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Transcriptome analysis of chestnut (Castanea sativa) tree buds suggests a putative role for epigenetic control of bud dormancy

Santamaría, María Estrella, Rodríguez, Roberto, Cañal, María Jesús, Toorop, Peter E.
Annals of botany 2011 v.108 no.3 pp. 485-498
epigenetics, seed dormancy, buds, protein synthesis, complementary DNA, developmental stages, stress response, expressed sequence tags, gene expression, suppression subtractive hybridization, trees, cDNA libraries, transcriptome, Castanea sativa, gene expression regulation, leaves, stress tolerance
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Recent papers indicated that epigenetic control is involved in transitions in bud dormancy, purportedly controlling gene expression. The present study aimed to identify genes that are differentially expressed in dormant and non-dormant Castanea sativa buds. METHODS: Two suppression subtractive hybridization cDNA libraries were constructed to characterize the transcriptomes of dormant apical buds of C. sativa, and buds in which dormancy was released. KEY RESULTS: A total of 512 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) were generated in a forward and reverse subtractive hybridization experiment. Classification of these ESTs into functional groups demonstrated that dormant buds were predominantly characterized by genes associated with stress response, while non-dormant buds were characterized by genes associated with energy, protein synthesis and cellular components for development and growth. ESTs for a few genes involved in different forms of epigenetic modification were found in both libraries, suggesting a role for epigenetic control in bud dormancy different from that in growth. Genes encoding histone mono-ubiquitinase HUB2 and histone acetyltransferase GCN5L were associated with dormancy, while a gene encoding histone H3 kinase AUR3 was associated with growth. Real-time RT-PCR with a selection of genes involved in epigenetic modification and stress tolerance confirmed the expression of the majority of investigated genes in various stages of bud development, revealing a cyclical expression pattern concurring with the growth seasons for most genes. However, senescing leaves also showed an increased expression of several of the genes associated with dormancy, implying pleiotropy. Furthermore, a comparison between these subtraction cDNA libraries and the poplar bud dormancy transcriptome and arabidopsis transcriptomes for seed dormancy and non-dormancy indicated a common basis for dormancy in all three systems. CONCLUSIONS: Bud dormancy and non-dormancy in C. sativa were characterized by distinct sets of genes and are likely to be under different epigenetic control.