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Genome. 2005 Dec;48(6):1052-60.

Comparative genomic analyses in Asparagus.

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Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824, USA.


Garden asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) belongs to the monocot family Asparagaceae in the order Asparagales. Onion (Allium cepa L.) and Asparagus officinalis are 2 of the most economically important plants of the core Asparagales, a well supported monophyletic group within the Asparagales. Coding regions in onion have lower GC contents than the grasses. We compared the GC content of 3374 unique expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from A. officinalis with Lycoris longituba and onion (both members of the core Asparagales), Acorus americanus (sister to all other monocots), the grasses, and Arabidopsis. Although ESTs in A. officinalis and Acorus had a higher average GC content than Arabidopsis, Lycoris, and onion, all were clearly lower than the grasses. The Asparagaceae have the smallest nuclear genomes among all plants in the core Asparagales, which typically have huge genomes. Within the Asparagaceae, European Asparagus species have approximately twice the nuclear DNA of that of southern African Asparagus species. We cloned and sequenced 20 genomic amplicons from European A. officinalis and the southern African species Asparagus plumosus and observed no clear evidence for a recent genome doubling in A. officinalis relative to A. plumosus. These results indicate that members of the genus Asparagus with smaller genomes may be useful genomic models for plants in the core Asparagales.

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