, Volume 240, Issue 2, pp 151-158

Isolation and characterization of genome-specific DNA sequences in Triticeae species

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Abstract

Two contrasting genome-specific DNA sequences were isolated from Aegilops speltoides (wild goat grass) and Hordeum chilense (wild barley), each representing more than 1 % of the genomes. These repetitive DNA fragments were identified as being genome-specific before cloning by genomic Southern hybridization (using total genomic DNA as a probe), and hence extensive screening of clones was not required. For each fragment, up to six recombinant plasmid clones were screened and about half were genome-specific. Clone pAesKB52 from Ae. speltoides was a 763 by EcoRI fragment, physically organized in simple tandem repeats and shown to localize to sub-telomerec chromosome regions of species with the Triticeae S-genome by in situ hybridization to chromosomes. The sequence data showed an internal duplication of some 280 bp, which presumably occurred before sequence amplification and dispersion, perhaps by unequal crossing-over or reciprocal translocation. In situ hybridization showed that the sequence distribution varied between closely related (S-genome) species. Clone pHcKB6 was a 339 by DraI fragment from H. chilense, also tandemly repeated but more variable; loss of the DraI site resulting in a ladder pattern in Southern blots which had little background smear. In situ hybridization showed that the tandem repeats were present as small clusters dispersed along all chromosome arms except at a few discrete regions including the centromeres and telomeres. The clone hybridized essentially specifically to the H-genome of H. chilense and hence was able to identify the origin of chromosomes in a H. chilense x Secale africanum hybrid by in situ hybridization. It has a high A + T content (66%), small internal duplications, and a 50 by degenerate inverted repeat. We speculate that it has dispersed by retrotransposition in association with other sequences carrying coding domains. The organization and evolution of such sequences are important in understanding long-range genome organization and the types of change that can occur on evolutionary and plant breeding timescales. Genome-specific sequences are also useful as markers for alien chromatin in plant breeding.

Communicated by R. Herrmann