Peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) is an important crop economically and nutritionally, and is one of the most susceptible host crops to colonization of Aspergillus parasiticus and subsequent aflatoxin contamination. Knowledge from molecular genetic studies could help to devise strategies in alleviating this problem; however, few peanut DNA sequences are available in the public database. In order to understand the molecular basis of host resistance to aflatoxin contamination, a large-scale project was conducted to generate expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from developing seeds to identify resistance-related genes involved in defense response against Aspergillus infection and subsequent aflatoxin contamination.
We constructed six different cDNA libraries derived from developing peanut seeds at three reproduction stages (R5, R6 and R7) from a resistant and a susceptible cultivated peanut genotypes, 'Tifrunner' (susceptible to Aspergillus infection with higher aflatoxin contamination and resistant to TSWV) and 'GT-C20' (resistant to Aspergillus with reduced aflatoxin contamination and susceptible to TSWV). The developing peanut seed tissues were challenged by A. parasiticus and drought stress in the field. A total of 24,192 randomly selected cDNA clones from six libraries were sequenced. After removing vector sequences and quality trimming, 21,777 high-quality EST sequences were generated. Sequence clustering and assembling resulted in 8,689 unique EST sequences with 1,741 tentative consensus EST sequences (TCs) and 6,948 singleton ESTs. Functional classification was performed according to MIPS functional catalogue criteria. The unique EST sequences were divided into twenty-two categories. A similarity search against the non-redundant protein database available from NCBI indicated that 84.78% of total ESTs showed significant similarity to known proteins, of which 165 genes had been previously reported in peanuts. There were differences in overall expression patterns in different libraries and genotypes. A number of sequences were expressed throughout all of the libraries, representing constitutive expressed sequences. In order to identify resistance-related genes with significantly differential expression, a statistical analysis to estimate the relative abundance (R) was used to compare the relative abundance of each gene transcripts in each cDNA library. Thirty six and forty seven unique EST sequences with threshold of R > 4 from libraries of 'GT-C20' and 'Tifrunner', respectively, were selected for examination of temporal gene expression patterns according to EST frequencies. Nine and eight resistance-related genes with significant up-regulation were obtained in 'GT-C20' and 'Tifrunner' libraries, respectively. Among them, three genes were common in both genotypes. Furthermore, a comparison of our EST sequences with other plant sequences in the TIGR Gene Indices libraries showed that the percentage of peanut EST matched to Arabidopsis thaliana, maize (Zea mays), Medicago truncatula, rapeseed (Brassica napus), rice (Oryza sativa), soybean (Glycine max) and wheat (Triticum aestivum) ESTs ranged from 33.84% to 79.46% with the sequence identity ≥ 80%. These results revealed that peanut ESTs are more closely related to legume species than to cereal crops, and more homologous to dicot than to monocot plant species.
The developed ESTs can be used to discover novel sequences or genes, to identify resistance-related genes and to detect the differences among alleles or markers between these resistant and susceptible peanut genotypes. Additionally, this large collection of cultivated peanut EST sequences will make it possible to construct microarrays for gene expression studies and for further characterization of host resistance mechanisms. It will be a valuable genomic resource for the peanut community. The 21,777 ESTs have been deposited to the NCBI GenBank database with accession numbers ES702769 to ES724546.||