Group Title: BMC Plant Biology
Title: Expressed sequence tags (ESTs) and simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers from octoploid strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa)
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Title: Expressed sequence tags (ESTs) and simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers from octoploid strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Folta, Kevin
Staton, Margaret
Stewart, Philip
Jung, Sook
Bies, Dawn
Jesdurai, Christopher
Main, Dorrie
Publisher: BMC Plant Biology
Publication Date: 2005
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Abstract: BACKGROUND:Cultivated strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) represents one of the most valued fruit crops in the United States. Despite its economic importance, the octoploid genome presents a formidable barrier to efficient study of genome structure and molecular mechanisms that underlie agriculturally-relevant traits. Many potentially fruitful research avenues, especially large-scale gene expression surveys and development of molecular genetic markers have been limited by a lack of sequence information in public databases. As a first step to remedy this discrepancy a cDNA library has been developed from salicylate-treated, whole-plant tissues and over 1800 expressed sequence tags (EST's) have been sequenced and analyzed.RESULTS:A putative unigene set of 1304 sequences – 133 contigs and 1171 singlets – has been developed, and the transcripts have been functionally annotated. Homology searches indicate that 89.5% of sequences share significant similarity to known/putative proteins or Rosaceae ESTs. The ESTs have been functionally characterized and genes relevant to specific physiological processes of economic importance have been identified. A set of tools useful for SSR development and mapping is presented.CONCLUSION:Sequences derived from this effort may be used to speed gene discovery efforts in Fragaria and the Rosaceae in general and also open avenues of comparative mapping. This report represents a first step in expanding molecular-genetic analyses in strawberry and demonstrates how computational tools can be used to optimally mine a large body of useful information from a relatively small data set.
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Research article


Expressed sequence tags (ESTs) and simple sequence repeat (SSR)
markers from octoploid strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa)
Kevin M Folta*tl, Margaret Statont2, Philip J Stewart', Sook Jung2,
Dawn H Bies', Christopher Jesdurai2 and Dorrie Main2


Address: 'Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Program and Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA and
2Genetics, Biochemistry & Life Science Studies, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA
Email: Kevin M Folta* kfolta@ifas.ufl.edu; Margaret Staton meg@genome.clemson.edu; Philip J Stewart stewart5@ufl.edu;
Sook Jung sjung@clemson.edu; Dawn H Bies dbies@ufl.edu; Christopher Jesdurai jcdr@genome.clemson.edu;
Dorrie Main dmain@genome.clemson.edu
* Corresponding author tEqual contributors



Published: 28 June 2005 Received: 06 April 2005
BMC Plant Biology 2005, 5:12 doi: 10.1 186/1471-2229-5-12 Accepted: 28 June 2005
This article is available from: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2229/5/12
2005 Folta et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0),
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



Abstract
Background: Cultivated strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) represents one of the most valued fruit
crops in the United States. Despite its economic importance, the octoploid genome presents a
formidable barrier to efficient study of genome structure and molecular mechanisms that underlie
agriculturally-relevant traits. Many potentially fruitful research avenues, especially large-scale gene
expression surveys and development of molecular genetic markers have been limited by a lack of
sequence information in public databases. As a first step to remedy this discrepancy a cDNA library
has been developed from salicylate-treated, whole-plant tissues and over 1800 expressed sequence
tags (EST's) have been sequenced and analyzed.
Results: A putative unigene set of 1304 sequences 133 contigs and I 171 singlets has been
developed, and the transcripts have been functionally annotated. Homology searches indicate that
89.5% of sequences share significant similarity to known/putative proteins or Rosaceae ESTs. The
ESTs have been functionally characterized and genes relevant to specific physiological processes of
economic importance have been identified. A set of tools useful for SSR development and mapping
is presented.
Conclusion: Sequences derived from this effort may be used to speed gene discovery efforts in
Fragaria and the Rosaceae in general and also open avenues of comparative mapping. This report
represents a first step in expanding molecular-genetic analyses in strawberry and demonstrates
how computational tools can be used to optimally mine a large body of useful information from a
relatively small data set.



Background early 2004. The information discrepancy is a consequence
Commercial strawberry has a value of 1.4 billion dollars of limited molecular study in the challenging octoploid
in the United States, and represents a significant regional cultivated varieties. The thin public informatics base
crop throughout the world. Despite its value, fewer than hence represents a barrier to meaningful study of func-
100 annotated sequences existed in public databases in tional genomics, genetic mechanisms, as well as the

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molecular-systematic relationships between the octoploid
strawberry, the Rosaceae and other species. The lack of
basic sequence information hinders the development of
transgenic technologies that would advance molecular-
physiological studies and potentially benefit the grower
and consumer. Overall, the dearth of sequence informa-
tion has limited agile molecular resolution studies in this
important crop plant.

To remedy this discrepancy ~1800 expressed sequence
tags (ESTs) were sequenced from a whole-plant cDNA
library derived from various tissues of the Strawberry Fes-
tival cultivar. This cultivar was chosen because of its east-
coast and west-coast lineage as well as its range of favora-
ble horticultural attributes. 'Strawberry Festival' produces
large, uniform, firm fruit, and is resistant to Botrytis cinera,
the causative agent behind gray mold [1]. It is a predomi-
nant cultivar grown in Florida, and has been well studied
in many reports of fungicide use, disease resistance and
post-harvest fruit quality. The study of an important com-
mercial variety will provide tools to directly aid breeding
and probe genetic mechanisms in these cultivars.

Strawberry has unrealized potential as a research model
and tool, and the lack of molecular markers for breeding
and the eventual need for genetic improvement of the cur-
rent suite of cultivars makes sequence examination espe-
cially timely. Information gained from the octoploid will
also translate to defining molecular markers to facilitate
mapping in both the diploid species (eg. Fragaria vesca
and Fragaria nubicola) as well as octoploid cultivars. A
strong sequence database is the cornerstone of functional
genomics studies, and this information will aid develop-
ment of such tools in Fragaria and in the Rosaceae in gen-
eral. Definition of expressed gene sequence variation in
the octoploid may aid in the understanding of polyploid
evolution and/or silencing of component genomes.
Sequence information constitutes a basis for eventual
reverse-genetic and activation-tag studies. Both the dip-
loid and octoploid species are excellent candidates for
such studies as they are efficiently transformed and regen-
erated [2-4], possess a diploid genome that is slightly
larger than that of Arabidopsis thaliana [5], and can be rap-
idly propagated from seed (3-5 months) or runners [6].
Strawberry also may be an excellent candidate as a biore-
actor, a system to manufacture specific compounds of
interest. A presentation of the elements of the strawberry
transcriptome facilitates the initiation of such studies.

Despite strawberry's crop value and potential as a research
tool, a formal analysis of EST data has not been reported.
In this report we identify over 1300 unique transcripts
assembled from 1,847 ESTs derived from whole-plant
vegetative tissues 24 h after salicylic acid treatment. The
cDNA library was prepared from total RNA pooled from


roots, petioles, stolons, leaves and meristems to generate
a diverse set of transcripts with limited redundancy. Mul-
tiple analyses, such as developing a unigene set, annota-
tion with putative function and identification of SSRs,
opens additional paths that will speed research into straw-
berry physiology, evolution, genetics and genomics. This
represents the first major EST report from Fragaria and can
now serve as a baseline for these further studies.

Results
The Fragaria x ananassa EST library
The Lambda ZAP cDNA library was generated from
whole-plant tissues from mature plants 24 after salicylic
acid treatment. The details of salicylate treatment, plant
materials and library construction are presented in
Methods.

EST processing and assembly
A total of 1847 of ESTs were sequenced, resulting in 1505
high-quality trimmed sequences which were submitted to
GenBank on August 6, 2004. Representing a success rate
of 81.5%, these sequences have an average length of 613
bp and a PHRED quality value of 35. Assembly of the
sequences into a unigene was performed in order to
reduce redundancy of the sequences and identify those
coding for the same protein (Methods, Assembly). The
total unigene consists of 1171 singlets for a total of 1304
unigenes.

Contigs were assembled from EST sequences. The final
unigene has 133 contigs, 120 comprised of two or three
merged ESTs. Eight contigs were assembled from four
individual ESTs. Contigs assembled from five or more
ESTs may be useful to deconstruct in the interest of study-
ing allelic diversity in the octoploid. In diploid species
alleles represent heterozygousity at a given locus as well as
gene duplication and subfunctionalization of a given cod-
ing region. Allelic diversity is potentially enriched in the
octoploid, since the octoploid maintains the alleles main-
tained from at least three donor diploid genomes. Expres-
sion of specific alleles may be informative, as patterns
may be traced back to the diploid genome contributors,
allowing description of expression from within, or
between, donor genomes.

For instance, Contig 23 represents psaL, a nuclear-encoded
subunit of the photosystem 1 reaction center. The contig
was assembled from five ESTs, two of which (4C07 and
6C09) are identical in sequence yet vary in length. The
other members contain SNPs, especially 18C04, which
maintains five unique base changes over a 540 bp align-
ment of all five ESTs. Others contain a single alteration in
this relatively conserved gene sequence. Similar results
were observed for contigs 32 and 99, which were assem-
bled from seven and nine ESTs, respectively.


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Table 1: Homology between the Fragaria x ananassa unigene sequences in public database as inferred through comparisons to
Genbank nr, SWISSPROT, Rosaceae ESTs and mapped peach ESTs.


nr.pep. II sprot.fas'


Rosaceae ESTs2


mapped peach ESTs2


database size
total # sequences
# sequences with matches
% sequences with matches
# sequences w/o matches
% sequences w/o matches


2321663
1304
1105
84.74%
199
15.26%


153871
1304
714
54.75%
590
45.25%


227250
1304
835
64.03%
469
35.97%


256
1304
22
1.69%
1282
98.31%


I FASTX3.4 Algorithm with cut-off of < le-6
2 BLASTN Algorithm with identity >= 85% and overlap > = 100



Table 2: The summarized results of homology searches of the Fragaria x ananassa unigene sequences against SPROT, nr pep and
Rosaceae ESTs.


Number


Sequences with hits to sprot
Sequences without hits to sprot
Sequences without hits to sprot with hits to nr.pep
Sequences without hits to sprot or nr.pep
Sequences without hits to sprot or nr.pep but with hits to Rosaceae
Sequences without hits to any database


Percent

54.75%
45.25%
30.60%
14.64%
4.14%
10.51%


Other contigs have been assembled from many ESTs, such
as Contigs 29 and 12. These contigs encode light-harvest-
ing, chlorophyll-binding (Lhcb, formerly cab) proteins
and a non-specific lipid transfer protein, respectively. The
ESTs corresponding to these genes arise from small multi-
gene families within a diploid genome in most species,
making these constructs less useful for studying between-
genome polymorphisms.

Functional annotation
Computational tools are now regularly used to infer func-
tion based upon significant sequence similarity toexperi-
mentally verifiedproteins or putative proteins. These
analyses implement FASTA and BLAST comparisons
against non-redundant databases as well as GO annota-
tion. The EST sequences were compared against known
databases using these tools.

Protein homology searches were performed in order to
identify the putative function of the ESTs (Methods, Func-
tional Characterization). NCBI's non-redundant (nr) pro-
tein and Rosaceae EST databases searches were run on
February 27, 2005 using the FASTX3.4 algorithm [7]. The
nr database contained 2321663 protein amino acid
sequences at the time of the search. Of the 1304 unigenes,
1105, or 84.74% of the set, had significant matches to this
database (Table 1). A comparison against SWISS-PROT


was performed on July 26, 2004, yielding a lower number
of significant matches. SWISS-PROT is a curated, highly-
annotated, smaller database of 153,871 proteins of dem-
onstrated function. 714 of the unigenes (54.75%) had sig-
nificant matches (Table 1). Only 191 of the unigenes did
not match a protein in either of these two protein data-
bases (Table 2). Upon close scrutiny the EST sequences
did not contain significant open reading frames, suggest-
ing that the EST sequence represents long untranslated
regions, structural RNAs, or bona fide proteins, unique to
Fragaria based on current comparisons.

Comparisons to Rosaceae ESTs
Table 1 also presents the results of comparison of the uni-
gene against publicly-available Rosaceae ESTs in order to
assess how Fragaria relates to the rest of the Rosaceae fam-
ily at the gene sequence and content levels. The BLASTN
algorithm was then used for EST homology searches
against known Rosaceae ESTs. 227,250 Rosaceae ESTs
were downloaded from dbEST. Of the 1304 unigenes, 835
(64.03%) had significant homology to other Rosaceae
ESTs. Since this dataset is composed of public ESTs, it con-
tains a large amount of redundancy. The majority of pub-
lic ESTs have been sequenced from the 5' end, so ESTs
generated from the 3' end may be less likely to find
homologs in a search against public ESTs. Still, of the 191
ESTs that did not show significant homology with SWISS-


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PROT and Genbank nr (Table 2), 54 ESTs had homologs
represented in the Rosaceae EST set. This leaves 137 tran-
scripts that show no significant homology outside of Fra-
garia within the Rosaceae family. These ESTs were
compared against the TIGR plant repeat databases to test
if they may have originated from retroelement expression.
None of the apparently Fragaria-specific transcripts exhib-
ited significant homology with sequences within the
repeat database.

Characterization by gene ontology
The Fragaria unigenes were further annotated by gene
ontology (GO) assignment based on the single "best hit"
match against the SWISS-PROT database. All 714 ESTs
with hits to SWISS-PROT have matching GO-Terms (Fig-
ure 1). The three categories are function (Panel A), process
(Panel B), and component (Panel C). For molecular func-
tion, the strawberry ESTs were assigned to eight categories.
The majority (51%) of the ESTs were assigned to "Cata-
lytic Activity" (GO:0003824). For biological process, the
ESTs were assigned to four categories with the majority
(77%) representing genes participating in metabolism
(GO: 0008152). When grouped according to likely cellu-
lar component, the ESTs were assigned to six categories
and 93% were covered by two GO terms: "Intracellular"
(GO:0005622) and "Membrane" (GO:0016020). The full
chart of the assignment of EST's to specific GO Term cate-
gories may be viewed on the GDR website [8].

Homology to mapped peach ESTs
Linkage relationships have been identified for many
peach ESTs and have facilitated placement on the peach
genetic map. Comparison of the Fragaria unigene to this
set of ESTs presents a basis for developing linkage rela-
tionships between the established peach, and growing
Fragaria, linkage maps. A series of peach ESTs have been
conclusively anchored to genetic maps by sharing BACs
with genetic markers previously used for BAC hybridiza-
tion [9]. Of the 295 mapped peach ESTs 22 (7.04%)
showed a significant match with the strawberry unigene
(Table 3).

Computational analysis for SSRs and ORFs in the ESTs
Simple Sequence Repeats (SSRs) were identified in the
strawberry unigene data set (Open Reading Frame and
Microsatellite Analysis, Methods). In this study, SSRs are
defined as dimers with at least 5 repeats, trimers with at
least 4 repeats, tetramers with at least 3 repeats, and pen-
tamers with at least 3 repeats. 190 unigene sequences
(14%) were found to have one or more repeat, and 79 dif-
ferent motifs were identified within the set of clones. A
total of 269 SSRs were found with trimers being the most
common motif length (Table 4). The frequency of motifs
for all the possible dimers and trimers is listed in Table 5.
To examine the distribution of SSRs in the putative coding


region and the UTR, we detected open reading frames in
the unigenes using the FLIP program (Brossard 1997).
When the longest open reading frame was selected as the
putative coding region, 176 (65.4%) of these microsatel-
lites were found inside putative coding regions. When fil-
tered for the most optimal primer candidates (40-60%
GC content) a total of 208 SSR-flanking sequences met
the criteria (Table 6). These optimal candidates can be
downloaded via the GDR ftp site [10].

Discussion
Fragaria x ananassa is complex polyploid, arising from a
spontaneous cross between Fragaria virginiana and Fra-
garia chiloensis. The genome contains contributions from
at least three diploid species [11,12]. Over the past century
cultivation of octoploid strawberry has progressed solely
on the careful efforts of breeders, physiologists and bio-
chemists. This complex genome and coincident awkward
genetics has slowed the development of molecular mark-
ers and other tools that would benefit breeding efforts and
understanding of strawberry genomics. This report details
a starting point to advance the traditional strawberry
research avenues using modern molecular tools to for-
ward structural-and functional-genomics studies in this
important crop species. As important, it demonstrates that
computational tools may be used to comprehensively
mine large quantities of important data from a relatively
small data set. As these tools become available as web-
based applications, small sequencing efforts may extract
valuable information that may shape research questions
in under-represented crops like strawberry.

Recent efforts demonstrate the importance of sequence
information as the basis of functional-genomics studies.
Previous reports of gene expression in strawberry have
been dependent on the discovery and characterization of
specific genes of interest, such as an 0-methyltransferase
associated with flavor [13], enzymes that influence fruit
firmness [14-17], as well as several others [18,19]. Current
technologies have the capacity to assess genome-wide
transcriptome changes associated with a given treatment
or developmental process [20,21]. Recent studies in culti-
vated strawberry have implemented proprietary sequence
information in a microarray format to unveil the tran-
scriptome that coincides with fruit ripening [22-24].
These studies have identified critical regulators of fruit fla-
vor. The first study identified strawberry alcohol acetyl
transferase as a critical enzyme in the production of vola-
tiles esters. The associated transcript increased during fruit
ripening and the recombinant protein catalyzes the
appropriate syntheses from a variety of substrates in E. coli
[23]. A recent functional-genomics study characterized
Nerolidol Synthase 1, the enzyme that catalyzes the forma-
tion of the flavor compounds linalool and nerolidol from
geranyl diphosphase and farnesyl diphosphate, respec-


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A Signal Transducer
Activity

Chaperone Activity

Transcription
Regulator Activity

Transporter Activity

Binding Activity

Structural Molecule
Activity

Catalytic Activity







B
Rhythmic Behavior



Cell Differentiation



Ripening



Metabolism


Protein Kinase CK2
Complex

Viral Capsid


Extracellular Matrix


Apoplast


0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350


r 1-11-11-1-1 171


1 5 10 15 20 25 30 35


I I I I I


Membrane p




0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80


Figure I
Strawberry EST characterization as derived from GO analyses. ESTs were assigned to GO categories based onA)
Functional GO matches B) Process GO matches C) Component GO matches.




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Table 3: Fragaria ESTs with homology to mapped peach BACs


Peach EST GenBankAccession
of Peach EST


Homology


E-Value from
BLAST output


Contig 25
Contig 37
Contig 64
Contig 131
FA_SEa000IDOIr
FA_SEa0003G08r
FA_SEa0006D03r
FA_SEa0007BI0r
FA_SEa0008B09r
FA_SEa0008C05r
FA_SEa0009F12r
FA_SEa00 IID 12r
FA_SEa00IIEOIr
FA SEa00 I F03r
FA_SEa0012D04r
FA_SEa0015A08r
FA_SEa00I5FIOr
FA_SEa0015H12r
FA_SEa0016AI Or
FA_SEa0018A02r
FA_SEa0018D07r
FA_SEa0018F08r


PP_LEa0003M24f
PP_LEa0003013f
PP_LEa0003013f
PP_LEa0003M I If
PP_LEa0009G24f
PP_LEa0027M 15f
PP_LEa00 I DI2f
PP_LEa0003013f
PP_LEa0012A24f
PP_LEa0004118f
PP_LEa0035B03f
PP_LEa0003013f
PP_LEa0009N05f
PP LEa00 I F03f
PP_LEa0036C16f
PP_LEa0006B19f
PP_LEa0003P IIf
PP_LEa0013C06f
PP_LEa0035H24f
PP_LEa0027PI8f
PP_LEa0036E14f
PP_LEa0035M02f


BU039764
BU039800
BU039800
BU039753
BU041453
BU046817
BU042012
BU039800
BU042298
BU039998
BU048314
BU039800
BU041589
BU042049
BU048550
BU040484
BU039816
BU042571
BU048407
BU046858
BU048583
BU048454


enolase 2 (allergen HEVb8)
ubiquitin extension protein
ubiquitin extension protein
glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase
ion stress related protein
20S proteosome subunit PAFI
ribosomal protein L7
ubiquitin extension protein
expressed protein
cysteine protease
allergen PRU AV I
ubiquitin extension protein
expressed protein
Centrin
putative gsh-dependent dehydroascorabate reductase I
heat shock protein 70
cytosolic aldolase
cell switch protein
putative ribosomal protein
ADP-ribosylation factor
putative glyoxylase II
NADH-cytochrome b5 reductase


Table 4: The frequency of simple sequence repeats in the
Fragaria unigene.

Motif Length Frequency Percentage Frequency


32.7%
36.8%
27.9%
2.6%


tively. The enzyme is expressed in the receptacle of ripen-
ing fruit, not in leaves, and is highly expressed in
cultivated species relative to wild species. The report con-
cludes that selection of cultivated varieties for fruit flavor
fixed mechanisms to express and localize terpene-associ-
ated enzymes that favorably affected flavor, while repress-
ing those that make fruits less desirable [22]. Although the
factors leading to fruit flavor in strawberry have been stud-
ied for decades, a transcriptome survey produced the most
definitive results, owing again to the usefulness of a
sequence database in Fragaria.

The transcripts characterized from this project will allow
development of genomics resources for the study of other
important physiological responses. A subset of these ESTs
is shown in Table 7. These ESTs are relevant to processes


Table 5: Frequency of different types of dinucleotide and
trinucleotide repeats in the Fragaria unigene set


Motif


Frequency Percentage
Frequency


AT/TA
AG/GA/CT/TC
AC/CA/TG/GT
GC/CG
AAT/ATA/TAA/ATT/TTA/TAT
AAG/AGA/GAA/CTT/TTC/TCT
AAC/ACA/CAA/GTT/TTG/TGT
ATG/TGA/GAT/CAT/ATC/TCA
AGT/GTA/TAG/ACT/CTA/TAC
AGG/GGA/GAG/CCT/CTC/TCC
AGC/GCA/CAG/GCT/CTG/TGC
ACG/CGA/GAC/CGT/GTC/TCG
ACC/CCA/CAC/GGT/GTG/TGG
GGC/GCG/CGG/GCC/CCG/CGC


5.58%
24.16%
2.97%
0.00%
0.74%
13.01%
1.49%
2.23%
0.00%
7.81%
3.72%
2.60%
3.72%
2.60%


of interest to the strawberry industry and may represent
important molecular tools to researchers. The first set rep-
resents a series of ESTs with sequence homology to genes
associated with the photoperiodic control of flowering.
These include close homologs to CONSTANS (CO), a
likely transcription factor that induces specific meristem
identity genes under the appropriate photoperiod



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Strawberry
Unigene


le- Il
6e-33
3e-51
0.0
2e-39
le-166
2e-34
8e-35
le-78
le-81
4e-32
4e-66
4e-63
Ie-74
le-144
0.0
2e-30
e-177
9e-64
0.0
3e-47
2e-61


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Table 6: Statistics for optimal primer candidates


2 bp
3 bp
4 bp
5 bp
Total


Inside ORF

35 (24.6%)
77 (54.2%)
29 (20.4%)
I (0.7%)
142(68.3%)


Outside ORF

21 (31.8%)
14 (21.2%)
26 (39.4%)
5 (7.6%)
66(31.7%)


[25,26]. A homolog of a critical regulator of meristem
identity AGL20/SUPPRESSOR OF CO OVEREXPRESSION
was also identified. This gene encodes a MADS-box tran-
scription factor that likely functions downstream of CO in
conferring light signals to the promoters of meristem
identity genes [27]. An EST representing VERNALIZA-
TION INSENSITIVE 3 also was identified in this library.
VIN3 is a protein shown to function downstream of CO in
regulating seasonal flowering responses [28]. VIN3 is a
chromatin-remodeling protein that represses FLC, a pro-
tein that negatively-regulates CO function [29] allowing
the plant to appropriately time flowering relative to sea-
sonal chilling.

Analysis of this dataset revealed a suite of likely homologs
to pathogenesis-related (PR) genes, such as thionins,
Ndrl, f3 1-3-glucanase and chitinases, and LRR proteins.
The prevalence of this family of proteins was not surpris-
ing as the plants were treated with salicylic acid 24 h
before RNA harvest to enrich for PR genes in the library.
These genes are of particular interest to plant scientists
because of their potential to help define the mecha-
nism(s) of disease resistance and susceptibility. It is
possible that these genes may be especially useful targets
for antisense or overexpression in unveiling these agricul-
turally-important traits, or possibly in the design of trans-
genic plants with heightened resistance to common plant
pathogens. All of these facets are important, as strawberry
cultivation requires copious application of fungicides
and/or bacteriostatic compounds to ensure proper fruit
set.

Of interest to this laboratory are homologs of genes asso-
ciated with photomorphogenesis, such as Hy5 and Non-
phototropic hypocotyl 3. These both play roles in early light
development, yet HY5 also has been shown to influence
downstream developmental processes such as fruit ripen-
ing and pigmentation [30] and also binds to the promot-
ers of genes associated with circadian clock progression
[31].

The information distilled from all of these analyses can
now be used to design strawberry-specific probes to assess


gene expression patterns and develop transgenics to
directly test gene function. These important studies are
underway and will facilitate comparisons between the
biological sensory/response mechanisms in strawberry to
those of model systems.

The apparent sequence conservation between Fragaria and
other rosaceous tree crops suggests that cross-species
microarray studies may be productive within the
Rosaceae. This study demonstrates that less than 11 % of
the ESTs are unique to strawberry. This value is likely
inflated, as ESTs by nature contain variable untranslated
regions and other features that may preclude efficient
identification of homologs. Of the 1305 ESTs, 835 have
strong homology with other Rosaceae ESTs. Those featur-
ing over 85% homology over 100 bases are between 86
and 100% identical to transcripts isolated from other
Rosaceae, with an average identity of 91% (+/-0.001%).
The high degree of similarity may be a useful platform for
comparisons between molecular-mechanistic differences
exhibited between diverse species with little sequence var-
iation. Here, the diversity within the Rosaceae is likely due
to variation in gene expression, and EST data and micro-
array technologies are an idea platform to study these
patterns.

The relatively extensive genetic mapping in Prunus has
delineated linkage associations between genes of the
genus, those in select Rosaceae species and even Arabi-
dopsis [32]. Physical maps have also been developed from
transcript mapping [9 1. The ESTs from this Fragaria collec-
tion were compared to the mapped peach genes, and 23
agreed with strong homology (Table 3). These relation-
ships are important as they present the basis to study
structural relationships between cousin species within the
Rosaceae. Since these loci are mapped in peach, they rep-
resent excellent loci to also add to the growing diploid
strawberry linkage map [33], and eventually map in the
octoploid.

Mapping efforts may also be hastened from identification
of SSRs. SSRs derived from ESTs provide a basis to assign
linkage relationships to known gene products, and such
studies have been initiated in diploid strawberry [33]. In
the EST collection presented herein, a number of SSRs are
present in transcripts correlating to putative allergens, reg-
ulators of the circadian clock, and general housekeeping
genes. These transcripts can now be readily mapped in the
diploid using existing populations, and such studies are
currently underway. Furthermore, specific genes of
interest can be studied for variation within diploid species
or for intron-specific polymorphisms that will allow their
assignment to the diploid strawberry linkage map. These
studies will ultimately facilitate the generation of molecu-
lar markers to follow traits/genes of interest in the


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Table 7: Transcripts corresponding to genes of described function in important physiological processes


Homolog


Photoperiodic Control of Flowering Time


FA_Sea0007C05
FA_Sea0020G05
FA_Sea06A05

FA Sea0002HO8


Disease Resistance


FA_Sea0004D05

FA_Sea0006FlO
FA_Sea0007FO4
FA_Sea001OBl0
FA_Sea0014H 12
FA_Sea00 I 5AO I
FA_Sea0015DO I
FA_Sea0017FO9
FA_SEa0020HO I
FA_SeaOOOFOI
FA_Sea0017HO6
FA_SEaOOOID03
FA_SEa0019DO7
FA SEa0012CO6


B-box, zinc-finger protein CONSTANS
B-box, zinc-finger protein CONSTANS
MADS box protein AGL20/SUPPRESSOR OF
CONSTANS
VIN3 Vernalization insensitive 3 protein




Disease resistance protein (TIR-NBS-LRR
class)
Enhanced Disease Susceptibility protein EDS5
Plant defensin PDF2.2
Pathogenesis-related thaumatin (PR5)
Putative thaumatin (PR5)
Harpin-induced protein
NDRI family protein
Disease resistance protein (CC-NBS-LRR class)
Harpin-induced protein
glycosyl hydrolase family 17 p (PR2)
Osmotin-like protein (PR5)
Peroxidase PRXRI (PR9)
Betv I (PRIO0)
Lipid transfer protein LPT4 (PR 14)


Photomorphogenesis


B-zip transcription factor HY5
NON-PHOTOTROPIC HYPOCOTYL 3
Far-red impaired / FAR I


commercial cultivars, adding the resolution of molecular
tools to complement conventional breeding strategies.

The general proportions of the different functional groups
(Figure 1) reflect well the expected state of the mature
plant transcriptome as reported in previous studies. Tran-
scripts encoding enzymes associated with the cell cycle,
cytoskeleton or cell walls are not abundant as mature
plants are less reliant on processes governing greater cell
number or cell size. Approximately half of the transcripts
associated with photosynthesis are members of the chlo-
rophyll a/b binding protein family; the other half typically
contains plastid-encoded transcripts. As expected, the
majority of transcripts detected represent enzymes of gen-
eral metabolism.

Conclusion
Although a small EST set, the complete suite of analyses
performed herein demonstrate that a finite transcriptome
snapshot may provide ample resources to seed additional


4.60E-37
3.20E-3I
3.30E-29


study. Here a relatively small number of ESTs has pro-
vided sufficient information to engage in further molecu-
lar, physiological and genetic studies. For instance, the
pretreatment with salicylate likely enriched the expression
of pathogenesis-related transcripts that can now be used
to study disease progression in specific strawberry culti-
vars with large variations in sensitivity and resistance.
Clearly, the development of a comprehensive SSR catalog
allows characterization of these potential genetic markers
in the progeny of polymorphic cultivars, in an important
crop species virtually devoid of linkage associations.
Unlike other markers, EST-derived SSRs by definition
originate from a sequence that is expressed, adding func-
tional resolution to linkage groups built on structural pol-
ymorphisms. More importantly, the same suite of tools
used to perform these analyses will be soon available
through a public interface at the GDR, making compara-
ble analyses possible. These applications are an important
rationale for sequencing and analysis of a limited EST set,
as even a small research program may find sufficient



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7.30E-21
3.40E-06
1.90E- 15

I.50E-33


6.80E-18

7.10E-58
3.10 E-22
1.20E-21
7.10E-16
3.80E-26
7.00E-69
2.10 E-23
3.40E-18
2.60E- 12
5.00E-13
8.20E-5 I
2.10E-35
1.70E-19


FA_Sea0004EO9
FA SeaOOOC09
FA SEa0006HO4


BMC Plant Biology 2005, 5:12







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resources to initiate molecular-genetic study of an under-
represented crop species.

Methods
Library construction
Roots, leaves, petioles, stolons, meristems and new
daughter plants were harvested from several individual
chamber-grown strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa cultivar
'Strawberry Festival) plants 24 h after salicylic acid treat-
ment (4 |tm foliar spray, 1 [tM drench). Tissues were
washed briefly to remove soil and then were frozen in liq-
uid nitrogen. Total RNA was extracted using the following
method, a modification of protocols used in the
extraction of RNA from pine cones [34]. Briefly, 1 g of tis-
sue was ground in liquid nitrogen using a mortar and pes-
tle, then incubated in extraction buffer (2% CTAB, 2%
polyvinylpyrrolidone, 100 mM Tris-HCl (pH 8.0), 25 mM
EDTA, 2.0 M NaCl, 0.5 g/ml spermidine, and 2.0% P-mer-
captoethanol) at 65C for 10 min. The samples were
cooled to room temperature, an equal volume of chloro-
form:octonol (24:1) was added and the mixture was
homogenized using a Polytron (T10-35 homogenizer) at
80-90% maximum speed. The organic and aqueous
phases were separated by centrifugation at 5700 x g and
the supernatant was vortexed with an equal volume of
chloroform:octonol. The phases were again separated by
centrifugation and the supernatant was transferred to a
clean test tube, LiCl was added to a final concentration of
2.5 M and precipitated on ice overnight. RNA was then
collected by centrifugation at 5700 x g. The pellet was
resuspended in 500 pl SSTE (1 M NaCl, 0.5% SDS, 10 mM
Tris-HCl (pH 8.0), 1 mM EDTA) and extracted with an
equal volume of chloroform:octonol. The supernatant
was precipitated with two volumes of ethanol, the pellet
was washed with 76% ethanol containing 0.3 M sodium
acetate, dried briefly in a Speed Vac, and resuspended in
50 tl 10 mM Tris-HCl (pH 8.0) 2.5 mM EDTA before
quantitation by spectrophotometry.

For library construction mRNA was isolated from total
RNA using the Oligotex Direct mRNA Mini Kit (Qiagen
Inc., Valencia, CA) using 500 gtg total RNA. The cDNA
library was constructed from 5 jgg mRNA using the Uni-
ZAP XR Cloning Kit (Stratagene Inc, Carlsbad, CA) as per
manufacturer's directions. The primary library consisted
of 6.2 x 107 colony forming units with average insert size
of 800 bp and 98% of clones containing inserts of > 200
bp. Mass excision of filamentous phage was performed
and phagemids were cloned to E. coli for sequencing.

Sequencing and sequence processing
A total of 1847 EST clones were sequenced from the 3' end
at the University of Florida ICBR Core Facility using ET
Terminator (Amersham Inc, Schaumburg, IL). These
sequences were processed using publicly available soft-


ware incorporated in a fully automated in-house script
(ProcEST.pl) developed at Clemson University by the
Genome Database for Rosaceae (GDR) bioinformatics
team. Sequence trace files were converted into FASTA for-
matted sequence and quality score files using the PHRED
[35 ] base-calling program. Vector and host contamination
were identified and masked using the sequence compari-
son program CROSS_MATCH [36]. Vector trimming
excised the longest non vector sequence and further trim-
ming removed low quality bases (less than phred score
20) at both ends of a read. Sequences were discarded if
they had greater than 5% ambiguous bases, more than 40
PolyA or Poly T bases or less than 100 high quality bases
(minimum phred score of 20). Using this protocol, 81%
of the sequences (1505) were considered high quality and
submitted to the NCBI public EST repository dbEST [37].
To reduce redundancy and increase transcript length the
high quality sequences were assembled using the contig
assembly program CAP3 [38]. Various assemblies were
performed using different CAP3 parameters to identify the
build that required least manual editing. More stringent
parameters (- p 90 -d 60) were used to prevent over assem-
bly and help identify potential paralogs. The assembly
was refined where possible using homology to the Swiss-
Prot database to indicate contig accuracy. Homology was
determined by comparing the contigs and clones against
the Swiss Prot database using the fastx3.4 algorithm [71
with EXP < le -6. Contigs whose clones showed difference
in homology were deconstructed and contigs with the
same homology to other contigs were joined using default
CAP3 parameters. The unigene data set was derived by
combining the contig and singleton data sets.

Functional characterization
Functional characterization of the unigene data set con-
sisted of pairwise comparison of both the high quality
clones and the contig consensus sequences against the
NCBI nr [39] and SWISS-PROT [40] protein databases
using the fastx3.4 algorithm [7]. The most significant
matches (EXP < le -7 and EXP < e-6 for the NCBI nr SWISS-
PROT searches, respectively) for each contig and individ-
ual clones in the library were recorded. The Swiss-Prot
matches were further classified by gene ontology [41].
Contigs or clones that did not have a significant match
with either of these databases were searched against the
InterPro protein families and domains database (Mulder
et al, 2005) using InterProScan [42].

The unigene sequences were also characterized by com-
parison with the Genbank Rosaceae EST dataset (227250
as of February 14, 2005) and 256 peach mapped ESTs
[43], downloaded from the Genome Database for
Rosaceae (GDR). Using the BLASTN algorithm [44],
sequences with > 85% similarity over an alignment length
of 100 bp were considered significant matches.


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Open reading frame and microsatellite analysis
Open reading frames (ORFs) were identified in the ESTs
using the software program FLIP [45] and the longest ORF
was recorded as the putative coding region. Simple
Sequence Repeats (SSRs) were identified in the unigene
data set using a modified version (CUGISSR) of a perl
script SSRIT [46]. SSRs recorded for the final dataset
include dimers with at least 5 repeats, trimers with at least
4 repeats, tetramers with at least 3 repeats, and pentamers
with at least 3 repeats. SSR-containing sequences were
identified as optimal candidates for primer development
if they contained a GC content between 40% and 60%
and a minimum of 20 base pairs of sequence on either
side of the SSR. Using the FLIP output, CUGISSR reports
the location of SSRs in the relation to the putative coding
region.

Data storage and web interface
All sequence, assembly, homology, ORF and SSR data
were uploaded to the Genome Database for Rosaceae
(GDR) (Jung et al, 2004) as well as library, protocol, con-
tact and publication information. GDR scripts were uti-
lized to allow users to browse, query or download all the
project data.

Public access and dissemination
The GDR website has a number of different EST project
sections including the Fragaria EST dataset detailed here.
These web pages are extensively linked such that users can
easily access data of interest regardless of the navigation
entry point. To access the project pages for this EST
project, users can go to the project page which can be
found by a link in the "About Us" drop down menu in the
top navigation bar. This project is listed on the "Data
Overview" page as "Folta University of Florida" [47].
The sidebar for this project allows the user to view the
project description, the library details, the processing pro-
tocol, a report on the successful clones, unigene details,
gene homology pages, microsatellite analysis, contact
information, and publication information. The cDNA
phage library and individual clones generated in this
study are available upon request.

For members of the Rosaceae community or of the public
who are interested in searching the dataset, the EST search
page allows users to search the Fragaria sequence set
directly [48]. The ESTs and the unigene can be searched by
name, by homology, and by features such as presence of a
microsatellite or component of a contig. Once an EST or
contig has been selected, the sidebar allows users to view
all information relating to the sequence (or consensus
sequence), the library details, the assembly information,
the open reading frame and microsatellites, homology,
and for contigs, the component ESTs.


Authors' contributions
KF prepared the RNA for, and generated the cDNA librar-
ies, provided functional annotation and analysis and
drafted the manuscript with MS. MS and CJ performed all
computational analyses under the guidance of SJ and DM.
PS and DB collected plant tissue, participated in RNA iso-
lation and functional EST annotation. All authors read
and approved the final manuscript.

Acknowledgements
This work was supported by the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station,
the NSF Plant Genome Research Program award #0320544 (DM), a grant
from the North American Strawberry Growers Association (KMF) and
funding from the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of
Florida (KMF). This work was approved for publication as Florida Agricul-
tural Experiment Station Journal Series Number R- 10920.

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