Functional & Integrative Genomics

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 111–122 | Cite as

Conserved globulin gene across eight grass genomes identify fundamental units of the loci encoding seed storage proteins

  • Yong Qiang GuEmail author
  • Humphrey Wanjugi
  • Devin Coleman-Derr
  • Xiuying Kong
  • Olin D. Anderson
Original Paper


The wheat high molecular weight (HMW) glutenins are important seed storage proteins that determine bread-making quality in hexaploid wheat (Triticum aestivum). In this study, detailed comparative sequence analyses of large orthologous HMW glutenin genomic regions from eight grass species, representing a wide evolutionary history of grass genomes, reveal a number of lineage-specific sequence changes. These lineage-specific changes, which resulted in duplications, insertions, and deletions of genes, are the major forces disrupting gene colinearity among grass genomes. Our results indicate that the presence of the HMW glutenin gene in Triticeae genomes was caused by lineage-specific duplication of a globulin gene. This tandem duplication event is shared by Brachypodium and Triticeae genomes, but is absent in rice, maize, and sorghum, suggesting the duplication occurred after Brachypodium and Triticeae genomes diverged from the other grasses ~35 Ma ago. Aside from their physical location in tandem, the sequence similarity, expression pattern, and conserved cis-acting elements responsible for endosperm-specific expression further support the paralogous relationship between the HMW glutenin and globulin genes. While the duplicated copy in Brachypodium has apparently become nonfunctional, the duplicated copy in wheat has evolved to become the HMW glutenin gene by gaining a central prolamin repetitive domain.


Wheat High molecular weight glutenin Globulin Duplication Genome evolution Domestication 



The authors thank Jorge Dubcovsky for providing T. monococcum BAC clones, Sekou Health for assistance in the BAC sequencing, and Gerard R. Lazo for bioinformatics support. This work was supported in part by NSF Grant DBI-0638558 and by the United State Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service CRIS 532502100-000 and 532502100-000.

Supplementary material

10142_2009_135_MOESM1_ESM.xls (26 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 BLAST search of annotated genes at the orthologous Glu-1 region against the EST databases (XLS 25 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yong Qiang Gu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Humphrey Wanjugi
    • 1
  • Devin Coleman-Derr
    • 1
  • Xiuying Kong
    • 2
  • Olin D. Anderson
    • 1
  1. 1.Western Regional Research CenterUnited States Department of Agricultural-Agricultural Research ServiceAlbanyUSA
  2. 2.National Key Facility for Crop Gene Resources and Genetic Improvement, Key Laboratory of Crop Germplasm Resources and Utilization, MOA, Institute of Crop SciencesChinese Academy of Agricultural SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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