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The Plant Genome - Original Research

Spud DB: A Resource for Mining Sequences, Genotypes, and Phenotypes to Accelerate Potato Breeding


This article in TPG

  1. Vol. 7 No. 1
    unlockOPEN ACCESS
    Received: Dec 16, 2013
    Published: March 28, 2014

    * Corresponding author(s): buell@msu.edu
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  1. Cory D. Hirscha,
  2. John P. Hamiltonb,
  3. Kevin L. Childsb,
  4. Jason Cepelab,
  5. Emily Crisovanb,
  6. Brieanne Vaillancourtb,
  7. Candice N. Hirschc,
  8. Marc Habermannb,
  9. Brayden Nealb and
  10. C. Robin Buell *b
  1. a Dep. of Plant Biology, Univ. of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN 55108
    b Dep. of Plant Biology, Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI 48824
    c Dep. of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, Univ. of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN 55108


Potato is the world’s third most important crop, and is becoming increasingly important in developing countries. Cultivated potato is a highly heterozygous tetraploid (2n = 4x = 48) and suffers from significant inbreeding depression when selfed. As potato can be vegetatively propagated, breeding has been based primarily on phenotypic selection in F1 populations. However, recent advances in genome sequencing and genotyping methods have resulted in the development of large genomic, genetic, and phenotypic datasets that will enable more efficient and rapid breeding approaches. We have developed Spud DB (http://potato.plantbiology.msu.edu/) for the community to access the potato genome sequence and associated annotation datasets, along with phenotypic and genotypic data from a diversity panel of 250 potato clones. The Breeder’s Assistant is a web tool to retrieve pertinent phenotypic and genotypic data in a user-guided manner, and query polymorphic markers such as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and simple sequence repeats (SSRs) to identify custom sets of markers for a gene or region of interest. To browse and query the potato genome, a genome browser with 94 tracks of genome annotation, sequence variants, and expression abundance has been deployed. Spud DB also provides a comprehensive search page to data mine the potato genome through tools that query sequence identifiers, functional annotation, gene ontology (GO), InterPro domains, and basic local alignment search tool (BLAST) databases. Collectively, this resource links potato genomic data with phenotypic and genotypic data from a large collection of potato lines for use by the potato community, especially breeders and geneticists.


    BAC, bacterial artificial chromosome; BLAST, basic local alignment search tool; DArT, diversity arrays technology; DM, Solanum tuberosum Group Phureja DM1-3 516 R44; EST, expressed sequence tag; GO, gene ontology; HTML, HyperText Markup Language; ITAG, International Tomato Annotation Group; NCBI, National Center for Biotechnology Information; PGSC, Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium; PUT, PlantGDB-assembled unique transcript; RH, Solanum tuberosum Group Tuberosum RH89-039-16; RNA-Seq, ribonucleic acid sequencing; SolCAP, Solanaceae Coordinated Agricultural Project; SGN, Sol Genomics Network; SNP, single nucleotide polymorphism; SolCAP, Solanaceae Coordinated Agricultural Project; SSR, simple sequence repeat

Worldwide, potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is an important food crop in which production and consumption have continued to increase in developing countries (FAOSTAT http://faostat3.fao.org/). To meet the increasing demand for potato production, breeders must continually develop new and improved varieties. Plant breeders improve cultivars for increased yield, agricultural practice changes, environmental changes, pest and pathogen pressures, and strict industry and consumer demands (Collard and Mackill, 2008). Traditionally, potato breeding has relied heavily on phenotypic selection for improvement with limited emphasis on genotypic selection. As a consequence, it can take 10 to 15 yr to release an elite variety.

The development of next generation sequencing technologies, coupled with high throughput genotyping platforms, has enabled the generation of large genomic and genotypic datasets in potato. Using transcriptome data from six potato cultivars, the Solanaceae Coordinated Agricultural Project (SolCAP) developed an Infinium SNP array with 8303 SNPs (Felcher et al., 2012; Hamilton et al., 2011). This array was used to examine population structure, diversity, and heterozygosity in a panel of 250 clones (SolCAP Diversity Panel) representing a wide-range of cultivars, including historical and newly released cultivars, advanced breeding lines, genetic stocks, and several wild species (Hirsch et al., 2013). As the SolCAP Diversity Panel was also phenotyped for agronomic traits, marker assisted selection can now be implemented to associate genotypes with phenotypes to shorten the time to develop advanced potato cultivars.

Potato was the first Solanaceae species with a high quality genome assembly and sequencing of the doubled monoploid S. tuberosum Group Phureja DM1-3 516 R44 (DM) clone yielded a final assembly of 727 Mb of the estimated 844 Mb genome (Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2011). Along with the release of the potato genome, 39,031 protein-coding genes were annotated based on ab initio gene predictions, protein evidence, and transcript evidence in the form of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) and RNA-Sequencing (RNA-Seq) alignments (Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2011). Since the initial release of the potato genome, efforts have been made to further anchor and orient the superscaffolds and construct pseudomolecules, with the latest release being version 4.03 (Sharma et al., 2013). The tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) genome was reported in 2012 with 760 Mb of the genome assembled out of the estimated 900 Mb genome (Tomato Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2012). Using the same gene annotation pipeline for the tomato and the potato genome, the International Tomato Annotation Group (ITAG) predicted 34,727 and 35,004 protein-coding genes for tomato and potato, respectively.

There are several databases and resources for genomic, genetic, and phenotypic data of Solanaceae species. The largest database is the Sol Genomics Network (SGN), which houses the tomato genome (Tomato Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2012) and contains genomic, genetic, phenotypic, and taxonomic data primarily for tomato, but does have limited datasets for 10 other Solanaceae species (Bombarely et al., 2011). Other tomato-centric databases include the EU-SOL BreeDB which houses genetic maps, information about quantitative trait loci, marker annotation, and gene annotation for tomato (https://www.eu-sol.wur.nl/), the Tomato Epigenome Database (http://ted.bti.cornell.edu/epigenome/index.html), and the Tomato Functional Genomics database (http://ted.bti.cornell.edu/). Other web-based databases include the Solanaceae Source, which is a taxonomical resource (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/research/projects/solanaceaesource/), SolEST, which is an EST database for Solanacaeae species (D’Agostino et al., 2009), PlantGDB, which contains transcript assemblies for numerous Solanaceae members among other plant species (Duvick et al., 2008), and KaPPA-View4 SOL, which houses metabolic pathways in Solanaceae species (http://kpv.kazusa.or.jp/kpv4-sol/). With respect to resources with a primary focus on potato, the PoMaMo database contains potato genetic maps and sequences (http://www.gabipd.org/projects/Pomamo/) and the Potato Pedigree Database houses pedigree information for potato cultivars (http://www.plantbreeding.wur.nl/potatopedigree/).

Following the release of the potato genome sequence in 2011, multiple large-scale genomic, genetic, and phenotypic datasets have been generated for potato (Felcher et al., 2012; Hamilton et al., 2011; Hirsch et al., 2013; Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2011). To provide a centralized resource to mine these datasets, we constructed Spud DB (http://potato.plantbiology.msu.edu/), a potato-centric database that hosts the Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium (PGSC) genome sequence and associated annotation data and provides access to recently generated large-scale potato datasets. Information within Spud DB includes functional annotations of the potato genome, expression data from a set of 56 developmental stages and stress treatments, a genome browser that includes comparative data with other Solanaceae species in a potato-centric manner, and an array of genetic marker data. To facilitate breeding efforts in potato, we have developed a Breeder’s Assistant that allows users to access the SolCAP potato 8303 Infinium SNP array genotypic data in conjunction with phenotypic data. The Breeder’s Assistant also contains search tools to identify candidate SSRs and SNP markers for genes or regions of interest. Spud DB has been designed to be a user-friendly website to facilitate access to the potato genome as well as large-scale omic datasets to aid in advancing potato breeding and research.

Species, Sequences, Genotypic, and Phenotypic Datasets Available through Spud DB

The potato genome serves as the central reference for Spud DB, with the most recent version of the potato pseudomolecules (v. 4.03, Sharma et al., 2013) used in the initial release. We have included both the PGSC (Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2011) and the ITAG (Tomato Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2012) annotations of the potato genome throughout Spud DB (Table 1). One component of the genome browser is comparative analyses with other species as transcript assemblies and annotated gene models for 13 Solanaceae species and several dicotyledonous relatives, Arabidopsis thaliana, Populus trichocarpa, and Vitis vinifera, are included to extend structural and functional annotations of annotated potato genes (Table 1). We have also included genotypic and phenotypic datasets for the SolCAP Diversity Panel (Hirsch et al., 2013).

View Full Table | Close Full ViewTable 1.

Summary of species and sequences used in comparative analyses of the potato genome.

Species Source† Version No. of representative gene models No. of transcript assemblies
Arabidopsis thaliana TAIR TAIR10 27,416‡
Capsicum annuum PlantGDB§ 171a 29,507
Nicotiana benthamiana NCBI TSA 35,724
Nicotiana benthamiana PlantGDB 173a 19,650
Nicotiana langsdorffii × Nicotiana sanderae PlantGDB 157a 5,120
Nicotiana sylvestris PlantGDB 163a 3,651
Nicotiana tabacum PlantGDB 173a 115,649
Petunia × hybrida PlantGDB 159a 8,499
Physalis peruviana PlantGDB 187a 26,699
Populus trichocarpa Phytozome¶ Assembly v. 2.2, Annotation v. 2.2 45,033
Solanum chacoense PlantGDB 163a 2,334
Solanum habrochaites PlantGDB 175a 10,719
Solanum lycopersicum SGN Assembly SL2.40, Annotation ITAG2.3 34,727
Solanum lycopersicum PlantGDB 171a 42,933
Solanum melongena PlantGDB 175a 24,576
Solanum pennellii PlantGDB 175a 4,251
Solanum tuberosum PGSC Assembly v. 4.03, Annotation v. 3.4 39,031
Solanum tuberosum ITAG 1 35,004
Solanum tuberosum PlantGDB 157a 65,456
Vitis vinifera Phytozome 12× 26,346
Total gene models excluding pseudogenes and transposable elements.
ITAG, International Tomato Annotation Group; NCBI, National Center for Biotechnology Information; PGSC, Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium; SGN, Sol Genomics Network; TAIR, The Arabidopsis Information Resource; TSA, Transcript Shotgun Assemblies, downloaded 25 Oct. 2012.
§PlantGDB, www.plantgdb.org.

Resources, Tools, and Data within Spud DB

Overall Layout and Architecture of Spud DB

The Spud DB web resource has a simple and intuitive layout based on the Biofuel Feedstock Genomics Resource (Childs et al., 2012), to provide an easy user experience. The Spud DB website consists of eight main components including the Home page, the Breeder’s Assistant, the Annotation Report pages, the Genome Browser, the Search Tools, the Download page, the Links page, and the Contact page. Each component is accessible from all pages for easy navigation. The supporting databases for Spud DB are based on the Biofuel Feedstock Genomics Resource (Childs et al., 2012) and utilize a modified Chado schema (Mungall and Emmert, 2007; Zhou et al., 2006), with an additional database to support keyword searches.

Home Page

The Home page contains an overview of the Spud DB resource and a quick search form to query by gene identifier or functional annotation keyword. The Home link in the dropdown menu bar also contains links to a News page containing updates for the website as well as a Frequently Asked Questions page for answers to common questions about the resource.

Breeder’s Assistant

To provide the potato community with easy and quick access to potato genotypic and phenotypic data, we developed the Breeder’s Assistant page. This page houses five separate tools to query and mine the available data (Fig. 1). Three of the tools provide access to genotypic and phenotypic data from the SolCAP Diversity Panel (Hirsch et al., 2013). The other two tools are focused on identifying candidate genetic markers in the form of SSRs and SNPs in the potato genome.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

An example workflow of the Breeder’s Assistant SolCAP 250 Tool displaying how users can access phenotypic and genotypic data of interest. In this example, we show how to query for genotypic diversity of the invertase transcript, PGSC0003DMT400021619 and phenotypic diversity between two potato cultivars, Dakota Jewel and Dakota Pearl, from the North Dakota State University breeding program. (A) The tools available in the Breeder’s Assistant page. The red box indicates the tool used in the example. (B) The selectors used within the tool to select the cultivars. (C) The filters used to select the genotypic information to report. (D) The filters used to select phenotypic results to report. (E) The final returned output.


Data-Mining the SolCAP Diversity Panel

The SolCAP Diversity Panel (Hirsch et al., 2013) consists of 250 potato clones that represent cultivars, breeding lines, genetic stocks, and wild species. These lines were genotyped using the SolCAP potato 8303 Infinium SNP array (Felcher et al., 2012; Hamilton et al., 2011) and phenotyped for various agronomic traits including carbohydrate traits and tuber features (Hirsch et al., 2013). We developed tools to mine genotypic and/or phenotypic data based on the users’ needs. These three tools all employ selectable filters to examine all or only a subset of the SolCAP Diversity Panel based on market class, ploidy, breeding program, or accession name. When searching solely for phenotypic data, users select desired accessions and select filters to return all phenotypes, a subset of phenotypes, or a single phenotype. When utilizing the genotype tool, users are able to filter based on SNP identifier, SNP annotation, or SNP physical position. In GenomeStudio (Illumina, San Diego, CA), genotype calls from Infinium SNP arrays can be outputted in 3-cluster or 5-cluster calls. A diploid model is assumed when using 3-cluster calls (AA, AB, BB) and a tetraploid model is assumed for 5-cluster calls to accounts for dosage (AAAA, AAAB, AABB, ABBB, BBBB). A filter has been made available to report genotypes using 3-cluster calls (cluster) or 5-cluster calls (dosage). When the tool is used to select both genotypic and phenotypic data, all of the filters are available. Provided in Fig. 1 is an example query for phenotypic and genotypic data from the SolCAP Diversity Panel using the Breeders Assistant.

SSR and SNP Marker Search Tools

In release v. 4.03 of the DM genome, a total of 190,589 mono-, di-, tri-, tetra-, penta-, and hexanucleotide SSRs were annotated using the SSRIT tool (Temnykh et al., 2001) (Fig. 2A) using a minimum repeat unit number of 10 for mononucleotide repeats, six for dinucleotides, and five for tri-, tetra-, penta-, and hexanucleotides. Examination of the nucleotide composition of the mono-, di-, and trinucleotide repeats in the genome revealed a large bias for A or T mononucleotides, AT dinucleotides, and AAT/ATT tri-nucleotides (Fig. 2B). We also characterized SSRs within the annotated PGSC and ITAG gene models (i.e., transcripts) and found variation in the number and prevalence of SSRs in the two annotation datasets. A search of the PGSC transcript sequences identified 7268 SSRs, with the most abundant being mononucleotide SSRs, whereas only 1829 SSRs were identified in the ITAG transcripts, with the most abundant being trinucleotide SSRs (Fig. 2A). The difference in SSRs between these two annotation sets is most likely attributable to the lack of annotated untranslated regions in the ITAG transcripts. Primer pairs to amplify each SSR marker were designed using Primer3 (Rozen and Skaletsky, 2000) and are available in the Breeder’s Assistant. The reported primers were chosen using preference towards smaller product sizes between 100 and 1000 nucleotides, primer length between 18 and 27 nucleotides, and primer melting temperatures between 57 and 63°C. A maximum of three primer pairs were reported for each SSR.

Figure 2.
Figure 2.

Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) data accessible within Spud DB. (A) The percentage of each SSR motif computationally predicted at the genome level and at the transcript level in the PGSC (Potato Genome Sequence Consortium) and ITAG (International Tomato Annotation Group) annotation datasets. The total number of SSRs predicted for each annotation is listed above the columns. (B) The percentage of each type of SSR within mono-, di-, and trinucleotide motifs predicted at the genome level. The type and total number of each type is listed for the three motifs.


The Breeder’s Assistant SSR marker search tool searches for SSRs within the genome, the PGSC or ITAG potato annotations, and allows users to filter SSR search results based on motif, minimum and maximum length, and output format (HyperText Markup Language [HTML] or tab delimited text). Genome level SSRs can also be searched via genomic region. The returned data consist of transcript identifier, SSR type, length, start and end positions, as well as primer pairs to amplify the SSR, primer start, stop, length, and the estimated product size that would result from the primers. If HTML is the output format, and the SSR is within a transcript, the transcript identities link to their respective annotation report pages (see below). If HTML is the output format, and the SSR was searched at the genome level, the returned SSR identities link to their location on the genome browser (see below).

Single nucleotide polymorphisms present within the Breeder’s Assistant database include the 8303 Infinium SolCAP array SNPs (Felcher et al., 2012), 69,011 SNPs identified from transcriptome sequences of six cultivars (Hamilton et al., 2011), and 2754,111 SNPs identified by aligning whole genome shotgun reads from S. tuberosum Group Tuberosum RH89-039-16 (RH; van Os et al., 2006) to the v. 4.03 DM pseudomolecules (Table 2). For SNPs previously identified from six cultivated potato transcriptomes and the 8303 SolCAP Infinium array (Felcher et al., 2012; Hamilton et al., 2011), the SNPs (with their respective context sequence) were mapped to the PGSC v. 4.03 pseudomolecules using Exonerate est2 genome (Slater and Birney, 2005). The SNPs were retained if they fit the following criteria: alignments had to have >95% coverage and identity, contain no insertions or deletions, and have two or fewer alignments to the pseudomolecules. For genomic SNPs, total DNA from the heterozygous diploid RH was sheared to 270 bp, ligated to Illumina TruSeq adaptors, and 100 nucleotide reads generated on the Illumina HiSeq 2000 platform (Illumina, San Diego, CA; SRP019978). Cleaned reads were aligned to the DM v. 4.03 pseudomolecules and superscaffolds using Bowtie v. 0.12.7 (Langmead et al., 2009) and variant positions were filtered using SAMtools v. 0.12.7 (Li et al., 2009), requiring a minimum read depth of five, a maximum read depth of 250, and a maximum of three SNPs in a 100 nucleotide window (to filter dense SNPs).

View Full Table | Close Full ViewTable 2.

Summary of genetic markers, expression data, and comparative analyses of the potato genome available within Spud DB.

Feature† Metric
Genetic markers
 SolCAP 8303 SNPs 8,040
 Transcript-derived SNPs 66,498
 WGS SNPs 2754,111
Whole genome SSRs 190,589
Expression data
 Number of RNA libraries 56
 Genes expressed in RNA libraries 33,133
Comparative alignments
 Anchored BAC end sequences 202,310
 Species with comparative alignments 15
BAC, bacterial artificial chromosome; SolCAP, Solanaceae coordinated agricultural project; SNP, single nucleotide polymorphism; SSR, simple sequence repeat; WGS, whole genome shotgun.

The SNP finder tool in the Breeder’s Assistant allows SNP searching based on genome location, annotated locus, or transcript identifier with both the PGSC and ITAG transcript identifiers. Returned data consist of a sortable table with SNP names, the chromosome and position of the SNP, the alleles, and the origin of the SNP. All SNP names and any transcript identifiers are linked to their genome browser location to provide the genome context of the SNP.

Collectively, the tools within the Breeder’s Assistant allow breeders and other researchers access to genotypic, phenotypic, and marker data easily and in a custom manner, leading to quicker and more informative research for potato cultivar improvement.

Annotation Report Pages

Researchers are highly focused on genes and the proteins encoded in the annotated gene models/transcripts. Both the PGSC and ITAG projects annotated the potato genome for genes; however, the level of functional annotation provided by both groups is limited. Thus, to facilitate discovery and interpretation of the potato genome sequence, we have further functionally annotated the PGSC and ITAG potato gene models and provide these data in Spud DB through individual Annotation Report pages. Each Annotation Report page not only provides a centralized resource for the sequence and functional annotation of each gene model, transcript, and/or predicted protein, but also provides additional annotation in the form of expression profiles, polymorphisms, candidate genetic markers (SSRs and SNPs), and comparative alignments to other Solanaceae and dicotyledonous species to aid in functional interpretation (Fig. 3).

Figure 3.
Figure 3.

An example of information and analyses available on the Spud DB annotation report pages. (A) An overview of all available analyses for the potato transcript PGSC0003DMT400076546 that encodes a ribosomal protein L3. Each header with a black arrowhead can be opened to display information. (B) Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data available for PGSC0003DMT400076546, showing the SNP name, chromosome (chr), position, alleles, and data type used to identify the SNP. (C) A graphical display of PGSC0003DMT400076546 InterPro domain matches viewable on the annotation report page.


Functional Annotation and Comparative Analyses of Annotated Potato Genes

Potato predicted protein sequences from the PGSC and ITAG annotations of the potato genome were subjected to protein domain and structural analysis using InterProScan (Mulder et al., 2007). Within InterProScan, analyses were performed using BlastProDom, FPrintScan, Gene3D, HAMAP, HMMPanther, HMMPfam, HMMPIR, HMMSmart, HMMTigr, SuperFamily, PatternScan, ProfileScan, TMHmm, SignalP, seg, and coils programs. Several of the protein domain databases contain relevant GO terms (Camon et al., 2004) and those data were noted and associated with the relevant potato sequences. A total of 69,823 GO associations were made to 13,658 PGSC genes and 16,067 ITAG genes with a similar distribution of associations between the two annotation datasets (Fig. 4). Functional descriptions were retained from the original genome projects, curated by the PGSC or ITAG, and were not recomputed. On the Annotation Report pages, we have included BLAST search results from an all-versus-all search of the PGSC and ITAG annotated proteomes to permit cross-referencing of equivalent loci, including self hits. As insight in determining gene function can be gained through sequence comparisons, all PGSC and ITAG annotated predicted proteins were searched against the A. thaliana predicted proteins and the ITAG annotated tomato predicted proteins using BLASTP. These matches are linked to the A. thaliana gene pages at the Arabidopsis Information Resource (Swarbreck et al., 2008) and the tomato gene pages at SGN (Bombarely et al., 2011).

Figure 4.
Figure 4.

A breakdown of the gene ontology domains within Spud DB found for Potato Genome Sequence Consortium (PGSC) and International Tomato Annotation Group (ITAG) genes. The number of each domain found is listed along with the percentage of the total within parentheses.


Expression Profiles

Previously published high throughput RNA-Seq data were used to generate expression profiles for the PGSC annotated gene set. In total, 56 libraries were surveyed, including 40 from DM potato and 16 from RH potato, representing >15 different tissue types (Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2011). Read quality was determined using FastQC v. 0.10.1 (http://www.bioinformatics.babraham.ac.uk/projects/fastqc/), and adaptor and quality trimming was performed using Cutadapt v. 1.1 (Martin, 2011). Reads with quality scores of 10 or below at the 3' end were trimmed, and quality and adaptor trimmed reads that were <30 nucleotides were removed from the analysis. The reads were mapped to the v. 4.03 DM pseudomolecules using Bowtie v. 0.12.7 (Langmead et al., 2009) and TopHat v. 1.4.1 (Trapnell et al., 2009), with a single mismatch permitted for DM-derived reads, two mismatches for RH-derived reads, and a permitted intron length of 10 to 15,000 bp. Gene expression values (fragments per kilobase exon model per million mapped reads) were calculated using Cufflinks v. 1.3.0 (Trapnell et al., 2010) with the PGSC gene annotation for gene modeling and allowing a maximum intron length of 15,000 bp. By using a variety of tissues for the transcriptome analysis, we were able to report expression for 33,133 genes from the v. 4.03 DM pseudomolecules, respectively (Table 2).

Gene Model, Transcript, and Predicted Protein Search Tools

Users can retrieve information within Spud DB by using the Search Tools page (Fig. 5). Investigators are able to perform BLAST alignments of their own sequences to search the potato pseudomolecules, superscaffolds, predicted genes, annotated gene models and/or transcripts, or predicted proteins. Additional datasets of interest including the potato organellar genomes, tomato genome assembly, annotated loci, transcripts, and predicted proteome, Solanaceae assembled transcripts, and A. thaliana loci, transcripts, coding sequence, and predicted proteome are provided to facilitate comparative analyses within the Solanaceae and with the model species, A. thaliana. The type of BLAST to conduct, as well as several modifiable parameters, are available for user selection to optimize the search.

Figure 5.
Figure 5.

The options available to query and mine potato data within the Search Tools page in Spud DB. The main category headers are shown in dark green boxes with white text, user input parameters are in light green boxes with black text, and outputs are shown in the blue boxes. (A) Basic local alignment search tools (BLASTs) search options. (B) Options to retrieve sequence information, the maximum region size for an inputted genomic region is <100,000 bp, whereas the maximum region size for queries up/downstream of a gene or transcript is <50,000 bp. (C) Search tools resulting in links to transcript annotation report pages. An example annotation report page is shown, whereas Fig. 3 is a more detailed depiction of an example annotation report page.


Another useful feature within the Search Tools is the sequence retriever. This tool allows users to obtain potato v. 4.03 sequences based on different search criteria. Users can retrieve sequences by querying chromosome and start and stop positions (maximum region size of 100,000 bp) or by searching by PGSC potato gene or transcript identifier. In addition, users are able to retrieve sequences upstream or downstream of PGSC genes with a maximum region size of 50,000 bp.

Users are also able to query based on sequence identifier, functional annotation keyword, GO identifier and keyword, and InterPro identifier and keyword. In all cases, searches can be performed with either the PGSC and/or ITAG annotations (Fig. 5).

Genome Browser

Potato Genome Browser

To support graphical views of the potato genome, as well as to permit querying of the potato genome, a browser containing the most recent release of the DM potato pseudomolecules, v. 4.03, is available in Spud DB along with 94 tracks of annotation (Fig. 6). The browser is based on the Generic Genome Browser v. 1.70 (Stein et al., 2002) and is served by a MySQL database using the Bio::DB::SeqFeature::Store adaptor. The browser contains both the PGSC v. 3.4 gene models (Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2011), as well as the gene models from the ITAG annotation of the potato genome (Tomato Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2012). Each locus, as well as annotated gene models, is linked to their cognate Annotation Report page to provide users with detailed information on each gene and gene model.

Figure 6.
Figure 6.

A graphical representation of selected tracks on the v. 4.03 DM genome browser for PGSC0003DMT400076546. From top to bottom, the first track shows the chromosome location followed by the Potato Genome Sequence Consortium (PGSC) pseudomolecule tiling path, loci, and the PGSC and International Tomato Annotation Group (ITAG) representative gene models. The next four tracks show related Solanaceae species sequence alignments with the ITAG tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) gene model, and PlantGDB-assembled unique transcript (PUT) alignments from Nicotiana benthamiana, Nicotiana sylvestris, and Physalis perusviana. Following these tracks are four marker tracks, SNP information for Infinium high confidence SNPs (Hamilton et al. 2011), SNPs used on the potato 8303 Infinium SNP array (Felcher et al. 2012), SNPs called by genomic sequence comparison with RH (this study), and diversity arrays technology (DArT) markers (Sharma et al. 2013). The last four tracks are heat maps of RNA-Seq expression data from flower, leaf, mature tuber, and petal tissue. The brackets on the far right indicate where the tracks are linked or where their information can be found within Spud DB; blue, are tracks that link to the annotation report page within Spud DB; red, a track that links to the Sol Genomics Network (SGN) search results for the gene; green, are tracks that link to the PlantGDB PUT sequence page; brown, not direct links, but brackets identify information available on the annotation report page for the transcript.


To provide comparative information on each annotated gene, the PlantGDB putative unique transcripts [PUTs; (Duvick et al., 2008)] from 12 Solanaceae species and shotgun transcript assemblies from Nicotiana benthamiana downloaded from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) were aligned to the potato pseudomolecules using Exonerate v. 2.2.0 (Slater and Birney, 2005), with the highest scoring alignment for each transcript sequence displayed on the browser. The N. benthamiana (Bombarely et al., 2012) and ITAG Tomato Gene Models [v. 2.3, (Tomato Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2012)] were aligned to the PGSC v. 4.03 pseudomolecules with Exonerate est2 genome (Slater and Birney, 2005), and the highest scoring alignment for each gene model was reported.

Bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) end sequences of DM and RH were downloaded from the NCBI (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nucgss). The BAC end sequences were searched against the PGSC v. 4.03 pseudomolecules using BLASTN. The results for the DM BAC ends were filtered to retain hits with an E-value < 1e–10, a minimum identity of 97%, and a minimum coverage of 90%, whereas RH BAC alignments with an E-value < 1e–10, a minimum of 95% identity, and 90% coverage were retained. After the initial filtering, only the unique top hit for each BAC end sequence was retained. If multiple top hits existed, the sequence was not reported within Spud DB. Using this filtering we were able to anchor 202,310 (120,101 DM and 82,209 RH) BAC end sequences to v. 4.03 (Table 2).

The aforementioned RNA-Seq read mapping results were used to create tracks displaying heat maps for the 56 potato transcriptome libraries to view the concordance of transcript evidence with gene models, and to visually assess transcript abundances. This was done using the wiggles tool, available within TopHat v. 1.4.1 (Trapnell et al., 2009).

The repeat track was generated for the PGSC v. 4.03 pseudomolecules using RepeatMasker v. 4.0.1 (Chen, 2004) with a custom potato repeat library provided by the PGSC (Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2011). The SSRs, Infinium SolCAP array SNPs, transcriptome sequencing-derived SNPs, and RH SNPs described above are provided as tracks on the genome browser. Additional marker datasets available on the potato v. 4.03 pseudomolecule genome browser include a set of unambiguously mapped potato diversity array technology (DArT) markers (Sharma et al., 2013) and SNPs used to develop an oligo-nucleotide pooled assay (Sharma et al., 2013).

Supporting Browsers

Although the v. 4.03 release is the most current release of the potato genome, many researchers in the potato community continue to use the v. 2.1.11 release, as it was available when a number of ongoing genome-based research projects began. To allow users continued access to this legacy version of the pseudomolecules, we have maintained a v. 2.1.11 genome browser, which is selectable on the Potato Genome Browser via a toggle.

The potato and tomato genomes are highly syntenic (Tanksley et al., 1992), and to support comparative analyses between these two species, we constructed a tomato genome browser containing the annotated v. 2.3 ITAG tomato genome models (Tomato Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2012) and aligned the potato gene models from both the PGSC and ITAG to the tomato genome to provide a comparative framework to interrogate potato genes of interest. As with potato, the tomato genome browser is based on the Generic Genome Browser v. 1.70 (Stein et al., 2002) and served by a MySQL database using the Bio::DB::SeqFeature::Store adaptor. The Solanaceae PUTs, N. benthamiana transcriptome shotgun assemblies, and N. benthamiana, A. thaliana, P. trichocarpa, and V. vinifera gene models were aligned to the tomato genome as described above to provide additional comparative data. The repeat track for the tomato pseudomolecules was also generated with RepeatMasker using the tomato repeat library downloaded from SGN (v. 5, ftp://ftp.solgenomics.net/tomato_genome/repeats/repeats_master.v5.fasta.gz). Additional tracks on the tomato genome browser include alignment of BAC end sequences from the tomato genome project to aid in assessing the quality of the assembly, and alignment of SNPs identified from the SolCAP tomato Infinium array (Hamilton et al., 2012) and from the tomato genome project (Tomato Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2012).

Download Page

Data available to researchers can be downloaded from two sources, an FTP site and through the official PGSC Data Release page. The FTP site provides access to flat files of SNP data as well as sequences and functional annotation of all species covered in Spud DB including the set of filtered mRNA and translated sequences for the species with PUT sequences, and the transcript and peptide sequences for A. thaliana, potato, and tomato. The PGSC public data download page provides links for the v. 2.1.11 and v. 4.03 DM pseudomolecules, annotation, RNA-Seq based gene expression data, potato BAC sequences, and the potato DArT marker data.

Links and Contact Pages

The Links page contains numerous links to outside web sources of interest for potato researchers. The outside sources are split into categories of potato research areas, including agriculture and pathogen research, genome projects, cultivar information, organizations, and other Solanaceae based sites. We also provide a Contact page for users to provide comments, questions, and suggestions for Spud DB.

Use and Future Plans

Access Metrics

Spud DB was released in September 2013 and has been substantially used by the community (Table 3). Nearly 4000 unique visitors have viewed over 60,000 pages during a 3-mo period. The potato v. 4.03 genome browser was the most viewed resource on Spud DB, accounting for nearly half of the total page views.

View Full Table | Close Full ViewTable 3.

Metrics of Spud DB access from 9/1/2013 through 11/25/2013.

Metric No.
Total visits 9,193
Unique visitors 3,998
Total pages viewed 60,196
v. 4.03 Potato Browsers pages viewed 27,051
Pages viewed per visit 6.55
Average duration of visit in minutes 8.30

Future Plans

We will update Spud DB content as new datasets are made available. Of special interest are genotypic and phenotypic datasets for potato. A large number of the 8303 SolCAP Infinium arrays have been purchased by the community (D. Douches, personal communication, 2013) and public availability of these datasets would provide a great resource for the community. We anticipate new Solanaceae genomes and transcriptomes to be made available in the near future, as sequencing advances have enabled a wide scope of access to genome and transcriptome sequencing. Alignment of these transcripts and annotated gene models to the potato genome will provide a richer set of comparative resources to aid in interpretation of the potato genome.


We have developed a potato-centric resource for easy access of potato functional genomics data by the community. The resource also allows quick and user customizable access to phenotypic and genotypic data from a potato diversity panel within the Breeder’s Assistant page. The datasets within the resource include potato genomic, transcript, and protein sequences, SNP and SSR marker data, expression data, and numerous search tools based on BLAST, functional annotations, GO annotations, and InterPro annotations. The resource is broadly accessible to many researchers in the fields of breeding, functional genomics, and basic potato research.


This work was supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food & Agriculture (Grant No. 2008-35300-18671) and the National Science Foundation (Grant No. DBI-0604907 and DBI-0834044 to CRB). CDH was supported by a National Science Foundation National Plant Genome Initiative Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology Fellowship (Grant No. 1202724).




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