Gene discovery and microarray analysis of cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) varieties
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The cacao bean harvest from the relatively under developed tropical tree cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) is subject to high losses in potential production due to pests and diseases. To discover and understand the stability of putative natural resistance mechanisms in this commodity crop, essential for chocolate production, we undertook a gene-discovery program and demonstrated its use in gene-expression arrays. Sequencing and assembling bean and leaf cDNA library inserts produced a unique contig set of 1,380 members. High-quality annotation of this gene set using Blast and MetaFam produced annotation for 75% of the contigs and allowed us to identify the types of gene expressed in cacao beans and leaves. Microarrays were constructed using amplified inserts of the uni-gene set and challenged with bean and leaf RNA from five cacao varieties. The microarray performed well across the five randomly chosen cacao genotypes and did not show a bias towards either leaf or bean tissues. This demonstrates that the gene sequences are useful for microarray analysis across cacao genotypes and tissue types. The array results, when compared with real-time PCR results for selected genes, showed a correlation with differential gene-expression patterns.
We intend that the resultant DNA sequences and molecular microarray platform will help the cacao community to understand the basis, likely stability and pathotype resistance range of candidate cacao plants.
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