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Title: Using next generation sequencing to investigate the generation of diversity in the genus Begonia
Author: Emelianova, Katie
ISNI:       0000 0004 7229 0641
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2017
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Begonia is one of the most diverse genera on the planet, with a species count approaching 2000 and a distribution across tropics in South America, Africa and South East Asia. The genus has occupied a vast range of niches; many highly variable growth forms can be found across the distribution, and species exhibit very diverse morphologies, even in closely related species. A recent study has revealed a putative whole genome duplication (WGD) event in the evolutionary history of Begonia, which has prompted an interest in investigating the impact gene and genome duplication has had on the diversification of Begonia. To answer questions about phenotypic and ecological diversification in Begonia, two species from South America, B. conchifolia and B. plebeja were chosen as study species based on their close phylogenetic relationship and divergent ecology and phenotype. RNA-seq data for six tissues from B. conchifolia and B. plebeja was generated using the Illumina sequencing platform, and normalised relative expression data was obtained by mapping reads to transcripts predicted from the B. conchifolia draft genome. A bioinformatics pipeline was devised to compare expression profiles across 6 different tissues between duplicated gene pairs shared between B. conchifolia and B. plebeja. Gene duplicate pairs were selected as candidates if they showed divergent expression in one species but not in another. Such duplicate pairs are suggestive of neofunctionalization in one species, providing evidence of a potential basis for phenotypic divergence and diversification between B. conchifolia and B. plebeja. Two duplicate pairs were identified as showing such divergent expression patterns as well as being functionally ecologically relevant, Chalcone Synthase and 3-Ketoacyl-CoA synthase, involved in anthocyanin biosynthesis and wax biosynthesis respectively. Investigation of expression and duplication patterns in both gene families showed the candidate gene families to be strikingly different. While 3-Ketoacyl-CoA synthase showed deeper duplications shared with outgroup taxa, Chalcone Synthase appeared to be expanded very recently, with a burst of duplications specific to the genus. 3-Ketoacyl-CoA synthase showed examples of partitioned expression by tissue for different gene family members, with at least five members of the gene family being highly expressed in one or two tissues only. Chalcone Synthase, however, showed dominance of one basal gene family member. Other Chalcone Synthase members, though expressed at lower levels, showed some evidence of reciprocal silencing in B. plebeja, though this pattern was not observed in B. conchifolia. Further investigation of the Chalcone Synthase gene family revealed lineage specific duplication in B. plebeja, and more extensive differential duplication patterns were found across other South American Begonias. Additionally, signals of positive selection were found in two branches on the Chalcone Synthase phylogeny.
Supervisor: Kidner, Catherine ; Simpson, Ian Sponsor: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Begonia ; plant evolution ; next generation sequencing