Trees will have to cope with increasing levels of CO2 and ozone in the atmosphere. The purpose of this work was to assess whether the lignification process could be altered in the wood of poplars under elevated CO2 and/or ozone. Young poplars were exposed either to charcoal-filtered air (control), to elevated CO2 (800 μl l−1), to ozone (200 nl l−1) or to a combination of elevated CO2 and ozone in controlled chambers. Lignification was analysed at different levels: biosynthesis pathway activities (enzyme and transcript), lignin content, and capacity to incorporate new assimilates by using 13C labelling. Elevated CO2 and ozone had opposite effects on many parameters (growth, biomass, cambial activity, wood cell wall thickness) except on lignin content which was increased by elevated CO2 and/or ozone. However, this increased lignification was due to different response mechanisms. Under elevated CO2, carbon supply to the stem and effective lignin synthesis were enhanced, leading to increased lignin content, although there was a reduction in the level of some enzyme and transcript involved in the lignin pathway. Ozone treatment induced a reduction in carbon supply and effective lignin synthesis as well as transcripts from all steps of the lignin pathway and some corresponding enzyme activities. However, lignin content was increased under ozone probably due to variations in other major components of the cell wall. Both mechanisms seemed to coexist under combined treatment and resulted in a high increase in lignin content.
13C labelling; elevated CO2; lignin; ozone; poplar; wood
Secondary cell walls, consisting of cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin, make up the bulk of wood biomass. It is therefore expected that dissection of the molecular mechanisms underlying secondary wall biosynthesis and its regulation will be instrumental to unravel the process of wood formation in tree species. Wood formation requires the coordinated activation of genes in the secondary wall biosynthetic program that is essential for the biosynthesis and assembly of wood components. It has recently been discovered that a group of poplar (Populus trichocarpa) wood-associated NAC domain transcription factors, PtrWNDs, which are functional orthologs of the Arabidopsis SND1, are capable of turning on the entire secondary wall biosynthetic program when expressed in Arabidopsis. In addition, two of the PtrWNDs were found to be able to activate the promoters of poplar wood biosynthetic genes and a number of other poplar wood-associated transcription factors. Further testing reveals that the promoters of these poplar wood-associated transcription factors are also activated by other PtrWNDs. It is therefore proposed that PtrWNDs are master transcriptional switches regulating a cascade of downstream transcription factors and thereby mediate the coordinated activation of wood biosynthetic genes during wood formation.
NAC domain transcription factor; Populus trichocarpa; secondary wall biosynthesis; transcriptional regulation; wood formation
Wood from biomass plantations with fast growing tree species such as poplars can be used as an alternative feedstock for production of biofuels. To facilitate utilization of lignocellulose for saccharification, transgenic poplars with modified or reduced lignin contents may be useful. However, the potential impact of poplars modified in the lignification pathway on ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi, which play important roles for plant nutrition, is not known. The goal of this study was to investigate EM colonization and community composition in relation to biomass and nutrient status in wildtype (WT, Populus tremula × Populus alba) and transgenic poplar lines with suppressed activities of cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase, caffeate/5-hydroxyferulate O-methyltransferase, and cinnamoyl-CoA reductase in a biomass plantation. In different one-year-old poplar lines EM colonization varied from 58% to 86%, but the EM community composition of WT and transgenic poplars were indistinguishable. After two years, the colonization rate of all lines was increased to about 100%, but separation of EM communities between distinct transgenic poplar genotypes was observed. The differentiation of the EM assemblages was similar to that found between different genotypes of commercial clones of Populus × euramericana. The transgenic poplars exhibited significant growth and nutrient element differences in wood, with generally higher nutrient accumulation in stems of genotypes with lower than in those with higher biomass. A general linear mixed model simulated biomass of one-year-old poplar stems with high accuracy (adjusted R2 = 97%) by two factors: EM colonization and inverse wood N concentration. These results imply a link between N allocation and EM colonization, which may be crucial for wood production in the establishment phase of poplar biomass plantations. Our data further support that multiple poplar genotypes regardless whether generated by transgenic approaches or conventional breeding increase the variation in EM community composition in biomass plantations.
There is an increasing demand for renewable resources to replace fossil fuels. However, different applications such as the production of secondary biofuels or combustion for energy production require different wood properties. Therefore, high-throughput methods are needed for rapid screening of wood in large scale samples, e.g., to evaluate the outcome of tree breeding or genetic engineering. In this study, we investigated the intra-specific variability of lignin and energy contents in extractive-free wood of hybrid poplar progenies (Populus trichocarpa × deltoides) and tested if the range was sufficient for the development of quantitative prediction models based on Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Since lignin is a major energy-bearing compound, we expected that the energy content of wood would be positively correlated with the lignin content.
Lignin contents of extractive-free poplar wood samples determined by the acetyl bromide method ranged from 23.4% to 32.1%, and the calorific values measured with a combustion calorimeter varied from 17260 to 19767 J g-1. For the development of calibration models partial least square regression and cross validation was applied to correlate FTIR spectra determined with an attenuated total reflectance (ATR) unit to measured values of lignin or energy contents. The best models with high coefficients of determination (R2 (calibration) = 0.91 and 0.90; R2 (cross-validation) = 0.81 and 0.79) and low root mean square errors of cross validation (RMSECV = 0.77% and 62 J g-1) for lignin and energy determination, respectively, were obtained after data pre-processing and automatic wavenumber restriction. The calibration models were validated by analyses of independent sets of wood samples yielding R2 = 0.88 and 0.86 for lignin and energy contents, respectively.
These results show that FTIR-ATR spectroscopy is suitable as a high-throughput method for lignin and energy estimations in large data sets. Our study revealed that the intra-specific variations in lignin and energy contents were unrelated to each other and that the lignin content, therefore, was no predictor of the energy content. Employing principle component analyses we showed that factor loadings for the energy content were mainly associated with carbohydrate ring vibrations, whereas those for lignin were mainly related to aromatic compounds. Therefore, our analysis suggests that it may be possible to optimize the energy content of trees without concomitant increase in lignin.
Bioenergy; heat value; intraspecific variation; lignin; high throughput method; FTIR spectroscopy
During the last decades the importance of the genus Populus increased because the poplar genome has been sequenced and molecular tools for basic research have become available. Poplar species occur in different habitats and harbor large genetic variation, which can be exploited for economic applications and for increasing our knowledge on the basic molecular mechanisms of the woody life style. Poplars are, therefore, employed to unravel the molecular mechanisms of wood formation, stress tolerance, tree nutrition and interaction with other organisms such as pathogens or mycorrhiza. The basis of these investigations is the reproducible production of homogeneous plant material. In this method paper we describe techniques and growth conditions for the in vitro propagation of different poplar species (Populus × canescens, P. trichocarpa, P. tremula, and P. euphratica) and ectomycorrhizal fungi (Laccaria bicolor, Paxillus involutus) as well as for their co-cultivation for ectomycorrhizal synthesis. Maintenance and plant preparation require different multiplication and rooting media. Growth systems to cultivate poplars under axenic conditions in agar and sand cultures with and without mycorrhizal fungi are described. Transfer of the plants from in vitro to in situ conditions is critical and hardening is important to prevent high mortality. Growth and vitality of the trees in vitro and outdoors with and without ectomycorrhizas are reported.
poplar; mycorrhiza; fungi; laboratory protocols; in vitro; plant growth; micropropagation
To investigate how N-fertilization affects the growth, carbon and nitrogen (N) physiology, and wood properties of poplars with contrasting growth characteristics, slow-growing (Populus popularis, Pp) and fast-growing (P. alba×P. glandulosa, Pg) poplar saplings were exposed to different N levels. Above-ground biomass, leaf area, photosynthetic rates (A), instantaneous photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency (PNUE
i), chlorophyll and foliar sugar concentrations were higher in Pg than in Pp. Foliar nitrate reductase (NR) activities and root glutamate synthase (GOGAT) activities were higher in Pg than in Pp as were the N amount and NUE of new shoots. Lignin contents and calorific values of Pg wood were less than that of Pp wood. N-fertilization reduced root biomass of Pg more than of Pp, but increased leaf biomass, leaf area, A, and PNUEi of Pg more than of Pp. Among 13 genes involved in the transport of ammonium or nitrate or in N assimilation, transcripts showed more pronounced changes to N-fertilization in Pg than in Pp. Increases in NR activities and N contents due to N-fertilization were larger in Pg than in Pp. In both species, N-fertilization resulted in lower calorific values as well as shorter and wider vessel elements/fibres. These results suggest that growth, carbon and N physiology, and wood properties are more sensitive to increasing N availability in fast-growing poplars than in slow-growing ones, which is probably due to prioritized resource allocation to the leaves and accelerated N physiological processes in fast-growing poplars under higher N levels.
Amino acids; ammonium transporter; bioenergy; carbohydrates; gene expression; nitrate transporter
Background and Aims
The timing of cambial reactivation plays an important role in the control of both the quantity and the quality of wood. The effect of localized heating on cambial reactivation in the main stem of a deciduous hardwood hybrid poplar (Populus sieboldii × P. grandidentata) was investigated.
Electric heating tape (20–22 °C) was wrapped at one side of the main stem of cloned hybrid poplar trees at breast height in winter. Small blocks were collected from both heated and non-heated control portions of the stem for sequential observations of cambial activity and for studies of the localization of storage starch around the cambium from dormancy to reactivation by light microscopy.
Cell division in phloem began earlier than cambial reactivation in locally heated portions of stems. Moreover, the cambial reactivation induced by localized heating occurred earlier than natural cambial reactivation. In heated stems, well-developed secondary xylem was produced that had almost the same structure as the natural xylem. When cambial reactivation was induced by heating, the buds of trees had not yet burst, indicating that there was no close temporal relationship between bud burst and cambial reactivation. In heated stems, the amount of storage starch decreased near the cambium upon reactivation of the cambium. After cambial reactivation, storage starch disappeared completely. Storage starch appeared again, near the cambium, during xylem differentiation in heated stems.
The results suggest that, in deciduous diffuse-porous hardwood poplar growing in a temperate zone, the temperature in the stem is a limiting factor for reactivation of phloem and cambium. An increase in temperature might induce the conversion of storage starch to sucrose for the activation of cambial cell division and secondary xylem. Localized heating in poplar stems provides a useful experimental system for studies of cambial biology.
Populus sieboldii × Populus grandidentata; localized heating, cambial reactivation; model system; storage starch; xylem differentiation
The major polysaccharides in dicot wood biomass are cellulose and xylan. Although wood-associated cellulose synthase genes responsible for cellulose biosynthesis have been characterized, wood-associated xylan synthase genes have not been biochemically identified. A recent report by Lee et al. (2012) provides the first biochemical evidence that two functionally non-redundant Arabidopsis GT43 members are xylosyltransferases (XylTs) that function cooperatively in the elongation of the xylan backbone. We further extend this finding in the current report demonstrating that two poplar (Populus trichocarpa) GT43 glycosyltransferases, PtrGT43B and PtrGT43C, are xylan XylTs involved in wood formation. We show that microsomes from transgenic tobacco BY2 cells coexpressing PtrGT43B and PtrGT43C exhibited a high XylT activity capable of generating β-(1,4)-linked xylooligosaccharides, whereas little XylT activity was detected in microsomes with expression of PtrGT43B or PtrGT43C alone. These findings indicate that poplar GT43 members are XylTs that act cooperatively in catalyzing the successive transfer of xylosyl residues during xylan backbone biosynthesis, which provides further support of the hypothesis that the biochemical functions of GT43 members in vascular plants are evolutionarily conserved.
GT43; poplar; wood formation; xylan; xylosyltransferase
Chemical imaging by confocal Raman microscopy has been used for the visualization of the cellulose and lignin distribution in wood cell walls. Lignin reduction in wood can be achieved by, for example, transgenic suppression of a monolignol biosynthesis gene encoding 4-coumarate-CoA ligase (4CL). Here, we use confocal Raman microscopy to compare lignification in wild type and lignin-reduced 4CL transgenic Populus trichocarpa stem wood with spatial resolution that is sub-μm. Analyzing the lignin Raman bands in the spectral region between 1,600 and 1,700 cm−1, differences in lignin signal intensity and localization are mapped in situ. Transgenic reduction of lignin is particularly pronounced in the S2 wall layer of fibers, suggesting that such transgenic approach may help overcome cell wall recalcitrance to wood saccharification. Spatial heterogeneity in the lignin composition, in particular with regard to ethylenic residues, is observed in both samples.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00425-009-0963-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Populus trichocarpa (black cottonwood); Cell wall; Lignin; Microspectroscopy; Raman imaging; Transgenic
Little is known about the levels of variation in lignin or other wood related genes in Salix, a genus that is being increasingly used for biomass and biofuel production. The lignin biosynthesis pathway is well characterized in a number of species, including the model tree Populus. We aimed to transfer the genomic resources already available in Populus to its sister genus Salix to assess levels of variation within genes involved in wood formation.
Amplification trials for 27 gene regions were undertaken in 40 Salix taxa. Twelve of these regions were sequenced. Alignment searches of the resulting sequences against reference databases, combined with phylogenetic analyses, showed the close similarity of these Salix sequences to Populus, confirming homology of the primer regions and indicating a high level of conservation within the wood formation genes. However, all sequences were found to vary considerably among Salix species, mainly as SNPs with a smaller number of insertions-deletions. Between 25 and 176 SNPs per kbp per gene region (in predicted exons) were discovered within Salix.
The variation found is sizeable but not unexpected as it is based on interspecific and not intraspecific comparison; it is comparable to interspecific variation in Populus. The characterisation of genetic variation is a key process in pre-breeding and for the conservation and exploitation of genetic resources in Salix. This study characterises the variation in several lignocellulose gene markers for such purposes.
Cellulose; Diversity; Lignin; Populus; Salix; SNPs; Cloning
Short rotation coppice willow is a potential lignocellulosic feedstock in the United Kingdom and elsewhere; however, research on optimising willow specifically for bioethanol production has started developing only recently. We have used the feedstock Salix viminalis × Salix schwerinii cultivar 'Olof' in a three-month pot experiment with the aim of modifying cell wall composition and structure within the stem to the benefit of bioethanol production. Trees were treated for 26 or 43 days with tension wood induction and/or with an application of the cellulose synthesis inhibitor 2,6-dichlorobenzonitrile that is specific to secondary cell walls. Reaction wood (tension and opposite wood) was isolated from material that had received the 43-day tension wood induction treatment.
Glucan content, lignin content and enzymatically released glucose were assayed. All measured parameters were altered without loss of total stem biomass yield, indicating that enzymatic saccharification yield can be enhanced by both alterations to cell wall structure and alterations to absolute contents of either glucan or lignin.
Final glucose yields can be improved by the induction of tension wood without a detrimental impact on biomass yield. The increase in glucan accessibility to cell wall degrading enzymes could help contribute to reducing the energy and environmental impacts of the lignocellulosic bioethanol production process.
Lignin, after cellulose, is the second most abundant biopolymer accounting for approximately 15-35% of the dry weight of wood. As an important component during wood formation, lignin is indispensable for plant structure and defense. However, it is an undesirable component in the pulp and paper industry. Removal of lignin from cellulose is costly and environmentally hazardous process. Tremendous efforts have been devoted to understand the role of enzymes and genes in controlling the amount and composition of lignin to be deposited in the cell wall. However, studies on the impact of downregulation and overexpression of monolignol biosynthesis genes in model species on lignin content, plant fitness and viability have been inconsistent. Recently, non-coding RNAs have been discovered to play an important role in regulating the entire monolignol biosynthesis pathway. As small RNAs have critical functions in various biological process during wood formation, small RNA profiling is an important tool for the identification of complete set of differentially expressed small RNAs between low lignin and high lignin secondary xylem.
In line with this, we have generated two small RNAs libraries from samples with contrasting lignin content using Illumina GAII sequencer. About 10 million sequence reads were obtained in secondary xylem of Am48 with high lignin content (41%) and a corresponding 14 million sequence reads were obtained in secondary xylem of Am54 with low lignin content (21%). Our results suggested that A. mangium small RNAs are composed of a set of 12 highly conserved miRNAs families found in plant miRNAs database, 82 novel miRNAs and a large proportion of non-conserved small RNAs with low expression levels. The predicted target genes of those differentially expressed conserved and non-conserved miRNAs include transcription factors associated with regulation of the lignin biosynthetic pathway genes. Some of these small RNAs play an important role in epigenetic silencing. Differential expression of the small RNAs between secondary xylem tissues with contrasting lignin content suggests that a cascade of miRNAs play an interconnected role in regulating the lignin biosynthetic pathway in Acacia species.
Our study critically demonstrated the roles of small RNAs during secondary wall formation. Comparison of the expression pattern of small RNAs between secondary xylem tissues with contrasting lignin content strongly indicated that small RNAs play a key regulatory role during lignin biosynthesis. Our analyses suggest an evolutionary mechanism for miRNA targets on the basis of the length of their 5’ and 3’ UTRs and their cellular roles. The results obtained can be used to better understand the roles of small RNAs during lignin biosynthesis and for the development of gene constructs for silencing of specific genes involved in monolignol biosynthesis with minimal effect on plant fitness and viability. For the first time, small RNAs were proven to play an important regulatory role during lignin biosynthesis in A. mangium.
Polar auxin transport (PAT) is a major determinant of plant morphology and internal anatomy with important roles in vascular patterning, tropic growth responses, apical dominance and phyllotactic arrangement. Woody plants present a highly complex system of vascular development in which isolated bundles of xylem and phloem gradually unite to form concentric rings of conductive tissue. We generated several transgenic lines of hybrid poplar (Populus tremula x alba) with the auxin-responsive DR5 promoter driving GUS expression in order to visualize an auxin response during the establishment of secondary growth. Distinct GUS expression in the cambial zone and developing xylem-side derivatives supports the current view of this tissue as a major stream of basipetal PAT. However, we also found novel sites of GUS expression in the primary xylem parenchyma lining the outer perimeter of the pith. Strands of primary xylem parenchyma depart the stem as a leaf trace, and showed GUS expression as long as the leaves to which they were connected remained attached (i.e., until just prior to leaf abscission). Tissue composed of primary xylem parenchyma strands contained measurable levels of free indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) and showed basipetal transport of radiolabeled auxin (3H-IAA) that was both significantly faster than diffusion and highly sensitive to the PAT inhibitor NPA. Radiolabeled auxin was also able to move between the primary xylem parenchyma in the interior of the stem and the basipetal stream in the cambial zone, an exchange that was likely mediated by ray parenchyma cells. Our results suggest that (a) channeling of leaf-derived IAA first delineates isolated strands of pre-procambial tissue but then later shifts to include basipetal transport through the rapidly expanding xylem elements, and (b) the transition from primary to secondary vascular development is gradual, with an auxin response preceding the appearance of a unified and radially-organized vascular cambium.
Lignin is the second most abundant plant biopolymer mainly present in the secondary walls of tracheary elements and fibers in wood. Understanding how lignin is biosynthesized has long been an interest to plant biologists and will have a significant impact on tree biotechnology. Lignin is polymerized from monolignols that are synthesized through the lignin biosynthetic pathway. To make lignin, all the genes in the lignin biosynthetic pathway need to be coordinately turned on. It has been shown that a common cis-element, namely the AC element, is present in the majority of the lignin biosynthetic genes and required for their expression in lignifying cells. Important progress has been made in the identification of transcription factors that bind to the AC elements and are potentially involved in the coordinated regulation of lignin biosynthesis. The Arabidopsis MYB58 and MYB63 as well as their poplar ortholog PtrMYB28 are transcriptional activators of the lignin biosynthetic pathway, whereas the eucalyptus egMYB2 and pine PtMYB4 transcription factors are likely Arabidopsis MYB46 orthologs involved in the regulation of the entire secondary wall biosynthetic program. It was found that the transcriptional regulation of lignin biosynthesis is under the control of the same transcriptional network regulating the biosynthesis of other secondary wall components, including cellulose and xylan. The identification of transcription factors directly activating lignin biosynthetic genes provides unprecedented tools to potentially manipulate the amount of lignin in wood and other plant products based on our needs.
lignin; lignin biosynthesis; MYB; secondary wall biosynthesis; transcription factor; transcriptional regulation
Wood is mainly composed of secondary walls, which constitute the most abundant stored carbon produced by vascular plants. Understanding the molecular mechanisms controlling secondary wall deposition during wood formation is not only an important issue in plant biology but also critical for providing molecular tools to custom-design wood composition suited for diverse end uses. Past molecular and genetic studies have revealed a transcriptional network encompassing a group of wood-associated NAC and MYB transcription factors that are involved in the regulation of the secondary wall biosynthetic program during wood formation in poplar trees. Here, we report the functional characterization of poplar orthologs of MYB46 and MYB83 that are known to be master switches of secondary wall biosynthesis in Arabidopsis. In addition to the two previously-described PtrMYB3 and PtrMYB20, two other MYBs, PtrMYB2 and PtrMYB21, were shown to be MYB46/MYB83 orthologs by complementation and overexpression studies in Arabidopsis. The functional roles of these PtrMYBs in regulating secondary wall biosynthesis were further demonstrated in transgenic poplar plants showing an ectopic deposition of secondary walls in PtrMYB overexpressors and a reduction of secondary wall thickening in their dominant repressors. Furthermore, PtrMYB2/3/20/21 together with two other tree MYBs, the Eucalyptus EgMYB2 and the pine PtMYB4, were shown to differentially bind to and activate the eight variants of the 7-bp SMRE consensus sequence, composed of ACC(A/T)A(A/C)(T/C). Together, our results indicate that the tree MYBs, PtrMYB2/3/20/21, EgMYB2 and PtMYB4, are master transcriptional switches that activate the SMRE sites in the promoters of target genes and thereby regulate secondary wall biosynthesis during wood formation.
Populus tomentosa is an economically important tree crop that produces wood for lumber, pulp, paper, and biofuels. Wood quality traits are likely to be strongly affected by the plant hormone gibberellic acid (GA), which regulates growth. GA20Ox encodes one of the major regulatory enzymes of GA biosynthesis and may therefore play a large role in growth and wood quality. Here, linkage disequilibrium (LD) studies were used to identify significant associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within PtGA20Ox and growth and wood-quality traits of P. tomentosa. We isolated a full-length GA20Ox cDNA from Populus tomentosa by reverse transcription (RT)-PCR; this 1401 bp cDNA clone had an open reading frame of 1158 bp and encoded a protein of 385 amino acids. PtGA20Ox transcripts were maximally expressed in the mature xylem of vascular tissues, suggesting that PtGA20Ox is highly expressed and specifically associated with secondary xylem formation. Resequencing the PtGA20Ox locus of 36 individuals identified 55 SNPs, and the frequency of SNPs was 1/31 bp. The 29 most common SNPs (frequency>0.1) were genotyped in an association population (426 individuals) that was also phenotyped for key growth and wood quality traits. LD did not extend over the entire gene (r2<0.1, within 500 bp), demonstrating that a candidate-gene-based LD approach may the best way to understand the molecular basis underlying quantitative variation in this species. SNP- and haplotype-based association analyses indicated that four SNPs (false discovery rate Q<0.05) and 14 haplotypes (P<0.05) were significantly associated with growth and wood properties. The phenotypic variance explained by each SNP ranged from 3.44% to 14.47%. The SNP markers identified in this study can be applied to breeding programs for the improvement of growth and wood-property traits by marker-assisted selection.
Background and Aims
Although tension wood formation and the structure of gelatinous fibres (G-fibres) have been widely investigated, studies of the influence of the reaction phenomenon on phloem fibres have been few and incomplete in comparison with those of xylem wood fibres. This study was undertaken to clarify the influence of stem inclination on phloem fibres using several Japanese hardwood species that produce different G-fibre types in tension wood.
Eight hardwood species were inclined at 30–45° at the beginning of April. Specimens were collected in July and December. The cell-wall structure and lignin distribution of phloem fibres on both the tension and opposite sides were compared by light microscopy, ultraviolet microscopy, confocal laser scanning microscopy after staining with acriflavine, and transmission electron microscopy after staining with potassium permanganate.
Three types of changes were found in tension-side phloem fibres: (1) increases in the proportion of the syringyl unit in lignin in the S1 and S2 layers and compound middle lamella (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), (2) formation of unlignified gelatinous layers (Melia azedarach and Acer rufinerve) and (3) increases in the number of layers (n) in the multi-layered structure of S1 + S2 + n (G + L) (Mallotus japonicus). Other species showed no obvious change in cell-wall structure or lignin distribution.
Phloem fibres of the tree species examined in our study showed three types of changes in lignin distribution and cell-wall structure. The reaction phenomenon may vary with tree species and may not be closely related to G-fibre type in tension wood.
Phloem fibre; lignification; reaction phloem; Cercidiphyllum japonicum; Melia azedarach; Acer rufinerve; Mallotus japonicus; Celtis sinensis; Aphananthe aspera; Corylus sieboldiana; Magnolia salicifolia
A screening procedure in which scanning electron microscopy was used indicated that 26 white rot fungi selectively removed lignin from various coniferous and hardwood tree species. Delignified wood from field collections had distinct micromorphological characteristics that were easily differentiated from other types of decay. The middle lamella was degraded, and the cells were separated from one another. Secondary cell wall layers that remained had a fibrillar appearance. Chemical analyses of delignified wood indicated that the cells were composed primarily of cellulose. Only small percentages of lignin and hemicellulose were evident. Delignified wood was not uniformly distributed throughout the decayed wood samples. White-pocket and white-mottled areas of the various decayed wood examined contained delignified cells, but adjacent wood had a nonselective removal of lignin where all cell wall components had been degraded simultaneously. This investigation demonstrates that selective delignification among white rot fungi is more prevalent than previously realized and identifies a large number of fungi for use in studies of preferential lignin degradation.
Background and Aims
Angiosperm trees generally form tension wood on the upper sides of leaning stems. The formation of tension wood is an important response to gravitational stimulus. Gibberellin appears to be involved in the differentiation of secondary xylem, but it remains unclear whether gibberellin plays a key role in the formation of tension wood and plant gravitropism. Therefore, a study was designed to investigate the effects of gibberellin and of inhibitors of the synthesis of gibberellin, namely paclobutrazole and uniconazole-P, on the formation of tension wood and negative stem gravitropism in Acacia mangium seedlings.
Gibberellic acid (GA3), paclobutrazole and uniconazole-P were applied to seedlings via the soil in which they were growing. Distilled water was applied similarly as a control. Three days after such treatment, seedlings were tilted at an angle of 45° from the vertical, and samples of stems were collected for analysis 2 weeks, 2 months and 6 months after tilting. The effects of treatments on the stem recovery degree (Rº) were analysed as an index of the negative gravitropism of seedlings, together the width of the region of tension wood in the upper part of inclined stems.
It was found that GA3 stimulated the negative gravitropism of tilted seedling stems of A. mangium, while paclobutrazole and uniconazole-P inhibited recovery to vertical growth. Moreover, GA3 stimulated the formation of tension wood in tilted A. mangium seedlings, while paclobutrazole and uniconazole-P strongly suppressed the formation of tension wood, as assessed 2 weeks after tilting.
The results suggest that gibberellin plays an important role at the initial stages of formation of tension wood and in stem gravitropism in A. mangium seedlings in response to a gravitational stimulus.
Acacia mangium; formation of tension wood; gibberellin; gravitropism; inhibitor of gibberellin biosynthesis
Glutamine synthetase (GS) plays a central role in plant nitrogen assimilation, a process intimately linked to soil water availability. We previously showed that hybrid poplar (Populus tremula X alba, INRA 717-1B4) expressing ectopically a pine cytosolic glutamine synthetase gene (GS1a) display enhanced tolerance to drought. Preliminary transcriptome profiling revealed that during drought, members of the superoxide dismutase (SOD) family were reciprocally regulated in GS poplar when compared with the wild-type control, in all tissues examined. SOD was the only gene family found to exhibit such patterns.
In silico analysis of the Populus genome identified 12 SOD genes and two genes encoding copper chaperones for SOD (CCSs). The poplar SODs form three phylogenetic clusters in accordance with their distinct metal co-factor requirements and gene structure. Nearly all poplar SODs and CCSs are present in duplicate derived from whole genome duplication, in sharp contrast to their predominantly single-copy Arabidopsis orthologs. Drought stress triggered plant-wide down-regulation of the plastidic copper SODs (CSDs), with concomitant up-regulation of plastidic iron SODs (FSDs) in GS poplar relative to the wild type; this was confirmed at the activity level. We also found evidence for coordinated down-regulation of other copper proteins, including plastidic CCSs and polyphenol oxidases, in GS poplar under drought conditions.
Both gene duplication and expression divergence have contributed to the expansion and transcriptional diversity of the Populus SOD/CCS families. Coordinated down-regulation of major copper proteins in drought-tolerant GS poplars supports the copper cofactor economy model where copper supply is preferentially allocated for plastocyanins to sustain photosynthesis during drought. Our results also extend previous findings on the compensatory regulation between chloroplastic CSDs and FSDs, and suggest that this copper-mediated mechanism represents a common response to oxidative stress and other genetic manipulations, as in GS poplars, that affect photosynthesis.
Abilities of isolate AF-W1 of Fusarium solani to degrade the side chain and the ring structure of synthetic dehydrogenative polymerizates, aromatic acids, or lignin in sound wood were investigated under several conditions of growth substrate or basal medium and pH. Significant transformations of lignins occurred in 50 days in both unextracted and extracted sound wood substrates with 3% malt as the growth substrate and the pH buffered initially at 4.0 with 2,2-dimethylsuccinate. Degradation of lignin in such woods also occurred under unbuffered pH conditions when a basal medium of either 3% malt or powdered cellulose in deionized water was present. Decomposition of the lignin in these woods did not occur in cultures where d-glucose was present as a growth substrate. F. solani significantly transformed, as measured as evolved 14CO2, both synthetic side chain (β, γ)-14C- and U-ring-14C-labeled lignins in 30 days under liquid culture conditions of only distilled deionized water and no pH adjustment. Degradation of dehydrogenative polymerizates by F. solani was reduced drastically when D2 was the liquid medium. AF-W1 also cleaved the α-14C from p-hydroxybenzoic acid and evolved 14CO2 from the substrate, [3-14C]cinnamic acid. Thus, the fungus cleaved side chain carbon from substrate that originally lacked hydroxyl substitution on the aromatic nucleus. Surprisingly, small amounts of 14C cleaved from aromatic acids by F. solani were incorporated into cell mass. Initial buffering of the culture medium to pH 4.0 or 5.0 with 0.1 M 2,2-dimethylsuccinate significantly increased F. solani degradation of all lignins or aromatic acids. Results indicated that AF-W1 used lignin as a sole carbon source.
Observations by transmission electron microscopy of wood samples of Populus tremula inoculated with the white rot fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium showed that, at certain stages of their growth cycle, hyphae were encapsulated by a sheath which seems to play an active role in the wood cell wall degradation. Chemical and immunochemical techniques and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy were applied to demonstrate the β-1,3-1,6-d-glucan nature of the sheath. Double-staining methods revealed the interaction between the extracellular peroxidases involved in lignin degradation and the glucan mucilage. The glucan was also shown to establish a material junction between the fungus and the wood cell wall. It was concluded that, by means of these interactions, the sheath provides a transient junction between the hyphae and the wood, thus establishing a point of attachment to the site of the degradation. The association of peroxidases to the glucan matrix is in favor of the role of the sheath as a supporting structure. Furthermore, that the sheath was hydrolyzed during the attack demonstrated its active role both in providing the H2O2 necessary to the action of peroxidases and in providing a mode of transport of the fungal enzymes to their substrates at the surface of the wood cell wall.
• Background and Aims The xylem plays an important role in strengthening plant bodies. Past studies on xylem formation in tension woods in poplar and also in clinorotated Prunus tree stems lead to the suggestion that changes in the gravitational conditions affect morphology and mechanical properties of xylem vessels. The aim of this study was to examine effects of hypergravity stimulus on morphology and development of primary xylem vessels and on mechanical properties of isolated secondary wall preparations in inflorescence stems of arabidopsis.
• Methods Morphology of primary xylem was examined under a light microscope on cross-sections of inflorescence stems of arabidopsis plants, which had been grown for 3–5 d after exposure to hypergravity at 300 g for 24 h. Extensibility of secondary cell wall preparation, isolated from inflorescence stems by enzyme digestion of primary cell wall components (mainly composed of metaxylem elements), was examined. Plants were treated with gadolinium chloride, a blocker of mechanoreceptors, to test the involvement of mechanoreceptors in the responses to hypergravity.
• Key Results Number of metaxylem elements per xylem, apparent thickness of the secondary thickenings, and cross-section area of metaxylem elements in inflorescence stems increased in response to hypergravity. Gadolinium chloride suppressed the effect of hypergravity on the increase both in the thickness of secondary thickenings and in the cross-section area of metaxylem elements, while it did not suppress the effect of hypergravity on the increase in the number of metaxylem elements. Extensibility of secondary cell wall preparation decreased in response to hypergravity. Gadolinium chloride suppressed the effect of hypergravity on cell wall extensibility.
• Conclusions Hypergravity stimulus promotes metaxylem development and decreases extensibility of secondary cell walls, and mechanoreceptors were suggested to be involved in these processes.
Arabidopsis thaliana; metaxylem; protoxylem; hypergravity; mechanoreceptor; secondary cell wall; secondary thickening; mechanical property; cell wall extensibility
The raffinose family of oligosaccharides (RFOs) serve as transport carbohydrates in the phloem, storage compounds in sink tissues, and putative biological agents to combat both abiotic and biotic stress in several plant species. To investigate further the functional roles of this class of compounds in trees, two cDNAs encoding galactinol synthase (GolS, EC 18.104.22.168), which catalyses the first step in the biosynthesis of RFOs, were identified and cloned from hybrid poplar (Populus alba×grandidentata). Phylogenetic analyses of the Populus GolS isoforms with other known GolS proteins suggested a putative role for these enzymes during biotic or abiotic stress in hybrid poplar. The predicted protein sequences of both isoforms (Pa×gGolSI and Pa×gGolSII) showed characteristics of GolS proteins from other species, including a serine phosphorylation site and the ASAAP pentapeptide hydrophobic domain. Kinetic analyses of recombinant Pa×gGolSI and Pa×gGolSII resulted in Km values for UPD-galactose of 0.80 and 0.65 mM and Vmax values of 657.5 and 1245 nM min−1, respectively. Pa×gGolSI inherently possessed a broader pH and temperature range when compared with Pa×gGolSII. Interestingly, spatial and temporal expression analyses revealed that Pa×gGolSII transcript levels varied seasonally, while Pa×gGolSI did not, implying temperature-regulated transcriptional control of this gene in addition to the observed thermosensitivity of the respective enzyme. This evidence suggested that Pa×gGolSI may be involved in basic metabolic activities such as storage, while Pa×gGolSII is probably involved in seasonal mobilization of carbohydrates.
galactinol synthase; GolS; raffinose family of oligosaccharides; hybrid poplar; abiotic stress; biotic stress
Despite the ecological and economic importance of lignin and other wood chemical components, there are few studies of the natural genetic variation that exists within plant species and its adaptive significance. We used models developed from near infra-red spectroscopy to study natural genetic variation in lignin content and monomer composition (syringyl-to-guaiacyl ratio [S/G]) as well as cellulose and extractives content, using a 16-year-old field trial of an Australian tree species, Eucalyptus globulus. We sampled 2163 progenies of 467 native trees from throughout the native geographic range of the species. The narrow-sense heritability of wood chemical traits (0.25–0.44) was higher than that of growth (0.15), but less than wood density (0.51). All wood chemical traits exhibited significant broad-scale genetic differentiation (QST = 0.34–0.43) across the species range. This differentiation exceeded that detected with putatively neutral microsatellite markers (FST = 0.09), arguing that diversifying selection has shaped population differentiation in wood chemistry. There were significant genetic correlations among these wood chemical traits at the population and additive genetic levels. However, population differentiation in the S/G ratio of lignin in particular was positively correlated with latitude (R2 = 76%), which may be driven by either adaptation to climate or associated biotic factors.
tree improvement; wood chemicals; adaptation; lignin; cellulose; extractives; syringyl; guaiacyl