Generation of transcript assemblies and identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms from seven lowland and upland cultivars of Switchgrass

Kevin L. Childs, Aruna Nandety, Candice N. Hirsch, Elsa Góngora-Castillo, Jeremy Schmutz, Shawn M. Kaeppler, Michael D. Casler, C. Robin Buell

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3 Scopus citations


Switchgrass is a North American perennial prairie species that has been used as a rangeland and forage crop and has recently been targeted as a potential biofuel feedstock species. Switchgrass, which occurs as tetraploid and octoploid forms, is classified into lowland or upland ecotypes that differ in growth phenotypes and adaptation to distinct habitats. Using RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) reads derived from crown, young shoot, and leaf tissues, we generated sequence data from seven switchgrass cultivars, three lowland and four upland, to enable comparative analyses between switchgrass cultivars and to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for use in breeding and genetic analysis. We also generated individual transcript assemblies for each of the cultivars. Transcript data indicate that subgenomes of octoploid switchgrass are not substantially different from subgenomes of tetraploids as expected for an autopolyploid origin of switchgrass octoploids. Using RNA-seq reads aligned to the switchgrass Release 0 AP13 reference genome, we identified 1,305,976 high-confidence SNPs. Of these SNPs, 438,464 were unique to lowland cultivars, but only 12,002 were found in all lowlands. Conversely, 723,678 SNPs were unique to upland cultivars, with only 34,665 observed in all uplands. Comparison of our high-confidence transcriptome-derived SNPs with SNPs previously identified in a genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) study of an association panel revealed limited overlap between the two methods, highlighting the utility of transcriptome-based SNP discovery in augmenting genome diversity polymorphism datasets. The transcript and SNP data described here provide a useful resource for switchgrass gene annotation and marker-based analyses of the switchgrass genome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPlant Genome
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2014


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