Background: Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb) is a major cool season forage and turf grass species grown in the temperate regions of the world. In this paper we report the generation of a tall fescue expressed sequence tag (EST) database developed from nine cDNA libraries representing tissues from different plant organs, developmental stages, and abiotic stress factors. The results of inter-library and library-specific in silico expression analyses of these ESTs are also reported.
Results: A total of 41,516 ESTs were generated from nine cDNA libraries of tall fescue representing tissues from different plant organs, developmental stages, and abiotic stress conditions. The Festuca Gene Index (FaGI) has been established. To date, this represents the first publicly available tall fescue EST database. In silico gene expression studies using these ESTs were performed to understand stress responses in tall fescue. A large number of ESTs of known stress response gene were identified from stressed tissue libraries. These ESTs represent gene homologues of heat-shock and oxidative stress proteins, and various transcription factor protein families. Highly expressed ESTs representing genes of unknown functions were also identified in the stressed tissue libraries.
Conclusion: FaGI provides a useful resource for genomics studies of tall fescue and other closely related forage and turf grass species. Comparative genomic analyses between tall fescue and other grass species, including ryegrasses (Lolium sp.), meadow fescue (F. pratensis) and tetraploid fescue (F. arundinacea var glaucescens) will benefit from this database. These ESTs are an excellent resource for the development of simple sequence repeat (SSR) and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) PCR-based molecular markers.