July 19, 2019  |  

Accelerated cloning of a potato late blight-resistance gene using RenSeq and SMRT sequencing.

Global yields of potato and tomato crops have fallen owing to potato late blight disease, which is caused by Phytophthora infestans. Although most commercial potato varieties are susceptible to blight, many wild potato relatives show variation for resistance and are therefore a potential source of Resistance to P. infestans (Rpi) genes. Resistance breeding has exploited Rpi genes from closely related tuber-bearing potato relatives, but is laborious and slow. Here we report that the wild, diploid non-tuber-bearing Solanum americanum harbors multiple Rpi genes. We combine resistance (R) gene sequence capture (RenSeq) with single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing (SMRT RenSeq) to clone Rpi-amr3i. This technology should enable de novo assembly of complete nucleotide-binding, leucine-rich repeat receptor (NLR) genes, their regulatory elements and complex multi-NLR loci from uncharacterized germplasm. SMRT RenSeq can be applied to rapidly clone multiple R genes for engineering pathogen-resistant crops.


July 19, 2019  |  

Sequencing of Australian wild rice genomes reveals ancestral relationships with domesticated rice.

The related A genome species of the Oryza genus are the effective gene pool for rice. Here, we report draft genomes for two Australian wild A genome taxa: O. rufipogon-like population, referred to as Taxon A, and O. meridionalis-like population, referred to as Taxon B. These two taxa were sequenced and assembled by integration of short- and long-read next-generation sequencing (NGS) data to create a genomic platform for a wider rice gene pool. Here, we report that, despite the distinct chloroplast genome, the nuclear genome of the Australian Taxon A has a sequence that is much closer to that of domesticated rice (O. sativa) than to the other Australian wild populations. Analysis of 4643 genes in the A genome clade showed that the Australian annual, O. meridionalis, and related perennial taxa have the most divergent (around 3 million years) genome sequences relative to domesticated rice. A test for admixture showed possible introgression into the Australian Taxon A (diverged around 1.6 million years ago) especially from the wild indica/O. nivara clade in Asia. These results demonstrate that northern Australia may be the centre of diversity of the A genome Oryza and suggest the possibility that this might also be the centre of origin of this group and represent an important resource for rice improvement.© 2016 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


July 19, 2019  |  

The sunflower genome provides insights into oil metabolism, flowering and Asterid evolution.

The domesticated sunflower, Helianthus annuus L., is a global oil crop that has promise for climate change adaptation, because it can maintain stable yields across a wide variety of environmental conditions, including drought. Even greater resilience is achievable through the mining of resistance alleles from compatible wild sunflower relatives, including numerous extremophile species. Here we report a high-quality reference for the sunflower genome (3.6 gigabases), together with extensive transcriptomic data from vegetative and floral organs. The genome mostly consists of highly similar, related sequences and required single-molecule real-time sequencing technologies for successful assembly. Genome analyses enabled the reconstruction of the evolutionary history of the Asterids, further establishing the existence of a whole-genome triplication at the base of the Asterids II clade and a sunflower-specific whole-genome duplication around 29 million years ago. An integrative approach combining quantitative genetics, expression and diversity data permitted development of comprehensive gene networks for two major breeding traits, flowering time and oil metabolism, and revealed new candidate genes in these networks. We found that the genomic architecture of flowering time has been shaped by the most recent whole-genome duplication, which suggests that ancient paralogues can remain in the same regulatory networks for dozens of millions of years. This genome represents a cornerstone for future research programs aiming to exploit genetic diversity to improve biotic and abiotic stress resistance and oil production, while also considering agricultural constraints and human nutritional needs.


July 19, 2019  |  

TAL effector driven induction of a SWEET gene confers susceptibility to bacterial blight of cotton.

Transcription activator-like (TAL) effectors from Xanthomonas citri subsp. malvacearum (Xcm) are essential for bacterial blight of cotton (BBC). Here, by combining transcriptome profiling with TAL effector-binding element (EBE) prediction, we show that GhSWEET10, encoding a functional sucrose transporter, is induced by Avrb6, a TAL effector determining Xcm pathogenicity. Activation of GhSWEET10 by designer TAL effectors (dTALEs) restores virulence of Xcm avrb6 deletion strains, whereas silencing of GhSWEET10 compromises cotton susceptibility to infections. A BBC-resistant line carrying an unknown recessive b6 gene bears the same EBE as the susceptible line, but Avrb6-mediated induction of GhSWEET10 is reduced, suggesting a unique mechanism underlying b6-mediated resistance. We show via an extensive survey of GhSWEET transcriptional responsiveness to different Xcm field isolates that additional GhSWEETs may also be involved in BBC. These findings advance our understanding of the disease and resistance in cotton and may facilitate the development cotton with improved resistance to BBC.


July 19, 2019  |  

Accelerated ex situ breeding of GBSS- and PTST1-edited cassava for modified starch.

Crop diversification required to meet demands for food security and industrial use is often challenged by breeding time and amenability of varieties to genome modification. Cassava is one such crop. Grown for its large starch-rich storage roots, it serves as a staple food and a commodity in the multibillion-dollar starch industry. Starch is composed of the glucose polymers amylopectin and amylose, with the latter strongly influencing the physicochemical properties of starch during cooking and processing. We demonstrate that CRISPR-Cas9 (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated protein 9)-mediated targeted mutagenesis of two genes involved in amylose biosynthesis, PROTEIN TARGETING TO STARCH (PTST1) or GRANULE BOUND STARCH SYNTHASE (GBSS), can reduce or eliminate amylose content in root starch. Integration of the Arabidopsis FLOWERING LOCUS T gene in the genome-editing cassette allowed us to accelerate flowering-an event seldom seen under glasshouse conditions. Germinated seeds yielded S1, a transgene-free progeny that inherited edited genes. This attractive new plant breeding technique for modified cassava could be extended to other crops to provide a suite of novel varieties with useful traits for food and industrial applications.


July 7, 2019  |  

Single molecule sequencing of THCA synthase reveals copy number variation in modern drug-type Cannabis sativa L.

Cannabinoid expression is an important genetically determined feature of cannabis that presents clinical and legal implications for patients seeking cannabinoid specific therapies like Cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabinoid, terpenoid, and flavonoid marker assisted selection can accelerate breeding efforts by offering genetic tools to select for desired traits at an early stage in growth. To this end, multiple models for chemotype inheritance have been described suggesting a complex picture for chemical phenotype determination. Here we explore the potential role of copy number variation of THCA Synthase using phased single molecule sequencing and demonstrate that copy number and sequence variation of this gene is common and suggests a more nuanced view of chemotype prediction.


July 7, 2019  |  

Draft genome sequence of Mentha longifolia (L.) and development of resources for mint cultivar improvement.

The genus Mentha encompasses mint species cultivated for their essential oils, which are formulated into a vast array of consumer products. Desirable oil characteristics and resistance to the fungal disease Verticillium wilt are top priorities for the mint industry. However, cultivated mints have complex polyploid genomes and are sterile. Breeding efforts, therefore, require the development of genomic resources for fertile mint species. Here, we present draft de novo genome and plastome assemblies for a wilt-resistant South African accession of Mentha longifolia (L.) Huds., a diploid species ancestral to cultivated peppermint and spearmint. The 353 Mb genome contains 35 597 predicted protein-coding genes, including 292 disease resistance gene homologs, and nine genes determining essential oil characteristics. A genetic linkage map ordered 1397 genome scaffolds on 12 pseudochromosomes. More than two million simple sequence repeats were identified, which will facilitate molecular marker development. The M. longifolia genome is a valuable resource for both metabolic engineering and molecular breeding. This is exemplified by employing the genome sequence to clone and functionally characterize the promoters in a peppermint cultivar, and demonstrating the utility of a glandular trichome-specific promoter to increase expression of a biosynthetic gene, thereby modulating essential oil composition. Copyright © 2017 The Author. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

ALUMINUM RESISTANCE TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR 1 (ART1) contributes to natural variation in aluminum resistance in diverse genetic backgrounds of rice (O. sativa)

Abstract Transcription factors (TFs) regulate the expression of other genes to indirectly mediate stress resistance mechanisms. Therefore, when studying TF-mediated stress resistance, it is important to understand how TFs interact with genes in the genetic background. Here, we fine-mapped the aluminum (Al) resistance QTL Alt12.1 to a 44-kb region containing six genes. Among them is ART1, which encodes a C2H2-type zinc finger TF required for Al resistance in rice. The mapping parents, Al-resistant cv Azucena (tropical japonica) and Al-sensitive cv IR64 (indica), have extensive sequence polymorphism within the ART1 coding region, but similar ART1 expression levels. Using reciprocal near-isogenic lines (NILs) we examined how allele-swapping the Alt12.1 locus would affect plant responses to Al. Analysis of global transcriptional responses to Al stress in roots of the NILs alongside their recurrent parents demonstrated that the presence of the Alt12.1 from Al-resistant Azucena led to greater changes in gene expression in response to Al when compared to the Alt12.1 from IR64 in both genetic backgrounds. The presence of the ART1 allele from the opposite parent affected the expression of several genes not previously implicated in rice Al tolerance. We highlight examples where putatively functional variation in cis-regulatory regions of ART1-regulated genes interacts with ART1 to determine gene expression in response to Al. This ART1–promoter interaction may be associated with transgressive variation for Al resistance in the Azucena × IR64 population. These results illustrate how ART1 interacts with the genetic background to contribute to quantitative phenotypic variation in rice Al resistance.


July 7, 2019  |  

Genetic control of plasticity of oil yield for combined abiotic stresses using a joint approach of crop modelling and genome-wide association.

Understanding the genetic basis of phenotypic plasticity is crucial for predicting and managing climate change effects on wild plants and crops. Here, we combined crop modelling and quantitative genetics to study the genetic control of oil yield plasticity for multiple abiotic stresses in sunflower. First, we developed stress indicators to characterize 14 environments for three abiotic stresses (cold, drought and nitrogen) using the SUNFLO crop model and phenotypic variations of three commercial varieties. The computed plant stress indicators better explain yield variation than descriptors at the climatic or crop levels. In those environments, we observed oil yield of 317 sunflower hybrids and regressed it with three selected stress indicators. The slopes of cold stress norm reaction were used as plasticity phenotypes in the following genome-wide association study. Among the 65 534 tested Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), we identified nine quantitative trait loci controlling oil yield plasticity to cold stress. Associated single nucleotide polymorphisms are localized in genes previously shown to be involved in cold stress responses: oligopeptide transporters, lipid transfer protein, cystatin, alternative oxidase or root development. This novel approach opens new perspectives to identify genomic regions involved in genotype-by-environment interaction of a complex traits to multiple stresses in realistic natural or agronomical conditions.© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


July 7, 2019  |  

Generation of a collection of mutant tomato lines using pooled CRISPR libraries.

The high efficiency of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-mediated mutagenesis in plants enables the development of high-throughput mutagenesis strategies. By transforming pooled CRISPR libraries into tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), collections of mutant lines were generated with minimal transformation attempts and in a relatively short period of time. Identification of the targeted gene(s) was easily determined by sequencing the incorporated guide RNA(s) in the primary transgenic events. From a single transformation with a CRISPR library targeting the immunity-associated leucine-rich repeat subfamily XII genes, heritable mutations were recovered in 15 of the 54 genes targeted. To increase throughput, a second CRISPR library was made containing three guide RNAs per construct to target 18 putative transporter genes. This resulted in stable mutations in 15 of the 18 targeted genes, with some primary transgenic plants having as many as five mutated genes. Furthermore, the redundancy in this collection of plants allowed for the association of aberrant T0 phenotypes with the underlying targeted genes. Plants with mutations in a homolog of an Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) boron efflux transporter displayed boron deficiency phenotypes. The strategy described here provides a technically simple yet high-throughput approach for generating a collection of lines with targeted mutations and should be applicable to any plant transformation system.© 2017 American Society of Plant Biologists. All Rights Reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Effects of genome structure variation, homeologous genes and repetitive DNA on polyploid crop research in the age of genomics.

Compared to diploid species, allopolyploid crop species possess more complex genomes, higher productivity, and greater adaptability to changing environments. Next generation sequencing techniques have produced high-density genetic maps, whole genome sequences, transcriptomes and epigenomes for important polyploid crops. However, several problems interfere with the full application of next generation sequencing techniques to these crops. Firstly, different types of genomic variation affect sequence assembly and QTL mapping. Secondly, duplicated or homoeologous genes can diverge in function and then lead to emergence of many minor QTL, which increases difficulties in fine mapping, cloning and marker assisted selection. Thirdly, repetitive DNA sequences arising in polyploid crop genomes also impact sequence assembly, and are increasingly being shown to produce small RNAs to regulate gene expression and hence phenotypic traits. We propose that these three key features should be considered together when analyzing polyploid crop genomes. It is apparent that dissection of genomic structural variation, elucidation of the function and mechanism of interaction of homoeologous genes, and investigation of the de novo roles of repeat sequences in agronomic traits are necessary for genomics-based crop breeding in polyploids. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Gene duplication confers enhanced expression of 27-kDa ?-zein for endosperm modification in quality protein maize.

The maizeopaque2(o2) mutant has a high nutritional value but it develops a chalky endosperm that limits its practical use. Genetic selection foro2modifiers can convert the normally chalky endosperm of the mutant into a hard, vitreous phenotype, yielding what is known as quality protein maize (QPM). Previous studies have shown that enhanced expression of 27-kDa ?-zein in QPM is essential for endosperm modification. Taking advantage of genome-wide association study analysis of a natural population, linkage mapping analysis of a recombinant inbred line population, and map-based cloning, we identified a quantitative trait locus (q?27) affecting expression of 27-kDa ?-zein.q?27was mapped to the same region as the majoro2 modifier(o2 modifier1) on chromosome 7 near the 27-kDa ?-zein locus.q?27resulted from a 15.26-kb duplication at the 27-kDa ?-zein locus, which increases the level of gene expression. This duplication occurred before maize domestication; however, the gene structure ofq?27appears to be unstable and the DNA rearrangement frequently occurs at this locus. Because enhanced expression of 27-kDa ?-zein is critical for endosperm modification in QPM,q?27is expected to be under artificial selection. This discovery provides a useful molecular marker that can be used to accelerate QPM breeding.


July 7, 2019  |  

The kiwifruit genome

The whole-genome sequence of Actinidia chinensis var. chinensis ‘Hongyang’ was published in 2013 and was represented as the first publicly available Ericales genome sequence. Publication in 2015 of an improved linkage map for A. chinensis and interspecific comparison analyses coupled with the availability of a second whole-genome sequence of a genotype closely related to ‘Hongyang’ have enabled the kiwifruit research community to improve the existing whole-genome sequence. This chapter describes the original genome sequence and steps towards its improvement.


July 7, 2019  |  

Resistance from relatives.

Crops are made resistant to pathogens such as wheat stem rust, Asian soybean rust and potato late blight by methods to access the pool of resistance genes present in related plants.


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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