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Concept: Genetic linkage


Only a few genetic maps based on recombinant inbred line (RIL) and backcross (BC) populations have been developed for tetraploid groundnut. The marker density, however, is not very satisfactory especially in the context of large genome size (2800 Mb/1C) and 20 linkage groups (LGs). Therefore, using marker segregation data for 10 RILs and one BC population from the international groundnut community, with the help of common markers across different populations, a reference consensus genetic map has been developed. This map is comprised of 897 marker loci including 895 simple sequence repeat (SSR) and 2 cleaved amplified polymorphic sequence (CAPS) loci distributed on 20 LGs (a01-a10 and b01-b10) spanning a map distance of 3, 863.6 cM with an average map density of 4.4 cM. The highest numbers of markers (70) were integrated on a01 and the least number of markers (21) on b09. The marker density, however, was lowest (6.4 cM) on a08 and highest (2.5 cM) on a01. The reference consensus map has been divided into 20 cM long 203 BINs. These BINs carry 1 (a10_02, a10_08 and a10_09) to 20 (a10_04) loci with an average of 4 marker loci per BIN. Although the polymorphism information content (PIC) value was available for 526 markers in 190 BINs, 36 and 111 BINs have at least one marker with >0.70 and >0.50 PIC values, respectively. This information will be useful for selecting highly informative and uniformly distributed markers for developing new genetic maps, background selection and diversity analysis. Most importantly, this reference consensus map will serve as a reliable reference for aligning new genetic and physical maps, performing QTL analysis in a multi-populations design, evaluating the genetic background effect on QTL expression, and serving other genetic and molecular breeding activities in groundnut.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Genome, Genetic linkage, Map, Peanut, Arachis


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 to mapping a nematode resistance gene that was introgressed into A. hypogaea from A. cardenasii.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Evolution, Genome, Genetic linkage, Fabaceae, Peanut, Arachis


BACKGROUND: Faba bean (Vicia faba L.) is an important food legume crop, grown for human consumption globally including in China, Turkey, Egypt and Ethiopia. Although genetic gain has been made through conventional selection and breeding efforts, this could be substantially improved through the application of molecular methods. For this, a set of reliable molecular markers representative of the entire genome is required. RESULTS: A library with 125,559 putative SSR sequences was constructed and characterized for repeat type and length from a mixed genome of 247 spring and winter sown faba bean genotypes using 454 sequencing. A suit of 28,503 primer pair sequences were designed and 150 were randomly selected for validation. Of these, 94 produced reproducible amplicons that were polymorphic among 32 faba bean genotypes selected from diverse geographical locations. The number of alleles per locus ranged from 2 to 8, the expected heterozygocities ranged from 0.0000 to 1.0000, and the observed heterozygosities ranged from 0.0908 to 0.8410. The validation by UPGMA cluster analysis of 32 genotypes based on Nei’s genetic distance, showed high quality and effectiveness of those novel SSR markers developed via next generation sequencing technology. CONCLUSIONS: Large scale SSR marker development was successfully achieved using next generation sequencing of the V. faba genome. These novel markers are valuable for constructing genetic linkage maps, future QTL mapping, and marker-assisted trait selection in faba bean breeding efforts.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Molecular biology, DNA sequencing, Genetic linkage, Vicia faba, Vicia


BACKGROUND: Cultivated peanut or groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) is an important oilseed crop with an allotetraploid genome (AABB, 2n = 4x = 40). Both the low level of genetic variation within the cultivated gene pool and its polyploid nature limit the utilization of molecular markers to explore genome structure and facilitate genetic improvement. Nevertheless, a wealth of genetic diversity exists in diploid Arachis species (2n = 2x = 20), which represent a valuable gene pool for cultivated peanut improvement. Interspecific populations have been used widely for genetic mapping in diploid species of Arachis. However, an intraspecific mapping strategy was essential to detect chromosomal rearrangements among species that could be obscured by mapping in interspecific populations. To develop intraspecific reference linkage maps and gain insights into karyotypic evolution within the genus, we comparatively mapped the A- and B-genome diploid species using intraspecific F2 populations. Exploring genome organization among diploid peanut species by comparative mapping will enhance our understanding of the cultivated tetraploid peanut genome. Moreover, new sources of molecular markers that are highly transferable between species and developed from expressed genes will be required to construct saturated genetic maps for peanut. RESULTS: A total of 2,138 EST-SSR (expressed sequence tag-simple sequence repeat) markers were developed by mining a tetraploid peanut EST assembly including 101,132 unigenes (37,916 contigs and 63,216 singletons) derived from 70,771 long-read (Sanger) and 270,957 short-read (454) sequences. A set of 97 SSR markers were also developed by mining 9,517 genomic survey sequences of Arachis. An SSR-based intraspecific linkage map was constructed using an F2 population derived from a cross between K 9484 (PI 298639) and GKBSPSc 30081 (PI 468327) in the B - genome species A. batizocoi. A high degree of macrosynteny was observed when comparing the homoeologous linkage groups between A (A. duranensis) and B (A. batizocoi) genomes. Comparison of the A - and B - genome genetic linkage maps also showed a total of five inversions and one major reciprocal translocation between two pairs of chromosomes under our current mapping resolution. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings will contribute to understanding tetraploid peanut genome origin and evolution and eventually promote its genetic improvement. The newly developed EST-SSR markers will enrich current molecular marker resources in peanut.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Genome, Genetic linkage, William Bateson, Peanut, Arachis


Alopecia areata (AA) is a common autoimmune disorder mostly presented as round patches of hair loss and subclassified into alopecia totalis/alopecia universalis (AT/AU) based on the area of alopecia. Although AA is relatively common, only 5% of AA patients progress to AT/AU, which affect the whole scalp and whole body respectively. To determine genetic determinants of this orphan disease, we undertook whole-exome sequencing of 6 samples from AU patients, and 26 variants in immune-related genes were selected as candidates. When an additional 14 AU samples were genotyped for these candidates, 6 of them remained at the level of significance in comparison with 155 Asian controls (p<1.92×10(-3)). Linkage disequilibrium was observed between some of the most significant SNPs, including rs41559420 of HLA-DRB5 (p<0.001, OR 44.57) and rs28362679 of BTNL2 (p<0.001, OR 30.21). While BTNL2 was reported as a general susceptibility gene of AA previously, HLA-DRB5 has not been implicated in AA. In addition, we found several genetic variants in novel genes (HLA-DMB, TLR1, and PMS2) and discovered an additional locus on HLA-A, a known susceptibility gene of AA. This study provides further evidence for the association of previously reported genes with AA and novel findings such as HLA-DRB5, which might represent a hidden culprit gene for AU.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Genetic linkage, Autoimmune diseases, Locus, Baldness, Alopecia areata


Chiari Type I Malformation (CMI) is characterized by displacement of the cerebellar tonsils below the base of the skull, resulting in significant neurologic morbidity. Although multiple lines of evidence support a genetic contribution to disease, no genes have been identified. We therefore conducted the largest whole genome linkage screen to date using 367 individuals from 66 families with at least two individuals presenting with nonsyndromic CMI with or without syringomyelia. Initial findings across all 66 families showed minimal evidence for linkage due to suspected genetic heterogeneity. In order to improve power to localize susceptibility genes, stratified linkage analyses were performed using clinical criteria to differentiate families based on etiologic factors. Families were stratified on the presence or absence of clinical features associated with connective tissue disorders (CTDs) since CMI and CTDs frequently co-occur and it has been proposed that CMI patients with CTDs represent a distinct class of patients with a different underlying disease mechanism. Stratified linkage analyses resulted in a marked increase in evidence of linkage to multiple genomic regions consistent with reduced genetic heterogeneity. Of particular interest were two regions (Chr8, Max LOD = 3.04; Chr12, Max LOD = 2.09) identified within the subset of “CTD-negative” families, both of which harbor growth differentiation factors (GDF6, GDF3) implicated in the development of Klippel-Feil syndrome (KFS). Interestingly, roughly 3-5% of CMI patients are diagnosed with KFS. In order to investigate the possibility that CMI and KFS are allelic, GDF3 and GDF6 were sequenced leading to the identification of a previously known KFS missense mutation and potential regulatory variants in GDF6. This study has demonstrated the value of reducing genetic heterogeneity by clinical stratification implicating several convincing biological candidates and further supporting the hypothesis that multiple, distinct mechanisms are responsible for CMI.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Mutation, Biology, Genome, Genetic linkage, Arnold-Chiari malformation


High-throughput genotyping arrays provide a standardized resource for plant breeding communities that are useful for a breadth of applications including high-density genetic mapping, genome-wide association studies (GWAS), genomic selection (GS), complex trait dissection and studying patterns of genomic diversity among cotton cultivars and wild accessions. We have developed the CottonSNP63K, an Illumina Infinium array containing assays for 45,104 putative intra-specific single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers for use within the cultivated cotton species Gossypium hirsutum L. and 17,954 putative inter-specific SNP markers for use with crosses of other cotton species with G. hirsutum. The SNPs on the array are developed from 13 different discovery sets that represent a diverse range of G. hirsutum germplasm and five other species: G. barbadense L., G. tomentosum Nuttal ex Seemann, G. mustelinum Miers x Watt, G. armourianum Kearny, and G. longicalyx J.B. Hutchinson & Lee. The array was validated with 1,156 samples to generate cluster positions to facilitate automated analysis of 38,822 polymorphic markers. Two high-density genetic maps containing a total of 22,829 SNPs were generated for two F2 mapping populations, one intra-specific and one inter-specific, 3,533 SNP markers were co-occurring in both maps. The produced intra-specific genetic map is the first saturated map that associates into 26 linkage groups corresponding to the number of cotton chromosomes for a cross between two G. hirsutum lines. The linkage maps were shown to have high levels of collinearity to the JGI G. raimondii Ulbrich reference genome sequence. The developed CottonSNP63K array and cluster file along with the marker sequences is a valuable new resource for the global cotton research community.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Bioinformatics, SNP array, Single-nucleotide polymorphism, Genetic linkage, Genotyping


High-density linkage maps can improve the precision of QTL localization. A high-density SNP-based linkage map containing 3207 markers covering 3072.7 cM of the Brassica napus genome was constructed in the KenC-8 × N53-2 (KNDH) population. A total of 67 and 38 QTLs for seed oil and protein content were identified with an average confidence interval of 5.26 and 4.38 cM, which could explain up to 22.24% and 27.48% of the phenotypic variation, respectively. Thirty-eight associated genomic regions from BSA overlapped with and/or narrowed the SOC-QTLs, further confirming the QTL mapping results based on the high-density linkage map. Potential candidates related to acyl-lipid and seed storage underlying SOC and SPC, respectively, were identified and analyzed, among which six were checked and showed expression differences between the two parents during different embryonic developmental periods. A large primary carbohydrate pathway based on potential candidates underlying SOC- and SPC-QTLs, and interaction networks based on potential candidates underlying SOC-QTLs, was constructed to dissect the complex mechanism based on metabolic and gene regulatory features, respectively. Accurate QTL mapping and potential candidates identified based on high-density linkage map and BSA analyses provide new insights into the complex genetic mechanism of oil and protein accumulation in the seeds of rapeseed.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Classical genetics, Quantitative trait locus, Genetic linkage, Rapeseed, Seed


Strabismus is a common condition with misalignment between two eyes that may lead to decrease of visual acuity, lack of binocularity, and diplopia. It is caused by heterogeneous environmental and genetic risk factors. Our previous research has identified new chromosomal susceptibility loci in 4q28.3 and 7q31.2 regions for comitant strabismus in Japanese families. We conducted a verification study by linkage analysis to narrow the chromosomal loci down to a single gene.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell, Biology, Genetic linkage, William Bateson, Thomas Hunt Morgan, Binocular vision


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.

Concepts: Gene, Virus, Genetic linkage, William Bateson, Banana, Black sigatoka, Sigatoka, Mycosphaerella