The heavy metal hyperaccumulator Thlaspi caerulescens expresses many species-specific genes, as identified by comparative expressed sequence tag analysis


Author for correspondence: Mark G. M. Aarts Tel: +31 317 485413 Fax: +31 317 483146 Email:


  • • Thlaspi caerulescens is a natural zinc (Zn), cadmium (Cd) and nickel (Ni) hyperaccumulator and an emerging plant model species to study heavy metal hyperaccumulation and tolerance. This paper describes the analysis of the first expressed sequence tag (EST) collection from T. caerulescens. This collection is a new resource to unravel the molecular basis of plant metal homeostasis, tolerance and hyperaccumulation.
  • • In total, 4289 ESTs were generated originating from Zn-exposed root and shoot tissues, leading to 3709 T. caerulescens assembled partial cDNA sequences (unigenes).
  • • In comparison to Arabidopsis or other publicly available plant sequences, a fraction of c. 8% of the T. caerulescens unigenes (TcUGs) had no significant similarity with any known DNA sequence and, so far, these sequences are T. caerulescens specific. Three per cent of the TcUGs correspond to Arabidopsis thaliana orthologues that, as yet, have not been found to be expressed.
  • • The T. caerulescens transcriptome generally relates very well to the A. thaliana transcriptome, although, compared with other closely related species, a relatively large number of T. caerulescens-specific transcripts were found. T. caerulescens also expresses a relatively large number of genes which are expressed at a very low level in A. thaliana.