Next-generation sequencing-based transcriptomic and proteomic analysis of the common reed, Phragmites australis (Poaceae), reveals genes involved in invasiveness and rhizome specificity

Am J Bot. 2012 Feb;99(2):232-47. doi: 10.3732/ajb.1100429. Epub 2012 Feb 1.


Premise of the study: The common reed (Phragmites australis), one of the most widely distributed of all angiosperms, uses its rhizomes (underground stems) to invade new territory, making it one of the most successful weedy species worldwide. Characterization of the rhizome transcriptome and proteome is needed to identify candidate genes and proteins involved in rhizome growth, development, metabolism, and invasiveness.

Methods: We employed next-generation sequencing technologies including 454 and Illumina platforms to characterize the reed rhizome transcriptome and used quantitative proteomics techniques to identify the rhizome proteome.

Key results: Combining 336514 Roche 454 Titanium reads and 103350802 Illumina paired-end reads in a de novo hybrid assembly yielded 124450 unique transcripts with an average length of 549 bp, of which 54317 were annotated. Rhizome-specific and differentially expressed transcripts were identified between rhizome apical tips (apical meristematic region) and rhizome elongation zones. A total of 1280 nonredundant proteins were identified and quantified using GeLC-MS/MS based label-free proteomics, where 174 and 77 proteins were preferentially expressed in the rhizome elongation zone and apical tip tissues, respectively. Genes involved in allelopathy and in controlling development and potentially invasiveness were identified.

Conclusions: In addition to being a valuable sequence and protein data resource for studying plant rhizome species, our results provide useful insights into identifying specific genes and proteins with potential roles in rhizome differentiation, development, and function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant*
  • Introduced Species
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Meristem / genetics
  • Meristem / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Annotation
  • Plant Proteins / analysis
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Poaceae / genetics*
  • Poaceae / growth & development
  • Poaceae / metabolism
  • Proteomics*
  • RNA, Plant / genetics
  • Rhizome / genetics*
  • Rhizome / growth & development
  • Rhizome / metabolism
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Species Specificity
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcriptome


  • Plant Proteins
  • RNA, Plant
  • Transcription Factors