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BMC Genomics  2010 

Gene discovery in the horned beetle Onthophagus taurus

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2164-11-703

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We used 454 pyrosequencing to sequence ESTs from all post-embryonic stages of O. taurus. Approximately 1.36 million reads assembled into 50,080 non-redundant sequences encompassing a total of 26.5 Mbp. The non-redundant sequences match over half of the genes in Tribolium castaneum, the most closely related species with a sequenced genome. Analyses of Gene Ontology annotations and biochemical pathways indicate that the O. taurus sequences reflect a wide and representative sampling of biological functions and biochemical processes. An analysis of sequence polymorphisms revealed that SNP frequency was negatively related to overall expression level and the number of tissue types in which a given gene is expressed. The most variable genes were enriched for a limited number of GO annotations whereas the least variable genes were enriched for a wide range of GO terms directly related to fitness.This study provides the first large-scale EST database for horned beetles, a much-needed resource for advancing the study of these organisms. Furthermore, we identified instances of gene duplications and alternative splicing, useful for future study of gene regulation, and a large number of SNP markers that could be used in population-genetic studies of O. taurus and possibly other horned beetles.Horned beetles, in particular in the genus Onthophagus, are important models for studies on sexual selection [1-3], biological radiations [4-7], endocrine regulation of development [8-11], biological control of invasive species [12-14], conservation biology [15,16], and forensic biology [17-19]. Onthophagus beetles have more recently gained particular prominence as models for studying the origin and diversification of novel traits (hundreds of species express diverse horns and horn-like structures that lack obvious homology to any other traits in insects [20,21]) and the developmental underpinnings of phenotypic plasticity (species adjust adult morphology, behavior, and physiology in respon


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