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Open Access Research article

Identification of an extensive gene cluster among a family of PPOs in Trifolium pratense L. (red clover) using a large insert BAC library

Ana Winters1, Sue Heywood2, Kerrie Farrar1, Iain Donnison1, Ann Thomas1 and K Judith Webb1*

  • * Corresponding author: K Judith Webb jxw@aber.ac.uk

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Gogerddan, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3EB, UK

2 CNAP Artemisia Research Project, Department of Biology – Area 7, University of York, Heslington, PO Box 373, York, YO10 5YW, UK

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BMC Plant Biology 2009, 9:94  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-9-94

Published: 20 July 2009

Abstract

Background

Polyphenol oxidase (PPO) activity in plants is a trait with potential economic, agricultural and environmental impact. In relation to the food industry, PPO-induced browning causes unacceptable discolouration in fruit and vegetables: from an agriculture perspective, PPO can protect plants against pathogens and environmental stress, improve ruminant growth by increasing nitrogen absorption and decreasing nitrogen loss to the environment through the animal's urine. The high PPO legume, red clover, has a significant economic and environmental role in sustaining low-input organic and conventional farms. Molecular markers for a range of important agricultural traits are being developed for red clover and improved knowledge of PPO genes and their structure will facilitate molecular breeding.

Results

A bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library comprising 26,016 BAC clones with an average 135 Kb insert size, was constructed from Trifolium pratense L. (red clover), a diploid legume with a haploid genome size of 440–637 Mb. Library coverage of 6–8 genome equivalents ensured good representation of genes: the library was screened for polyphenol oxidase (PPO) genes.

Two single copy PPO genes, PPO4 and PPO5, were identified to add to a family of three, previously reported, paralogous genes (PPO1–PPO3). Multiple PPO1 copies were identified and characterised revealing a subfamily comprising three variants PPO1/2, PPO1/4 and PPO1/5. Six PPO genes clustered within the genome: four separate BAC clones could be assembled onto a predicted 190–510 Kb single BAC contig.

Conclusion

A PPO gene family in red clover resides as a cluster of at least 6 genes. Three of these genes have high homology, suggesting a more recent evolutionary event. This PPO cluster covers a longer region of the genome than clusters detected in rice or previously reported in tomato. Full-length coding sequences from PPO4, PPO5, PPO1/5 and PPO1/4 will facilitate functional studies and provide genetic markers for plant breeding.