In Press
Zhang, W, Messing J.  In Press.  PacBio RS for gene family studies. Methods in Molecular Biology. Haplotyping.
Wu, Y, Messing J.  In Press.  Understanding and improving protein traits in maize seeds. Achieving Sustainable Maize Cultivation.
Wang, W, Wu Y, Messing J.  2016.  Genome-wide analysis of pentatricopeptide-repeat proteins of an aquatic plant.. Planta. Abstract
A large proportion of genes in plant genomes are organized as gene families. Whereas most gene families in the aquative plant Spirodela are reduced in their copy number, the PPR gene family is expanded, which match the RNA editing sites in organelles, providing us with new insights in the evolution of flowering plants. Pentatricopeptide-repeat proteins (PPRs) are nuclear-encoded proteins that are targeted to mitochondria and plastids to stabilize and edit mRNA transcribed from organellar genomes. They have been described for many terrestrial plant species from a diverse spectrum of sequenced genomes. To further increase our understanding of the evolution of this gene family across angiosperms, we analyzed the PPR genes in the aquatic species Spirodela polyrhiza in the order of the Alismatales (monocotyledonous plants). Because we had generated next generation sequencing data from transcripts and had sequenced the genome of Spirodela polyrhiza, we were able to identify its PPR genes and determine the level of their expression. In total, we could identify 556 PPR proteins, of which 238 members belong to the P (P motif) subfamily that is mainly involved in RNA stabilization and 318 ones to the PLS (P, Longer P, shorter P motif) subfamily responsible for RNA editing. Compared to other angiosperms, this is a large increase in the copy number of the PLS-PPRs subfamily and the expansion correlates with the increase of the number of RNA editing sites of organellar transcripts. Expression of PPR was generally stable even during growing and dormant stages, indicating that their function was critical throughout development. However, PPRs, especially those of the PLS subfamily, were expressed at relatively low levels, suggesting a delicate fine-tuning of its trans-acting function in the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. Thus, understanding PPR evolution and expression will help decipher the PPR code for their binding sites, which could genetically engineer RNA-binding proteins toward desired sequence.
Messing, J.  2016.  Phage M13 for the treatment of Alzheimer and Parkinson disease.. Gene. 583(2):85-9. Abstract
The studies of microbes have been instrumental in combatting infectious diseases, but they have also led to great insights into basic biological mechanism like DNA replication, transcription, and translation of mRNA. In particular, the studies of bacterial viruses, also called bacteriophage, have been quite useful to study specific cellular processes because of the ease to isolate their DNA, mRNA, and proteins. Here, I review the recent discovery of how properties of the filamentous phage M13 emerge as a novel approach to combat neurodegenerative diseases.
Dong, J, Feng Y, Kumar D, Zhang W, Zhu T, Luo M-C, Messing J.  2016.  Analysis of tandem gene copies in maize chromosomal regions reconstructed from long sequence reads.. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 113(29):7949-56. Abstract
Haplotype variation not only involves SNPs but also insertions and deletions, in particular gene copy number variations. However, comparisons of individual genomes have been difficult because traditional sequencing methods give too short reads to unambiguously reconstruct chromosomal regions containing repetitive DNA sequences. An example of such a case is the protein gene family in maize that acts as a sink for reduced nitrogen in the seed. Previously, 41-48 gene copies of the alpha zein gene family that spread over six loci spanning between 30- and 500-kb chromosomal regions have been described in two Iowa Stiff Stalk (SS) inbreds. Analyses of those regions were possible because of overlapping BAC clones, generated by an expensive and labor-intensive approach. Here we used single-molecule real-time (Pacific Biosciences) shotgun sequencing to assemble the six chromosomal regions from the Non-Stiff Stalk maize inbred W22 from a single DNA sequence dataset. To validate the reconstructed regions, we developed an optical map (BioNano genome map; BioNano Genomics) of W22 and found agreement between the two datasets. Using the sequences of full-length cDNAs from W22, we found that the error rate of PacBio sequencing seemed to be less than 0.1% after autocorrection and assembly. Expressed genes, some with premature stop codons, are interspersed with nonexpressed genes, giving rise to genotype-specific expression differences. Alignment of these regions with those from the previous analyzed regions of SS lines exhibits in part dramatic differences between these two heterotic groups.
Cao, H X, Vu G T H, Wang W, Appenroth KJ, Messing J, Schubert I.  2016.  The map-based genome sequence of Spirodela polyrhiza aligned with its chromosomes, a reference for karyotype evolution.. The New phytologist. 209(1):354-63. Abstract
Duckweeds are aquatic monocotyledonous plants of potential economic interest with fast vegetative propagation, comprising 37 species with variable genome sizes (0.158-1.88 Gbp). The genomic sequence of Spirodela polyrhiza, the smallest and the most ancient duckweed genome, needs to be aligned to its chromosomes as a reference and prerequisite to study the genome and karyotype evolution of other duckweed species. We selected physically mapped bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) containing Spirodela DNA inserts with little or no repetitive elements as probes for multicolor fluorescence in situ hybridization (mcFISH), using an optimized BAC pooling strategy, to validate its physical map and correlate it with its chromosome complement. By consecutive mcFISH analyses, we assigned the originally assembled 32 pseudomolecules (supercontigs) of the genomic sequences to the 20 chromosomes of S. polyrhiza. A Spirodela cytogenetic map containing 96 BAC markers with an average distance of 0.89 Mbp was constructed. Using a cocktail of 41 BACs in three colors, all chromosome pairs could be individualized simultaneously. Seven ancestral blocks emerged from duplicated chromosome segments of 19 Spirodela chromosomes. The chromosomally integrated genome of S. polyrhiza and the established prerequisites for comparative chromosome painting enable future studies on the chromosome homoeology and karyotype evolution of duckweed species.
Xu, J-H, Wang R, Li X, Miclaus M, Messing J.  2016.  Locus- and Site-Specific DNA Methylation of 19 kDa Zein Genes in Maize.. PloS one. 11(1):e0146416. Abstract
An interesting question in maize development is why only a single zein gene is highly expressed in each of the 19-kDa zein gene clusters (A and B types), z1A2-1 and z1B4, in the immature endosperm. For instance, epigenetic marks could provide a structural difference. Therefore, we investigated the DNA methylation of the arrays of gene copies in both promoter and gene body regions of leaf (non-expressing tissue as a control), normal endosperm, and cultured endosperm. Although we could show that expressed genes have much lower methylation levels in promoter regions than silent ones in both leaf and normal endosperm, there was surprisingly also a difference in the pattern of the z1A and z1B gene clusters. The expression of z1B gene is suppressed by increased DNA methylation and activated with reduced DNA methylation, whereas z1A gene expression is not. DNA methylation in gene coding regions is higher in leaf than in endosperm, whereas no significant difference is observed in gene bodies between expressed and non-expressed gene copies. A median CHG methylation (25-30%) appears to be optimal for gene expression. Moreover, tissue-cultured endosperm can reset the DNA methylation pattern and tissue-specific gene expression. These results reveal that DNA methylation changes of the 19-kDa zein genes is subject to plant development and tissue culture treatment, but varies in different chromosomal locations, indicating that DNA methylation changes do not apply to gene expression in a uniform fashion. Because tissue culture is used to produce transgenic plants, these studies provide new insights into variation of gene expression of integrated sequences.
Zhang, W, Xu J H, Bennetzen JL, Messing J.  2016.  Teff, an Orphan Cereal in the Chloridoideae, Provides Insights into the Evolution of Storage Proteins in Grasses.. Genome biology and evolution. 8(6):1712-21. Abstract
Seed storage proteins (SSP) in cereals provide essential nutrition for humans and animals. Genes encoding these proteins have undergone rapid evolution in different grass species. To better understand the degree of divergence, we analyzed this gene family in the subfamily Chloridoideae, where the genome of teff (Eragrostis tef) has been sequenced. We find gene duplications, deletions, and rapid mutations in protein-coding sequences. The main SSPs in teff, like other grasses, are prolamins, here called eragrostins. Teff has γ- and δ-prolamins, but has no β-prolamins. One δ-type prolamin (δ1) in teff has higher methionine (33%) levels than in maize (23-25%). The other δ-type prolamin (δ2) has reduced methionine residues (<10%) and is phylogenetically closer to α prolamins. Prolamin δ2 in teff represents an intermediate between δ and α types that appears to have been lost in maize and other Panicoideae, and was replaced by the expansion of α-prolamins. Teff also has considerably larger numbers of α-prolamin genes, which we further divide into five sub-groups, where α2 and α5 represent the most abundant α-prolamins both in number and in expression. In addition, indolines that determine kernel softness are present in teff and the panicoid cereal called foxtail millet (Setaria italica) but not in sorghum or maize, indicating that these genes were only recently lost in some members of the Panicoideae Moreover, this study provides not only information on the evolution of SSPs in the grass family but also the importance of α-globulins in protein aggregation and germplasm divergence.
Cao, HX, Vu GT, Wang W, Messing J, Schubert I.  2015.  Chromatin organisation in duckweed interphase nuclei in relation to the nuclear DNA content. Plant Biol (Stuttg). 17 Suppl 1:120-4. AbstractWebsite
The accessibility of DNA during fundamental processes, such as transcription, replication and DNA repair, is tightly modulated through a dynamic chromatin structure. Differences in large-scale chromatin structure at the microscopic level can be observed as euchromatic and heterochromatic domains in interphase nuclei. Here, key epigenetic marks, including histone H3 methylation and 5-methylcytosine (5-mC) as a DNA modification, were studied cytologically to describe the chromatin organisation of representative species of the five duckweed genera in the context of their nuclear DNA content, which ranged from 158 to 1881 Mbp. All studied duckweeds, including Spirodela polyrhiza with a genome size and repeat proportion similar to that of Arabidopsis thaliana, showed dispersed distribution of heterochromatin signatures (5mC, H3K9me2 and H3K27me1). This immunolabelling pattern resembles that of early developmental stages of Arabidopsis nuclei, with less pronounced heterochromatin chromocenters and heterochromatic marks weakly dispersed throughout the nucleus.
Wang, W, Messing J.  2015.  Status of duckweed genomics and transcriptomics. Plant Biol (Stuttg). 17 Suppl 1:10-5. AbstractWebsite
Duckweeds belong to the smallest flowering plants that undergo fast vegetative growth in an aquatic environment. They are commonly used in wastewater treatment and animal feed. Whereas duckweeds have been studied at the biochemical level, their reduced morphology and wide environmental adaption had not been subjected to molecular analysis until recently. Here, we review the progress that has been made in using a DNA barcode system and the sequences of chloroplast and mitochondrial genomes to identify duckweed species at the species or population level. We also review analysis of the nuclear genome sequence of Spirodela that provides new insights into fundamental biological questions. Indeed, reduced gene families and missing genes are consistent with its compact morphogenesis, aquatic floating and suppression of juvenile-to-adult transition. Furthermore, deep RNA sequencing of Spirodela at the onset of dormancy and Landoltia in exposure of nutrient deficiency illustrate the molecular network for environmental adaption and stress response, constituting major progress towards a post-genome sequencing phase, where further functional genomic details can be explored. Rapid advances in sequencing technologies could continue to promote a proliferation of genome sequences for additional ecotypes as well as for other duckweed species.
Xu, J-H, Liu Q, Hu W, Wang T, Xue Q, Messing J.  2015.  Dynamics of chloroplast genomes in green plants.. Genomics. 106(4):221-31. Abstract
Chloroplasts are essential organelles, in which genes have widely been used in the phylogenetic analysis of green plants. Here, we took advantage of the breadth of plastid genomes (cpDNAs) sequenced species to investigate their dynamic changes. Our study showed that gene rearrangements occurred more frequently in the cpDNAs of green algae than in land plants. Phylogenetic trees were generated using 55 conserved protein-coding genes including 33 genes for photosynthesis, 16 ribosomal protein genes and 6 other genes, which supported the monophyletic evolution of vascular plants, land plants, seed plants, and angiosperms. Moreover, we could show that seed plants were more closely related to bryophytes rather than pteridophytes. Furthermore, the substitution rate for cpDNA genes was calculated to be 3.3×10(-10), which was almost 10 times lower than genes of nuclear genomes, probably because of the plastid homologous recombination machinery.
Zhang, W, Garcia N, Feng Y, Zhao H, Messing J.  2015.  Genome-wide histone acetylation correlates with active transcription in maize.. Genomics. 106(4):214-20. Abstract
Gene expression is regulated at many different levels during the life cycle of all plant species. Recent investigations have taken advantage of next-generation sequencing to study the relevance of DNA methylation and sRNAs in controlling tissue-specific gene expression in maize at the genome-wide level. Here, we profiled H3K27ac in maize, which has one of the largest sequenced plant genomes due to the amplification of retrotransposons. Because transcribed genes represent only a small proportion of its genome, gene-specific epigenetic modifications are concentrated in a relatively small percentage of the genome. Indeed, H3K27ac marks are mostly in gene-rich, in contrast to gene-poor regions. A large proportion of those marks are located in transcribed regions of genes, including 111 out of 458 known genetic loci. Moreover, increased transcription correlates with the presence of H3K27ac modification in gene bodies. Using maize as an example, we suggest that H3K27ac marks actively transcribed genes in plants.
Garcia, N, Zhang W, Wu Y, Messing J.  2015.  Evolution of gene expression after gene amplification.. Genome biology and evolution. 7(5):1303-12. AbstractWebsite
We took a rather unique approach to investigate the conservation of gene expression of prolamin storage protein genes across two different subfamilies of the Poaceae. We took advantage of oat plants carrying single maize chromosomes in different cultivars, called oat-maize addition (OMA) lines, which permitted us to determine whether regulation of gene expression was conserved between the two species. We found that γ-zeins are expressed in OMA7.06, which carries maize chromosome 7 even in the absence of the trans-acting maize prolamin-box-binding factor (PBF), which regulates their expression. This is likely because oat PBF can substitute for the function of maize PBF as shown in our transient expression data, using a γ-zein promoter fused to green fluorescent protein (GFP). Despite this conservation, the younger, recently amplified prolamin genes in maize, absent in oat, are not expressed in the corresponding OMAs. However, maize can express the oldest prolamin gene, the wheat high-molecular weight glutenin Dx5 gene, even when maize Pbf is knocked down (through PbfRNAi), and/or another maize transcription factor, Opaque-2 (O2) is knocked out (in maize o2 mutant). Therefore, older genes are conserved in their regulation, whereas younger ones diverged during evolution and eventually acquired a new repertoire of suitable transcriptional activators.
Liu, Z, Li X, Wang T, Messing J, Xu J-H.  2015.  The Wukong Terminal-Repeat Retrotransposon in Miniature (TRIM) Elements in Diverse Maize Germplasm.. G3 (Bethesda, Md.). 5(8):1585-92. AbstractWebsite
TRIMs (terminal-repeat retrotransposons in miniature), which are characterized by their small size, have been discovered in all investigated vascular plants and even in animals. Here, we identified a highly conservative TRIM family referred to as Wukong elements in the maize genome. The Wukong family shows a distinct pattern of tandem arrangement in the maize genome suggesting a high rate of unequal crossing over. Estimation of insertion times implies a burst of retrotransposition activity of the Wukong family after the allotetraploidization of maize. Using next-generation sequencing data, we detected 87 new Wukong insertions in parents of the maize NAM population relative to the B73 reference genome and found abundant insertion polymorphism of Wukong elements in 75 re-sequenced maize lines, including teosinte, landraces, and improved lines. These results suggest that Wukong elements possessed a persistent retrotransposition activity throughout maize evolution. Moreover, the phylogenetic relationships among 76 maize inbreds and their relatives based on insertion polymorphisms of Wukong elements should provide us with reliable molecular markers for biodiversity and genetics studies.
Wang, W, Zhang W, Wu Y, Maliga P, Messing J.  2015.  RNA Editing in Chloroplasts of Spirodela polyrhiza, an Aquatic Monocotelydonous Species.. PloS one. 10(10):e0140285. Abstract
RNA editing is the post-transcriptional conversion from C to U before translation, providing a unique feature in the regulation of gene expression. Here, we used a robust and efficient method based on RNA-seq from non-ribosomal total RNA to simultaneously measure chloroplast-gene expression and RNA editing efficiency in the Greater Duckweed, Spirodela polyrhiza, a species that provides a new reference for the phylogenetic studies of monocotyledonous plants. We identified 66 editing sites at the genome-wide level, with an average editing efficiency of 76%. We found that the expression levels of chloroplast genes were relatively constant, but 11 RNA editing sites show significant changes in editing efficiency, when fronds turn into turions. Thus, RNA editing efficiency contributes more to the yield of translatable transcripts than steady state mRNA levels. Comparison of RNA editing sites in coconut, Spirodela, maize, and rice suggests that RNA editing originated from a common ancestor.
Lang, Z, Wills DM, Lemmon ZH, Shannon LM, Bukowski R, Wu Y, Messing J, Doebley JF.  2014.  Defining the Role of prolamin-box binding factor1 Gene During Maize Domestication. J Hered. AbstractWebsite
The prolamin-box binding factor1 (pbf1) gene encodes a transcription factor that controls the expression of seed storage protein (zein) genes in maize. Prior studies show that pbf1 underwent selection during maize domestication although how it affected trait change during domestication is unknown. To assay how pbf1 affects phenotypic differences between maize and teosinte, we compared nearly isogenic lines (NILs) that differ for a maize versus teosinte allele of pbf1. Kernel weight for the teosinte NIL (162mg) is slightly but significantly greater than that for the maize NIL (156mg). RNAseq data for developing kernels show that the teosinte allele of pbf1 is expressed at about twice the level of the maize allele. However, RNA and protein assays showed no difference in zein profile between the two NILs. The lower expression for the maize pbf1 allele suggests that selection may have favored this change; however, how reduced pbf1 expression alters phenotype remains unknown. One possibility is that pbf1 regulates genes other than zeins and thereby is a domestication trait. The observed drop in seed weight associated with the maize allele of pbf1 is counterintuitive but could represent a negative pleiotropic effect of selection on some other aspect of kernel composition.
Zhang, W, Ciclitira P, Messing J.  2014.  PacBio sequencing of gene families - a case study with wheat gluten genes. Gene. 533:541-6. AbstractWebsite
Amino acids in wheat (Triticum aestivum) seeds mainly accumulate in storage proteins called gliadins and glutenins. Gliadins contain alpha/beta-, gamma- and omega-types whereas glutenins contain HMW- and LMW-types. Known gliadin and glutenin sequences were largely determined through cloning and sequencing by capillary electrophoresis. This time-consuming process prevents us to intensively study the variation of each orthologous gene copy among cultivars. The throughput and sequencing length of Pacific Bioscience RS (PacBio) single molecule sequencing platform make it feasible to construct contiguous and non-chimeric RNA sequences. We assembled 424 wheat storage protein transcripts from ten wheat cultivars by using just one single-molecule-real-time cell. The protein genes from wheat cultivar Chinese Spring are comparable to known sequences from NCBI. We demonstrated real-time sequencing of gene families with high-throughput and low-cost. This method can be applied to studies of gene amplification and copy number variation among species and cultivars.
Gordon, SP, Priest H, Des Marais DL, Schackwitz W, Figueroa M, Martin J, Bragg JN, Tyler L, Lee CR, Bryant D et al..  2014.  Genome diversity in Brachypodium distachyon: deep sequencing of highly diverse inbred lines. Plant J. 79:361-74. AbstractWebsite
Brachypodium distachyon is small annual grass that has been adopted as a model for the grasses. Its small genome, high-quality reference genome, large germplasm collection, and selfing nature make it an excellent subject for studies of natural variation. We sequenced six divergent lines to identify a comprehensive set of polymorphisms and analyze their distribution and concordance with gene expression. Multiple methods and controls were utilized to identify polymorphisms and validate their quality. mRNA-Seq experiments under control and simulated drought-stress conditions, identified 300 genes with a genotype-dependent treatment response. We showed that large-scale sequence variants had extremely high concordance with altered expression of hundreds of genes, including many with genotype-dependent treatment responses. We generated a deep mRNA-Seq dataset for the most divergent line and created a de novo transcriptome assembly. This led to the discovery of >2400 previously unannotated transcripts and hundreds of genes not present in the reference genome. We built a public database for visualization and investigation of sequence variants among these widely used inbred lines.
Nasr, I, Messing J, Ciclitira PJ.  2014.  Novel and Experimental Therapies on the Horizon. Celiac Disease, Clinical Gastroenterology. :193-208.
Wu, Y, Messing J.  2014.  Proteome balancing of the maize seed for higher nutritional value. Front Plant Sci. 5:240. AbstractWebsite
Most flowering plant seeds are composed of the embryo and endosperm, which are surrounded by maternal tissue, in particular the seed coat. Whereas the embryo is the dormant progeny, the endosperm is a terminal organ for storage of sugars and amino acids in proteins and carbohydrates, respectively. Produced in maternal leaves during photosynthesis, sugars, and amino acids are transported to developing seeds after flowering, and during germination they nourish early seedlings growth. Maize endosperm usually contains around 10% protein and 70% starch, and their composition ratio is rather stable, because it is strictly regulated through a pre-set genetic program that is woven by networks of many interacting or counteracting genes and pathways. Endosperm protein, however, is of low nutritional value due mainly to the high expression of the alpha-zein gene family, which encodes lysine-free proteins. Reduced levels of these proteins in the opaque 2 (o2) mutant and alpha-zein RNAi (RNA interference) transgenic seed is compensated by an increase of non-zein proteins, leading to the rebalancing of the nitrogen sink and producing more or less constant levels of total proteins in the seed. The same rebalancing of zeins and non-zeins has been observed for maize seeds bred for 30% protein. In contrast to the nitrogen sink, storage of sulfur is controlled through the accumulation of specialized sulfur-rich proteins in maize endosperm. Silencing the synthesis of alpha-zeins through RNAi fails to raise sulfur-rich proteins. Although overexpression of the methionine-rich delta-zein can increase the methionine level in seeds, it occurs at least in part at the expense of the cysteine-rich beta- and gamma-zeins, demonstrating a balance between cysteine and methionine in sulfur storage. Therefore, we propose that the throttle for the flow of sulfur is placed before the synthesis of sulfur amino acids when sulfur is taken up and reduced during photosynthesis.
Wang, W, Wu Y, Messing J.  2014.  RNA-Seq transcriptome analysis of Spirodela dormancy without reproduction. BMC Genomics. 15:60. AbstractWebsite
BACKGROUND: Higher plants exhibit a remarkable phenotypic plasticity to adapt to adverse environmental changes. The Greater Duckweed Spirodela, as an aquatic plant, presents exceptional tolerance to cold winters through its dormant structure of turions in place of seeds. Abundant starch in turions permits them to sink and escape the freezing surface of waters. Due to their clonal propagation, they are the fastest growing biomass on earth, providing yet an untapped source for industrial applications. RESULTS: We used next generation sequencing technology to examine the transcriptome of turion development triggered by exogenous ABA. A total of 208 genes showed more than a 4-fold increase compared with 154 down-regulated genes in developing turions. The analysis of up-regulated differential expressed genes in response to dormancy exposed an enriched interplay among various pathways: signal transduction, seed dehydration, carbohydrate and secondary metabolism, and senescence. On the other side, the genes responsible for rapid growth and biomass accumulation through DNA assembly, protein synthesis and carbon fixation are repressed. Noticeably, three members of late embryogenesis abundant protein family are exclusively expressed during turion formation. High expression level of key genes in starch synthesis are APS1, APL3 and GBSSI, which could artificially be reduced for re-directing carbon flow from photosynthesis to create a higher energy biomass. CONCLUSIONS: The identification and functional annotation of differentially expressed genes open a major step towards understanding the molecular network underlying vegetative frond dormancy. Moreover, genes have been identified that could be engineered in duckweeds for practical applications easing agricultural production of food crops.
Wang, W, Haberer G, Gundlach H, Glasser C, Nussbaumer T, Luo MC, Lomsadze A, Borodovsky M, Kerstetter RA, Shanklin J et al..  2014.  The Spirodela polyrhiza genome reveals insights into its neotenous reduction fast growth and aquatic lifestyle. Nat Commun. 5:3311. AbstractWebsite
The subfamily of the Lemnoideae belongs to a different order than other monocotyledonous species that have been sequenced and comprises aquatic plants that grow rapidly on the water surface. Here we select Spirodela polyrhiza for whole-genome sequencing. We show that Spirodela has a genome with no signs of recent retrotranspositions but signatures of two ancient whole-genome duplications, possibly 95 million years ago (mya), older than those in Arabidopsis and rice. Its genome has only 19,623 predicted protein-coding genes, which is 28% less than the dicotyledonous Arabidopsis thaliana and 50% less than monocotyledonous rice. We propose that at least in part, the neotenous reduction of these aquatic plants is based on readjusted copy numbers of promoters and repressors of the juvenile-to-adult transition. The Spirodela genome, along with its unique biology and physiology, will stimulate new insights into environmental adaptation, ecology, evolution and plant development, and will be instrumental for future bioenergy applications.
Wang, C, Shi X, Liu L, Li H, Ammiraju JS, Kudrna DA, Xiong W, Wang H, Dai Z, Zheng Y et al..  2013.  Genomic resources for gene discovery, functional genome annotation, and evolutionary studies of maize and its close relatives. Genetics. 195:723-37. AbstractWebsite
Maize is one of the most important food crops and a key model for genetics and developmental biology. A genetically anchored and high-quality draft genome sequence of maize inbred B73 has been obtained to serve as a reference sequence. To facilitate evolutionary studies in maize and its close relatives, much like the Oryza Map Alignment Project (OMAP) ( bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) resource did for the rice community, we constructed BAC libraries for maize inbred lines Zheng58, Chang7-2, and Mo17 and maize wild relatives Zea mays ssp. parviglumis and Tripsacum dactyloides. Furthermore, to extend functional genomic studies to maize and sorghum, we also constructed binary BAC (BIBAC) libraries for the maize inbred B73 and the sorghum landrace Nengsi-1. The BAC/BIBAC vectors facilitate transfer of large intact DNA inserts from BAC clones to the BIBAC vector and functional complementation of large DNA fragments. These seven Zea Map Alignment Project (ZMAP) BAC/BIBAC libraries have average insert sizes ranging from 92 to 148 kb, organellar DNA from 0.17 to 2.3%, empty vector rates between 0.35 and 5.56%, and genome equivalents of 4.7- to 8.4-fold. The usefulness of the Parviglumis and Tripsacum BAC libraries was demonstrated by mapping clones to the reference genome. Novel genes and alleles present in these ZMAP libraries can now be used for functional complementation studies and positional or homology-based cloning of genes for translational genomics.
Goettel, W, Messing J.  2013.  Epiallele biogenesis in maize. Gene. 516:8-23. AbstractWebsite
We have correlated cytosine methylation of two epialleles, P1-rr and P1-pr, with variation in gene expression and therefore phenotype. The p1 gene in maize encodes a transcription factor that controls phlobaphene pigment accumulation in floral tissues. While cytosine methylation was assayed in various regions spanning 17 kb, the only difference in DNA methylation pattern between the expressed P1-rr allele and the silenced P1-pr allele was detected in a region that consists of a complex arrangement of transposons and adjacent repeats. This region, which comprises the distal enhancer element of P1-rr, is hypermethylated in P1-pr compared to P1-rr. Based on other precedents, we hypothesize that DNA methylation spreads from the transposable elements into the flanking P1-rr enhancer, thereby transcriptionally silencing the gene. Interestingly, P1-pr is reactivated in mutants of the dominant epigenetic modifier Ufo1. DNA methylation in the distal enhancer sequence is significantly reduced, which inversely correlates with increased transcript levels and pigmentation in P1-pr Ufo1 plants. If in general DNA methylation spreads from transposons into adjacent sequences containing regulatory elements for neighboring genes, the corresponding genes could be silenced by chance. Given the large amount of transposable elements in the maize genome, epialleles may be far more frequent than previously estimated.