persimmons.

In plants, multiple lineages have evolved sex chromosomes independently, providing a powerful comparative framework, but few specific determinants controlling the expression of a specific sex have been identified. We investigated sex determinants in the Caucasian persimmon, Diospyros lotus, a dioecious plant with heterogametic males (XY). Male-specific short nucleotide sequences were used to define a male-determining region. A combination of transcriptomics and evolutionary approaches detected a Y-specific sex-determinant candidate, OGI, that displays male-specific conservation among Diospyros species. OGI encodes a small RNA targeting the autosomal MeGI gene, a homeodomain transcription factor regulating anther fertility in a dosage-dependent fashion. This identification of a feminizing gene suppressed by a Y-chromosome-encoded small RNA contributes to our understanding of the evolution of sex chromosome systems in higher plants. Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

July 7, 2019  |  

Suppressed recombination and unique candidate genes in the divergent haplotype encoding Fhb1, a major Fusarium head blight resistance locus in wheat.

Fine mapping and sequencing revealed 28 genes in the non-recombining haplotype containing Fhb1 . Of these, only a GDSL lipase gene shows a pathogen-dependent expression pattern. Fhb1 is a prominent Fusarium head blight resistance locus of wheat, which has been successfully introgressed in adapted breeding material, where it confers a significant increase in overall resistance to the causal pathogen Fusarium graminearum and the fungal virulence factor and mycotoxin deoxynivalenol. The Fhb1 region has been resolved for the susceptible wheat reference genotype Chinese Spring, yet the causal gene itself has not been identified in resistant cultivars. Here, we report the establishment of a 1 Mb contig embracing Fhb1 in the donor line CM-82036. Sequencing revealed that the region of Fhb1 deviates from the Chinese Spring reference in DNA size and gene content, which explains the repressed recombination at the locus in the performed fine mapping. Differences in genes expression between near-isogenic lines segregating for Fhb1 challenged with F. graminearum or treated with mock were investigated in a time-course experiment by RNA sequencing. Several candidate genes were identified, including a pathogen-responsive GDSL lipase absent in susceptible lines. The sequence of the Fhb1 region, the resulting list of candidate genes, and near-diagnostic KASP markers for Fhb1 constitute a valuable resource for breeding and further studies aiming to identify the gene(s) responsible for F. graminearum and deoxynivalenol resistance.

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