Comparative genomic and transcriptomic analysis of terpene synthases in Arabidopsis and Medicago

Comparative genomic and transcriptomic analysis of terpene synthases in Arabidopsis and Medicago

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This study provides a timely comparative genomic and transcriptomic analysis of the terpene synthase (TPS) gene family in Medicago truncatula (bears glandular and non-glandular trichomes) and Arabidopsis thaliana (bears non-glandular trichomes). The authors’ efforts aimed to gain insight into TPS function, phylogenetic relationships and the role of trichomes in terpene biosynthesis and function. In silico analysis identified 33 and 23 putative full-length TPS genes in Arabidopsis and Medicago, respectively. All AtTPS and MtTPS fall into the five established angiosperm TPS subfamilies, with lineage-specific expansion of Subfamily A in Arabidopsis and Subfamily G in Medicago. Large amounts of tandem duplication have occurred in both species, but only one syntenic duplication seems to have occurred in Arabidopsis, with no such duplication apparent in Medicago. Expression analysis indicates that there is much more trichome-localised TPS expression in Medicago than in Arabidopsis. However, TPS genes were expressed in non-glandular trichomes in both species. One trichome-specific gene has been identified in each Medicago and Arabidopsis along with flower-, seed-, stem- and root-specific genes. Of these, MtTPS11 is a promising candidate for trichome-specific genetic engineering, a technology that may be possible for both plants according to the findings of this manuscript. These results suggest that non-glandular trichomes may play a role in plant chemical defense and/or ecological communication instead of only in physical defence. Finally, the general lack of correlation between expression patterns and phylogenetic relationships in both species suggests that phylogenetic analysis alone is insufficient to predict gene function even for phylogenetically close paralogs.


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