Expressed sequence tags (ESTs) are providing a valuable approach to sampling organism-expressed genomes, especially when studying large genomes such as those of many plants. We report on the comparison of 8,647 ESTs generated from six different grape (Vitis vinifera L.) organs: berry, root, leaf, bud, shoot and inflorescence. Clustering and assembly of these ESTs resulted in 4,203 unique sequences and revealed that at this level of EST sampling, each organ shares a low percentage of transcripts with the others. To define organ relationships based on EST counts, we calculated a distance matrix of pairwise correlation coefficients between the libraries which indicated bud, inflorescence and shoot as a group distinct from the other organs considered in this study. A putative function was identified for about 85% of the unique sequences. By assigning them to specific functional classes, we were able to highlight strong differences between organs in the metabolism, protein biosynthesis and photosynthesis categories. This grape EST collection has also proven to be a valuable source for the development of 'functional' simple sequence repeats (SSRs) markers: a total of 405 SSRs have been identified. EST sequences and annotation results have been organised in the IASMA-grape database, freely available at the address http://genomics.iasma.it.
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