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Reference gene selection in Artemisia annua L., a plant species producing anti-malarial artemisinin

Abstract

The selection and validation of reference genes are essential for gene expression studies by real-time quantitative PCR. The genetic map of Artemisia annua L., a Chinese medicinal plant species producing anti-malarial artemisinin, has been reported. However, few reference genes of A. annua have been estimated for real-time quantitative PCR until now. In this study, ten putative housekeeping genes, including ACT, UBQ, TUB, 18S rRNA, EF1α, CYP, RPL13D, TUA, RPII and GAPDH, were chosen for identifying expression stability using geNorm and NormFinder software tools in 11 different sample pools, containing those from different plant organs and from plants treated with phytohormones and abiotic stresses. As expected, the variation in expression stability of the ten candidate reference genes tested in this study suggested there was no single reference gene that can be used for all experimental conditions in A. annua. The combination of RPII & EF1α was the most stably expressed reference genes for different organs. Under phytohormone treatment, the combination of EF1α & TUB was recommended as internal reference genes used for investigating target gene expression levels. In addition, the combination of ACT & EF1α was suitably chosen for normalization in temperature-shocked samples. In order to further verify the reliability of the experimental results, RPII & EF1α were used in combination as reference genes to examine the expression levels of ADS gene in different organs. Meanwhile, the expression levels of ADS, CYP71AV1 and DBR2 were tested by qPCR normalized with the combination of EF1α & TUB in MeJA treatment samples. Our study will benefit future research on the expression of genes related to artemisinin biosynthesis under different experimental conditions.

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Acknowledgments

This work was financially supported by the NSFC project (31070266; 31200223), the Program for New Century Excellent Talents in University (NCET-12-0930), the National 863 Hi-Tech Plans (2011AA100605; 2011AA100607), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (XDJK2013A024; XDJK2011C017) and the Fundamental and Frontier Research Project of Chongqing (cstc2014jcyjA10005).

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Correspondence to Zhihua Liao.

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Wanhong Liu and Tengfei Zhao contributed equally to this work.

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Liu, W., Zhao, T., Wang, H. et al. Reference gene selection in Artemisia annua L., a plant species producing anti-malarial artemisinin. Plant Cell Tiss Organ Cult 121, 141–152 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11240-014-0690-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11240-014-0690-2

Keywords

  • Artemisia annua
  • Gene expression
  • Housekeeping genes
  • Quantitative PCR
  • Normalization