Genetic dissection of the gene coexpression network underlying photosynthesis in Populus.
ABSTRACT: Photosynthesis is a key reaction that ultimately generates the carbohydrates needed to form woody tissues in trees. However, the genetic regulatory network of protein-encoding genes (PEGs) and regulatory noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), including microRNAs (miRNAs) and long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), underlying the photosynthetic pathway is unknown. Here, we integrated data from coexpression analysis, association studies (additive, dominance and epistasis), and expression quantitative trait nucleotide (eQTN) mapping to dissect the causal variants and genetic interaction network underlying photosynthesis in Populus. We initially used 30 PEGs, 6 miRNAs and 12 lncRNAs to construct a coexpression network based on the tissue-specific gene expression profiles of 15 Populus samples. Then, we performed association studies using a natural population of 435 unrelated Populus tomentosa individuals, and identified 72 significant associations (P ? 0.001, q ? 0.05) with diverse additive and dominance patterns underlying photosynthesis-related traits. Analysis of epistasis and eQTNs revealed that the complex genetic interactions in the coexpression network contribute to phenotypes at various levels. Finally, we demonstrated that heterologously expressing the most highly linked gene (PtoPsbX1) in this network significantly improved photosynthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana, pointing to the functional role of PtoPsbX1 in the photosynthetic pathway. This study provides an integrated strategy for dissecting a complex genetic interaction network, which should accelerate marker-assisted breeding efforts to genetically improve woody plants.
Project description:Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) function in various biological processes. However, their roles in secondary growth of plants remain poorly understood. Here, 15,691 lncRNAs were identified from vascular cambium, developing xylem, and mature xylem of Populus tomentosa with high and low biomass using RNA-seq, including 1,994 lncRNAs that were differentially expressed (DE) among the six libraries. 3,569 cis-regulated and 3,297 trans-regulated protein-coding genes were predicted as potential target genes (PTGs) of the DE lncRNAs to participate in biological regulation. Then, 476 and 28 lncRNAs were identified as putative targets and endogenous target mimics (eTMs) of Populus known microRNAs (miRNAs), respectively. Genome re-sequencing of 435 individuals from a natural population of P. tomentosa found 34,015 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within 178 lncRNA loci and 522 PTGs. Single-SNP associations analysis detected 2,993 associations with 10 growth and wood-property traits under additive and dominance model. Epistasis analysis identified 17,656 epistatic SNP pairs, providing evidence for potential regulatory interactions between lncRNAs and their PTGs. Furthermore, a reconstructed epistatic network, representing interactions of 8 lncRNAs and 15 PTGs, might enrich regulation roles of genes in the phenylpropanoid pathway. These findings may enhance our understanding of non-coding genes in plants.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The gap between the real and potential photosynthetic rate under field conditions suggests that photosynthesis could potentially be improved. Nuclear genes provide possible targets for improving photosynthetic efficiency. Hence, genome-wide identification and characterization of the nuclear genes affecting photosynthetic traits in woody plants would provide key insights on genetic regulation of photosynthesis and identify candidate processes for improvement of photosynthesis. RESULTS: Using microarray and bulked segregant analysis strategies, we identified differentially expressed nuclear genes for photosynthesis traits in a segregating population of poplar. We identified 515 differentially expressed genes in this population (FC ? 2 or FC ? 0.5, P < 0.05), 163 up-regulated and 352 down-regulated. Real-time PCR expression analysis confirmed the microarray data. Singular Enrichment Analysis identified 48 significantly enriched GO terms for molecular functions (28), biological processes (18) and cell components (2). Furthermore, we selected six candidate genes for functional examination by a single-marker association approach, which demonstrated that 20 SNPs in five candidate genes significantly associated with photosynthetic traits, and the phenotypic variance explained by each SNP ranged from 2.3% to 12.6%. This revealed that regulation of photosynthesis by the nuclear genome mainly involves transport, metabolism and response to stimulus functions. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides new genome-scale strategies for the discovery of potential candidate genes affecting photosynthesis in Populus, and for identification of the functions of genes involved in regulation of photosynthesis. This work also suggests that improving photosynthetic efficiency under field conditions will require the consideration of multiple factors, such as stress responses.
Project description:High-performance mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics enabled the construction of a detailed proteome atlas for Populus, a woody perennial plant model organism. Optimization of experimental procedures and implementation of current state-of-the-art instrumentation afforded the most detailed look into the predicted proteome space of Populus, offering varying proteome perspectives: (1) network-wide, (2) pathway-specific, and (3) protein-level viewpoints. Together, enhanced protein retrieval through a detergent-based lysis approach and maximized peptide sampling via the dual-pressure linear ion trap mass spectrometer (LTQ Velos), have resulted in the identification of 63,056 tryptic peptides. The technological advancements, specifically spectral-acquisition and sequencing speed, afforded the deepest look into the Populus proteome, with peptide abundances spanning 6 orders of magnitude and mapping to ?25% of the predicted proteome space. In total, tryptic peptides mapped to 11,689 protein assignments across four organ-types: mature (fully expanded, leaf plastichronic index (LPI) 10-12) leaf, young (juvenile, LPI 4-6) leaf, root, and stem. To resolve protein ambiguity, identified proteins were grouped by sequence similarity (? 90%), thereby reducing the protein assignments into 7538 protein groups. In addition, this large-scale data set features the first systems-wide survey of protein expression across different Populus organs. As a demonstration of the precision and comprehensiveness of the semiquantitative analysis, we were able to contrast two stages of leaf development, mature versus young leaf. Statistical comparison through ANOVA analysis revealed 1432 protein groups that exhibited statistically significant (p ? 0.01) differences in protein abundance. Experimental validation of the metabolic circuitry expected in mature leaf (characterized by photosynthesis and carbon fixation) compared with young leaf (characterized by rapid growth and moderate photosynthetic activities) strongly testifies to the credibility of the approach. Instead of quantitatively comparing a few proteins, a systems view of all the changes associated with a given cellular perturbation could be made.
Project description:Lignin provides structural support in perennial woody plants and is a complex phenolic polymer derived from phenylpropanoid pathway. Lignin biosynthesis is regulated by coordinated networks involving transcription factors (TFs), microRNAs (miRNAs) and long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). However, the genetic networks underlying the lignin biosynthesis pathway for tree growth and wood properties remain unknown. Here, we used association genetics (additive, dominant and epistasis) and expression quantitative trait nucleotide (eQTN) mapping to decipher the genetic networks for tree growth and wood properties in 435 unrelated individuals of Populus tomentosa. We detected 124 significant associations (P ? 6.89E-05) for 10 growth and wood property traits using 30 265 single nucleotide polymorphisms from 203 lignin biosynthetic genes, 81 TF genes, 36 miRNA genes and 71 lncRNA loci, implying their common roles in wood formation. Epistasis analysis uncovered 745 significant pairwise interactions, which helped to construct proposed genetic networks of lignin biosynthesis pathway and found that these regulators might affect phenotypes by linking two lignin biosynthetic genes. eQTNs were used to interpret how causal genes contributed to phenotypes. Lastly, we investigated the possible functions of the genes encoding 4-coumarate: CoA ligase and cinnamate-4-hydroxylase in wood traits using epistasis, eQTN mapping and enzymatic activity assays. Our study provides new insights into the lignin biosynthesis pathway in poplar and enables the novel genetic factors as biomarkers for facilitating genetic improvement of trees.
Project description:Photosynthetic carbon assimilation and transpirational water loss play an important role in the yield and the carbon sequestration potential of bioenergy-devoted cultures of fast-growing trees. For six poplar (Populus) genotypes in a short-rotation plantation, we observed significant seasonal and genotypic variation in photosynthetic parameters, intrinsic water-use efficiency (WUEi) and leaf stable isotope composition (?13C and ?18O). The poplars maintained high photosynthetic rates (between 17.8 and 26.9??mol?m(-2)?s(-1) depending on genotypes) until late in the season, in line with their fast-growth habit. Seasonal fluctuations were mainly explained by variations in soil water availability and by stomatal limitation upon photosynthesis. Stomatal rather than biochemical limitation was confirmed by the constant intrinsic photosynthetic capacity (Vcmax) during the growing season, closely related to leaf nitrogen (N) content. Intrinsic water-use efficiency scaled negatively with carbon isotope discrimination (?13Cbl) and positively with the ratio between mesophyll diffusion conductance (gm) and stomatal conductance. The WUEi-?13Cbl relationship was partly influenced by gm. There was a trade-off between WUEi and photosynthetic N-use efficiency, but only when soil water availability was limiting. Our results suggest that seasonal fluctuations in relation to soil water availability should be accounted for in future modelling studies assessing the carbon sequestration potential and the water-use efficiency of woody energy crops.
Project description:In perennial woody plants, the coordinated increase of stem height and diameter during juvenile growth improves competitiveness (i.e. access to light); however, the factors underlying variation in stem growth remain unknown in trees. Here, we used linkage-linkage disequilibrium (linkage-LD) mapping to decipher the genetic architecture underlying three growth traits during juvenile stem growth. We used two Populus populations: a linkage mapping population comprising a full-sib family of 1,200 progeny and an association mapping panel comprising 435 unrelated individuals from nearly the entire natural range of Populus tomentosa. We mapped 311 quantitative trait loci (QTL) for three growth traits at 12 timepoints to 42 regions in 17 linkage groups. Of these, 28 regions encompassing 233 QTL were annotated as 27 segmental homology regions (SHRs). Using SNPs identified by whole-genome re-sequencing of the 435-member association mapping panel, we identified significant SNPs (P ≤ 9.4 × 10-7 ) within 27 SHRs that affect stem growth at nine timepoints with diverse additive and dominance patterns, and these SNPs exhibited complex allelic epistasis over the juvenile growth period. Nineteen genes linked to potential causative alleles that have time-specific or pleiotropic effects, and mostly overlapped with significant signatures of selection within SHRs between climatic regions represented by the association mapping panel. Five genes with potential time-specific effects showed species-specific temporal expression profiles during the juvenile stages of stem growth in five representative Populus species. Our observations revealed the importance of considering temporal genetic basis of complex traits, which will facilitate the molecular design of tree ideotypes.
Project description:Photosynthesis/nutrient relationships of proximally growing forest and savanna trees were determined in an ecotonal region of Cameroon (Africa). Although area-based foliar N concentrations were typically lower for savanna trees, there was no difference in photosynthetic rates between the two vegetation formation types. Opposite to N, area-based P concentrations were-on average-slightly lower for forest trees; a dependency of photosynthetic characteristics on foliar P was only evident for savanna trees. Thus savanna trees use N more efficiently than their forest counterparts, but only in the presence of relatively high foliar P. Along with some other recent studies, these results suggest that both N and P are important modulators of woody tropical plant photosynthetic capacities, influencing photosynthetic metabolism in different ways that are also biome specific. Attempts to find simple unifying equations to describe woody tropical vegetation photosynthesis-nutrient relationships are likely to meet with failure, with ecophysiological distinctions between forest and savanna requiring acknowledgement.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Green plant leaves have always fascinated biologists as hosts for photosynthesis and providers of basic energy to many food webs. Today, comprehensive databases of gene expression data enable us to apply increasingly more advanced computational methods for reverse-engineering the regulatory network of leaves, and to begin to understand the gene interactions underlying complex emergent properties related to stress-response and development. These new systems biology methods are now also being applied to organisms such as Populus, a woody perennial tree, in order to understand the specific characteristics of these species. RESULTS: We present a systems biology model of the regulatory network of Populus leaves. The network is reverse-engineered from promoter information and expression profiles of leaf-specific genes measured over a large set of conditions related to stress and developmental. The network model incorporates interactions between regulators, such as synergistic and competitive relationships, by evaluating increasingly more complex regulatory mechanisms, and is therefore able to identify new regulators of leaf development not found by traditional genomics methods based on pair-wise expression similarity. The approach is shown to explain available gene function information and to provide robust prediction of expression levels in new data. We also use the predictive capability of the model to identify condition-specific regulation as well as conserved regulation between Populus and Arabidopsis. CONCLUSIONS: We outline a computationally inferred model of the regulatory network of Populus leaves, and show how treating genes as interacting, rather than individual, entities identifies new regulators compared to traditional genomics analysis. Although systems biology models should be used with care considering the complexity of regulatory programs and the limitations of current genomics data, methods describing interactions can provide hypotheses about the underlying cause of emergent properties and are needed if we are to identify target genes other than those constituting the "low hanging fruit" of genomic analysis.
Project description:Transcription factors (TFs) regulate gene expression and can strongly affect phenotypes. However, few studies have examined TF variants and TF interactions with their targets in plants. Here, we used genetic association in 435 unrelated individuals of Populus tomentosa to explore the variants in Pto-Wuschela and its targets to decipher the genetic regulatory network of Pto-Wuschela. Our bioinformatics and co-expression analysis identified 53 genes with the motif TCACGTGA as putative targets of Pto-Wuschela. Single-marker association analysis showed that Pto-Wuschela was associated with wood properties, which is in agreement with the observation that it has higher expression in stem vascular tissues in Populus. Also, SNPs in the 53 targets were associated with growth or wood properties under additive or dominance effects, suggesting these genes and Pto-Wuschela may act in the same genetic pathways that affect variation in these quantitative traits. Epistasis analysis indicated that 75.5% of these genes directly or indirectly interacted Pto-Wuschela, revealing the coordinated genetic regulatory network formed by Pto-Wuschela and its targets. Thus, our study provides an alternative method for dissection of the interactions between a TF and its targets, which will strength our understanding of the regulatory roles of TFs in complex traits in plants.
Project description:Despite the significance of nucleus genes in plant growth and development, little is known of the molecular bases of regulation of photosynthesis in woody plants.Hence discovering the genetic basis for photosynthesis related phenotypic variation and identifying the major genes controlling these complex traits in trees is essential. Combining the microarray technique and bulked segregant analysis strategy, we used poplar as a model to detect the nucleus genes differentially expressed in segregation population of photosynthesis traits. We measured the F1 interspecific population and segregated the stable extrem samples into two groups including three pools containing five incividuals.Use the Affymetrix poplar gene chip to decrypt the gene functions and mechanisms in different photosynthetic rate. Leaves were taken from high and low photosynthetic rate individuals for RNA extraction and hybridization on Affymetrix microarrays. H_A, H_B, H_C are from the high photosynthetic rate individuals. L_D,L_E, L_F are from the low photosynthetic rate incividuals.