Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

High-throughput gene and SNP discovery in Eucalyptus grandis, an uncharacterized genome

Evandro Novaes1, Derek R Drost12, William G Farmerie34, Georgios J Pappas56, Dario Grattapaglia56, Ronald R Sederoff7 and Matias Kirst124*

  • * Corresponding author: Matias Kirst

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, PO Box 110410, Gainesville, USA

2 Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA

3 Interdisiplinary Center for Biotechnology Research, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA

4 University of Florida Genetics Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA

5 Graduate Program in Genomic Sciences and Biotechnology, Universidade Católica de Brasília, Brasília, Brazil

6 EMBRAPA Recursos Genéticos e Biotecnologia, Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária, Brasília, Brazil

7 Department of Genetics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, USA

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:312  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-312

Published: 30 June 2008



Benefits from high-throughput sequencing using 454 pyrosequencing technology may be most apparent for species with high societal or economic value but few genomic resources. Rapid means of gene sequence and SNP discovery using this novel sequencing technology provide a set of baseline tools for genome-level research. However, it is questionable how effective the sequencing of large numbers of short reads for species with essentially no prior gene sequence information will support contig assemblies and sequence annotation.


With the purpose of generating the first broad survey of gene sequences in Eucalyptus grandis, the most widely planted hardwood tree species, we used 454 technology to sequence and assemble 148 Mbp of expressed sequences (EST). EST sequences were generated from a normalized cDNA pool comprised of multiple tissues and genotypes, promoting discovery of homologues to almost half of Arabidopsis genes, and a comprehensive survey of allelic variation in the transcriptome. By aligning the sequencing reads from multiple genotypes we detected 23,742 SNPs, 83% of which were validated in a sample. Genome-wide nucleotide diversity was estimated for 2,392 contigs using a modified theta (θ) parameter, adapted for measuring genetic diversity from polymorphisms detected by randomly sequencing a multi-genotype cDNA pool. Diversity estimates in non-synonymous nucleotides were on average 4x smaller than in synonymous, suggesting purifying selection. Non-synonymous to synonymous substitutions (Ka/Ks) among 2,001 contigs averaged 0.30 and was skewed to the right, further supporting that most genes are under purifying selection. Comparison of these estimates among contigs identified major functional classes of genes under purifying and diversifying selection in agreement with previous researches.


In providing an abundance of foundational transcript sequences where limited prior genomic information existed, this work created part of the foundation for the annotation of the E. grandis genome that is being sequenced by the US Department of Energy. In addition we demonstrated that SNPs sampled in large-scale with 454 pyrosequencing can be used to detect evolutionary signatures among genes, providing one of the first genome-wide assessments of nucleotide diversity and Ka/Ks for a non-model plant species.