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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Jun 10;100(12):7383-8. Epub 2003 May 27.

Apparent homology of expressed genes from wood-forming tissues of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) with Arabidopsis thaliana.

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  • 1Functional Genomics and Genetics Graduate Program, North Carolina State University, Campus Box 7614, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA.


Pinus taeda L. (loblolly pine) and Arabidopsis thaliana differ greatly in form, ecological niche, evolutionary history, and genome size. Arabidopsis is a small, herbaceous, annual dicotyledon, whereas pines are large, long-lived, coniferous forest trees. Such diverse plants might be expected to differ in a large number of functional genes. We have obtained and analyzed 59,797 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from wood-forming tissues of loblolly pine and compared them to the gene sequences inferred from the complete sequence of the Arabidopsis genome. Approximately 50% of pine ESTs have no apparent homologs in Arabidopsis or any other angiosperm in public databases. When evaluated by using contigs containing long, high-quality sequences, we find a higher level of apparent homology between the inferred genes of these two species. For those contigs 1,100 bp or longer, approximately 90% have an apparent Arabidopsis homolog (E value < 10-10). Pines and Arabidopsis last shared a common ancestor approximately 300 million years ago. Few genes would be expected to retain high sequence similarity for this time if they did not have essential functions. These observations suggest substantial conservation of gene sequence in seed plants.

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