Representational difference analysis reveals genomic differences between Q. robur and Q. suber: implications for the study of genome evolution in the genus Quercus
Very similar genome sizes, similar karyotypes and heterochromatin organisation, and identical number/position of ribosomal loci characterise the common oak (Q. robur) and the cork oak (Q. suber), two distantly related oak species. Representational Difference Analysis (RDA) was used to subtract the genome of Q suber from the genome of Q. robur in order to search for genome differentiation. A library of 400 clones (bearing RDA fragments) representing genome differences between the two species was obtained. Seven Q. robur-specific DNA sequences were analysed with respect to their molecular and chromosome organisation. All belong to the dispersed repetitive component of the genome, as revealed by Southern hybridisation and in situ hybridisation. They are present in the Q. robur genome in between 100 and 700 copies, and are distributed along the length of almost all chromosomes. A search for homologies between RDA fragments and sequences in Genbank revealed similarities of all RDA fragments with known retrotransposons. The RDA fragments were also tested for their presence/absence in the genomes of six additional oak species belonging to different phylogenetic groups, in order to examine the evolutionary dynamics of these DNA sequences.