BackgroundChinese cabbage (Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis) is a member of one of the most important leaf vegetables grown worldwide, which has experienced thousands of years in cultivation and artificial selection. The entire Chinese cabbage genome sequence, and more than forty thousand proteins have been obtained to date. The genome has undergone triplication events since its divergence from Arabidopsis thaliana (13 to 17 Mya), however a high degree of sequence similarity and conserved genome structure remain between the two species. Arabidopsis is therefore a viable reference species for comparative genomics studies. Variation in the number of members in gene families due to genome triplication may contribute to the broad range of phenotypic plasticity, and increased tolerance to environmental extremes observed in Brassica species. Transcription factors are important regulators involved in plant developmental and physiological processes. The AP2/ERF proteins, one of the most important families of transcriptional regulators, play a crucial role in plant growth, and in response to biotic and abiotic stressors. Our analysis will provide resources for understanding the tolerance mechanisms in Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis.ResultsIn the present study, 291 putative AP2/ERF transcription factor proteins were identified from the Chinese cabbage genome database, and compared with proteins from 15 additional species. The Chinese cabbage AP2/ERF superfamily was classified into four families, including AP2, ERF, RAV, and Soloist. The ERF family was further divided into DREB and ERF subfamilies. The AP2/ERF superfamily was subsequently divided into 15 groups. The identification, classification, phylogenetic reconstruction, conserved motifs, chromosome distribution, functional annotation, expression patterns, and interaction networks of the AP2/ERF transcription factor superfamily were predicted and analyzed. Distribution mapping results showed AP2/ERF superfamily genes were localized on the 10 Chinese cabbage chromosomes. AP2/ERF transcription factor expression levels exhibited differences among six tissue types based on expressed sequence tags (ESTs). In the AP2/ERF superfamily, 214 orthologous genes were identified between Chinese cabbage and Arabidopsis. Orthologous gene interaction networks were constructed, and included seven CBF and four AP2 genes, primarily involved in cold regulatory pathways and ovule development, respectively.ConclusionsThe evolution of the AP2/ERF transcription factor superfamily in Chinese cabbage resulted from genome triplication and tandem duplications. A comprehensive analysis of the physiological functions and biological roles of AP2/ERF superfamily genes in Chinese cabbage is required to fully elucidate AP2/ERF, which provides us with rich resources and opportunities to understand crop stress tolerance mechanisms.
The GRAS gene family is one of the most important families of transcriptional regulators. In this study, 48 GRAS genes are identified from Chinese cabbage, and they are classified into eight groups according to the classification of Arabidopsis. The characterization, classification, gene structure and phylogenetic construction of GRAS proteins are performed. Distribution mapping shows that GRAS proteins are nonrandomly localized in 10 chromosomes. Fifty-five orthologous gene pairs are shared by Chinese cabbage and Arabidopsis, and interaction networks of these orthologous genes are constructed. The expansion of GRAS genes in Chinese cabbage results from genome triplication. Among the 17 species examined, 14 higher plants carry the GRAS genes, whereas two lower plants and one fungi species do not. Furthermore, the expression patterns of GRAS genes exhibit differences in three tissues based on RNA-seq data. Taken together, this comprehensive analysis will provide rich resources for studying GRAS protein functions in Chinese cabbage.
Cucurbitaceae plants are of considerable biological and economic importance, and genomes of cucumber, watermelon, and melon have been sequenced. However, a comparative genomics exploration of their genome structures and evolution has not been available. Here, we aimed at performing a hierarchical inference of genomic homology resulted from recursive paleopolyploidizations. Unexpectedly, we found that, shortly after a core-eudicot-common hexaploidy, a cucurbit-common tetraploidization (CCT) occurred, overlooked by previous reports. Moreover, we characterized gene loss (and retention) after these respective events, which were significantly unbalanced between inferred subgenomes, and between plants after their split. The inference of a dominant subgenome and a sensitive one suggested an allotetraploid nature of the CCT. Besides, we found divergent evolutionary rates among cucurbits, and after doing rate correction, we dated the CCT to be 90–102 Ma, likely common to all Cucurbitaceae plants, showing its important role in the establishment of the plant family.
Basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors are widely distributed in eukaryotic organisms and are thought to be one of the largest families of regulatory proteins. This important family of transcriptional regulators plays crucial roles in plant development. However, a systematic analysis of the bHLH transcription factor family has not been reported in Chinese cabbage. In this study, 230 bHLH transcription factors were identified from the whole Chinese cabbage genome and compared with proteins from other representative plants, fungi and metazoans. The Chinese cabbage bHLH (BrabHLH) gene family could be classified into 24 subfamilies. Phylogenetic analysis of BrabHLHs along with bHLHs from Arabidopsis and rice indicated 26 subfamilies. The identification, classification, phylogenetic reconstruction, conserved motifs, chromosome distribution, functional annotation, expression patterns and interaction networks of BrabHLHs were analyzed. Distribution mapping showed that BrabHLHs were non-randomly located on the ten Chinese cabbage chromosomes. One hundred and twenty-four orthologous bHLH genes were identified between Chinese cabbage and Arabidopsis, and the interaction networks of the orthologous genes were constructed in Chinese cabbage. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis showed that expressions of BrabHLH genes varied widely under different abiotic stress treatments for different times. Thus, this comprehensive analysis of BrabHLHs represents a rich resource, aiding the elucidation of the roles of bHLH family members in plant growth and development. Furthermore, the comparative genomics analysis deepened our understanding of the evolution of this gene family after a polyploidy event.
The Hsf gene family, one of the most important transcription factor families, plays crucial roles in regulating heat resistance. However, a systematic and comprehensive analysis of this gene family has not been reported in Chinese cabbage. Therefore, systematic analysis of the Hsf gene family in Chinese cabbage has profound significance. In this study, 35 BrHsf genes were identified from Chinese cabbage, which could be classified into three groups according to their structural characteristics and phylogenetic comparisons with Arabidopsis and rice. Thirty-three BrHsf genes mapped on chromosomes were further assigned to three subgenomes and eight ancestral karyotypes. Distribution mapping showed that BrHsf genes were non-randomly localized on chromosomes. Chinese cabbage and Arabidopsis shared 22 orthologous gene pairs. The expansion of BrHsf genes mainly resulted from genome triplication. Comparative analysis showed that the most Hsf genes were in Chinese cabbage among the five species analyzed. Interestingly, the number of Hsf genes of heat-resistant plants (Theobroma cacao and Musa acuminata) was fewer than that in Chinese cabbage. The expression patterns of BrHsf genes were different in six tissues, based on RNA-seq. Quantitative real-time-PCR analysis showed that the expression level of BrHsf genes varied under various abiotic stresses. In conclusion, this comprehensive analysis of BrHsf genes will provide rich resources, aiding the determination of Hsfs functions in plant heat resistance. Furthermore, the comparative genomics analysis deepened our understanding of Hsf genes' evolution accompanied by the polyploidy event of Chinese cabbage.
Ethiopian mustard (Brassica carinata) in the Brassicaceae family possesses many excellent agronomic traits. Here, the high-quality genome sequence of B. carinata is reported. Characterization revealed a genome anchored to 17 chromosomes with a total length of 1.087 Gb and an N50 scaffold length of 60 Mb. Repetitive sequences account for approximately 634 Mb or 58.34% of the B. carinata genome. Notably, 51.91% of 97,149 genes are confined to the terminal 20% of chromosomes as a result of the expansion of repeats in pericentromeric regions. Brassica carinata shares one whole-genome triplication event with the five other species in U’s triangle, a classic model of evolution and polyploidy in Brassica. Brassica carinata was deduced to have formed ∼0.047 Mya, which is slightly earlier than B. napus but later than B. juncea. Our analysis indicated that the relationship between the two subgenomes (BcaB and BcaC) is greater than that between other two tetraploid subgenomes (BjuB and BnaC) and their respective diploid parents. RNA-seq datasets and comparative genomic analysis were used to identify several key genes in pathways regulating disease resistance and glucosinolate metabolism. Further analyses revealed that genome triplication and tandem duplication played important roles in the expansion of those genes in Brassica species. With the genome sequencing of B. carinata completed, the genomes of all six Brassica species in U’s triangle are now resolved. The data obtained from genome sequencing, transcriptome analysis, and comparative genomic efforts in this study provide valuable insights into the genome evolution of the six Brassica species in U’s triangle.
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