Functional & Integrative Genomics

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 169–179 | Cite as

An integrated approach for the comparative analysis of a multigene family: The nicotianamine synthase genes of barley

  • Dragan Perovic
  • Peter Tiffin
  • Dimitar Douchkov
  • Helmut Bäumlein
  • Andreas Graner
Original Paper


Recent genomic projects reveal that about half of the gene repertoire in plant genomes is made up by multigene families. In this paper, a set of structural and phylogenetic analyses have been applied to compare the differently sized nicotianamine synthase (NAS) gene families in barley and rice. Nicotianamine acts as a chelator of iron and other heavy metals and plays a key role in uptake, phloem transport and cytoplasmic distribution of iron, challenging efforts for the breeding of iron-efficient crop plants. Nine barley NAS genes have been mapped, and co-linearity of flanking genes in barley and rice was determined. The combined analyses reveal that the NAS multigene family members in barley originated through at least one duplication event that occurred before the divergence of rice and barley. Additional duplications appear to have occurred within each of the species. Although we detected no evidence for positive selection of recently duplicated genes within species, codon-based tests revealed evidence for positive selection having contributed to the divergence of some amino acids. The integrated comparative and phylogenetic analysis improved our current view of NAS gene family evolution, might facilitate the functional characterization of individual members and is applicable to other multigene families.


Nicotianamine synthase Gene family mapping Barley Orthologues and paralogues 



We thank Prof. P. Hayes for providing seeds of the OWB mapping population and T. Thiel for support in sequence comparison. P. Tiffin thanks the US National Science Foundation for financial support (DEB 0235027).

Supplementary material

10142_2006_40_MOESM1_ESM.doc (50 kb)
Supplemental Figure 1 Multiple alignment of barley NAS genes and positions of designed primers and NASHOR2 oligonucleotide (DOC 51 712 kb)
10142_2006_40_MOESM2_ESM.doc (23 kb)
Supplemental Table 1 Single clone addresses and pools detected after screening of the cv Morex BAC library with NAS genes from barley chromosome 4H. (*) Four common super pools were detected for NASHOR1 and HvNAS2. (**) One common super pool was detected for NASHOR1 and HvNAS3. No common super pools were detected for HvNAS2 and HvNAS3. Single BACs detected by NASHOR1 did not show PCR amplicons with HvNAS2 and HvNAS3 primers (DOC 23 552 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dragan Perovic
    • 1
    • 3
  • Peter Tiffin
    • 2
  • Dimitar Douchkov
    • 1
  • Helmut Bäumlein
    • 1
  • Andreas Graner
    • 1
  1. 1.Leibniz-Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK)GaterslebenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Plant BiologyUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Epidemiology and Resistance ResourcesFederal Centre for Breeding Research on Cultivated PlantsAscherslebenGermany

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