• Background and Aims Global warming is gaining significance as a threat to natural and managed ecosystems since temperature is one of the major environmental factors affecting plant productivity. Hence, the effects of moderate temperature increase on the growth and development of the tomato plant (Lycopersicon esculentum) were investigated.
• Methods Plants were grown at 32/26 °C as a moderately elevated temperature stress (METS) treatment or at 28/22 °C (day/night temperatures) as a control with natural light conditions. Vegetative growth and reproductive development as well as sugar content and metabolism, proline content and translocation in the androecium were investigated.
• Key Results METS did not cause a significant change in biomass, the number of flowers, or the number of pollen grains produced, but there was a significant decrease in the number of fruit set, pollen viability and the number of pollen grains released. Glucose and fructose contents in the androecium (i.e. all stamens from one flower) were generally higher in the control than METS, but sucrose was higher in METS. Coincidently, the mRNA transcript abundance of acid invertase in the androecium was decreased by METS. Proline contents in the androecium were almost the same in the control and METS, while the mRNA transcript level of proline transporter 1, which expresses specifically at the surface of microspores, was significantly decreased by METS.
• Conclusions The research indicated that failure of tomato fruit set under a moderately increased temperature above optimal is due to the disruption of sugar metabolism and proline translocation during the narrow window of male reproductive development.
Lycopersicon esculentum; moderately elevated temperature stress; microsporogenesis; mean daily temperature; fruit set; pollen release; male reproductive development; tapetum; hexose; sucrose; acid invertase; proline transporter
Optimal nitrogen (N) supply is critical for achieving high grain yield of maize. It is well established that N deficiency significantly reduces grain yield and N oversupply reduces N use efficiency without significant yield increase. However, the underlying proteomic mechanism remains poorly understood. The present field study showed that N deficiency significantly reduced ear size and dry matter accumulation in the cob and grain, directly resulting in a significant decrease in grain yield. The N content, biomass accumulation, and proteomic variations were further analysed in young ears at the silking stage under different N regimes. N deficiency significantly reduced N content and biomass accumulation in young ears of maize plants. Proteomic analysis identified 47 proteins with significant differential accumulation in young ears under different N treatments. Eighteen proteins also responded to other abiotic and biotic stresses, suggesting that N nutritional imbalance triggered a general stress response. Importantly, 24 proteins are involved in regulation of hormonal metabolism and functions, ear development, and C/N metabolism in young ears, indicating profound impacts of N nutrition on ear growth and grain yield at the proteomic level.
C/N metabolism; hormonal metabolism; maize ear; nitrogen deficiency; nitrogen oversupply
Pollination is the first crucial step of sexual reproduction in flowering plants, and it requires communication and coordination between the pollen and the stigma. Maize (Zea mays) is a model monocot with extraordinarily long silks, and a fully sequenced genome, but little is known about the mechanism of its pollen–stigma interactions. In this study, the dynamic gene expression of silks at four different stages before and after pollination was analyzed. The expression profiles of immature silks (IMS), mature silks (MS), and silks at 20 minutes and 3 hours after pollination (20MAP and 3HAP, respectively) were compared. In total, we identified 6,337 differentially expressed genes in silks (SDEG) at the four stages. Among them, the expression of 172 genes were induced upon pollination, most of which participated in RNA binding, processing and transcription, signal transduction, and lipid metabolism processes. Genes in the SDEG dataset could be divided into 12 time-course clusters according to their expression patterns. Gene Ontology (GO) enrichment analysis revealed that many genes involved in microtubule-based movement, ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation, and transport were predominantly expressed at specific stages, indicating that they might play important roles in the pollination process of maize. These results add to current knowledge about the pollination process of grasses and provide a foundation for future studies on key genes involved in the pollen–silk interaction in maize.
In maize, water stress at flowering causes loss of kernel set and productivity. While changes in the levels of sugars and abscisic acid (ABA) are thought to play a role in this stress response, the mechanistic basis and genes involved are not known. A candidate gene approach was used with association mapping to identify loci involved in accumulation of carbohydrates and ABA metabolites during stress. A panel of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in genes from these metabolic pathways and in genes for reproductive development and stress response was used to genotype 350 tropical and subtropical maize inbred lines that were well watered or water stressed at flowering. Pre-pollination ears, silks, and leaves were analysed for sugars, starch, proline, ABA, ABA-glucose ester, and phaseic acid. ABA and sugar levels in silks and ears were negatively correlated with their growth. Association mapping with 1229 SNPs in 540 candidate genes identified an SNP in the maize homologue of the Arabidopsis MADS-box gene, PISTILLATA, which was significantly associated with phaseic acid in ears of well-watered plants, and an SNP in pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase, a key regulator of carbon flux into respiration, that was associated with silk sugar concentration. An SNP in an aldehyde oxidase gene was significantly associated with ABA levels in silks of water-stressed plants. Given the short range over which decay of linkage disequilibrium occurs in maize, the results indicate that allelic variation in these genes affects ABA and carbohydrate metabolism in floral tissues during drought.
ASI; abscisic acid; association mapping; drought; flower set; kernel set
Many insects feed on pollen surface lipids and contents accessible through the germination pores. Pollen walls, however, are not broken down because they consist of sporopollenin and are highly resistant to physical and enzymatic damage. Here we report that certain Microlepidoptera chemically dissolve pollen grains with exudates from their mouthparts.
Field observations and experiments in tropical China revealed that two species of Deltophora (Gelechioidea) are the exclusive pollinators of two species of Phyllanthus (Phyllanthaceae) on which their larvae develop and from which the adults take pollen and nectar. DNA sequences placed the moths and plants phylogenetically and confirmed that larvae were those of the pollinating moths; molecular clock dating suggests that the moth clade is younger than the plant clade. Captive moths with pollen on their mouthparts after 2-3 days of starvation no longer carried intact grains, and SEM photographs showed exine fragments on their proboscises. GC-MS revealed cis-β-ocimene as the dominant volatile in leaves and flowers, but GC-MS analyses of proboscis extracts failed to reveal an obvious sporopollenin-dissolving compound. A candidate is ethanolamine, which occurs in insect hemolymphs and is used to dissolve sporopollenin by palynologists.
This is the first report of any insect and indeed any animal chemically dissolving pollen.
Gamete and embryo development are crucial for successful reproduction and seed set in plants, which is often the determining factor for crop yield. Proline accumulation was largely viewed as a specific reaction to overcome stress conditions, while recent studies suggested important functions of proline metabolism also in reproductive development. Both the level of free proline and proline metabolism were proposed to influence the transition to flowering, as well as pollen and embryo development.
In this study, we performed a detailed analysis of the contribution of individual proline biosynthetic enzymes to vegetative development and reproductive success in Arabidopsis. In contrast to previous reports, we found that pyrroline-5-carboxylate (P5C) synthetase 2 (P5CS2) is not essential for sexual reproduction although p5cs2 mutant plants were retarded in vegetative development and displayed reduced fertility under long-day conditions. Single mutant plants devoid of P5CS1 did not show any developmental defects. Simultaneous absence of both P5CS isoforms resulted in pollen sterility, while fertile egg cells could still be produced. Expression of P5C reductase (P5CR) was indispensable for embryo development but surprisingly not needed for pollen or egg cell fertility. The latter observation could be explained by an extreme stability of P5CR activity, which had a half-life time of greater than 3 weeks in vitro. Expression of P5CR-GFP under the control of the endogenous P5CR promoter was able to restore growth of homozygous p5cr mutant embryos. The analysis of P5CR-GFP-fluorescence in planta supported an exclusively cytoplasmatic localisation of P5CR.
Our results demonstrate that potential alternative pathways for proline synthesis or inter-generation transfer of proline are not sufficient to overcome a defect in proline biosynthesis from glutamate during pollen development. Proline biosynthesis through P5CS2 and P5CR is limiting for vegetative and reproductive development in Arabidopsis, whereas disruption of P5CS1 alone does not affect development of non-stressed plants.
Proline metabolism; Gamete and embryo development; Enzyme stability; Subcellular localisation
Maize is frequently infected by the Fusarium species producing mycotoxins. Numerous investigations have focused on grain maize, but little is known about the Fusarium species in the entire plant used for silage. Furthermore, mycotoxins persist during the ensiling process and thus endanger feed safety. In the current study, we analyzed 20 Swiss silage maize samples from growers’ fields for the incidence of Fusarium species and mycotoxins. The species spectrum was analyzed morphologically and mycotoxins were measured by LC-MS/MS. A pre-harvest visual disease rating showed few disease symptoms. In contrast, the infection rate of two-thirds of the harvest samples ranged from 25 to 75% and twelve different Fusarium species were isolated. The prevailing species were F. sporotrichioides, F. verticillioides and F. graminearum. No infection specificity for certain plant parts was observed. The trichothecene deoxynivalenol (DON) was found in each sample (ranging from 780 to 2990 µg kg−1). Other toxins detected in descending order were zearalenone, further trichothecenes (nivalenol, HT-2 and T-2 toxin, acetylated DON) and fumonisins. A generalized linear regression model containing the three cropping factors harvest date, pre-precrop and seed treatment was established, to explain DON contamination of silage maize. Based on these findings, we suggest a European-wide survey on silage maize.
silage maize; cropping factor; prediction; deoxynivalenol; animal feed
• Background and Aims The floral display influences the composition of pollinators interacting with a plant species. Geographic and temporal variation in pollinator composition complicates the understanding of the evolutionary consequences of floral display variation. This paper analyses the relationships between Silene acutifolia, a hermaphroditic perennial herb, and its pollinators, based on field studies in the north-west of Spain.
• Methods Studies were conducted over three years (1997–1999). Firstly, the main pollinators of this species were determined for two years in one population. Secondly, pollen limitation in fruit and seed production was analysed by supplementary hand pollinations, and counting the pollen grains and tubes growing in styles for two different-sized populations. Finally, the effect of flower size and number on the rate of visitation and total seed number was examined for 15 marked plants.
• Results and Conclusions The primary pollinators were long-tongued insects, including Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera and Diptera, but the composition and visitation frequencies differed between years. Pollen limitation occurred in one of the years of study. There was between-population variation in the number of pollen grains and pollen tubes found in styles, suggesting pollen limitation in one population. Overall, pollinators visited plants with more open flowers more frequently, and pollinated more flowers within these plants. Conversely, petal and calyx sizes had no effect on insect visitation. Plants with higher rates of visits produced higher number of seeds, suggesting that pollinator-mediated limitation of seed and fruit production may be important in some years.
Anthophora; Bombus; Caryophyllaceae; female reproductive success; floral display; mutualism; pollen limitations; pollination ecology; Silene acutifolia
In plants, pollination is a critical step in reproduction. During pollination, constant communication between male pollen and the female stigma is required for pollen adhesion, germination, and tube growth. The detailed mechanisms of stigma-mediated reproductive processes, however, remain largely unknown. Maize (Zea mays L.), one of the world’s most important crops, has been extensively used as a model species to study molecular mechanisms of pollen and stigma interaction. A comprehensive analysis of maize silk transcriptome may provide valuable information for investigating stigma functionality. A comparative analysis of expression profiles between maize silk and dry stigmas of other species might reveal conserved and diverse mechanisms that underlie stigma-mediated reproductive processes in various plant species.
Transcript abundance profiles of mature silk, mature pollen, mature ovary, and seedling were investigated using RNA-seq. By comparing the transcriptomes of these tissues, we identified 1,427 genes specifically or preferentially expressed in maize silk. Bioinformatic analyses of these genes revealed many genes with known functions in plant reproduction as well as novel candidate genes that encode amino acid transporters, peptide and oligopeptide transporters, and cysteine-rich receptor-like kinases. In addition, comparison of gene sets specifically or preferentially expressed in stigmas of maize, rice (Oryza sativa L.), and Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana [L.] Heynh.) identified a number of homologous genes involved either in pollen adhesion, hydration, and germination or in initial growth and penetration of pollen tubes into the stigma surface. The comparison also indicated that maize shares a more similar profile and larger number of conserved genes with rice than with Arabidopsis, and that amino acid and lipid transport-related genes are distinctively overrepresented in maize.
Many of the novel genes uncovered in this study are potentially involved in stigma-mediated reproductive processes, including genes encoding amino acid transporters, peptide and oligopeptide transporters, and cysteine-rich receptor-like kinases. The data also suggest that dry stigmas share similar mechanisms at early stages of pollen-stigma interaction. Compared with Arabidopsis, maize and rice appear to have more conserved functional mechanisms. Genes involved in amino acid and lipid transport may be responsible for mechanisms in the reproductive process that are unique to maize silk.
Fumonisins (FB) are mycotoxins found in (italic)Fusarium verticillioides-infected maize grain worldwide. Attention has focused on FBs because of their widespread occurrence, acute toxicity to certain livestock, and their potential carcinogenicity. FBs are present at low levels in most field-grown maize but may spike to high levels depending on both the environment and genetics of the host plant. Among the strategies for reducing risk of FB contamination in maize supplied to the market, development and deployment of Fusarium ear mold-resistant maize germplasm is a high priority. Breeding for increased ear mold tolerance and reduced mycotoxin levels is being practiced today in both commercial and public programs, but the amount of resistance achievable may be limited due to complicated genetics and/or linkage to undesirable agronomic traits. Molecular markers can be employed to speed up the incorporation of chromosomal regions that have a quantitative effect on resistance (quantitative trait loci). Transgenic approaches to ear mold/mycotoxin resistance are now feasible as well. These potentially include genetically enhanced resistance to insect feeding, increased fungal resistance, and detoxification/prevention of mycotoxins in the grain. An example of the first of these approaches is already on the market, namely transgenic maize expressing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin, targeted to the European corn borer. Some Bt maize hybrids have the potential to reduce FB levels in field-harvested grain, presumably through reduced feeding of Bt-susceptible insects in ear tissues. However, improved ear mold resistance per se is still an important goal, as the plant will still be vulnerable to noninsect routes of entry to (italic)Fusarium. A second approach, transgene-mediated control of the ability of Fusarium to infect and colonize the ear, could potentially be achieved through overexpression of specific antifungal proteins and metabolites, or enhancement of the plant's own defense systems in kernel tissues. This has not yet been accomplished in maize, although promising results have been obtained recently in other monocots versus other fungal and bacterial pathogens. Achieving reproducible and stable enhanced ear mold resistance under field conditions will be immensely challenging for biotechnologists. A third approach, transgene strategies aimed at preventing mycotoxin biosynthesis, or detoxifying mycotoxins in planta, could provide further protection for the grower in environments where FBs present a risk to the crop even when the maize is relatively resistant to Fusarium mold. In one example of such a strategy, enzymes that degrade FBs have been identified in a filamentous saprophytic fungus isolated from maize, and corresponding genes have been cloned and are currently being tested in transgenic maize.
During maize development and reproduction, shading stress is an important abiotic factor influencing grain yield. To elucidate the genetic basis of shading stress in maize, an F2:3 population derived from two inbred lines, Zhong72 and 502, was used to evaluate the performance of six traits under shading treatment and full-light treatment at two locations. The results showed that shading treatment significantly decreased plant height and ear height, reduced stem diameter, delayed day-to-tassel (DTT) and day-to-silk (DTS), and increased anthesis-silking interval (ASI). Forty-three different QTLs were identified for the six measured traits under shading and full light treatment at two locations, including seven QTL for plant height, nine QTL for ear height, six QTL for stem diameter, seven QTL for day-to-tassel, six QTL for day-to-silk, and eight QTL for ASI. Interestingly, three QTLs, qPH4, qEH4a, and qDTT1b were detected under full sunlight and shading treatment at two locations simultaneously, these QTL could be used for selecting elite hybrids with high tolerance to shading and high plant density. And the two QTL, qPH10 and qDTS1a, were only detected under shading treatment at two locations, should be quit for selecting insensitive inbred line in maize breeding procedure by using MAS method.
Pollen tube germination, growth, and guidance (progamic phase) culminating in sperm discharge is a multi-stage process including complex interactions between the male gametophyte as well as sporophytic tissues and the female gametophyte (embryo sac), respectively. Inter- and intra-specific crossing barriers in maize and Tripsacum have been studied and a precise description of progamic pollen tube development in maize is reported here. It was found that pollen germination and initial tube growth are rather unspecific, but an early, first crossing barrier was detected before arrival at the transmitting tract. Pollination of maize silks with Tripsacum pollen and incompatible pollination of Ga1s/Ga1s-maize silks with ga1-maize pollen revealed another two incompatibility barriers, namely transmitting tract mistargeting and insufficient growth support. Attraction and growth support by the transmitting tract seem to play key roles for progamic pollen tube growth. After leaving transmitting tracts, pollen tubes have to navigate across the ovule in the ovular cavity. Pollination of an embryo sac-less maize RNAi-line allowed the role of the female gametophyte for pollen tube guidance to be determined in maize. It was found that female gametophyte controlled guidance is restricted to a small region around the micropyle, approximately 50–100 μm in diameter. This area is comparable to the area of influence of previously described ZmEA1-based short-range female gametophyte signalling. In conclusion, the progamic phase is almost completely under sporophytic control in maize.
Female gametophyte; maize; pollen tube guidance; prezygotic barriers; transmitting tract; Tripsacum
In this study we assessed the ability of the C4 plant maize to perform long-term photosynthetic acclimation in an artificial light quality system previously used for analyzing short-term and long-term acclimation responses (LTR) in C3 plants. We aimed to test if this light system could be used as a tool for analyzing redox-regulated acclimation processes in maize seedlings. Photosynthetic parameters obtained from maize samples harvested in the field were used as control. The results indicated that field grown maize performed a pronounced LTR with significant differences between the top and the bottom levels of the plant stand corresponding to the strong light gradients occurring in it. We compared these data to results obtained from maize seedlings grown under artificial light sources preferentially exciting either photosystem II or photosystem I. In C3 plants, this light system induces redox signals within the photosynthetic electron transport chain which trigger state transitions and differential phosphorylation of LHCII (light harvesting complexes of photosystem II). The LTR to these redox signals induces changes in the accumulation of plastid psaA transcripts, in chlorophyll (Chl) fluorescence values F\rm s/F\rm m, in Chl a/b ratios and in transient starch accumulation in C3 plants. Maize seedlings grown in this light system exhibited a pronounced ability to perform both short-term and long-term acclimation at the level of psaA transcripts, Chl fluorescence values F\rm s/F\rm m and Chl a/b ratios. Interestingly, maize seedlings did not exhibit redox-controlled variations of starch accumulation probably because of its specific differences in energy metabolism. In summary, the artificial laboratory light system was found to be well-suited to mimic field light conditions and provides a physiological tool for studying the molecular regulation of the LTR of maize in more detail.
photosynthesis; redox regulation; light quality; light acclimation; maize fields
Abscisic acid (ABA) is a key component of the signaling system that integrates plant adaptive responses to abiotic stress. Overexpression of Arabidopsis molybdenum cofactor sulfurase gene (LOS5) in maize markedly enhanced the expression of ZmAO and aldehyde oxidase (AO) activity, leading to ABA accumulation and increased drought tolerance. Transgenic maize (Zea mays L.) exhibited the expected reductions in stomatal aperture, which led to decreased water loss and maintenance of higher relative water content (RWC) and leaf water potential. Also, transgenic maize subjected to drought treatment exhibited lower leaf wilting, electrolyte leakage, malondialdehyde (MDA) and H2O2 content, and higher activities of antioxidative enzymes and proline content compared to wild-type (WT) maize. Moreover, overexpression of LOS5 enhanced the expression of stress-regulated genes such as Rad 17, NCED1, CAT1, and ZmP5CS1 under drought stress conditions, and increased root system development and biomass yield after re-watering. The increased drought tolerance in transgenic plants was associated with ABA accumulation via activated AO and expression of stress-related gene via ABA induction, which sequentially induced a set of favorable stress-related physiological and biochemical responses.
Background and Aims
Few studies have examined the dynamics of specialist plant–pollinator interactions at a geographical scale. This knowledge is crucial for a more general evolutionary and ecological understanding of specialized plant–pollinator systems. In the present study, variations in pollinator activity, assemblage composition and pollen limitation were explored in the oil-producing species Nierembergia linariifolia (Solanaceae).
Pollen limitation in fruit and seed production was analysed by supplementary hand pollination in five wild populations. Pollinator activity and identity were recorded while carrying out supplementary pollination to assess the effect of pollinators on the degree of pollen limitation. In two populations, pollen limitation was discriminated into quantitative and qualitative components by comparing supplementation and hand cross-pollination in fruit set and seed set. The effect of flower number per plant on the number of flowers pollinated per visitor per visit to a plant was examined in one of these populations as a possible cause of low-quality pollination by increasing geitonogamy.
Results and Conclusions
Although pollen limitation was evident along time and space, differences in magnitude were detected among populations and years that were greatly explained by pollinator activity, which was significantly different across populations. Floral display size had a significant effect on the visitation rate per flower. Limitation by quality clearly affected one population presumably due to a high proportion of geitonogamous pollen. The great inter-population variation in plant–pollinator interaction (both in pollinator assemblages composition and pollinator activity) and fitness consequences, suggests that this system should be viewed as a mosaic of locally selective processes and locally specialized interactions.
Nierembergia linariifolia; Centris; Chalepogenus; pollen limitation; pollen quality; oil-producing flowers; specialized pollination; floral display; assemblage composition; geographic variation; Solanaceae; tests of equivalence
Purified Rickettsia prowazekii cells were able to transport L-proline. The influx of this amino acid had a Kt of 14 microM and a Vmax of about 64 pmol/min per mg of protein. Proline could not be transported by heat-killed or metabolically poisoned rickettsiae or at 0 degrees C. The uptake of proline was linear for almost 2 h. More than 90% of the accumulated intracellular radioactivity was proline. This intracellular pool could not be chased out of the cell by excess non-radioactive proline and did not exit into a proline-free medium. These results indicate that intracellular proline was bound or that the cell had a very limited efflux component for proline transport. The influx of proline was specific: among various analogs tested, only 3,4-dehydro-D,L-proline was effective in inhibiting proline uptake. R. prowazekii cells were unable to utilize proline as an energy source to drive hemolysis, and no measurable evolution from the rickettsiae of CO2 derived from proline occurred. The activities of the enzymes pyrroline-5-carboxylate-reductase and pyrroline-5-carboxylate dehydrogenase were not detectable. These enzymes are important in anabolism and catabolism of proline, respectively, and, if present in R. prowazekii have activities less than 1% of those in Escherichia coli.
The objective of the present study was to monitor the occurrence and distribution of a spectrum of trichothecene toxins in different parts of maize plants. Therefore maize plants were sampled randomly from 13 fields in southwest Germany and the fractions kernels, cobs, husks, stalks, leaves and rudimentary ears were analyzed for eight A-type and five B-type trichothecenes. Each of the toxins was found in at least three of the total of 78 samples. The study revealed that both A-type and B-type trichothecenes may be present in all parts of the maize plant but may be unevenly distributed. For the contents of deoxynivalenol, 3- and 15-acetyldeoxynivalenol, nivalenol, scirpentriol, 15-monoacetoxyscirpenol, HT-2 and T-2 toxin significant differences (p < 0.05) were found between different parts of the maize plants whereas no significant differences were observed for fusarenon-X, 4,15-diacetoxyscirpenol, neosolaniol, T-2 triol and T-2 tetraol. Up to twelve toxins co-occurring in one sample were detected. As a group B-type trichothecenes dominated over A-type trichothecenes concerning incidences and levels. Contamination was strongest with rudimentary ears based on incidence and mean and maximum contents; mean contents with few exceptions tended towards a higher level than in other fractions with significant (p < 0.05) differences compared to leaves for seven toxins.
A-type and B-type trichothecenes; contamination pattern; distribution; maize; multitrichothecene contamination; fractions
Two sperm cells are required to achieve double fertilization in flowering plants (angiosperms). In contrast to animals and lower plants such as mosses and ferns, sperm cells of flowering plants (angiosperms) are immobile and are transported to the female gametes (egg and central cell) via the pollen tube. The two sperm cells arise from the generative pollen cell either within the pollen grain or after germination inside the pollen tube. While pollen tube growth and sperm behavior has been intensively investigated in model plant species such as tobacco and lily, little is know about sperm dynamics and behavior during pollen germination, tube growth and sperm release in grasses. In the March issue of Journal of Experimental Botany, we have reported about the sporophytic and gametophytic control of pollen tube germination, growth and guidance in maize.1 Five progamic phases were distinguished involving various prezygotic crossing barriers before sperm cell delivery inside the female gametophyte takes place. Using live cell imaging and a generative cell-specific promoter driving α-tubulin-YFP expression in the male germline, we report here the formation of the male germline inside the pollen grain and the sperm behaviour during pollen germination and their movement dynamics during tube growth in maize.
male gametophyte; generative cell; sperm; pollen tube; tubulin; fertilization; maize
Nitric oxide (NO) plays essential roles in many biotic and abiotic stresses in plant development procedures, including pollen tube growth. Here, effects of NO on cold stress inhibited pollen germination and tube growth in Camellia sinensis were investigated in vitro. The NO production, NO synthase (NOS)-like activity, cGMP content and proline (Pro) accumulation upon treatment with NO scavenger cPTIO, NOS inhibitor L-NNA, NO donor DEA NONOate, guanylate cyclase (GC) inhibitor ODQ or phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitor Viagra at 25°C (control) or 4°C were analyzed. Exposure to 4°C for 2 h reduced pollen germination and tube growth along with increase of NOS-like activity, NO production and cGMP content in pollen tubes. DEA NONOate treatment inhibited pollen germination and tube growth in a dose-dependent manner under control and reinforced the inhibition under cold stress, during which NO production and cGMP content promoted in pollen tubes. L-NNA and cPTIO markedly reduced the generation of NO induced by cold or NO donor along with partly reverse of cold- or NO donor-inhibited pollen germination and tube growth. Furthermore, ODQ reduced the cGMP content under cold stress and NO donor treatment in pollen tubes. Meanwhile, ODQ disrupted the reinforcement of NO donor on the inhibition of pollen germination and tube growth under cold condition. Additionally, Pro accumulation of pollen tubes was reduced by ODQ compared with that receiving NO donor under cold or control condition. Effects of cPTIO and L-NNA in improving cold-treated pollen germination and pollen tube growth could be lowered by Viagra. Moreover, the inhibitory effects of cPTIO and L-NNA on Pro accumulation were partly reversed by Viagra. These data suggest that NO production from NOS-like enzyme reaction decreased the cold-responsive pollen germination, inhibited tube growth and reduced Pro accumulation, partly via cGMP signaling pathway in C. sinensis.
Background and Aims
If stabilizing selection by pollinators is a prerequisite for pollinator-mediated floral evolution, spatiotemporal variation in the pollinator assemblage may confuse the plant–pollinator interaction in a given species. Here, effective pollinators in a living fossil plant Nelumbo nucifera (Nelumbonaceae) were examined to test whether beetles are major pollinators as predicted by its pollination syndrome.
Pollinators of N. nucifera were investigated in 11 wild populations and one cultivated population, and pollination experiments were conducted to examine the pollinating role of two major pollinators (bees and beetles) in three populations.
Lotus flowers are protogynous, bowl shaped and without nectar. The fragrant flowers can be self-heating during anthesis and produce around 1 million pollen grains per flower. It was found that bees and flies were the most frequent flower visitors in wild populations, contributing on average 87·9 and 49·4 % of seed set in Mishan and Lantian, respectively. Beetles were only found in one wild population and in the cultivated population, but the pollinator exclusion experiments showed that beetles were effective pollinators of Asian sacred lotus.
This study indicated that in their pollinating role, beetles, probable pollinators for this thermoregulating plant, had been replaced by some generalist insects in the wild. This finding implies that contemporary pollinators may not reflect the pollination syndrome.
Nelumbo nucifera; beetle pollinated; pollination syndrome; effective pollinator; generalized flower; thermoregulation; Nelumbonaceae
Honey bee pollination is a key ecosystem service to nature and agriculture. However, biosafety research on genetically modified crops rarely considers effects on nurse bees from intact colonies, even though they receive and primarily process the largest amount of pollen. The objective of this study was to analyze the response of nurse bees and their gut bacteria to pollen from Bt maize expressing three different insecticidal Cry proteins (Cry1A.105, Cry2Ab2, and Cry3Bb1). Naturally Cry proteins are produced by bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis). Colonies of Apis mellifera carnica were kept during anthesis in flight cages on field plots with the Bt maize, two different conventionally bred maize varieties, and without cages, 1-km outside of the experimental maize field to allow ad libitum foraging to mixed pollen sources. During their 10-days life span, the consumption of Bt maize pollen had no effect on their survival rate, body weight and rates of pollen digestion compared to the conventional maize varieties. As indicated by ELISA-quantification of Cry1A.105 and Cry3Bb1, more than 98% of the recombinant proteins were degraded. Bacterial population sizes in the gut were not affected by the genetic modification. Bt-maize, conventional varieties and mixed pollen sources selected for significantly different bacterial communities which were, however, composed of the same dominant members, including Proteobacteria in the midgut and Lactobacillus sp. and Bifidobacterium sp. in the hindgut. Surprisingly, Cry proteins from natural sources, most likely B. thuringiensis, were detected in bees with no exposure to Bt maize. The natural occurrence of Cry proteins and the lack of detectable effects on nurse bees and their gut bacteria give no indication for harmful effects of this Bt maize on nurse honey bees.
Grain filling during the linear phase contributes most of the dry matter accumulated in the maize kernel, which in turn determines the final grain yield. Endosperms and embryos of three elite maize hybrids (Zhengdan 958, Nongda 108, and Pioneer 335) were sampled 17, 22, 25, and 28 days after pollination, during the linear phase of grain filling, for proteomic analysis to explore the regulatory factors critical for grain filling rate. In total, 39 and 43 protein spots that showed more than 2-fold changes in abundance at P<0.01 between any two sampling stages in the endosperm and embryo were analyzed by protein mass spectrometry. The changing patterns in expression index of these proteins in the endosperm were evenly distributed, whereas up-regulation patterns predominated (74%) in the embryo. Functional analysis revealed that metabolism was the largest category, represented by nine proteins in the endosperm and 12 proteins in the embryo, of the proteins that significantly changed in abundance. Glycolysis, a critical process both for glucose conversion into pyruvate and for release of free energy and reducing power, and proteins related to redox homeostasis were emphasized in the endosperm. Additionally, lipid, nitrogen, and inositol metabolism related to fatty acid biosynthesis and late embryogenesis abundant proteins were emphasized in the embryo. One protein related to cellular redox equilibrium, which showed a more than 50-fold change in abundance and was co-localized with a quantitative trait locus for grain yield on chromosome 1, was further investigated by transcriptional profile implying consistent expression pattern with protein accumulation. The present results provide a first step towards elucidation of the gene network responsible for regulation of grain filling in maize.
Maize is one of the most important crops in the world. With the exponentially increasing population and the need for ever increased food and feed production, an increased yield of maize grain (as well as rice, wheat and other grains) will be critical. Maize grain development is understood from the perspective of morphology, hormone responses, and storage reserve accumulation. This includes various studies on gene expression during embryo development and maturation but a global study of gene expression of the embryo has not been possible until recently. Transcriptome analysis is a powerful new tool that can be used to understand the genetic basis of embryo maturation.
We undertook a transcriptomic analysis of normal maturing embryos at 15, 21 and 27 days after pollination (DAP), of one elite maize germplasm line that was utilized in crosses to transgenic plants. More than 19,000 genes were analyzed by this method and the challenge was to select subsets of genes that are vitally important to embryo development and maturation for the initial analysis. We describe the changes in expression for genes relating to primary metabolic pathways, DNA synthesis, late embryogenesis proteins and embryo storage proteins, shown through transcriptome analysis and confirmed levels of transcription for some genes in the transcriptome using qRT-PCR.
Numerous genes involved in embryo maturation have been identified, many of which show changes in expression level during the progression from 15 to 27 DAP. An expected array of genes involved in primary metabolism was identified. Moreover, more than 30% of transcripts represented un-annotated genes, leaving many functions to be discovered. Of particular interest are the storage protein genes, globulin-1, globulin-2 and an unidentified cupin family gene. When expressing foreign proteins in maize, the globulin-1 promoter is most often used, but this cupin family gene has much higher expression and may be a better candidate for foreign gene expression in maize embryos. Results such as these allow identification of candidate genes and promoters that may not otherwise be available for use. mRNA seq data archived in NCBI SRA; Accession number: ACC=SRA060791 subid=108584.
Transcriptome; Maize; Embryo; Maturation; qRT-PCR
The relative role of the maternal source and the filial sink in controlling the composition of maize (Zea mays L.) kernels is unclear and may be influenced by the genotype and the N supply. The objective of this study was to determine the influence of assimilate supply from the vegetative source and utilization of assimilates by the grain sink on the final composition of maize kernels. Intermated B73×Mo17 recombinant inbred lines (IBM RILs) which displayed contrasting concentrations of endosperm starch were grown in the field with deficient or sufficient N, and the source supply altered by ear truncation (45% reduction) at 15 d after pollination (DAP). The assimilate supply into the kernels was determined at 19 DAP using the agar trap technique, and the final kernel composition was measured. The influence of N supply and kernel ear position on final kernel composition was also determined for a commercial hybrid. Concentrations of kernel protein and starch could be altered by genotype or the N supply, but remained fairly constant along the length of the ear. Ear truncation also produced a range of variation in endosperm starch and protein concentrations. The C/N ratio of the assimilate supply at 19 DAP was directly related to the final kernel composition, with an inverse relationship between the concentrations of starch and protein in the mature endosperm. The accumulation of kernel starch and protein in maize is uniform along the ear, yet adaptable within genotypic limits, suggesting that kernel composition is source limited in maize.
C/N; carbon; grain; maternal; nitrogen; protein; sink; source; starch; transport
Many flowering plants are unable to set seeds with their own pollen because a system known as gametophytic self-incompatibility is operating. The basis of this system is a single multiallelic locus S, and if the S allele carried by a pollen grain matches one of the two S alleles carried in the style, as it is certain to do upon self-pollination, then pollen tube growth is inhibited. Should one of the self-pollen grains carry a mutated S allele, however, it would not match either of those carried in the style and would therefore, not be inhibited. Gametophytic self-incompatibility thus provides a mechanism for discriminating between such mutant and nonmutant pollen grains. Knowing the numbers of pollen grains available to the stigma, and also the numbers of seeds produced, it becomes possible to estimate the frequency with which mutations occur at the S locus. Assay systems of mutagenesis which employ gametophytic self incompatibility will allow very large numbers of pollen grains to be screened for S allele mutants, which should indicate the mutagenicity of the environment. These systems have the added benefit that screening is done by the stylar tissues, rather than technicians. Finally, they may be used to construct largely autonomous assay systems which would provide continuous monitoring of the environment.