Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



New Phytologist (2021) 230: 1273–1287 doi: 10.1111/nph.17189




  • Pre-mRNA splicing is an essential step for the regulation of gene expression. In order to specifically capture splicing variants in plants for genome-wide association studies (GWAS), we developed a software tool to quantify and visualise Variations of Splicing in Population (VASP).
  • VASP can quantify splicing variants from short-read RNA-seq datasets and discover genotype-specific splicing (GSS) events, which can be used to prioritise causal pre-mRNA splicing events in GWAS. We applied our method to an RNA-seq dataset with 328 samples from 82 genotypes from a rice diversity panel exposed to optimal and saline growing conditions.
  • In total, 764 significant GSS events were identified in salt stress conditions. GSS events were used as markers for a GWAS with the shoot Na+ accumulation, which identified six GSS events in five genes significantly associated with the shoot Na+ content. Two of these genes, OsNUC1 and OsRAD23 emerged as top candidate genes with splice variants that exhibited significant divergence between the variants for shoot growth under salt stress conditions.
  • VASP is a versatile tool for alternative splicing analysis in plants and a powerful tool for prioritising candidate causal pre-mRNA splicing and corresponding genomic variations in GW

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