Project description:Polyploidy poses challenges for phylogenetic reconstruction because of the need to identify and distinguish between homoeologous loci. This can be addressed by use of low copy nuclear markers. Panicum s.s. is a genus of about 100 species in the grass tribe Paniceae, subfamily Panicoideae, and is divided into five sections. Many of the species are known to be polyploids. The most well-known of the Panicum polyploids are switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and common or Proso millet (P. miliaceum). Switchgrass is in section Virgata, along with P. tricholaenoides, P. amarum, and P. amarulum, whereas P. miliaceum is in sect. Panicum. We have generated sequence data from five low copy nuclear loci and two chloroplast loci and have clarified the origin of P. virgatum. We find that all members of sects. Virgata and Urvilleana are the result of diversification after a single allopolyploidy event. The closest diploid relatives of switchgrass are in sect. Rudgeana, native to Central and South America. Within sections Virgata and Urvilleana, P. tricholaenoides is sister to the remaining species. Panicum racemosum and P. urvilleanum form a clade, which may be sister to P. chloroleucum. Panicum amarum, P. amarulum, and the lowland and upland ecotypes of P. virgatum together form a clade, within which relationships are complex. Hexaploid and octoploid plants are likely allopolyploids, with P. amarum and P. amarulum sharing genomes with P. virgatum. Octoploid P. virgatum plants are formed via hybridization between disparate tetraploids. We show that polyploidy precedes diversification in a complex set of polyploids; our data thus suggest that polyploidy could provide the raw material for diversification. In addition, we show two rounds of allopolyploidization in the ancestry of switchgrass, and identify additional species that may be part of its broader gene pool. This may be relevant for development of the crop for biofuels.
Project description:Small RNAs (21-24 nt) are pivotal regulators of gene expression that guide both transcriptional and post-transcriptional silencing mechanisms in diverse eukaryotes, including most if not all plants. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) and short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are the two major types, both of which have a demonstrated and important role in plant development, stress responses and pathogen resistance. In this work, we used a deep sequencing approach (Sequencing-By-Synthesis, or SBS) to develop sequence resources of small RNAs from Panicum virgatum tissues (including leaves, drought-treated leaves and flowers). The high depth of the resulting datasets enabled us to examine in detail critical small RNA features as size distribution, tissue-specific regulation and sequence conservation between different organs in this species. We also developed database resources and a dedicated website (http://smallrna.udel.edu/) with computational tools for allowing other users to identify new miRNAs or siRNAs involved in specific regulatory pathways, verify the degree of conservation of these sequences in other plant species and map small RNAs on genes or larger regions of the maize genome under study. Overall design: Small RNA libraries were derived from leaves, drought-treated leaves and flowers of Panicum virgatum. Total RNA was isolated using the Plant RNA Purification Reagent (Invitrogen), and submitted to Illumina (Hayward, CA, http://www.illumina.com) for small RNA library construction using approaches described in (Lu et al., 2007) with minor modifications. The small RNA libraries were sequenced with the Sequencing-By-Synthesis (SBS) technology by Illumina. PERL scripts were designed to remove the adapter sequences and determine the abundance of each distinct small RNA. We thank Pamela Green for providing the plant material as well as Kan Nobuta and Gayathri Mahalingam for assistance with the computational methods.