Biology Faculty Articles

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title



sunflower, genome, whole genome duplication, transposable elements, Class I LTR-retrotransposons, Class II DNA transposons, transcriptome, expressed sequence tags, expression pattern







First Page


Last Page



Sunflower is an important oilseed crop, as well as a model system for evolutionary studies, but its 3.6 gigabase genome has proven difficult to assemble, in part because of the high repeat content of its genome. Here we report on the sequencing, assembly, and analyses of 96 randomly chosen BACs from sunflower to provide additional information on the repeat content of the sunflower genome, assess how repetitive elements in the sunflower genome are organized relative to genes, and compare the genomic distribution of these repeats to that found in other food crops and model species. We also examine the expression of transposable element-related transcripts in EST databases for sunflower to determine the representation of repeats in the transcriptome and to measure their transcriptional activity. Our data confirm previous reports in suggesting that the sunflower genome is >78% repetitive. Sunflower repeats share very little similarity to other plant repeats such as those of Arabidopsis, rice, maize and wheat; overall 28% of repeats are OPEN ACCESS Biology 2014, 3 296 “novel” to sunflower. The repetitive sequences appear to be randomly distributed within the sequenced BACs. Assuming the 96 BACs are representative of the genome as a whole, then approximately 5.2% of the sunflower genome comprises non TE-related genic sequence, with an average gene density of 18kbp/gene. Expression levels of these transposable elements indicate tissue specificity and differential expression in vegetative and reproductive tissues, suggesting that expressed TEs might contribute to sunflower development. The assembled BACs will also be useful for assessing the quality of several different draft assemblies of the sunflower genome and for annotating the reference sequence.


© 2014 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.




Peer Reviewed

Find in your library

Included in

Biology Commons


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.