Background: Nectaries are the floral organs responsible for the synthesis and secretion of nectar. Despite their central roles in pollination biology, very little is understood about the molecular mechanisms underlying nectar production. This project was undertaken to identify genes potentially involved in mediating nectary form and function in Brassica rapa. Methodology and Principal Findings: Four cDNA libraries were created using RNA isolated from the median and lateral nectaries of B. rapa flowers, with one normalized and one non-normalized library being generated from each tissue. Approximately 3,000 clones from each library were randomly sequenced from the 59 end to generate a total of 11,101 high quality expressed sequence tags (ESTs). Sequence assembly of all ESTs together allowed the identification of 1,453 contigs and 4,403 singleton sequences, with the Basic Localized Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) being used to identify 4,138 presumptive orthologs to Arabidopsis thaliana genes. Several genes differentially expressed between median and lateral nectaries were initially identified based upon the number of BLAST hits represented by independent ESTs, and later confirmed via reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR). RT PCR was also used to verify the expression patterns of eight putative orthologs to known Arabidopsis nectary-enriched genes. Conclusions/Significance: This work provided a snapshot of gene expression in actively secreting B. rapa nectaries, and also allowed the identification of differential gene expression between median and lateral nectaries. Moreover, 207 orthologs to known nectary-enriched genes from Arabidopsis were identified through this analysis. The results suggest that genes involved in nectar production are conserved amongst the Brassicaceae, and also supply clones and sequence information that can be used to probe nectary function in B. rapa.
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