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Juvenile-mature wood transition in pine: correlation between wood properties and candidate gene expression profiles

Kumar, Manoj, Saranpää, Pekka, Barnett, John R., Wilkinson, Michael J.
Euphytica 2009 v.166 no.3 pp. 341-355
tree growth, juvenility, messenger RNA, aquaporins, tubulin, wood, gene expression, genes, Pinus sylvestris, genetic techniques and protocols, Pinus taeda, juvenile wood, plant proteins
There is a strong desire to exploit transcriptomics data from model species for the genetic improvement of non-model crops. Here, we use gene expression profiles from the commercial model Pinus taeda to identify candidate genes implicated in juvenile-mature wood transition in the non-model relative, P. sylvestris. Re-analysis of 'public domain' SAGE data from xylem tissues of P. taeda revealed 283 mature-abundant and 396 juvenile-abundant tags (P < 0.01), of which 70 and 137, respectively matched to genes with known function. Based on sequence similarity, we then isolated 16 putative homologues of genes that in P. taeda exhibited widest divergence in expression between juvenile and mature samples. Candidate expression levels in P. sylvestris were almost invariably differential between juvenile and mature woody tissue samples among two cohorts of five trees collected from the same seed source and selected for genetic uniformity by genetic distance analysis. However, the direction of differential expression was not always consistent with that described in the original P. taeda SAGE data. Correlation was observed between gene expression and juvenile-mature wood anatomical characteristics by OPLS analysis. Four candidates (α-tubulin, porin MIP1, lipid transfer protein and aquaporin like protein) apparently had greatest influence on the wood traits measured. Speculative function of these genes in relation to juvenile-mature wood transition is briefly explored. Thus, we demonstrate the feasibility of exploiting SAGE data from a model species to identify consistently differentially expressed candidates in a related non-model species.