Displaying all 12 publications

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  1. Low ET, Loh TG
    Med. J. Malaysia, 1987 Jun;42(2):113-4.
    PMID: 2845234
    A patient with organophosphate poisoning who survived the acute phase and subsequently developed delayed neuropathy is presented. The features of this form of delayed neuropathy are described and the implications in our local context discussed.
  2. Chan PL, Rose RJ, Abdul Murad AM, Zainal Z, Low ET, Ooi LC, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(6):e99774.
    PMID: 24927412 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099774
    The somatic embryogenesis tissue culture process has been utilized to propagate high yielding oil palm. Due to the low callogenesis and embryogenesis rates, molecular studies were initiated to identify genes regulating the process, and their expression levels are usually quantified using reverse transcription quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR). With the recent release of oil palm genome sequences, it is crucial to establish a proper strategy for gene analysis using RT-qPCR. Selection of the most suitable reference genes should be performed for accurate quantification of gene expression levels.
  3. Ting NC, Zaki NM, Rosli R, Low ET, Ithnin M, Cheah SC, et al.
    J. Genet., 2010 Aug;89(2):135-45.
    PMID: 20861564
    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.
  4. Singh R, Tan SG, Panandam JM, Rahman RA, Ooi LC, Low ET, et al.
    BMC Plant Biol., 2009;9:114.
    PMID: 19706196 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2229-9-114
    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.
  5. Low ET, Rosli R, Jayanthi N, Mohd-Amin AH, Azizi N, Chan KL, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(1):e86728.
    PMID: 24497974 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086728
    Demand for palm oil has been increasing by an average of ∼8% the past decade and currently accounts for about 59% of the world's vegetable oil market. This drives the need to increase palm oil production. Nevertheless, due to the increasing need for sustainable production, it is imperative to increase productivity rather than the area cultivated. Studies on the oil palm genome are essential to help identify genes or markers that are associated with important processes or traits, such as flowering, yield and disease resistance. To achieve this, 294,115 and 150,744 sequences from the hypomethylated or gene-rich regions of Elaeis guineensis and E. oleifera genome were sequenced and assembled into contigs. An additional 16,427 shot-gun sequences and 176 bacterial artificial chromosomes (BAC) were also generated to check the quality of libraries constructed. Comparison of these sequences revealed that although the methylation-filtered libraries were sequenced at low coverage, they still tagged at least 66% of the RefSeq supported genes in the BAC and had a filtration power of at least 2.0. A total 33,752 microsatellites and 40,820 high-quality single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers were identified. These represent the most comprehensive collection of microsatellites and SNPs to date and would be an important resource for genetic mapping and association studies. The gene models predicted from the assembled contigs were mined for genes of interest, and 242, 65 and 14 oil palm transcription factors, resistance genes and miRNAs were identified respectively. Examples of the transcriptional factors tagged include those associated with floral development and tissue culture, such as homeodomain proteins, MADS, Squamosa and Apetala2. The E. guineensis and E. oleifera hypomethylated sequences provide an important resource to understand the molecular mechanisms associated with important agronomic traits in oil palm.
  6. Low ET, Alias H, Boon SH, Shariff EM, Tan CY, Ooi LC, et al.
    BMC Plant Biol., 2008;8:62.
    PMID: 18507865 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2229-8-62
    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.
  7. Rosli R, Amiruddin N, Ab Halim MA, Chan PL, Chan KL, Azizi N, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2018;13(4):e0194792.
    PMID: 29672525 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0194792
    Comparative genomics and transcriptomic analyses were performed on two agronomically important groups of genes from oil palm versus other major crop species and the model organism, Arabidopsis thaliana. The first analysis was of two gene families with key roles in regulation of oil quality and in particular the accumulation of oleic acid, namely stearoyl ACP desaturases (SAD) and acyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) thioesterases (FAT). In both cases, these were found to be large gene families with complex expression profiles across a wide range of tissue types and developmental stages. The detailed classification of the oil palm SAD and FAT genes has enabled the updating of the latest version of the oil palm gene model. The second analysis focused on disease resistance (R) genes in order to elucidate possible candidates for breeding of pathogen tolerance/resistance. Ortholog analysis showed that 141 out of the 210 putative oil palm R genes had homologs in banana and rice. These genes formed 37 clusters with 634 orthologous genes. Classification of the 141 oil palm R genes showed that the genes belong to the Kinase (7), CNL (95), MLO-like (8), RLK (3) and Others (28) categories. The CNL R genes formed eight clusters. Expression data for selected R genes also identified potential candidates for breeding of disease resistance traits. Furthermore, these findings can provide information about the species evolution as well as the identification of agronomically important genes in oil palm and other major crops.
  8. Singh R, Low ET, Ooi LC, Ong-Abdullah M, Nookiah R, Ting NC, et al.
    Nat Commun, 2014 Jun 30;5:4106.
    PMID: 24978855 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5106
    Oil palm, a plantation crop of major economic importance in Southeast Asia, is the predominant source of edible oil worldwide. We report the identification of the virescens (VIR) gene, which controls fruit exocarp colour and is an indicator of ripeness. VIR is a R2R3-MYB transcription factor with homology to Lilium LhMYB12 and similarity to Arabidopsis production of anthocyanin pigment1 (PAP1). We identify five independent mutant alleles of VIR in over 400 accessions from sub-Saharan Africa that account for the dominant-negative virescens phenotype. Each mutation results in premature termination of the carboxy-terminal domain of VIR, resembling McClintock's C1-I allele in maize. The abundance of alleles likely reflects cultural practices, by which fruits were venerated for magical and medicinal properties. The identification of VIR will allow selection of the trait at the seed or early-nursery stage, 3-6 years before fruits are produced, greatly advancing introgression into elite breeding material.
  9. Singh R, Low ET, Ooi LC, Ong-Abdullah M, Ting NC, Nagappan J, et al.
    Nature, 2013 Aug 15;500(7462):340-4.
    PMID: 23883930 DOI: 10.1038/nature12356
    A key event in the domestication and breeding of the oil palm Elaeis guineensis was loss of the thick coconut-like shell surrounding the kernel. Modern E. guineensis has three fruit forms, dura (thick-shelled), pisifera (shell-less) and tenera (thin-shelled), a hybrid between dura and pisifera. The pisifera palm is usually female-sterile. The tenera palm yields far more oil than dura, and is the basis for commercial palm oil production in all of southeast Asia. Here we describe the mapping and identification of the SHELL gene responsible for the different fruit forms. Using homozygosity mapping by sequencing, we found two independent mutations in the DNA-binding domain of a homologue of the MADS-box gene SEEDSTICK (STK, also known as AGAMOUS-LIKE 11), which controls ovule identity and seed development in Arabidopsis. The SHELL gene is responsible for the tenera phenotype in both cultivated and wild palms from sub-Saharan Africa, and our findings provide a genetic explanation for the single gene hybrid vigour (or heterosis) attributed to SHELL, via heterodimerization. This gene mutation explains the single most important economic trait in oil palm, and has implications for the competing interests of global edible oil production, biofuels and rainforest conservation.
  10. Singh R, Ong-Abdullah M, Low ET, Manaf MA, Rosli R, Nookiah R, et al.
    Nature, 2013 Aug 15;500(7462):335-9.
    PMID: 23883927 DOI: 10.1038/nature12309
    Oil palm is the most productive oil-bearing crop. Although it is planted on only 5% of the total world vegetable oil acreage, palm oil accounts for 33% of vegetable oil and 45% of edible oil worldwide, but increased cultivation competes with dwindling rainforest reserves. We report the 1.8-gigabase (Gb) genome sequence of the African oil palm Elaeis guineensis, the predominant source of worldwide oil production. A total of 1.535 Gb of assembled sequence and transcriptome data from 30 tissue types were used to predict at least 34,802 genes, including oil biosynthesis genes and homologues of WRINKLED1 (WRI1), and other transcriptional regulators, which are highly expressed in the kernel. We also report the draft sequence of the South American oil palm Elaeis oleifera, which has the same number of chromosomes (2n = 32) and produces fertile interspecific hybrids with E. guineensis but seems to have diverged in the New World. Segmental duplications of chromosome arms define the palaeotetraploid origin of palm trees. The oil palm sequence enables the discovery of genes for important traits as well as somaclonal epigenetic alterations that restrict the use of clones in commercial plantings, and should therefore help to achieve sustainability for biofuels and edible oils, reducing the rainforest footprint of this tropical plantation crop.
  11. Ong-Abdullah M, Ordway JM, Jiang N, Ooi SE, Kok SY, Sarpan N, et al.
    Nature, 2015 Sep 24;525(7570):533-7.
    PMID: 26352475 DOI: 10.1038/nature15365
    Somaclonal variation arises in plants and animals when differentiated somatic cells are induced into a pluripotent state, but the resulting clones differ from each other and from their parents. In agriculture, somaclonal variation has hindered the micropropagation of elite hybrids and genetically modified crops, but the mechanism responsible remains unknown. The oil palm fruit 'mantled' abnormality is a somaclonal variant arising from tissue culture that drastically reduces yield, and has largely halted efforts to clone elite hybrids for oil production. Widely regarded as an epigenetic phenomenon, 'mantling' has defied explanation, but here we identify the MANTLED locus using epigenome-wide association studies of the African oil palm Elaeis guineensis. DNA hypomethylation of a LINE retrotransposon related to rice Karma, in the intron of the homeotic gene DEFICIENS, is common to all mantled clones and is associated with alternative splicing and premature termination. Dense methylation near the Karma splice site (termed the Good Karma epiallele) predicts normal fruit set, whereas hypomethylation (the Bad Karma epiallele) predicts homeotic transformation, parthenocarpy and marked loss of yield. Loss of Karma methylation and of small RNA in tissue culture contributes to the origin of mantled, while restoration in spontaneous revertants accounts for non-Mendelian inheritance. The ability to predict and cull mantling at the plantlet stage will facilitate the introduction of higher performing clones and optimize environmentally sensitive land resources.
  12. Ooi LC, Low ET, Abdullah MO, Nookiah R, Ting NC, Nagappan J, et al.
    Front Plant Sci, 2016;7:771.
    PMID: 27446094 DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00771
    Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) is the most productive oil bearing crop worldwide. It has three fruit forms, namely dura (thick-shelled), pisifera (shell-less) and tenera (thin-shelled), which are controlled by the SHELL gene. The fruit forms exhibit monogenic co-dominant inheritance, where tenera is a hybrid obtained by crossing maternal dura and paternal pisifera palms. Commercial palm oil production is based on planting thin-shelled tenera palms, which typically yield 30% more oil than dura palms, while pisifera palms are female-sterile and have little to no palm oil yield. It is clear that tenera hybrids produce more oil than either parent due to single gene heterosis. The unintentional planting of dura or pisifera palms reduces overall yield and impacts land utilization that would otherwise be devoted to more productive tenera palms. Here, we identify three additional novel mutant alleles of the SHELL gene, which encode a type II MADS-box transcription factor, and determine oil yield via control of shell fruit form phenotype in a manner similar to two previously identified mutant SHELL alleles. Assays encompassing all five mutations account for all dura and pisifera palms analyzed. By assaying for these variants in 10,224 mature palms or seedlings, we report the first large scale accurate genotype-based determination of the fruit forms in independent oil palm planting sites and in the nurseries that supply them throughout Malaysia. The measured non-tenera contamination rate (10.9% overall on a weighted average basis) underscores the importance of SHELL genetic testing of seedlings prior to planting in production fields. By eliminating non-tenera contamination, comprehensive SHELL genetic testing can improve sustainability by increasing yield on existing planted lands. In addition, economic modeling demonstrates that SHELL gene testing will confer substantial annual economic gains to the oil palm industry, to Malaysian gross national income and to Malaysian government tax receipts.
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