Plants, Vol. 11, Pages 79: Nucleotide Sequence Variation in Long-Term Tissue Cultures of Chinese Ginseng (Panax ginseng C. A. Mey.)

Plants doi: 10.3390/plants11010079

Sitong Liu
Xinfeng Wang
Ning Ding
Yutong Liu
Ning Li
Yiqiao Ma
Jing Zhao
Zhenhui Wang
Xiaomeng Li
Xueqi Fu
Linfeng Li

Plants have the salient biological property of totipotency, i.e., the capacity to regenerate a whole plant from virtually any kind of fully differentiated somatic cells after a process of dedifferentiation. This property has been well-documented by successful plant regeneration from tissue cultures of diverse plant species. However, the accumulation of somaclonal variation, especially karyotype alteration, during the tissue culture process compromises cell totipotency. In this respect, Chinese ginseng (Panax ginseng C. A. Mey.) is an exception in that it shows little decline in cell totipotency accompanied by remarkable chromosomal stability even after prolonged tissue cultures. However, it remains unclear whether chromosomal level stability necessarily couples with molecular genetic stability at the nucleotide sequence level, given that the two types of stabilities are generated by largely distinct mechanisms. Here, we addressed this issue by genome-wide comparisons at the single-base resolution of long-term tissue culture-regenerated P. ginseng plants. We identified abundant single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that have accumulated in cultured ginseng callus and are retained in the process of plant regeneration. These SNPs did not occur at random but showed differences among chromosomes and biased regional aggregation along a given chromosome. In addition, our results demonstrate that, compared with the overall genes, genes related to processes of cell totipotency and chromosomal stability possess lower mutation rates at both coding and flanking regions. In addition, collectively, the mutated genes exhibited higher expression levels than non-mutated genes and are significantly enriched in fundamental biological processes, including cellular component organization, development, and reproduction. These attributes suggest that the precipitated molecular level genetic variations during the process of regeneration in P. ginseng are likely under selection to fortify normal development. As such, they likely did not undermine chromosomal stability and totipotency of the long-term ginseng cultures.

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