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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Selection of reliable reference genes for gene expression studies in peach using real-time PCR

Zhaoguo Tong, Zhihong Gao, Fei Wang, Jun Zhou and Zhen Zhang*

Author Affiliations

College of Horticulture, Nanjing Agricultural University, 1 Tongwei Road, Weigang, Nanjing 210095, PR China

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BMC Molecular Biology 2009, 10:71  doi:10.1186/1471-2199-10-71

Published: 20 July 2009



RT-qPCR is a preferred method for rapid and reliable quantification of gene expression studies. Appropriate application of RT-qPCR in such studies requires the use of reference gene(s) as an internal control to normalize mRNA levels between different samples for an exact comparison of gene expression level. However, recent studies have shown that no single reference gene is universal for all experiments. Thus, the identification of high quality reference gene(s) is of paramount importance for the interpretation of data generated by RT-qPCR. Only a few studies on reference genes have been done in plants and none in peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch). Therefore, the present study was conducted to identify suitable reference gene(s) for normalization of gene expression in peach.


In this work, eleven reference genes were investigated in different peach samples using RT-qPCR with SYBR green. These genes are: actin 2/7 (ACT), cyclophilin (CYP2), RNA polymerase II (RP II), phospholipase A2 (PLA2), ribosomal protein L13 (RPL13), glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), 18S ribosomal RNA (18S rRNA), tubblin beta (TUB), tubblin alpha (TUA), translation elongation factor 2 (TEF2) and ubiquitin 10 (UBQ10). All eleven reference genes displayed a wide range of Cq values in all samples, indicating that they expressed variably. The stability of these genes except for RPL13 was determined by three different descriptive statistics, geNorm, NormFinder and BestKeeper, which produced highly comparable results.


Our study demonstrates that expression stability varied greatly between genes studied in peach. Based on the results from geNorm, NormFinder and BestKeeper analyses, for all the sample pools analyzed, TEF2, UBQ10 and RP II were found to be the most suitable reference genes with a very high statistical reliability, and TEF2 and RP II for the other sample series, while 18S rRNA, RPL13 and PLA2 were unsuitable as internal controls. GAPDH and ACT also performed poorly and were less stable in our analysis. To achieve accurate comparison of levels of gene expression, two or more reference genes must be used for data normalization. The combinations of TEF2/UBQ10/RP II and TEF2/RP II were suggested for use in all samples and subsets, respectively.