Background: Loquat ( Eriobotrya japonica Lindl.) is a subtropical evergreen fruit tree that produces fruits with abundant nutrients and medicinal components. Confirming suitable reference genes for a set of loquat samples before qRT-PCR experiments is essential for the accurate quantification of gene expression.
Results: In this study, eight candidate reference genes were selected from our previously published RNA-seq data, and primers for each candidate reference gene were designed and evaluated. The Cq values of the candidate reference genes were calculated by RT-qPCR in 31 different loquat samples, including 12 subgroups of developing or abiotic-stressed tissues. Different combinations of stable reference genes were screened according to a comprehensive rank, which was synthesized from the results of four algorithms, including the geNorm, NormFinder, BestKeeper and ΔCt methods. The screened reference genes were verified by normalizing EjLGA1 in each subgroup. The obtained suitable combinations of reference genes for accurate normalization were GAPDH , EF1α and ACT for floral development; GAPDH , UBCE and ACT for fruit setting; EF1α , GAPDH and eIF2B for fruit ripening; ACT , EF1α and UBCE for leaves under heat stress; eIF2B , UBCE and EF1α for leaves under freezing stress; EF1α , TUA and UBCE for leaves under salt stress; ACT , EF1α and eIF2B for immature pulp under freezing stress; ACT , UBCE and eIF2B for immature seeds under freezing stress; EF1α , eIF2B and UBCE for both immature pulp and seeds under freezing stress; UBCE , TUB and TUA for red-fleshed fruits under cold-storage stress; eIF2B , RPS3 and TUB for white-fleshed fruits under cold-storage stress; and eIF2B, UBCE and RPS3 for both red- and white-fleshed fruits under cold-storage stress.
Conclusions: This study obtained different combinations of stable reference genes for accurate normalization in twelve subgroups of developing or abiotic-stressed tissues in loquat. The use of the three most stable reference genes could increase the reliability of future quantification experiments.