JOURNAL ARTICLE

Identification and characterization of nuclear genes involved in photosynthesis in Populus

Bowen Wang, Qingzhang Du, Xiaohui Yang, Deqiang Zhang
BMC Plant Biology 2014, 14: 81
24673936

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.

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