BMC Genomics

Sequencing of a QTL-rich region of the Theobroma cacao genome using pooled BACs and the identification of trait specific candidate genes

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Background: BAC-based physical maps provide for sequencing across an entire genome or a selected sub-genomic region of biological interest. Such a region can be approached with next-generation whole-genome sequencing and assembly as if it were an independent small genome. Using the minimum tiling path as a guide, specific BAC clones representing the prioritized genomic interval are selected, pooled, and used to prepare a sequencing library.Results: This pooled BAC approach was taken to sequence and assemble a QTL-rich region, of ~3 Mbp and represented by twenty-seven BACs, on linkage group 5 of the Theobroma cacao cv. Matina 1-6 genome. Using various mixtures of read coverages from paired-end and linear 454 libraries, multiple assemblies of varied quality were generated. Quality was assessed by comparing the assembly of 454 reads with a subset of ten BACs individually sequenced and assembled using Sanger reads. A mixture of reads optimal for assembly was identified. We found, furthermore, that a quality assembly suitable for serving as a reference genome template could be obtained even with a reduced depth of sequencing coverage. Annotation of the resulting assembly revealed several genes potentially responsible for three T. cacao traits: black pod disease resistance, bean shape index, and pod weight.Conclusions: Our results, as with other pooled BAC sequencing reports, suggest that pooling portions of a minimum tiling path derived from a BAC-based physical map is an effective method to target sub-genomic regions for sequencing. While we focused on a single QTL region, other QTL regions of importance could be similarly sequenced allowing for biological discovery to take place before a high quality whole-genome assembly is completed. © 2011 Feltus et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.