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      Exploiting the Transcriptome of Euphrates Poplar, Populus euphratica (Salicaceae) to Develop and Characterize New EST-SSR Markers and Construct an EST-SSR Database

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          Microsatellite markers or Simple Sequence Repeats (SSRs) are the most popular markers in population/conservation genetics. However, the development of novel microsatellite markers has been impeded by high costs, a lack of available sequence data and technical difficulties. New species-specific microsatellite markers were required to investigate the evolutionary history of the Euphratica tree, Populus euphratica, the only tree species found in the desert regions of Western China and adjacent Central Asian countries.

          Methodology/Principal Findings

          A total of 94,090 non-redundant Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) from P. euphratica comprising around 63 Mb of sequence data were searched for SSRs. 4,202 SSRs were found in 3,839 ESTs, with 311 ESTs containing multiple SSRs. The most common motif types were trinucleotides (37%) and hexanucleotides (33%) repeats. We developed primer pairs for all of the identified EST-SSRs (eSSRs) and selected 673 of these pairs at random for further validation. 575 pairs (85%) gave successful amplification, of which, 464 (80.7%) were polymorphic in six to 24 individuals from natural populations across Northern China. We also tested the transferability of the polymorphic eSSRs to nine other Populus species. In addition, to facilitate the use of these new eSSR markers by other researchers, we mapped them onto Populus trichocarpa scaffolds in silico and compiled our data into a web-based database (


          The large set of validated eSSRs identified in this work will have many potential applications in studies on P. euphratica and other poplar species, in fields such as population genetics, comparative genomics, linkage mapping, QTL, and marker-assisted breeding. Their use will be facilitated by their incorporation into a user-friendly web-based database.

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          Most cited references 26

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          Exploiting EST databases for the development and characterization of gene-derived SSR-markers in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.).

          A software tool was developed for the identification of simple sequence repeats (SSRs) in a barley ( Hordeum vulgare L.) EST (expressed sequence tag) database comprising 24,595 sequences. In total, 1,856 SSR-containing sequences were identified. Trimeric SSR repeat motifs appeared to be the most abundant type. A subset of 311 primer pairs flanking SSR loci have been used for screening polymorphisms among six barley cultivars, being parents of three mapping populations. As a result, 76 EST-derived SSR-markers were integrated into a barley genetic consensus map. A correlation between polymorphism and the number of repeats was observed for SSRs built of dimeric up to tetrameric units. 3'-ESTs yielded a higher portion of polymorphic SSRs (64%) than 5'-ESTs did. The estimated PIC (polymorphic information content) value was 0.45 +/- 0.03. Approximately 80% of the SSR-markers amplified DNA fragments in Hordeum bulbosum, followed by rye, wheat (both about 60%) and rice (40%). A subset of 38 EST-derived SSR-markers comprising 114 alleles were used to investigate genetic diversity among 54 barley cultivars. In accordance with a previous, RFLP-based, study, spring and winter cultivars, as well as two- and six-rowed barleys, formed separate clades upon PCoA analysis. The results show that: (1) with the software tool developed, EST databases can be efficiently exploited for the development of cDNA-SSRs, (2) EST-derived SSRs are significantly less polymorphic than those derived from genomic regions, (3) a considerable portion of the developed SSRs can be transferred to related species, and (4) compared to RFLP-markers, cDNA-SSRs yield similar patterns of genetic diversity.
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            Genic microsatellite markers in plants: features and applications.

            Expressed sequence tag (EST) projects have generated a vast amount of publicly available sequence data from plant species; these data can be mined for simple sequence repeats (SSRs). These SSRs are useful as molecular markers because their development is inexpensive, they represent transcribed genes and a putative function can often be deduced by a homology search. Because they are derived from transcripts, they are useful for assaying the functional diversity in natural populations or germplasm collections. These markers are valuable because of their higher level of transferability to related species, and they can often be used as anchor markers for comparative mapping and evolutionary studies. They have been developed and mapped in several crop species and could prove useful for marker-assisted selection, especially when the markers reside in the genes responsible for a phenotypic trait. Applications and potential uses of EST-SSRs in plant genetics and breeding are discussed.
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              Microsatellites are preferentially associated with nonrepetitive DNA in plant genomes.

              Microsatellites are a ubiquitous class of simple repetitive DNA sequence. An excess of such repetitive tracts has been described in all eukaryotes analyzed and is thought to result from the mutational effects of replication slippage. Large-scale genomic and EST sequencing provides the opportunity to evaluate the abundance and relative distribution of microsatellites between transcribed and nontranscribed regions and the relationship of these features to haploid genome size. Although this has been studied in microbial and animal genomes, information in plants is limited. We assessed microsatellite frequency in plant species with a 50-fold range in genome size that is mostly attributable to the recent amplification of repetitive DNA. Among species, the overall frequency of microsatellites was inversely related to genome size and to the proportion of repetitive DNA but remained constant in the transcribed portion of the genome. This indicates that most microsatellites reside in regions pre-dating the recent genome expansion in many plants. The microsatellite frequency was higher in transcribed regions, especially in the untranslated portions, than in genomic DNA. Contrary to previous reports suggesting a preferential mechanism for the origin of microsatellites from repetitive DNA in both animals and plants, our findings show a significant association with the low-copy fraction of plant genomes.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                11 April 2013
                : 8
                : 4
                [1 ]Center for Computational Biology, National Engineering Laboratory for Tree Breeding, College of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China
                [2 ]Center for Bioinformatics, National Laboratory of Protein Engineering and Plant Genetic Engineering, College of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China
                [3 ]Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, United States of America
                CIRAD, France
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: Co-author Rongling Wu is a PLOS ONE Editorial Board member; this does not alter the authors' adherence to all the PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: FKD RW. Performed the experiments: FKD FX SF. Analyzed the data: FKD. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: HQ JT. Wrote the paper: FKD.


                This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

                Page count
                Pages: 11
                This work is financially supported by Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (TD 2012-01), the Research Fund for the Doctoral Programme of Higher Education of China to FKD; Changjiang Scholars Award and “Thousand-person Plan” Award to RLW. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Computational Biology
                Genome Databases
                Population Genetics
                Genetic Polymorphism
                Plant Genetics
                Genome Databases
                Plant Science
                Plant Biotechnology
                Plant Genomics
                Plant Genetics
                Plant Genomics
                Computer Science
                Information Technology



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