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PLoS One. 2014 Jan 29;9(1):e86976. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086976. eCollection 2014.

Transcriptomic analysis of flower development in wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox).

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Chongqing Engineering Research Center for Floriculture, Key Laboratory of Horticulture Science for Southern Mountainous Regions, Ministry of Education, College of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Southwest University, Chongqing, China.


Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) is familiar as a garden plant and woody ornamental flower. On account of its unique flowering time and strong fragrance, it has a high ornamental and economic value. Despite a long history of human cultivation, our understanding of wintersweet genetics and molecular biology remains scant, reflecting a lack of basic genomic and transcriptomic data. In this study, we assembled three cDNA libraries, from three successive stages in flower development, designated as the flower bud with displayed petal, open flower and senescing flower stages. Using the Illumina RNA-Seq method, we obtained 21,412,928, 26,950,404, 24,912,954 qualified Illumina reads, respectively, for the three successive stages. The pooled reads from all three libraries were then assembled into 106,995 transcripts, 51,793 of which were annotated in the NCBI non-redundant protein database. Of these annotated sequences, 32,649 and 21,893 transcripts were assigned to gene ontology categories and clusters of orthologous groups, respectively. We could map 15,587 transcripts onto 312 pathways using the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway database. Based on these transcriptomic data, we obtained a large number of candidate genes that were differentially expressed at the open flower and senescing flower stages. An analysis of differentially expressed genes involved in plant hormone signal transduction pathways indicated that although flower opening and senescence may be independent of the ethylene signaling pathway in wintersweet, salicylic acid may be involved in the regulation of flower senescence. We also succeeded in isolating key genes of floral scent biosynthesis and proposed a biosynthetic pathway for monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes in wintersweet flowers, based on the annotated sequences. This comprehensive transcriptomic analysis presents fundamental information on the genes and pathways which are involved in flower development in wintersweet. And our data provided a useful database for further research of wintersweet and other Calycanthaceae family plants.

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