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Physiol Mol Biol Plants. 2018 Jul;24(4):535-549. doi: 10.1007/s12298-018-0526-3. Epub 2018 Apr 11.

Characterization of the cork formation and production transcriptome in Quercus cerris × suber hybrids.

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1Centro de Biotecnologia Agrícola e Agro-Alimentar do Alentejo (CEBAL), Instituto Politécnico de Beja (IPBeja), Beja, Portugal.
2Instituto de Ciências Agrárias e Ambientais Mediterrânicas (ICAAM), Universidade de Évora, Évora, Portugal.
3Faculdade de Ciências de Lisboa, Biosystems and Integrative Sciences Institute (BIOISI), Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal.
4Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e Veterinária, I.P, Quinta do Marquês, 2780-159 Oeiras, Portugal.
5Centro de estudos Florestais, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade de Lisboa, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisbon, Portugal.
7Present Address: Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge, CB101SA UK.
6Instituto Superior de Agronomia da Universidade de Lisboa (ISA), Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisbon, Portugal.
Contributed equally


Cork oak is the main cork-producing species worldwide, and plays a significant economic, ecological and social role in the Mediterranean countries, in particular in Portugal and Spain. The ability to produce cork is limited to a few species, hence it must involve specific regulation mechanisms that are unique to these species. However, to date, these mechanisms remain largely understudied, especially with approaches involving the use of high-throughput sequencing technology. In this study, the transcriptome of cork-producing and non-cork-producing Quercus cerris × suber hybrids was analyzed in order to elucidate the differences between the two groups of trees displaying contrasting phenotypes for cork production. The results revealed the presence of a significant number of genes exclusively associated with cork production, in the trees that developed cork. Moreover, several gene ontology subcategories, such as cell wall biogenesis, lipid metabolic processes, metal ion binding and apoplast/cell wall, were only detected in the trees with cork production. These results indicate the existence, at the transcriptome level, of mechanisms that seem to be unique and necessary for cork production, which is an advancement in our knowledge regarding the genetic regulation behind cork formation and production.


Cork oak; Cork production; Hybrids; Transcriptome

Conflict of interest statement

Compliance with ethical standardsThe authors declare no conflict of interest.

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