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Stack J.C.,Mars Inc | Royaert S.,Mars Center for Cocoa Science | Gutierrez O.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Nagai C.,Hawaii Agriculture Research Center | And 3 more authors.
Tree Genetics and Genomes | Year: 2015

Linkage disequilibrium (LD) measured over the genomes of a species can provide important indications for how future association analyses should proceed. This information can be advantageous especially for slow-growing, perennial crops such as Theobroma cacao, where experimental crosses are inherently time-consuming and logistically expensive. While LD has been evaluated in cacao, previous work has been focused on relatively narrow genetic bases. We use microsatellite marker data collected from a uniquely diverse sample of individuals broadly covering both wild and cultivated varieties to gauge the LD present in the different cacao diversity groups and populations. We find that genome-wide LD decays far more rapidly in the wild and primitive diversity groups of cacao as compared to those representing cultivated varieties. The impact that such differences can have on association analyses is demonstrated using phenotypic data on pod color and genotypic data from two cacao populations with contrasting patterns of LD decay. Our results indicate that the more rapid LD decay in wild and primitive germplasm can lead to higher-resolution mapping intervals when compared to results from cultivated germplasm. Through simulations, we demonstrate how future association mapping analyses, comprising of cacao samples with a wild or primitive background, will likely exhibit lower LD and would be more suitable for fine-scale association mapping analyses. As many traits targeted by cacao breeders are found exclusively in wild and primitive germplasm, association mapping in wild cacao populations holds significant promise for cacao improvement through marker-assisted breeding and emphasize the need to further explore the natural diversity of Amazonian cacao. © 2015, The Author(s).


Silva D.V.,University Estadual Of Santa Cruz | Branco S.M.J.,University Estadual Of Santa Cruz | Holanda I.S.A.,Rural University | Royaert S.,Mars Center for Cocoa Science | And 3 more authors.
Genetics and Molecular Research | Year: 2016

Theobroma cacao is a species of great economic importance with its beans used for chocolate production. The tree has been a target of various molecular studies. It contains many polyphenols, which complicate the extraction of nucleic acids with the extraction protocols requiring a large amount of plant material. These issues, therefore, necessitate the optimization of the protocols. The aim of the present study was to evaluate different methods for extraction of total RNA from shoot apical meristems of T. cacao ‘CCN 51’ and to assess the influence of storage conditions for the meristems on the extraction. The study also aimed to identify the most efficient protocol for RNA extraction using a small amount of plant material. Four different protocols were evaluated for RNA extraction using one shoot apical meristem per sample. Among these protocols, one that was more efficient was then tested to extract RNA using four different numbers of shoot apical meristems, subjected to three different storage conditions. The best protocol was tested for cDNA amplification using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction; the cDNA quality was determined to be satisfactory for molecular analyses. The study revealed that with the best RNA extraction protocol, one shoot apical meristem was sufficient for extraction of high-quality total RNA. The results obtained might enable advances in genetic analyses and molecular studies using reduced amount of plant material. © FUNPEC-RP.


Melnick R.L.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Marelli J.-P.,Mars Center for Cocoa Science | Sicher R.C.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Strem M.D.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Bailey B.A.,U.S. Department of Agriculture
Tree Genetics and Genomes | Year: 2012

Witches' broom disease of Theobroma cacao L. is caused by the hemibiotrophic basidiomycete Moniliophthora perniciosa. Infection of flower cushions by M. perniciosa results in parthenocarpy. Healthy and parthenocarpic immature cacao pods were obtained from seven cacao clones. Microscopic observations of parthenocarpic pods from two clones confirmed that fruits lack viable seed. Septate mycelia colonized parthenocarpic pods, but were absent from healthy pods. Parthenocarpic pods had increased concentrations of leucine, methionine, serine, phenylalanine, and valine. Major transport metabolites sucrose and asparagine were decreased by 63 and 40 %, respectively, during parthenocarpy. M. perniciosa expressed sequence tags (ESTs) related to detoxification (MpSOD2 and MpCTA1) and nutrient acquisition (MpAS, MpAK, MpATG8, MpPLY, and MpPME) were induced in parthenocarpic pods. Most M. perniciosa ESTs related to plant hormone biosynthesis were repressed (MpGAox, MpCPS, MpDES, MpGGPPS, and MpCAO) in parthenocarpic pods. RT-qPCR analysis was conducted for 54 defense-related cacao ESTs and 93 hormone-related cacao ESTs. Specific cacao ESTs related to plant defense were induced (TcPR5, TcChi4, TcThau-ICS) while others were repressed (TcPR1, TcPR6, TcP12, and TcChiB). Cacao ESTs related to GA biosynthesis (TcGA20OX1B) were repressed in parthenocarpic pods. Cacao ESTs putatively related to maintaining cytokinin (TcCKX3 and TcCKX5) and IAA (TcGH3. 17a, TcGH3. 1, TcARF18) homeostasis were induced in parthenocarpic pods, suggesting an attempt to regulate cytokinin and auxin concentrations. In conclusion, M. perniciosa expresses specific sets of transcripts targeting nutrient acquisition and survival while altering the host physiology without causing significant necrosis resulting in parthenocarpy. Only a general host defense response is elicited. © 2012 Springer-Verlag (outside the USA).


de Oliveira G.A.P.,Federal University of Rio de Janeiro | Pereira E.G.,Federal University of Rio de Janeiro | Dias C.V.,University Estadual Of Santa Cruz | Dias C.V.,Mars Center for Cocoa Science | And 8 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Understanding how Nep-like proteins (NLPs) behave during the cell cycle and disease progression of plant pathogenic oomycetes, fungi and bacteria is crucial in light of compelling evidence that these proteins play a role in Witches' Broom Disease (WBD) of Theobroma cacao, one of the most important phytopathological problems to afflict the Southern Hemisphere. The crystal structure of MpNep2, a member of the NLP family and the causal agent of WBD, revealed the key elements for its activity. This protein has the ability to refold after heating and was believed to act as a monomer in solution, in contrast to the related homologs MpNep1 and NPP from the oomyceteous fungus Phytophthora parasitica. Here, we identify and characterize a metastable MpNep2 dimer upon over-expression in Escherichia coli using different biochemical and structural approaches. We found using ultra-fast liquid chromatography that the MpNep2 dimer can be dissociated by heating but not by dilution, oxidation or high ionic strength. Small-angle X-ray scattering revealed a possible tail-to-tail interaction between monomers, and nuclear magnetic resonance measurements identified perturbed residues involved in the putative interface of interaction. We also explored the ability of the MpNep2 monomer to refold after heating or chemical denaturation. We observed that MpNep2 has a low stability and cooperative fold that could be an explanation for its structure and activity recovery after stress. These results can provide new insights into the mechanism for MpNep2′s action in dicot plants during the progression of WBD and may open new avenues for the involvement of NLP- oligomeric species in phytopathological disorders. © 2012 de Oliveira et al.


Villela-Dias C.,University Estadual Of Santa Cruz | Villela-Dias C.,Mars Center for Cocoa Science | Camillo L.R.,University Estadual Of Santa Cruz | de Oliveira G.A.P.,Federal University of Rio de Janeiro | And 7 more authors.
Physiologia Plantarum | Year: 2014

NEP1 (necrosis- and ethylene-inducing peptide 1)-like proteins (NLPs) have been identified in a variety of taxonomically unrelated plant pathogens and share a common characteristic of inducing responses of plant defense and cell death in dicotyledonous plants. Even though some aspects of NLP action have been well characterized, nothing is known about the global range of modifications in proteome and metabolome of NLP-treated plant cells. Here, using both proteomic and metabolomic approaches we were able to identify the global molecular and biochemical changes in cells of Nicotiana benthamiana elicited by short-term treatment with MpNEP2, a NLP of Moniliophthora perniciosa, the basidiomycete responsible for the witches' broom disease on cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.). Approximately 100 protein spots were collected from 2-DE gels in each proteome, with one-third showing more than twofold differences in the expression values. Fifty-three such proteins were identified by mass spectrometry (MS)/MS and mapped into specific metabolic pathways and cellular processes. Most MpNEP2 upregulated proteins are involved in nucleotide-binding function and oxidoreductase activity, whereas the downregulated proteins are mostly involved in glycolysis, response to stress and protein folding. Thirty metabolites were detected by gas spectrometry (GC)/MS and semi-quantified, of which eleven showed significant differences between the treatments, including proline, alanine, myo-inositol, ethylene, threonine and hydroxylamine. The global changes described affect the reduction-oxidation reactions, ATP biosynthesis and key signaling molecules as calcium and hydrogen peroxide. These findings will help creating a broader understanding of NLP-mediated cell death signaling in plants. © 2013 Scandinavian Plant Physiology Society.

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