Selection and validation of reference genes for quantitative gene expression studies in Erythroxylum coca

Teresa Docimo, Gregor W. Schmidt, Katrin Luck, Sven K. Delaney, John C. D'Auria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Real-time quantitative PCR is a powerful technique for the investigation of comparative gene expression, but its accuracy and reliability depend on the reference genes used as internal standards. Only genes that show a high level of expression stability are suitable for use as reference genes, and these must be identified on a case-by-case basis. Erythroxylum coca produces and accumulates high amounts of the pharmacologically active tropane alkaloid cocaine (especially in the leaves), and is an emerging model for the investigation of tropane alkaloid biosynthesis. The identification of stable internal reference genes for this species is important for its development as a model species, and would enable comparative analysis of candidate biosynthetic genes in the different tissues of the coca plant. In this study, we evaluated the expression stability of nine candidate reference genes in E. coca (Ec6409, Ec10131, Ec11142, Actin, APT2, EF1a, TPB1, Pex4, Pp2aa3). The expression of these genes was measured in seven tissues (flowers, stems, roots and four developmental leaf stages) and the stability of expression was assessed using three algorithms (geNorm, NormFinder and BestKeeper). From our results we conclude that Ec10131 and TPB1 are the most appropriate internal reference genes in leaves (where the majority of cocaine is produced), while Ec10131 and Ec6409 are the most suitable internal reference genes across all of the tissues tested.

Original languageEnglish
Article number37
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


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