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The genome sequence of black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) reveals 18 conserved cellulose synthase (CesA) genes

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The genome sequence of Populus trichocarpa was screened for genes encoding cellulose synthases by using full-length cDNA sequences and ESTs previously identified in the tissue specific cDNA libraries of other poplars. The data obtained revealed 18 distinct CesA gene sequences in P. trichocarpa. The identified genes were grouped in seven gene pairs, one group of three sequences and one single gene. Evidence from gene expression studies of hybrid aspen suggests that both copies of at least one pair, CesA3-1 and CesA3-2, are actively transcribed. No sequences corresponding to the gene pair, CesA6-1 and CesA6-2, were found in Arabidopsis or hybrid aspen, while one homologous gene has been identified in the rice genome and an active transcript in Populus tremuloides. A phylogenetic analysis suggests that the CesA genes previously associated with secondary cell wall synthesis originate from a single ancestor gene and group in three distinct subgroups. The newly identified copies of CesA genes in P. trichocarpa give rise to a number of new questions concerning the mechanism of cellulose synthesis in trees.

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  1. The only exception to the clustering of apparently secondary cell wall associated CesA genes is OsCesA9 from rice. However, as described in Materials and methods, this gene is represented by a partial cDNA, which was not stable in the phylogenetic analysis, and it may thus end up in a different position once the full length gene is available.



Cellulose synthase


Coding sequence


Expressed sequence tag


Untranslated region


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We thank Per Unneberg, Peter Savolainen and Peter Nilsson for fruitful discussions and critical reading of the manuscript. The EU project QLK5-CT2001-00443 and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation are gratefully acknowledged for financial support.

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Correspondence to Tuula T. Teeri.

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Djerbi, S., Lindskog, M., Arvestad, L. et al. The genome sequence of black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) reveals 18 conserved cellulose synthase (CesA) genes. Planta 221, 739–746 (2005).

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