Development of Genomic Microsatellite Markers in Carthamus tinctorius L. (Safflower) Using Next Generation Sequencing and Assessment of Their Cross-Species Transferability and Utility for Diversity Analysis
Background Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.), an Asteraceae member, yields high quality edible oil rich in unsaturated fatty acids and is resilient to dry conditions. The crop holds tremendous potential for improvement through concerted molecular breeding programs due to the availability of significant genetic and phenotypic diversity. Genomic resources that could facilitate such breeding programs remain largely underdeveloped in the crop. The present study was initiated to develop a large set of novel microsatellite markers for safflower using next generation sequencing. Principal Findings Low throughput genome sequencing of safflower was performed using Illumina paired end technology providing ~3.5X coverage of the genome. Analysis of sequencing data allowed identification of 23,067 regions harboring perfect microsatellite loci. The safflower genome was found to be rich in dinucleotide repeats followed by tri-, tetra-, penta- and hexa-nucleotides. Primer pairs were designed for 5,716 novel microsatellite sequences with repeat length ≥ 20 bases and optimal flanking regions. A subset of 325 microsatellite loci was tested for amplification, of which 294 loci produced robust amplification. The validated primers were used for assessment of 23 safflower accessions belonging to diverse agro-climatic zones of the world leading to identification of 93 polymorphic primers (31.6%). The numbers of observed alleles at each locus ranged from two to four and mean polymorphism information content was found to be 0.3075. The polymorphic primers were tested for cross-species transferability on nine wild relatives of cultivated safflower. All primers except one showed amplification in at least two wild species while 25 primers amplified across all the nine species. The UPGMA dendrogram clustered C. tinctorius accessions and wild species separately into two major groups. The proposed progenitor species of safflower, C. oxyacantha and C. palaestinus were genetically closer to cultivated safflower and formed a distinct cluster. The cluster analysis also distinguished diploid and tetraploid wild species of safflower. Conclusion Next generation sequencing of safflower genome generated a large set of microsatellite markers. The novel markers developed in this study will add to the existing repertoire of markers and can be used for diversity analysis, synteny studies, construction of linkage maps and marker-assisted selection.
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