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A compendium of transcription factor and Transcriptionally active protein coding gene families in cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.)

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Background: Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.) is the most important food and forage legume in the semi-arid tropics of sub-Saharan Africa where approximately 80% of worldwide production takes place primarily on low-input, subsistence farm sites. Among the major goals of cowpea breeding and improvement programs are the rapid manipulation of agronomic traits for seed size and quality and improved resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses to enhance productivity. Knowing the suite of transcription factors (TFs) and transcriptionally active proteins (TAPs) that control various critical plant cellular processes would contribute tremendously to these improvement aims. Results: We used a computational approach that employed three different predictive pipelines to data mine the cowpea genome and identified over 4400 genes representing 136 different TF and TAP families. We compare the information content of cowpea to two evolutionarily close species common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), and soybean (Glycine max) to gauge the relative informational content. Our data indicate that correcting for genome size cowpea has fewer TF and TAP genes than common bean (4408 / 5291) and soybean (4408/ 11,065). Members of the GROWTH-REGULATING FACTOR (GRF) and Auxin/indole-3-acetic acid (Aux/IAA) gene families appear to be over-represented in the genome relative to common bean and soybean, whereas members of the MADS (Minichromosome maintenance deficient 1 (MCM1), AGAMOUS, DEFICIENS, and serum response factor (SRF)) and C2C2-YABBY appear to be under-represented. Analysis of the AP2-EREBP APETALA2-Ethylene Responsive Element Binding Protein (AP2-EREBP), NAC (NAM (no apical meristem), ATAF1, 2 (Arabidopsis transcription activation factor), CUC (cup-shaped cotyledon)), and WRKY families, known to be important in defense signaling, revealed changes and phylogenetic rearrangements relative to common bean and soybean that suggest these groups may have evolved different functions. Conclusions: The availability of detailed information on the coding capacity of the cowpea genome and in particular the various TF and TAP gene families will facilitate future comparative analysis and development of strategies for controlling growth, differentiation, and abiotic and biotic stress resistances of cowpea.




Misra, V. A., Wang, Y., & Timko, M. P. (2017). A compendium of transcription factor and Transcriptionally active protein coding gene families in cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.). BMC Genomics, 18(1).

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