Four ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase cDNA clones were isolated from mature leaves and pith of sago palm by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique. Three of them (agpp10, agpp12 and agpl19) encoded the AGP large subunit, while the fourth clone (agpl1) encoded the small subunit. agpp10 and agpp12 were isolated from pith, agpl19 was isolated from mature leaves, while agpl1 from both tissues. In addition, a full-length cDNA of agpl1 was successfully isolated from a cDNA library of mature leaves by a PCR-based screening technique. Semi-quantitative analysis suggests that agpp10 and agpp12 were detectable only in pith, agpl19 only in leaves, while agpl1 was expressed in both leaves and pith tissues.
A total of 723 accessions of oil palm ( Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) from 26 populations representing ten countries in Africa and one Deli dura family were screened for allelic variation at seven enzyme loci from six enzyme systems using starch gel electrophoresis. On average, 54.5% of the loci were polymorphic (0.99 criterion). The average and effective number of alleles per locus was 1.80 and 1.35, respectively. Mean expected heterozygosity was 0.184, with values ranging from 0.109 (population 8, Senegal) to 0.261 (population 29, Cameroon). The genetic differentiation among populations was high (F(ST)=0.301), indicating high genetic divergence. The calculation of F(ST) by geographic zones revealed that the high F(ST) was largely due to F(ST) among populations in West Africa, suggesting diversifying selection in this region. The mean genetic distance across populations was 0.113. The lowest genetic distance (D) was observed between population 5 from Tanzania and population 7 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (0.000) and the highest was found between population 4 from Madagascar and population 13 from Sierra Leone (0.568). The total gene flow across oil palm populations was low, with an Nm of 0.576, enhancing genetic structuring, as evident from the high F(ST) values. UPGMA cluster analysis revealed three main clusters; the western outlying populations from Senegal and Sierra Leone were in one cluster but separated into two distinct sub-clusters; the eastern outlying populations from Madagascar were in one cluster; the populations from Angola, Cameroon, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Tanzania, Nigeria and Guinea were in one cluster. The Deli dura family seems to be closely related to population 6 from Guinea. Oil palm populations with high genetic diversity-i.e. all of the populations from Nigeria, Cameroon and Sierra Leone, population 6 of Guinea, population 1 of Madagascar and population 2 of Senegal should be used in improvement programmes, whereas for conservation purposes, oil palm populations with high allelic diversity (A(e)), which include populations 22 and 29 from Cameroon, populations 39 and 45 from Nigeria, population 6 from Guinea, populations 5 and 13 from Sierra Leone and population 1 from Madagascar should be selected for capturing as much genetic variation as possible.
The mRNA differential display method was utilized to study the differential expression and regulation of genes in two species of oil palm, the commercially grown variety Elaeis guineensis, var. tenera and the South American species, Elaeis oleifera. We demonstrated the differential expression of genes in the mesocarp and kernel at the week of active oil synthesis (15 week after anthesis) during fruit development as compare to the roots and leaves and the isolation of tissue-specific and species-specific cDNA clones. A total of eight specific cDNA clones were isolated and their specificities were confirmed by Northern hybridization and classified into three groups. Group one contains four clones (KT3, KT4, KT5 and KT6) that are kernel-specific for E. guineensis, tenera and E. oleifera. The second group represents clone FST1, which is mesocarp and kernel-specific for E. guineensis, tenera and E. oleifera. The third group represents clones MLT1, MLT2 and MLO1 that are mesocarp and leaf-specific. Northern analysis showed that their expressions were developmentally regulated. Nucleotide sequencing and homology search in GenBank data revealed that clones KT3 and KT4 encode for the same maturation protein PM3. While clones MLT1 and MLT2 encode for S-ribonuclease binding protein and fibrillin, respectively. The other clones (KT5, KT6, FST1 and MLO1) did not display any significant homology to any known protein.
Oil palm is the second largest source of edible oil which contributes to approximately 20% of the world's production of oils and fats. In order to understand the molecular biology involved in in vitro propagation, flowering, efficient utilization of nitrogen sources and root diseases, we have initiated an expressed sequence tag (EST) analysis on oil palm.
Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) requires 19 years per cycle of phenotypic selection. The use of molecular markers may reduce the generation interval and the cost of oil-palm breeding. Our objectives were to compare, by simulation, the response to phenotypic selection, marker-assisted recurrent selection (MARS), and genomewide selection with small population sizes in oil palm, and assess the efficiency of each method in terms of years and cost per unit gain. Markers significantly associated with the trait were used to calculate the marker scores in MARS, whereas all markers were used (without significance tests) to calculate the marker scores in genomewide selection. Responses to phenotypic selection and genomewide selection were consistently greater than the response to MARS. With population sizes of N = 50 or 70, responses to genomewide selection were 4-25% larger than the corresponding responses to phenotypic selection, depending on the heritability and number of quantitative trait loci. Cost per unit gain was 26-57% lower with genomewide selection than with phenotypic selection when markers cost US $1.50 per data point, and 35-65% lower when markers cost $0.15 per data point. With population sizes of N = 50 or 70, time per unit gain was 11-23 years with genomewide selection and 14-25 years with phenotypic selection. We conclude that for a realistic yet relatively small population size of N = 50 in oil palm, genomewide selection is superior to MARS and phenotypic selection in terms of gain per unit cost and time. Our results should be generally applicable to other tree species that are characterized by long generation intervals, high costs of maintaining breeding plantations, and small population sizes in selection programs.
The promoter of the oil palm metallothionein-like gene (MT3-A) demonstrated mesocarp-specific activity in functional analysis using transient expression assay of reporter gene in bombarded oil palm tissue slices. In order to investigate the tissue-specific expression of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) biosynthetic pathway genes, a multi-gene construct carrying PHB genes fused to the oil palm MT3-A promoter was co-transferred with a construct carrying GFP reporter gene using microprojectile bombardment targeting the mesocarp and leaf tissues of the oil palm. Transcriptional analysis using RT-PCR revealed successful transcription of all the three phbA, phbB, and phbC genes in transiently transformed mesocarp but not in transiently transformed leaf tissues. Furthermore, all the three expected sizes of PHB-encoded protein products were only detected in transiently transformed mesocarp tissues on a silver stained polyacrylamide gel. Western blot analysis using polyclonal antibody specific for phbB product confirmed successful translation of phbB mRNA transcript into protein product. This study provided valuable information, supporting the future engineering of PHB-producing transgenic palms.
Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) is one of the most important oil bearing crops in the world. However, genetic improvement of oil palm through conventional breeding is extremely slow and costly, as the breeding cycle can take up to 10 years. This has brought about interest in vegetative propagation of oil palm. Since the introduction of oil palm tissue culture in the 1970s, clonal propagation has proven to be useful, not only in producing uniform planting materials, but also in the development of the genetic engineering programme. Despite considerable progress in improving the tissue culture techniques, the callusing and embryogenesis rates from proliferating callus cultures remain very low. Thus, understanding the gene diversity and expression profiles in oil palm tissue culture is critical in increasing the efficiency of these processes.
Physical and biological parameters affecting DNA delivery into oil palm embryogenic calli using the biolistic device are optimized. Five different promoters are also evaluated to identify the most suitable promoter for use in oil palm transformation. Finally, the effectiveness of kanamycin, geneticin (G418), neomycin, hygromycin, and herbicide Basta as selection agents to inhibit growth of oil palm embryogenic calli is evaluated. Combination of optimized parameters, best promoter and selection agent is later used to transform oil palm embryogenic calli for producing transgenic oil palm plants. Bombarded embryogenic calli are exposed to 50 mg/l of Basta after 3 weeks. Basta-resistant embryogenic calli started to emerge five to six months in medium containing Basta. The Basta-resistant embryogenic calli are proliferated until they reach a specific size, and the Basta-resistant calli are later individually isolated and regenerated to produce complete plantlets. The complete regenerated plantlets are evaluated for the presence of transgenes by PCR, Southern and thin layer chromatography analyses.
One of the targets in oil palm genetic engineering programme is the production of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) and polyhydroxybutyrate-co-valerate (PHBV) in the oil palm leaf tissues. Production of PHB requires the use of phbA (beta-ketothiolase type A), phbB (acetoacetyl-CoA reductase) and phbC (PHB synthase) genes of Ralstonia eutropha, whereas bktB (beta-ketothiolase type B), phbB, phbC genes of R. eutropha and tdcB (threonine dehydratase) gene of Escherichia coli were used for PHBV production. Each of these genes was fused with a transit peptide (Tp) of oil palm acyl-carrier-protein (ACP) gene, driven by an oil palm leaf-specific promoter (LSP1) to genetically engineer the PHB/PHBV pathway to the plastids of the leaf tissues. In total, four transformation vectors, designated pLSP15 (PHB) and pLSP20 (PHBV), and pLSP13 (PHB) and pLSP23 (PHBV), were constructed for transformation in Arabidopsis thaliana and oil palm, respectively. The phosphinothricin acetyltransferase gene (bar) driven by CaMV35S promoter in pLSP15 and pLSP20, and ubiquitin promoter in pLSP13 and pLSP23 were used as the plant selectable markers. Matrix attachment region of tobacco (RB7MAR) was also included in the vectors to stabilize the transgene expression and to minimize silencing due to positional effect. Restriction digestion, PCR amplification and/or sequencing were carried out to ensure sequence integrity and orientation.
Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) is well suited to a perennial crop like oil palm, in which the economic products are not produced until several years after planting. The use of DNA markers for selection in such crops can greatly reduce the number of breeding cycles needed. With the use of DNA markers, informed decisions can be made at the nursery stage, regarding which individuals should be retained as breeding stock, which are satisfactory for agricultural production, and which should be culled. The trait associated with oil quality, measured in terms of its fatty acid composition, is an important agronomic trait that can eventually be tracked using molecular markers. This will speed up the production of new and improved oil palm planting materials.
This study reports on the detection of additional expressed sequence tags (EST) derived simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers for the oil palm. A large collection of 19243 Elaeis guineensis ESTs were assembled to give 10258 unique sequences, of which 629 ESTs were found to contain 722 SSRs with a variety of motifs. Dinucleotide repeats formed the largest group (45.6%) consisting of 66.9% AG/CT, 21.9% AT/AT, 10.9% AC/GT and 0.3% CG/CG motifs. This was followed by trinucleotide repeats, which is the second most abundant repeat types (34.5%) consisting of AAG/CTT (23.3%), AGG/CCT (13.7%), CCG/CGG (11.2%), AAT/ATT (10.8%), AGC/GCT (10.0%), ACT/AGT (8.8%), ACG/CGT (7.6%), ACC/GGT (7.2%), AAC/GTT (3.6%) and AGT/ACT (3.6%) motifs. Primer pairs were designed for 405 unique EST-SSRs and 15 of these were used to genotype 105 E. guineensis and 30 E. oleifera accessions. Fourteen SSRs were polymorphic in at least one germplasm revealing a total of 101 alleles. The high percentage (78.0%) of alleles found to be specific for either E. guineensis or E. oleifera has increased the power for discriminating the two species. The estimates of genetic differentiation detected by EST-SSRs were compared to those reported previously. The transferability across palm taxa to two Cocos nucifera and six exotic palms is also presented. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products of three primer-pairs detected in E. guineensis, E. oleifera, C. nucifera and Jessinia bataua were cloned and sequenced. Sequence alignments showed mutations within the SSR site and the flanking regions. Phenetic analysis based on the sequence data revealed that C. nucifera is closer to oil palm compared to J. bataua; consistent with the taxanomic classification.
The 1,053-bp promoter of the oil palm metallothionein gene (so-called MSP1) and its 5' deletions were fused to the GUS reporter gene, and analysed in transiently transformed oil palm tissues. The full length promoter showed sevenfold higher activity in the mesocarp than in leaves and 1.5-fold more activity than the CaMV35S promoter in the mesocarp. The 1,053-bp region containing the 5' untranslated region (UTR) gave the highest activity in the mesocarp, while the 148-bp region was required for minimal promoter activity. Two positive regulatory regions were identified at nucleotides (nt) -953 to -619 and -420 to -256 regions. Fine-tune deletion of the -619 to -420 nt region led to the identification of a 21-bp negative regulatory sequence in the -598 to -577 nt region, which is involved in mesocarp-specific expression. Gel mobility shift assay revealed a strong interaction of the leaf nuclear extract with the 21-bp region. An AGTTAGG core-sequence within this region was identified as a novel negative regulatory element controlling fruit-specificity of the MSP1 promoter. Abscisic acid (ABA) and copper (Cu(2+)) induced the activity of the promoter and its 5' deletions more effectively than methyl jasmonate (MeJa) and ethylene. In the mesocarp, the full length promoter showed stronger inducibility in response to ABA and Cu(2+) than its 5' deletions, while in leaves, the -420 nt fragment was the most inducible by ABA and Cu(2+). These results suggest that the MSP1 promoter and its regulatory regions are potentially useful for engineering fruit-specific and inducible gene expression in oil palm.
Oil palm suspension cultures were initiated by transferring the gel-like friable embryogenic tissue onto liquid medium supplemented with auxins. In this study, transcripts that were differentially expressed in oil palm suspension cells cultured at different auxin concentrations were examined using suppression subtractive hybridization. Total RNA was first isolated from oil palm suspension cells proliferated in liquid medium with different hormone concentrations for 6 months. Four different hormone combinations: T1 (0.1 mg/l 2,4-D and 1.0 mg/l NAA), T2 (0.4 mg/l 2,4-D and 1.0 mg/l NAA), T3 (1.0 mg/l NAA), and T4 (0.4 mg/l 2,4-D) were used for the treatments. The first and second subtractions were performed using samples T1 and T2 in forward and reverse order. The other two subtractions were forward and reverse subtractions of T3 and T4, respectively. Reverse northern analyses showed that 14.13% of these clones were preferentially expressed in T1, 13.70% in T2, 14.75% in T3, and 15.70% in T4. Among the 294 cDNA clones that were sequenced, 61 contigs (assembled from 165 sequences) and 129 singletons were obtained. Among the 61 contigs, 10 contigs consist of sequences from treatment T1, 8 contigs were from treatment T2, 10 contigs were contains sequences of treatment T3 and 13 contigs contains sequences of treatment T4. Northern analyses of five transcripts that were shown to be differentially expressed in the oil palm suspension cells by reverse northern analysis revealed that transcripts 16A1 (a putative lignostilbene-alpha,beta-dioxygenase, EgLSD) and 16H12 (a putative ethylene responsive 6, EgER6) were differentially expressed in oil palm suspension cells treated with different levels of auxin.
The ubiquitin extension protein (uep1) gene was identified as a constitutively expressed gene in oil palm. We have isolated and characterized the 5' region of the oil palm uep1 gene, which contains an 828 bp sequence upstream of the uep1 translational start site. Construction of a pUEP1 transformation vector, which contains gusA reporter gene under the control of uep1 promoter, was carried out for functional analysis of the promoter through transient expression studies. It was found that the 5' region of uep1 functions as a constitutive promoter in oil palm and could drive GUS expression in all tissues tested, including embryogenic calli, embryoid, immature embryo, young leaflet from mature palm, green leaf, mesocarp and meristematic tissues (shoot tip). This promoter could also be used in dicot systems as it was demonstrated to be capable of driving gusA gene expression in tobacco.
Reporter gene activity under the regulation of the oil palm metallothionein-like gene, MT3-A promoter was assessed in prokaryotes. Vector constructs containing MT3-A promoter with (W1MT3-A) and without (W2MT3-A) five prime untranslated region (5'-UTR) fused to ß-glucuronidase (GUS) gene in pCAMBIA 1304 vector were produced. 5'-rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE) using mRNA isolated from Escherichia coli and Agrobacterium tumefaciens harboring W1MT3-A confirmed that fusion transcripts of MT3-A 5'-UTR-GUS were successfully produced in both bacteria. Competitive PCR and GUS fluorometric assay showed changes in the level of GUS gene transcripts and enzyme activity in response to increasing concentrations of Cu²+ and Zn²+. The application of Cu²+ increased GUS activity and GUS mRNA level in both bacteria. In E. coli, a high level of GUS activity driven by W1MT3-A and W2MT3-A was observed in treatment with 25 μM Cu²+ resulting in an increase in the GUS mRNA level to 7.2 and 7.5 x 10⁻⁴ pmol/μl respectively, compared to the control (5.1 x 10⁻⁴ pmol/μl). The lowest GUS activity and GUS mRNA level were obtained for W1MT3-A and W2MT3-A in the presence of 100 μM Cu²+ in both bacteria compared to the control (without Cu²+). The application of different Zn²+ concentrations resulted in a strong decrease in the GUS activity and GUS mRNA level in E. coli and A. tumefaciens. These findings showed that the oil palm MT3-A promoter is functional in prokaryotes and produced detectable GUS transcripts and enzyme activities. This promoter may potentially be used in prokaryotic systems which require metal inducible gene expression.
Studies were conducted to assess the genetic relationships between the parental palms (dura and pisifera) and performance of their progenies based on nine microsatellite markers and 29 quantitative traits. Correlation analyses between genetic distances and hybrids performance were estimated. The coefficients of correlation values of genetic distances with hybrid performance were non-significant, except for mean nut weight and leaf number. However, the correlation coefficient of genetic distances with these characters was low to be used as predicted value. These results indicated that genetic distances based on the microsatellite markers may not be useful for predicting hybrid performance. The genetic distance analysis using UPGMA clustering system generated 5 genetic clusters with coefficient of 1.26 based on quantitative traits of progenies. The genotypes, DP16, DP14, DP4, DP13, DP12, DP15, DP8, DP1 and DP2 belonging to distant clusters and greater genetic distances could be selected for further breeding programs.
In this study, we report the molecular characterization of clone Eg707 isolated from cell suspension culture of the oil palm. The deduced polypeptide of clone Eg707 is highly similar to an unknown protein from Arabidopsis thaliana. The presence of an Ald-Xan-dh-C2 superfamily domain in the deduced protein sequence suggested that Eg707 protein might be involved in abscisic acid biosynthesis. Eg707 might be present as a single copy gene in the oil palm genome. This gene is highly expressed in tissue cultured materials compared to vegetative and reproductive tissues, suggesting a role of this gene during oil palm somatic embryogenesis or at the early stages of embryo development. Expression analysis of Eg707 by RNA in situ hybridization showed that Eg707 transcripts were present throughout somatic embryo development starting from proembryo formation at the embryogenic callus stages till the maturing embryo stages. Since proembryo formation within the embryogenic callus is one of the first key factors in oil palm somatic embryo development, it is suggested that Eg707 could be used as a reliable molecular marker for detecting early stage of oil palm somatic embryogenesis.
The expression profiles of Δ9 stearoyl-acyl carrier protein desaturase (SAD1 and SAD2) and type 3 metallothionein (MT3-A and MT3-B) were investigated in seedlings of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) artificially inoculated with the pathogenic fungus Ganoderma boninense and the symbiotic fungus Trichoderma harzianum. Expression of SAD1 and MT3-A in roots and SAD2 in leaves were significantly up-regulated in G. boninense inoculated seedlings at 21 d after treatment when physical symptoms had not yet appeared and thereafter decreased to basal levels when symptoms became visible. Our finding demonstrated that the SAD1 expression in leaves was significantly down-regulated to negligible levels at 42 and 63 d after treatment. The transcripts of MT3 genes were synthesized in G. boninense inoculated leaves at 42 d after treatment, and the analyses did not show detectable expression of these genes before 42 d after treatment. In T. harzianum inoculated seedlings, the expression levels of SAD1 and SAD2 increased gradually and were stronger in roots than leaves, while for MT3-A and MT3-B, the expression levels were induced in leaves at 3d after treatment and subsequently maintained at same levels until 63d after treatment. The MT3-A expression was significantly up-regulated in roots at 3d after treatment and thereafter were maintained at this level. Both SAD and MT3 expression were maintained at maximum levels or at levels higher than basal. This study demonstrates that oil palm was able to distinguish between pathogenic and symbiotic fungal interactions, thus resulting in different transcriptional activation profiles of SAD and MT3 genes. Increases in expression levels of SAD and MT3 would lead to enhanced resistance against G. boninense and down-regulation of genes confer potential for invasive growth of the pathogen. Differences in expression profiles of SAD and MT3 relate to plant resistance mechanisms while supporting growth enhancing effects of symbiotic T. harzianum.
We have characterized an oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) constitutive promoter that is derived from a translationally control tumor protein (TCTP) gene. The TCTP promoter was fused transcriptionally with the gusA reporter gene and transferred to monocot and dicot systems in order to study its regulatory role in a transient expression study. It was found that the 5' region of TCTP was capable of driving the gusA expression in all the oil palm tissues tested, including immature embryo, embryogenic callus, embryoid, young leaflet from mature palm, green leaf, mesocarp and stem. It could also be used in dicot systems as it was also capable of driving gusA expression in tobacco leaves. The results indicate that the TCTP promoter could be used for the production of recombinant proteins that require constitutive expression in the plant system.