Rapid LD decay in wild emmer population from Israel allows high-resolution association mapping. Known and putative new stripe rust resistance genes were found. Genome-wide association mapping (GWAM) is becoming an important tool for the discovery and mapping of loci underlying trait variation in crops, but in the wild relatives of crops the use of GWAM has been limited. Critical factors for the use of GWAM are the levels of linkage disequilibrium (LD) and genetic diversity in mapped populations, particularly in those of self-pollinating species. Here, we report LD estimation in a population of 128 accessions of self-pollinating wild emmer, Triticum turgidum ssp. dicoccoides, the progenitor of cultivated wheat, collected in Israel. LD decayed fast along wild emmer chromosomes and reached the background level within 1 cM. We employed GWAM for the discovery and mapping of genes for resistance to three isolates of Puccinia striiformis, the causative agent of wheat stripe rust. The wild emmer population was genotyped with the wheat iSelect assay including 8643 gene-associated SNP markers (wheat 9K Infinium) of which 2,278 were polymorphic. The significance of association between stripe rust resistance and each of the polymorphic SNP was tested using mixed linear model implemented in EMMA software. The model produced satisfactory results and uncovered four significant associations on chromosome arms 1BS, 1BL and 3AL. The locus on 1BS was located in a region known to contain stripe rust resistance genes. These results show that GWAM is an effective strategy for gene discovery and mapping in wild emmer that will accelerate the utilization of this genetic resource in wheat breeding.
Repeat sequences, especially mobile elements, make up large portions of most eukaryotic genomes and provide enormous, albeit commonly underappreciated, evolutionary potential. We analyzed repeatomes of Drosophila melanogaster that have been diverging in response to a microclimate contrast in Evolution Canyon (Mount Carmel, Israel), a natural evolutionary laboratory with two abutting slopes at an average distance of only 200 m, which pose a constant ecological challenge to their local biotas. Flies inhabiting the colder and more humid north-facing slope carried about 6% more transposable elements than those from the hot and dry south-facing slope, in parallel to a suite of other genetic and phenotypic differences between the two populations. Nearly 50% of all mobile element insertions were slope unique, with many of them disrupting coding sequences of genes critical for cognition, olfaction, and thermotolerance, consistent with the observed patterns of thermotolerance differences and assortative mating.
The white grouper (Epinephelus aeneus) is a promising candidate for domestication and aquaculture due to its fast growth, excellent taste, and high market price. A linkage map is an essential framework for mapping quantitative trait loci for economic traits and the study of genome evolution. DNA of a single individual was deep-sequenced, and microsatellite markers were identified in 177 of the largest scaffolds of the sequence assembly. The success rate of developing polymorphic homologous markers was 94.9% compared with 63.1% of heterologous markers from other grouper species. Of the 12 adult mature fish present in the broodstock tank, two males and two females were identified as parents of the assigned offspring by parenthood analysis using 34 heterologous markers. A single full-sib family of 48 individuals was established for the construction of first-generation linkage maps based on genotyping data of 222 microsatellites. The markers were assigned to 24 linkage groups in accordance to the 24 chromosomal pairs. The female and male maps consisting of 203 and 202 markers spanned 1053 and 886 cM, with an average intermarker distance of 5.8 and 5.0 cM, respectively. Mapping of markers to linkage groups ends was enriched by using markers originating from scaffolds harboring telomeric repeat-containing RNA. Comparative mapping showed high synteny relationships among the white grouper, kelp grouper (E. bruneus), orange-spotted grouper (E. coioides), and Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). Thus, it would be useful to integrate the markers that were developed for different groupers, depending on sharing of sequence data, into a comprehensive consensus map.
In an earlier study, we hypothesized that genomic segments with different sequence organization patterns (OPs) might display functional specificity despite their similar GC content. Here we tested this hypothesis by dividing the human genome into 100 kb segments, classifying these segments into five compositional groups according to GC content, and then characterizing each segment within the five groups by oligonucleotide counting (k-mer analysis; also referred to as compositional spectrum analysis, or CSA), to examine the distribution of sequence OPs in the segments. We performed the CSA on the entire DNA, i.e., its coding and non-coding parts the latter being much more abundant in the genome than the former.
High-density single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping arrays are a powerful tool for studying genomic patterns of diversity, inferring ancestral relationships between individuals in populations and studying marker-trait associations in mapping experiments. We developed a genotyping array including about 90,000 gene-associated SNPs and used it to characterize genetic variation in allohexaploid and allotetraploid wheat populations. The array includes a significant fraction of common genome-wide distributed SNPs that are represented in populations of diverse geographical origin. We used density-based spatial clustering algorithms to enable high-throughput genotype calling in complex data sets obtained for polyploid wheat. We show that these model-free clustering algorithms provide accurate genotype calling in the presence of multiple clusters including clusters with low signal intensity resulting from significant sequence divergence at the target SNP site or gene deletions. Assays that detect low-intensity clusters can provide insight into the distribution of presence-absence variation (PAV) in wheat populations. A total of 46 977 SNPs from the wheat 90K array were genetically mapped using a combination of eight mapping populations. The developed array and cluster identification algorithms provide an opportunity to infer detailed haplotype structure in polyploid wheat and will serve as an invaluable resource for diversity studies and investigating the genetic basis of trait variation in wheat.
The opposite slopes of "Evolution Canyon" in Israel have served as a natural model system of adaptation to a microclimate contrast. Long-term studies of Drosophila melanogaster populations inhabiting the canyon have exhibited significant interslope divergence in thermal and drought stress resistance, candidate genes, mobile elements, habitat choice, mating discrimination, and wing-shape variation, all despite close physical proximity of the contrasting habitats, as well as substantial interslope migration. To examine patterns of genetic differentiation at the genome-wide level, we used high coverage sequencing of the flies genomes. A total of 572 genes were significantly different in allele frequency between the slopes, 106 out of which were associated with 74 significantly overrepresented gene ontology (GO) terms, particularly so with response to stimulus and developmental and reproductive processes, thus corroborating previous observations of interslope divergence in stress response, life history, and mating functions. There were at least 37 chromosomal "islands" of interslope divergence and low sequence polymorphism, plausible signatures of selective sweeps, more abundant in flies derived from one (north-facing) of the slopes. Positive correlation between local recombination rate and the level of nucleotide polymorphism was also found.
Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) is an important cereal crop and a model species for Triticeae genomics. To lay the foundation for hierarchical map-based sequencing, a genome-wide physical map of its large and complex 5.1 billion base pair genome was constructed by high-information content fingerprinting of almost 600,000 bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) representing 14x haploid genome coverage. The resultant physical map comprises 9,265 contigs with a cumulative size of 4.9 Gb representing 96 % of the physical length of the barley genome. The reliability of the map was verified through extensive genetic marker information and the analysis of topological networks of clone overlaps. A minimum tiling path of 66,772 minimally overlapping clones was defined that will serve as template for hierarchical clone-by-clone map-based shotgun sequencing. We integrated whole-genome shotgun sequence (WGS) data from the individuals of two mapping populations with published BAC survey sequence information to genetically anchor the physical map. This novel approach in combination with the comprehensive WGS datasets allowed us to independently validate and improve a previously reported physical and genetic framework. The resources developed in this study will underpin fine-mapping and cloning of agronomically important genes and the assembly of a draft genome sequence.
The harvesting method of wild and cultivated cereals has long been recognized as an important factor in the emergence of domesticated non-shattering ear genotypes. This study aimed to quantify the effects of spike brittleness and threshability on threshing time and efficiency in emmer wheat, and to evaluate the implications of post-harvest processes on domestication of cereals in the Near East.
The wheat genome sequence is an essential tool for advanced genomic research and improvements. The generation of a high-quality wheat genome sequence is challenging due to its complex 17 Gb polyploid genome. To overcome these difficulties, sequencing through the construction of BAC-based physical maps of individual chromosomes is employed by the wheat genomics community. Here, we present the construction of the first comprehensive physical map of chromosome 1BS, and illustrate its unique gene space organization and evolution.
As for other major crops, achieving a complete wheat genome sequence is essential for the application of genomics to breeding new and improved varieties. To overcome the complexities of the large, highly repetitive and hexaploid wheat genome, the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium established a chromosome-based strategy that was validated by the construction of the physical map of chromosome 3B. Here, we present improved strategies for the construction of highly integrated and ordered wheat physical maps, using chromosome 1BL as a template, and illustrate their potential for evolutionary studies and map-based cloning.
A physically anchored consensus map is foundational to modern genomics research; however, construction of such a map in oat (Avena sativa L., 2n?=?6x?=?42) has been hindered by the size and complexity of the genome, the scarcity of robust molecular markers, and the lack of aneuploid stocks. Resources developed in this study include a modified SNP discovery method for complex genomes, a diverse set of oat SNP markers, and a novel chromosome-deficient SNP anchoring strategy. These resources were applied to build the first complete, physically-anchored consensus map of hexaploid oat. Approximately 11,000 high-confidence in silico SNPs were discovered based on nine million inter-varietal sequence reads of genomic and cDNA origin. GoldenGate genotyping of 3,072 SNP assays yielded 1,311 robust markers, of which 985 were mapped in 390 recombinant-inbred lines from six bi-parental mapping populations ranging in size from 49 to 97 progeny. The consensus map included 985 SNPs and 68 previously-published markers, resolving 21 linkage groups with a total map distance of 1,838.8 cM. Consensus linkage groups were assigned to 21 chromosomes using SNP deletion analysis of chromosome-deficient monosomic hybrid stocks. Alignments with sequenced genomes of rice and Brachypodium provide evidence for extensive conservation of genomic regions, and renewed encouragement for orthology-based genomic discovery in this important hexaploid species. These results also provide a framework for high-resolution genetic analysis in oat, and a model for marker development and map construction in other species with complex genomes and limited resources.
Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) has a large and highly repetitive genome which poses major technical challenges for its study. To aid map-based cloning and future genome sequencing projects, we constructed a BAC-based physical map of the short arm of wheat chromosome 1A (1AS). From the assembly of 25,918 high information content (HICF) fingerprints from a 1AS-specific BAC library, 715 physical contigs were produced that cover almost 99% of the estimated size of the chromosome arm. The 3,414 BAC clones constituting the minimum tiling path were end-sequenced. Using a gene microarray containing ?40 K NCBI UniGene EST clusters, PCR marker screening and BAC end sequences, we arranged 160 physical contigs (97 Mb or 35.3% of the chromosome arm) in a virtual order based on synteny with Brachypodium, rice and sorghum. BAC end sequences and information from microarray hybridisation was used to anchor 3.8 Mbp of Illumina sequences from flow-sorted chromosome 1AS to BAC contigs. Comparison of genetic and synteny-based physical maps indicated that ?50% of all genetic recombination is confined to 14% of the physical length of the chromosome arm in the distal region. The 1AS physical map provides a framework for future genetic mapping projects as well as the basis for complete sequencing of chromosome arm 1AS.
Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is one of the most important crops worldwide and its production faces pressing challenges, the solution of which demands genome information. However, the large, highly repetitive hexaploid wheat genome has been considered intractable to standard sequencing approaches. Therefore the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) proposes to map and sequence the genome on a chromosome-by-chromosome basis.
Wheat is undoubtedly one of the worlds major food sources since the dawn of Near Eastern agriculture and up to the present day. Morphological, physiological, and genetic modifications involved in domestication and subsequent evolution under domestication were investigated in a tetraploid recombinant inbred line population, derived from a cross between durum wheat and its immediate progenitor wild emmer wheat. Experimental data were used to test previous assumptions regarding a protracted domestication process. The brittle rachis (Br) spike, thought to be a primary characteristic of domestication, was mapped to chromosome 2A as a single gene, suggesting, in light of previously reported Br loci (homoeologous group 3), a complex genetic model involved in spike brittleness. Twenty-seven quantitative trait loci (QTLs) conferring threshability and yield components (kernel size and number of kernels per spike) were mapped. The large number of QTLs detected in this and other studies suggests that following domestication, wheat evolutionary processes involved many genomic changes. The Br gene did not show either genetic (co-localization with QTLs) or phenotypic association with threshability or yield components, suggesting independence of the respective loci. It is argued here that changes in spike threshability and agronomic traits (e.g. yield and its components) are the outcome of plant evolution under domestication, rather than the result of a protracted domestication process. Revealing the genomic basis of wheat domestication and evolution under domestication, and clarifying their inter-relationships, will improve our understanding of wheat biology and contribute to further crop improvement.
Animal trypanosomosis in sub-Saharan Africa is a major obstacle to livestock based agriculture. Control relies on drugs with increasing incidence of multiple-drug resistance. A previous mapping experiment in an F2 population derived from the indigenous trypanotolerant NDama cattle crossed to susceptible (Kenya)-Boran cattle under controlled challenge, uncovered a number of trypanotolerance QTL (T-QTL). The present study was to determine expression of NDama trypanotolerance in a backcross to the Boran under conditions of field challenge, and whether chromosomal regions associated with trypanotolerance in the F2 experiment showed similar effects in the BC population.
The blind subterranean mole rat (Spalax ehrenbergi superspecies) is a model animal for survival under extreme environments due to its ability to live in underground habitats under severe hypoxic stress and darkness. Here we report the transcriptome sequencing of Spalax galili, a chromosomal type of S. ehrenbergi. cDNA pools from muscle and brain tissues isolated from animals exposed to hypoxic and normoxic conditions were sequenced using Sanger, GS FLX, and GS FLX Titanium technologies. Assembly of the sequences yielded over 51,000 isotigs with homology to ?12,000 mouse, rat or human genes. Based on these results, it was possible to detect large numbers of splice variants, SNPs, and novel transcribed regions. In addition, multiple differential expression patterns were detected between tissues and treatments. The results presented here will serve as a valuable resource for future studies aimed at identifying genes and gene regions evolved during the adaptive radiation associated with underground life of the blind mole rat.
We examined the role of small Hsp genes (Hsp23 and Hsp40) and heat shock gene Hsr-omega in the thermoadaptation of Drosophila melanogaster inhabiting a highly heterogeneous microsite (Nahal Oren canyon, Carmel massif, Israel). We tested whether interslope differences in Drosophila thermoadaptation, revealed in our previous studies, are associated with the differential expression of these genes. Our results demonstrate an increased expression of the Hsp40 gene in thermotolerant lines subjected to mild heat shock treatment (P < 10(-6), analysis of variance test). A high positive correlation was found between the levels of Hsp40 expression and scores of basal (R = 0.74; P < 0.001, based on the Spearman rank correlation test) and induced thermotolerance (R = 0.78; P < 0.0001), implying a significant contribution of Hsp40 gene in thermoadaptation.
Transcriptomic and metabolomic profiles were used to unravel drought adaptation mechanisms in wild emmer wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp. dicoccoides), the progenitor of cultivated wheat, by comparing the response to drought stress in roots of genotypes contrasting in drought tolerance. The differences between the drought resistant (R) and drought susceptible (S) genotypes were characterized mainly by shifts in expression of hormone-related genes (e.g., gibberellins, abscisic acid (ABA) and auxin), including biosynthesis, signalling and response; RNA binding; calcium (calmodulin, caleosin and annexin) and phosphatidylinositol signalling, in the R genotype. ABA content in the roots of the R genotype was higher in the well-watered treatment and increased in response to drought, while in the S genotype ABA was invariant. The metabolomic profiling revealed in the R genotype a higher accumulation of tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates and drought-related metabolites, including glucose, trehalose, proline and glycine. The integration of transcriptomics and metabolomics results indicated that adaptation to drought included efficient regulation and signalling pathways leading to effective bio-energetic processes, carbon metabolism and cell homeostasis. In conclusion, mechanisms of drought tolerance were identified in roots of wild emmer wheat, supporting our previous studies on the potential of this genepool as a valuable source for novel candidate genes to improve drought tolerance in cultivated wheat.
Physical maps are the substrate of genome sequencing and map-based cloning and their construction relies on the accurate assembly of BAC clones into large contigs that are then anchored to genetic maps with molecular markers. High Information Content Fingerprinting has become the method of choice for large and repetitive genomes such as those of maize, barley, and wheat. However, the high level of repeated DNA present in these genomes requires the application of very stringent criteria to ensure a reliable assembly with the FingerPrinted Contig (FPC) software, which often results in short contig lengths (of 3-5 clones before merging) as well as an unreliable assembly in some difficult regions. Difficulties can originate from a non-linear topological structure of clone overlaps, low power of clone ordering algorithms, and the absence of tools to identify sources of gaps in Minimal Tiling Paths (MTPs).
Recombination is a key evolutionary factor enhancing diversity. However, the effect of recombination on diversity in inbreeding species is expected to be low. To estimate this effect, recombination and diversity patterns of Lr10 gene were studied in natural populations of the inbreeder species, wild emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccoides). Wild emmer wheat is the progenitor of most cultivated wheats and it harbors rich genetic resources for disease resistance. Lr10 is a leaf rust resistance gene encoding three domains: a coiled-coil, nucleotide-binding site, and leucine-rich repeat (CC-NBS-LRR).
Low water availability is the major environmental factor limiting crop productivity. Transcriptome analysis was used to study terminal drought response in wild emmer wheat, Triticum dicoccoides, genotypes contrasting in their productivity and yield stability under drought stress. A total of 5,892 differentially regulated transcripts were identified between drought and well-watered control and/or between drought resistant (R) and drought susceptible (S) genotypes. Functional enrichment analyses revealed that multilevel regulatory and signalling processes were significantly enriched among the drought-induced transcripts, in particular in the R genotype. Therefore, further analyses were focused on selected 221 uniquely expressed or highly abundant transcripts in the R genotype, as potential candidates for drought resistance genes. Annotation of the 221 genes revealed that 26% of them are involved in multilevel regulation, including: transcriptional regulation, RNA binding, kinase activity and calcium and abscisic acid signalling implicated in stomatal closure. Differential expression patterns were also identified in genes known to be involved in drought adaptation pathways, such as: cell wall adjustment, cuticular wax deposition, lignification, osmoregulation, redox homeostasis, dehydration protection and drought-induced senescence. These results demonstrate the potential of wild emmer wheat as a source for candidate genes for improving drought resistance.
Understanding the evolution of sex and recombination, key factors in the evolution of life, is a major challenge in biology. Studies of reproduction strategies of natural populations are important to complement the theoretical and experimental models. Fungi with both sexual and asexual life cycles are an interesting system for understanding the evolution of sex. In a study of natural populations of yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we found that the isolates are heterothallic, meaning their mating type is stable, while the general belief is that natural S. cerevisiae strains are homothallic (can undergo mating-type switching). Mating-type switching is a gene-conversion process initiated by a site-specific endonuclease HO; this process can be followed by mother-daughter mating. Heterothallic yeast can mate with unrelated haploids (amphimixis), or undergo mating between spores from the same tetrad (intratetrad mating, or automixis), but cannot undergo mother-daughter mating as homothallic yeasts can. Sequence analysis of HO gene in a panel of natural S. cerevisiae isolates revealed multiple mutations. Good correspondence was found in the comparison of population structure characterized using 19 microsatellite markers spread over eight chromosomes and the HO sequence. Experiments that tested whether the mating-type switching pathway upstream and downstream of HO is functional, together with the detected HO mutations, strongly suggest that loss of function of HO is the cause of heterothallism. Furthermore, our results support the hypothesis that clonal reproduction and intratetrad mating may predominate in natural yeast populations, while mother-daughter mating might not be as significant as was considered.
We examined the genetic diversity and divergence of Ricotia lunaria, a family relative species of Arabidopsis thaliana, sampled from 6 stations on 2 opposing slopes, the south-facing slope ("African" or AS) and north-facing slope ("European" or ES), separated on average by 200 m, at "Evolution Canyon," Lower Nahal Oren, Mount Carmel, Israel, along a transect presenting sharply differing microclimates. The density of R. lunaria populations was slope specific: a higher density and smaller plants were observed on the AS. In addition, the density was positively correlated with annual plant cover. The interslope and intraslope genetic diversities of R. lunaria populations were examined using the amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) technique with 5 primer pairs. Ricotia lunaria populations inhabiting the ES and AS differed, and among the 468 scored loci, 304 (65%) were polymorphic (at P >or= 0.05 level). Polymorphism values obtained for AS and ES populations were similar (52% vs. 56%), but different loci were polymorphic in different populations; 40% of polymorphic loci were identical on both the ES and AS, 16% were polymorphic for the ES only, and 12% were polymorphic only for the AS. The AFLP results grouped the analyzed genotypes into 2 distinct clusters: one cluster included the plants belonging to the AS and the other included ES plants. The unbiased estimate of Nei genetic distances (D) indicated significantly higher interslope (D = 0.124 +/- 0.011) than intraslope (D = 0.076 +/- 0.015) differences (P < 0.001 in t-test). Correspondingly, mean intraslope gene flow was significantly higher than the interslope gene flow (2.9 +/- 0.6 vs. 1.9 +/- 0.2). Natural selection appears to adaptively diverge the plant ecotypes on the opposite slope, both phenotypically and genotypically. This includes significant divergence in flowering time likely to initiate incipient sympatric speciation.
Mineral nutrient malnutrition, and particularly deficiency in zinc and iron, afflicts over 3 billion people worldwide. Wild emmer wheat, Triticum turgidum ssp. dicoccoides, genepool harbors a rich allelic repertoire for mineral nutrients in the grain. The genetic and physiological basis of grain protein, micronutrients (zinc, iron, copper and manganese) and macronutrients (calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and sulfur) concentration was studied in tetraploid wheat population of 152 recombinant inbred lines (RILs), derived from a cross between durum wheat (cv. Langdon) and wild emmer (accession G18-16). Wide genetic variation was found among the RILs for all grain minerals, with considerable transgressive effect. A total of 82 QTLs were mapped for 10 minerals with LOD score range of 3.2-16.7. Most QTLs were in favor of the wild allele (50 QTLs). Fourteen pairs of QTLs for the same trait were mapped to seemingly homoeologous positions, reflecting synteny between the A and B genomes. Significant positive correlation was found between grain protein concentration (GPC), Zn, Fe and Cu, which was supported by significant overlap between the respective QTLs, suggesting common physiological and/or genetic factors controlling the concentrations of these mineral nutrients. Few genomic regions (chromosomes 2A, 5A, 6B and 7A) were found to harbor clusters of QTLs for GPC and other nutrients. These identified QTLs may facilitate the use of wild alleles for improving grain nutritional quality of elite wheat cultivars, especially in terms of protein, Zn and Fe.
Drought is the major factor limiting wheat productivity worldwide. The gene pool of wild emmer wheat, Triticum turgidum ssp. dicoccoides, harbours a rich allelic repertoire for morpho-physiological traits conferring drought resistance. The genetic and physiological bases of drought responses were studied here in a tetraploid wheat population of 152 recombinant inbreed lines (RILs), derived from a cross between durum wheat (cv. Langdon) and wild emmer (acc# G18-16), under contrasting water availabilities. Wide genetic variation was found among RILs for all studied traits. A total of 110 quantitative trait loci (QTLs) were mapped for 11 traits, with LOD score range of 3.0-35.4. Several QTLs showed environmental specificity, accounting for productivity and related traits under water-limited (20 QTLs) or well-watered conditions (15 QTLs), and in terms of drought susceptibility index (22 QTLs). Major genomic regions controlling productivity and related traits were identified on chromosomes 2B, 4A, 5A and 7B. QTLs for productivity were associated with QTLs for drought-adaptive traits, suggesting the involvement of several strategies in wheat adaptation to drought stress. Fifteen pairs of QTLs for the same trait were mapped to seemingly homoeologous positions, reflecting synteny between the A and B genomes. The identified QTLs may facilitate the use of wild alleles for improvement of drought resistance in elite wheat cultivars.
The development of complex responses to hypoxia has played a key role in the evolution of mammals, as inadequate response to this condition is frequently associated with cardiovascular diseases, developmental disorders, and cancers. Though numerous studies have used mice and rats in order to explore mechanisms that contribute to hypoxia tolerance, these studies are limited due to the high sensitivity of most rodents to severe hypoxia. The blind subterranean mole rat Spalax is a hypoxia tolerant rodent, which exhibits unique longevity and therefore has invaluable potential in hypoxia and cancer research.
Trypanosomosis, a protozoal disease affecting livestock, transmitted by Glossina (tsetse) flies is a major constraint to agricultural production in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is accepted that utilization of the native trypanotolerance exhibited in some of the African cattle breeds to improve trypanotolerance of more productive but susceptible breeds, will offer a cost effective and sustainable solution to the problem. The success of this approach is based on the premise that quantitative trait loci previously identified under relatively controlled situations confer useful trypanotolerance under natural field situations. As part of a study to authenticate this hypothesis, a population of 192 cattle, consisting of six batches of NDama and Kenya-Boran backcross animals [(NDama x Kenya-Boran) x Kenya-Boran] born over the period 2002 to 2006 was constructed. Some of the batches also included pure Kenya-Boran cattle, or NDama x Kenya- Boran F1 animals. Each batch was exposed as yearlings to natural field trypanosomosis challenge over a period of about one year; the entire challenge period extending from December 2003 to June 2007. Performance of the animals was evaluated by weekly or biweekly measurements of body weight, packed blood cell volume (PCV), parasitemia score, and number of trypanocide treatments. From these basic data, 49 phenotypes were constructed reflecting dynamics of body weight, packed cell volume (PCV) and parasitemia under challenge.
The cuticle is an important adaptive structure whose origin played a crucial role in the transition of plants from aqueous to terrestrial conditions. HvABCG31/Eibi1 is an ABCG transporter gene, involved in cuticle formation that was recently identified in wild barley (Hordeum vulgare ssp. spontaneum). To study the genetic variation of HvABCG31 in different habitats, its 2 kb promoter region was sequenced from 112 wild barley accessions collected from five natural populations from southern and northern Israel. The sites included three mesic and two xeric habitats, and differed in annual rainfall, soil type, and soil water capacity.
The evolvement of duplicated gene loci in allopolyploid plants has become the subject of intensive studies. Most duplicated genes remain active in neoallopolyploids contributing either to a favourable effect of an extra gene dosage or to the build-up of positive inter-genomic interactions when genes or regulation factors on homoeologous chromosomes are divergent. However, in a small number of loci (about 10%), genes of only one genome are active, while the homoeoalleles on the other genome(s) are either eliminated or partially or completely suppressed by genetic or epigenetic means. For several traits, the retention of controlling genes is not random, favouring one genome over the other(s). Such genomic asymmetry is manifested in allopolyploid wheat by the control of various morphological and agronomical traits, in the production of rRNA and storage proteins, and in interaction with pathogens. It is suggested that the process of cytological diploidization leading to exclusive intra-genomic meiotic pairing and, consequently, to complete avoidance of inter-genomic recombination, has two contrasting effects. Firstly, it provides a means for the fixation of positive heterotic inter-genomic interactions and also maintains genomic asymmetry resulting from loss or silencing of genes. The possible mechanisms and evolutionary advantages of genomic asymmetry are discussed.
In this paper, we review some approaches for QTL mapping developed by our research group in collaboration with, following the recommendation of, or under inspiration of Moshe Soller. Specifically, we explain at a simple intuitive level the main principles and ideas of: (a) QTL mapping by fractioned DNA pooling, (b) increasing the detection power of QTL mapping (in the case of individual genotyping) by multiple-trait analysis, and (c) the role of variance-covariance effects in QTL mapping. On each of these themes we had long and deep discussions with Soller on the statistical aspects of the proposed procedures. We hope that together we made important contributions towards making QTL mapping procedures easier and more effective.
Genomes of higher eukaryotes are mosaics of segments with various structural, functional, and evolutionary properties. The availability of whole-genome sequences allows the investigation of their structure as "texts" using different statistical and computational methods. One such method, referred to as Compositional Spectra (CS) analysis, is based on scoring the occurrences of fixed-length oligonucleotides (k-mers) in the target DNA sequence. CS analysis allows generating species- or region-specific characteristics of the genome, regardless of their length and the presence of coding DNA. In this study, we consider the heterogeneity of vertebrate genomes as a joint effect of regional variation in sequence organization superimposed on the differences in nucleotide composition. We estimated compositional and organizational heterogeneity of genome and chromosome sequences separately and found that both heterogeneity types vary widely among genomes as well as among chromosomes in all investigated taxonomic groups. The high correspondence of heterogeneity scores obtained on three genome fractions, coding, repetitive, and the remaining part of the noncoding DNA (the genome dark matter--GDM) allows the assumption that CS-heterogeneity may have functional relevance to genome regulation. Of special interest for such interpretation is the fact that natural GDM sequences display the highest deviation from the corresponding reshuffled sequences.
The domestication of plants frequently results in a high level of genetic differentiation between domesticated plants and their wild progenitors. This process is counteracted by gene flow between wild and domesticated plants because they are usually able to inter-mate and to exchange genes. We investigated the extent of gene flow between wild barley Hordeum spontaneum and cultivated barley Hordeum vulgare, and its effect on population structure in wild barley by analysing a collection of 896 wild barley accessions (Barley1K) from Israel and all available Israeli H. vulgare accessions from the Israeli gene bank. We compared the performance of simple sequence repeats (SSR) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) marker data genotyped over a core collection in estimating population parameters. Estimates of gene flow rates with SSR markers indicated a high level of introgression from cultivated barley into wild barley. After removing accessions from the wild barley sample that were recently admixed with cultivated barley, the inference of population structure improved significantly. Both SSR and SNP markers showed that the genetic population structure of wild barley in Israel corresponds to the three major ecogeographic regions: the coast, the Mediterranean north and the deserts in the Jordan valley and the South. Gene flow rates were estimated to be higher from north to south than in the opposite direction. As has been observed in other crop species, there is a significant exchange of alleles between the wild species and domesticated varieties that needs to be accounted for in the population genetic analysis of domestication.
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