Discovery, validation, and in silico functional characterization of EST-SSR markers in Eucalyptus globulus

Research paper by Cintia V. Acuña, Paula Fernandez, Pamela V. Villalba, Martín N. García, H. Esteban Hopp, Susana N. Marcucci Poltri

Indexed on: 30 Nov '11Published on: 30 Nov '11Published in: Tree Genetics & Genomes


Eucalyptus globulus is the most commonly planted hardwood species for pulpwood in temperate regions. We aimed to develop and characterize functional molecular markers for population genetic analyses and molecular breeding in this model tree species. Public expressed sequence tag (EST) databases were screened for nonredundant sequences to predict putative gene functions and to discover simple sequence repeats (EST-SSRs), which were then validated in E. globulus and six other Eucalyptus species. A total of 4,924 nonredundant sequences were identified from 12,690 updated E. globulus ESTs. Approximately 19.3% (952) were unigenes and contained 1,140 EST-SSR markers, which were mainly trimeric (58.6%). A set of 979 primers for putative SSR markers was designed after bioinformatic analysis. The predicted functions of these ESTs containing SSR were classified according to their gene ontology (GO) categories (biological process, molecular function, and cellular component). GO categories were assigned to 226 ESTs (30.2%). Most ESTs containing SSR (78.7%) had significant matches (E ≤ 10−5) with the nonredundant protein database using BLASTX. From a set of 56 random primer pairs, 37 could be validated in eight E. globulus genotypes and were also tested for cross-transferability to other six Eucalyptus species (Eucalyptus grandis, Eucalyptus saligna, Eucalyptus dunnii, Eucalyptus viminalis, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Eucalyptus tereticornis). Seventeen polymorphic EST-SSR markers for E. globulus were evaluated in 60 unrelated trees, being representative of the species’ natural distribution. As a result, six highly informative markers were proposed for genetic diversity analyses, fingerprinting, and comparative population studies, between different species of E. globulus.