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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Targeted enrichment of the black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) gene space using sequence capture

Lecong Zhou and Jason A Holliday*

Author Affiliations

Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 304 Cheatham Hall, Blacksburg, VA, 24061, USA

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BMC Genomics 2012, 13:703  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-703

Published: 14 December 2012



High-throughput re-sequencing is rapidly becoming the method of choice for studies of neutral and adaptive processes in natural populations across taxa. As re-sequencing the genome of large numbers of samples is still cost-prohibitive in many cases, methods for genome complexity reduction have been developed in attempts to capture most ecologically-relevant genetic variation. One of these approaches is sequence capture, in which oligonucleotide baits specific to genomic regions of interest are synthesized and used to retrieve and sequence those regions.


We used sequence capture to re-sequence most predicted exons, their upstream regulatory regions, as well as numerous random genomic intervals in a panel of 48 genotypes of the angiosperm tree Populus trichocarpa (black cottonwood, or ‘poplar’). A total of 20.76Mb (5%) of the poplar genome was targeted, corresponding to 173,040 baits. With 12 indexed samples run in each of four lanes on an Illumina HiSeq instrument (2x100 paired-end), 86.8% of the bait regions were on average sequenced at a depth ≥10X. Few off-target regions (>250bp away from any bait) were present in the data, but on average ~80bp on either side of the baits were captured and sequenced to an acceptable depth (≥10X) to call heterozygous SNPs. Nucleotide diversity estimates within and adjacent to protein-coding genes were similar to those previously reported in Populus spp., while intergenic regions had higher values consistent with a relaxation of selection.


Our results illustrate the efficiency and utility of sequence capture for re-sequencing highly heterozygous tree genomes, and suggest design considerations to optimize the use of baits in future studies.

Poplar; Sureselect; Exome; Population genomics