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  • Author or Editor: Anik L. Dhanaraj* x
  • HortScience x
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To gain a better understanding of changes in gene expression associated with cold stress in the woody perennial blueberry (Vaccinium spp.), a genomics approach based on the analysis of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) was undertaken. Two cDNA libraries were constructed using RNA from cold acclimated (mid winter conditions when the plants are cold stressed) and non-acclimated (before they received any chilling) floral buds of the blueberry cultivar Bluecrop. About 600 5'-end ESTs were generated from each of the libraries. Putative functions were assigned to 57% of the cDNAs that yielded high quality sequences based on homology to other genes/ESTs from Genbank, and these were classified into 14 functional categories. From a contig analysis, which clustered sequences derived from the same or very similar genes, 430 and 483 unique transcripts were identified from the cold acclimated and non-acclimated libraries, respectively. Of the total unique transcripts, only 4.3% were shared between the libraries, suggesting marked differences in the genes expressed under the two conditions. The most highly abundant cDNAs that were picked many more times from one library than from the other were identified as representing potentially differentially expressed transcripts. Northern analyses were performed to examine expression of eight selected transcripts and seven of these were confirmed to be preferentially expressed under either cold acclimating or non-acclimating conditions. Only one of the seven transcripts, encoding a dehydrin, had been found previously to be up-regulated during cold stress of blueberry. This study demonstrates that analysis of ESTs is an effective strategy to identify candidate cold-responsive transcripts in blueberry.

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Expressed sequence tag-polymerase chain reaction (EST-PCR) markers for DNA fingerprinting and mapping in blueberry (Vaccinium sp.) had previously been developed from expressed sequence tags (ESTs) produced from a cDNA library, derived from RNA from floral buds of cold acclimated plants. Because EST-PCR markers are derived from gene coding regions, they are more likely to be conserved across populations and species than markers derived from random regions of DNA, such as randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) or amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers. In this study, we tested whether many of the EST-PCR primer pairs developed for blueberry are capable of amplifying DNA fragments in other members of the family Ericaceae. In addition, we cloned and sequenced a selection of 13 EST-PCR fragments to determine if they showed homology to the original blueberry cDNA clones from which the EST-PCR primer pairs were derived. Closely related cranberry genotypes (two wild selections of V. oxycoccus L. and two cultivars of V. macrocarpon Aiton, `Early Black' and `Stevens') and more distantly related rhododendron genotypes (one wild selection each of Rhododendron arboreum Marsh, R. maximum L., and R. ponticum L. and three complex species hybrids, `Sonata', `Grumpy Yellow', and `Roseum elegans') were used. Of 26 primer pairs tested in cranberry, 23 (89%) resulted in successful amplification and eight of those (35%) amplified polymorphic fragments among the cranberry genotypes. Of 39 primer pairs tested in rhododendron, 29 (74%) resulted in successful amplification and 21 of those (72%) amplified polymorphic fragments among the rhododendron genotypes. Approximately 50% of the 13 sequenced EST-PCR fragments were found to be homologous to the original blueberry cDNA clones. These markers should be useful for DNA fingerprinting, mapping, and assessing genetic diversity within cranberry and rhododendron species. The markers which are shown to be homologous to the blueberry cDNA clones by DNA sequencing should also be useful for comparative mapping and genetic diversity studies between some genera of the family Ericaceae.

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To gain a better understanding of changes in gene expression associated with cold acclimation in the woody perennial blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) and ultimately use this information to develop more freeze-tolerant cultivars, a genomics approach based on the analysis of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) and microarrays was undertaken. Initially, two standard cDNA libraries, constructed using RNA from cold-acclimated (CA) and nonacclimated (NA) floral buds of the blueberry cultivar Bluecrop, were used for the generation of ≈2400 ESTs, half from each library. Putative functions were assigned to cDNAs based on homology to other genes/ESTs from GenBank. From contig analyses, 796 and 865 unique transcripts were identified from the CA and NA libraries, respectively. The most highly abundant cDNAs, that were picked many more times from one library than from the other, were identified as representing potentially differentially expressed transcripts. A cDNA microarray was constructed and used to study gene expression under cold-acclimating conditions in the field and cold room. Results indicated that the abundance of transcripts of numerous blueberry genes change during cold acclimation, including genes not found previously to be cold-responsive in Arabidopsis, and, interestingly, more transcripts were found to be upregulated under cold room conditions than under field conditions. Finally, forward and reverse subtracted cDNA libraries were prepared from ‘Bluecrop’ RNA to enrich for transcripts that are expressed at higher levels in floral buds at 400 h and at 0 h of low-temperature exposure, respectively. Many genes encoding putative transcription factors and other proteins related to signal transduction were identified from both libraries.

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