September 22, 2019  |  

Increasing sorghum yields by seed treatment with an aqueous extract of the plant Eclipta alba may involve a dual mechanism of hydropriming and suppression of fungal pathogens

Background Soaking of sorghum seeds for six hours in an aqueous extract of Eclipta alba has been shown to increase the yield of sorghum in field experiments. The effect on yield is known to depend on field location and a mechanism involving pathogen suppression has been proposed. However, it has not been clear to which extent the same effect can be obtained by soaking of seeds in pure water (hydropriming). To address this question, fifty eight field tests were conducted comparing no treatment of seeds, hydropriming and treatment with plant extract. Experiments were distributed over three years in Burkina Faso on three locations previously showing a positive yield response to the plant extract. Results Despite strong variation across locations and years, a mean yield increase of 19.6% was found for hydropriming compared to no treatment (p?


September 22, 2019  |  

A comprehensive analysis of alternative splicing in paleopolyploid maize.

Identifying and characterizing alternative splicing (AS) enables our understanding of the biological role of transcript isoform diversity. This study describes the use of publicly available RNA-Seq data to identify and characterize the global diversity of AS isoforms in maize using the inbred lines B73 and Mo17, and a related species, sorghum. Identification and characterization of AS within maize tissues revealed that genes expressed in seed exhibit the largest differential AS relative to other tissues examined. Additionally, differences in AS between the two genotypes B73 and Mo17 are greatest within genes expressed in seed. We demonstrate that changes in the level of alternatively spliced transcripts (intron retention and exon skipping) do not solely reflect differences in total transcript abundance, and we present evidence that intron retention may act to fine-tune gene expression across seed development stages. Furthermore, we have identified temperature sensitive AS in maize and demonstrate that drought-induced changes in AS involve distinct sets of genes in reproductive and vegetative tissues. Examining our identified AS isoforms within B73 × Mo17 recombinant inbred lines (RILs) identified splicing QTL (sQTL). The 43.3% of cis-sQTL regulated junctions are actually identified as alternatively spliced junctions in our analysis, while 10 Mb windows on each side of 48.2% of trans-sQTLs overlap with splicing related genes. Using sorghum as an out-group enabled direct examination of loss or conservation of AS between homeologous genes representing the two subgenomes of maize. We identify several instances where AS isoforms that are conserved between one maize homeolog and its sorghum ortholog are absent from the second maize homeolog, suggesting that these AS isoforms may have been lost after the maize whole genome duplication event. This comprehensive analysis provides new insights into the complexity of AS in maize.


September 22, 2019  |  

Meeting report: processing, translation, decay – three ways to keep RNA sizzling.

This meeting report highlights key trends that emerged from a conference entitled Post-Transcriptional Gene Regulation in Plants, which was held 14-15 July 2016, as a satellite meeting of the annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists in Austin, Texas. The molecular biology of RNA is emerging as an integral part of the framework for plants’ responses to environmental challenges such as drought and heat, hypoxia, nutrient deprivation, light and pathogens. Moreover, the conference illustrated how a multitude of customized and pioneering omics-related technologies are being applied, more and more often in combination, to describe and dissect the complexities of gene expression at the post-transcriptional level.© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

A comparative transcriptional landscape of maize and sorghum obtained by single-molecule sequencing.

Maize and sorghum are both important crops with similar overall plant architectures, but they have key differences, especially in regard to their inflorescences. To better understand these two organisms at the molecular level, we compared expression profiles of both protein-coding and noncoding transcripts in 11 matched tissues using single-molecule, long-read, deep RNA sequencing. This comparative analysis revealed large numbers of novel isoforms in both species. Evolutionarily young genes were likely to be generated in reproductive tissues and usually had fewer isoforms than old genes. We also observed similarities and differences in alternative splicing patterns and activities, both among tissues and between species. The maize subgenomes exhibited no bias in isoform generation; however, genes in the B genome were more highly expressed in pollen tissue, whereas genes in the A genome were more highly expressed in endosperm. We also identified a number of splicing events conserved between maize and sorghum. In addition, we generated comprehensive and high-resolution maps of poly(A) sites, revealing similarities and differences in mRNA cleavage between the two species. Overall, our results reveal considerable splicing and expression diversity between sorghum and maize, well beyond what was reported in previous studies, likely reflecting the differences in architecture between these two species.© 2018 Wang et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


September 22, 2019  |  

Global analysis of epigenetic regulation of gene expression in response to drought stress in Sorghum.

Abiotic stresses including drought are major limiting factors of crop yields and cause significant crop losses. Acquisition of stress tolerance to abiotic stresses requires coordinated regulation of a multitude of biochemical and physiological changes, and most of these changes depend on alterations in gene expression. The goal of this work is to perform global analysis of differential regulation of gene expression and alternative splicing, and their relationship with chromatin landscape in drought sensitive and tolerant cultivars. our Iso-Seq study revealed transcriptome-wide full-length isoforms at an unprecedented scale with over 11000 novel splice isoforms. Additionally, we uncovered alternative polyadenylation sites of ~11000 expressed genes and many novel genes. Overall, Iso-Seq results greatly enhanced sorghum gene annotations that are not only useful in analyentified differentially expressed genes and splicing events that are correlated with tzing all our RNA-seq, ChIP-seq and ATAC-seq data but also serve as a great resource to the plant biology community. Our studies idhe drought-resistant phenotype. An association between alternative splicing and chromatin accessibility was also revealed. Several computational tools developed here (TAPIS and iDiffIR) have been made freely available to the research community in analyzing alternative splicing and differential alternative splicing.


September 22, 2019  |  

A survey of the sorghum transcriptome using single-molecule long reads.

Alternative splicing and alternative polyadenylation (APA) of pre-mRNAs greatly contribute to transcriptome diversity, coding capacity of a genome and gene regulatory mechanisms in eukaryotes. Second-generation sequencing technologies have been extensively used to analyse transcriptomes. However, a major limitation of short-read data is that it is difficult to accurately predict full-length splice isoforms. Here we sequenced the sorghum transcriptome using Pacific Biosciences single-molecule real-time long-read isoform sequencing and developed a pipeline called TAPIS (Transcriptome Analysis Pipeline for Isoform Sequencing) to identify full-length splice isoforms and APA sites. Our analysis reveals transcriptome-wide full-length isoforms at an unprecedented scale with over 11,000 novel splice isoforms. Additionally, we uncover APA of ~11,000 expressed genes and more than 2,100 novel genes. These results greatly enhance sorghum gene annotations and aid in studying gene regulation in this important bioenergy crop. The TAPIS pipeline will serve as a useful tool to analyse Iso-Seq data from any organism.


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  |  

The genome sequence of Bipolaris cookei reveals mechanisms of pathogenesis underlying target leaf spot of sorghum.

Bipolaris cookei (=Bipolaris sorghicola) causes target leaf spot, one of the most prevalent foliar diseases of sorghum. Little is known about the molecular basis of pathogenesis in B. cookei, in large part due to a paucity of resources for molecular genetics, such as a reference genome. Here, a draft genome sequence of B. cookei was obtained and analyzed. A hybrid assembly strategy utilizing Illumina and Pacific Biosciences sequencing technologies produced a draft nuclear genome of 36.1?Mb, organized into 321 scaffolds with L50 of 31 and N50 of 378?kb, from which 11,189 genes were predicted. Additionally, a finished mitochondrial genome sequence of 135,790?bp was obtained, which contained 75 predicted genes. Comparative genomics revealed that B. cookei possessed substantially fewer carbohydrate-active enzymes and secreted proteins than closely related Bipolaris species. Novel genes involved in secondary metabolism, including genes implicated in ophiobolin biosynthesis, were identified. Among 37 B. cookei genes induced during sorghum infection, one encodes a putative effector with a limited taxonomic distribution among plant pathogenic fungi. The draft genome sequence of B. cookei provided novel insights into target leaf spot of sorghum and is an important resource for future investigation.


July 7, 2019  |  

BAC-pool sequencing and assembly of 19 Mb of the complex sugarcane genome.

Sequencing plant genomes are often challenging because of their complex architecture and high content of repetitive sequences. Sugarcane has one of the most complex genomes. It is highly polyploid, preserves intact homeologous chromosomes from its parental species and contains >55% repetitive sequences. Although bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) libraries have emerged as an alternative for accessing the sugarcane genome, sequencing individual clones is laborious and expensive. Here, we present a strategy for sequencing and assembly reads produced from the DNA of pooled BAC clones. A set of 178 BAC clones, randomly sampled from the SP80-3280 sugarcane BAC library, was pooled and sequenced using the Illumina HiSeq2000 and PacBio platforms. A hybrid assembly strategy was used to generate 2,451 scaffolds comprising 19.2 MB of assembled genome sequence. Scaffolds of =20 Kb corresponded to 80% of the assembled sequences, and the full sequences of forty BACs were recovered in one or two contigs. Alignment of the BAC scaffolds with the chromosome sequences of sorghum showed a high degree of collinearity and gene order. The alignment of the BAC scaffolds to the 10 sorghum chromosomes suggests that the genome of the SP80-3280 sugarcane variety is ~19% contracted in relation to the sorghum genome. In conclusion, our data show that sequencing pools composed of high numbers of BAC clones may help to construct a reference scaffold map of the sugarcane genome.


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