Background and Aims
Life form, mating system and seed dispersal are important adaptive traits of plants. In the first effort to characterize in detail the population genetic structure and dynamics of wild Medicago species in China, a population genetic study of two closely related Medicago species, M. lupulina and M. ruthenica, that are distinct in these traits, are reported. These species are valuable germplasm resources for the improvement of Medicago forage crops but are under threat of habitat destruction.
Three hundred and twenty-eight individuals from 16 populations of the annual species, M. lupulina, and 447 individuals from 15 populations of the perennial species, M. ruthenica, were studied using 15 and 17 microsatellite loci, respectively. Conventional and Bayesian-clustering analyses were utilized to estimate population genetic structure, mating system and gene flow.
Genetic diversity of M. lupulina (mean HE = 0·246) was lower than that of M. ruthenica (mean HE = 0·677). Populations of M. lupulina were more highly differentiated (FST = 0·535) than those of M. ruthenica (FST = 0·130). For M. lupulina, 55·5 % of the genetic variation was partitioned among populations, whereas 76·6 % of the variation existed within populations of M. ruthenica. Based on the genetic data, the selfing rates of M. lupulina and M. ruthenica were estimated at 95·8 % and 29·5 %, respectively. The genetic differentiation among populations of both species was positively correlated with geographical distance.
The mating system differentiation estimated from the genetic data is consistent with floral morphology and observed pollinator visitation. There was a much higher historical gene flow in M. ruthenica than in M. lupulina, despite more effective seed dispersal mechanisms in M. lupulina. The population genetic structure and geographical distribution of the two Medicago species have been shaped by life form, mating systems and seed dispersal mechanisms.
Medicago lupulina; Medicago ruthenica; microsatellite; genetic diversity; gene flow; forage legume
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are 20–21 nucleotide RNA molecules that suppress the transcription of target genes and may also inhibit translation. Despite the thousands of miRNAs identified and validated in numerous plant species, only small numbers have been identified from the oilseed crop plant Brassica napus (canola) – especially in seeds.
Using next-generation sequencing technologies, we performed a comprehensive analysis of miRNAs during seed maturation at 9 time points from 10 days after flowering (DAF) to 50 DAF using whole seeds and included separate analyses of radicle, hypocotyl, cotyledon, embryo, endosperm and seed coat tissues at 4 selected time points. We identified more than 500 conserved miRNA or variant unique sequences with >300 sequence reads and also found 10 novel miRNAs. Only 27 of the conserved miRNA sequences had been previously identified in B. napus (miRBase Release 18). More than 180 MIRNA loci were identified/annotated using the B. rapa genome as a surrogate for the B.napus A genome. Numerous miRNAs were expressed in a stage- or tissue-specific manner suggesting that they have specific functions related to the fine tuning of transcript abundance during seed development. miRNA targets in B. napus were predicted and their expression patterns profiled using microarray analyses. Global correlation analysis of the expression patterns of miRNAs and their targets revealed complex miRNA-target gene regulatory networks during seed development. The miR156 family was the most abundant and the majority of the family members were primarily expressed in the embryo.
Large numbers of miRNAs with diverse expression patterns, multiple-targeting and co-targeting of many miRNAs, and complex relationships between expression of miRNAs and targets were identified in this study. Several key miRNA-target expression patterns were identified and new roles of miRNAs in regulating seed development are suggested. miR156, miR159, miR172, miR167, miR158 and miR166 are the major contributors to the network controlling seed development and maturation through their pivotal roles in plant development. miR156 may regulate the developmental transition to germination.
Seed development; Embryo; Next generation sequencing
Background and Aims
Coastal development has led to extensive habitat destruction and the near extinction of the beach clustervine, Jacquemontia reclinata (Convolvulaceae), an endangered, perennial vine endemic to dune and coastal strand communities in south-eastern Florida. We examined the breeding system of this rare species, and observed visitors to its flowers, as part of a larger effort to document its status and facilitate its recovery.
Reproductively mature experimental plants were grown from seed collected from wild plants in two of the largest remaining populations. Controlled hand pollinations on potted plants were conducted to determine the level of compatibility of the species and to investigate compatibility within and between populations. Seeds from the hand pollinations were planted in soil, and they were monitored individually, recording time to seed germination (cotyledon emergence). Wild plants were observed in several of the remaining populations to determine which species visited the flowers.
Hand pollination and seed planting experiments indicate that J. reclinata has a mixed mating system: flowers are able to set fruit with viable seeds with self-pollen, but outcross pollen produces significantly greater fruit and seed set than self-pollen (≥50 % for crosses vs. <25 % for self-pollinations). Visitors included a wide array of insect species, primarily of the orders Diptera, Hymenoptera and Lepidoptera. All visitors captured and examined carried J. reclinata pollen, and usually several other types of pollen.
Remnant populations of beach clustervine will have greater reproductive success not only if floral visitor populations are maintained, but also if movement of either pollen or seed takes place between populations. Restoration efforts should include provisions for the establishment and maintenance of pollinator populations.
Breeding system; conservation; beach clustervine; Jacquemontia reclinata; Convolvulaceae; endangered species; floral visitors; coastal dunes; pollination; reproductive biology; Florida; Caribbean; bees; butterflies
Plant photoreceptors, phytochromes and cryptochromes, regulate many aspects of development and growth, such as seed germination, stem elongation, seedling de-etiolation, cotyledon opening, flower induction and circadian rhythms. There are several pieces of evidence of interaction between photoreceptors and phyto-hormones in all of these physiological processes, but little is known about molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying hormone-photoreceptor crosstalk.
In this work, we investigated the molecular effects of exogenous phyto-hormones to photoreceptor gene transcripts of tomato wt, as well as transgenic and mutant lines with altered cryptochromes, by monitoring day/night transcript oscillations. GA and auxin alter the diurnal expression level of different photoreceptor genes in tomato, especially in mutants that lack a working form of cryptochrome 1a: in those mutants the expression of some (IAA) or most (GA) photoreceptor genes is down regulated by these hormones.
Our results highlight the presence of molecular relationships among cryptochrome 1a protein, hormones, and photoreceptors' gene expression in tomato, suggesting that manipulation of cryptochromes could represent a good strategy to understand in greater depth the role of phyto-hormones in the plant photoperceptive mechanism.
As photoautotrophs, plants are exquisitely sensitive to their light environment. Light affects many developmental and physiological responses throughout plants' life histories. The focus of this chapter is on light effects during the crucial period of time between seed germination and the development of the first true leaves. During this time, the seedling must determine the appropriate mode of action to best achieve photosynthetic and eventual reproductive success. Light exposure triggers several major developmental and physiological events. These include: growth inhibition and differentiation of the embryonic stem (hypocotyl); maturation of the embryonic leaves (cotyledons); and establishment and activation of the stem cell population in the shoot and root apical meristems. Recent studies have linked a number of photoreceptors, transcription factors, and phytohormones to each of these events.
Background and Aims
The phenotypic selection of a diverse insect assemblage was studied on a generalist plant species (Paeonia broteroi) in ten flowering seasons, with tests for whether visitor preferences for plants with larger flowers eventually translated into significant differences among plants in visitation rates, seed production, seed mass, seed germination and seedling survival.
Selection gradients were used to assess if selection on flower size contributed to explain differences in visitation rates, seed production and seed mass. First, independent analyses were carried out for each season; then for the ten season as a whole. Seedling emergence and survival were assessed by generalized linear models.
Directional selection was found on flower size through visitation rates and seed production, and stabilizing selection through seed mass. Thus, larger flowers were more visited, and produced more, but lighter seeds, than smaller flowers. The results suggest a conflicting selection on flower size through seed number and size. Floral integration found in the study populations was larger than that in populations of a distant region. Finally, seed size did not influence seedling emergence and survival; thus, any advantages of seed size may be constrained under natural conditions before plants become reproductive individuals.
Plants with larger flowers may be benefited by producing more lighter seeds than fewer heavier ones, as they may contribute disproportionately to the seed bank, and have better chances that any descendant could eventually recruit. However, it seems unlikely that differences in flower size and integration found among populations in different regions could have been originated by rapid evolutionary change. First, because of the conflicting selection described; second, because of the remarkably low seedling survival found under natural conditions. Consequently, the influence of pollinator selection alone does not seem to explain differences in flower size and integration.
Paeonia broteroi; long-term selection; conflicting selection; flower size; seed production; generalist pollination
The phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) and the lipoxygenases (LOXs) pathway play important roles in seed germination and seedling growth and development. Here, we reported on the functional characterization of Arabidopsis CPR5 in the ABA signaling and LOX pathways. The cpr5 mutant was hypersensitive to ABA in the seed germination, cotyledon greening and root growth, whereas transgenic plants overexpressing CPR5 were insensitive. Genetic analysis demonstrated that CPR5 gene may be located downstream of the ABI1 in the ABA signaling pathway. However, the cpr5 mutant showed an ABA independent drought-resistant phenotype. It was also found that the cpr5 mutant was hypersensitive to NDGA and NDGA treatment aggravated the ABA-induced delay in the seed germination and cotyledon greening. Taken together, these results suggest that the CPR5 plays a regulatory role in the regulation of seed germination and early seedling growth through ABA and LOX pathways independently.
The soybean (Glycine max) cotyledon is a specialized tissue whose main function is to serve as a nutrient reserve that supplies the needs of the young plant throughout seedling development. During this process the cotyledons experience a functional transition to a mainly photosynthetic tissue. To identify at the genetic level the specific active elements that participate in the natural transition of the cotyledon from storage to photosynthetic activity, we studied the transcript abundance profile at different time points using a new soybean oligonucleotide chip containing 19,200 probes (70-mer long).
After normalization and statistical analysis we determined that 3,594 genes presented a statistically significant altered expression in relation to the imbibed seed in at least one of the time points defined for the study. Detailed analysis of this data identified individual, specific elements of the glyoxylate pathway that play a fundamental role during the functional transition of the cotyledon from nutrient storage to photosynthesis. The dynamics between glyoxysomes and peroxisomes is evident during these series of events. We also identified several other genes whose products could participate co-ordinately throughout the functional transition and the associated mechanisms of control and regulation and we described multiple unknown genetic elements that by association have the potential to make a major contribution to this biological process.
We demonstrate that the global transcript profile of the soybean cotyledon during seedling development is extremely active, highly regulated and dynamic. We defined the expression profiles of individual gene family members, enzymatic isoforms and protein subunits and classified them accordingly to their involvement in different functional activities relevant to seedling development and the cotyledonary functional transition in soybean, especially the ones associated with the glyoxylate cycle. Our data suggests that in the soybean cotyledon a very complex and synchronized system of control and regulation of several metabolic pathways is essential to carry out the necessary functions during this developmental process.
The effect of herbivory on plant fitness varies widely. Understanding the causes of this variation is of considerable interest because of its implications for plant population dynamics and trait evolution. We experimentally defoliated the annual herb Arabidopsis thaliana in a natural population in Sweden to test the hypotheses that (a) plant fitness decreases with increasing damage, (b) tolerance to defoliation is lower before flowering than during flowering, and (c) defoliation before flowering reduces number of seeds more strongly than defoliation during flowering, but the opposite is true for effects on seed size.
In a first experiment, between 0 and 75% of the leaf area was removed in May from plants that flowered or were about to start flowering. In a second experiment, 0, 25%, or 50% of the leaf area was removed from plants on one of two occasions, in mid April when plants were either in the vegetative rosette or bolting stage, or in mid May when plants were flowering. In the first experiment, seed production was negatively related to leaf area removed, and at the highest damage level, also mean seed size was reduced. In the second experiment, removal of 50% of the leaf area reduced seed production by 60% among plants defoliated early in the season at the vegetative rosettes, and by 22% among plants defoliated early in the season at the bolting stage, but did not reduce seed output of plants defoliated one month later. No seasonal shift in the effect of defoliation on seed size was detected.
The results show that leaf damage may reduce the fitness of A. thaliana, and suggest that in this population leaf herbivores feeding on plants before flowering should exert stronger selection on defence traits than those feeding on plants during flowering, given similar damage levels.
How climate-change induced environmental stress may alter the effects of inbreeding in patchy populations of rare species is poorly understood. We investigated the fitness of progeny from experimental self- and cross-pollinations in eight populations of different size of Echium wildpretii, a rare endemic plant of the arid subalpine zone of the Canarian island of Tenerife. As control treatments we used open pollination and autonomous selfing. The seed set of open-pollinated flowers was 55% higher than that of autonomously selfed flowers, showing the importance of animal pollination for reproductive success. The seed set, seed mass and germination rate of seedlings of hand-selfed flowers was similar to that of hand-crossed flowers, indicating weak inbreeding depression (seed set –4.4%, seed mass –4.1%, germination –7.3%). Similarly, under normal watering there were no significant effects of inbreeding on seedling survival (–3.0%). However, under low watering of seedlings inbreeding depression was high (survival –50.2%). Seed set of open- and hand-outcrossed-pollinated flowers was higher in large than in small populations, possibly due to more frequent biparental inbreeding in the latter. However, later measures of progeny fitness were not significantly influenced by population size. We predict that increasing drought duration and frequency due to climate change and reductions of population sizes may increase inbreeding depression in this charismatic plant species and thus threaten its future survival in the longer term.
Phenotypic plasticity has long been suspected to allow invasive species to expand their geographic range across large-scale environmental gradients. We tested this possibility in Australia using a continental scale survey of the invasive tree Parkinsonia aculeata (Fabaceae) in twenty-three sites distributed across four climate regions and three habitat types. Using tree-level responses, we detected a trade-off between seed mass and seed number across the moisture gradient. Individual trees plastically and reversibly produced many small seeds at dry sites or years, and few big seeds at wet sites and years. Bigger seeds were positively correlated with higher seed and seedling survival rates. The trade-off, the relation between seed mass, seed and seedling survival, and other fitness components of the plant life-cycle were integrated within a matrix population model. The model confirms that the plastic response resulted in average fitness benefits across the life-cycle. Plasticity resulted in average fitness being positively maintained at the wet and dry range margins where extinction risks would otherwise have been high (“Jack-of-all-Trades” strategy JT), and fitness being maximized at the species range centre where extinction risks were already low (“Master-of-Some” strategy MS). The resulting hybrid “Jack-and-Master” strategy (JM) broadened the geographic range and amplified average fitness in the range centre. Our study provides the first empirical evidence for a JM species. It also confirms mechanistically the importance of phenotypic plasticity in determining the size, the shape and the dynamic of a species distribution. The JM allows rapid and reversible phenotypic responses to new or changing moisture conditions at different scales, providing the species with definite advantages over genetic adaptation when invading diverse and variable environments. Furthermore, natural selection pressure acting on phenotypic plasticity is predicted to result in maintenance of the JT and strengthening of the MS, further enhancing the species invasiveness in its range centre.
Herbivory can affect every aspect of a plant's life. Damaged individuals may show decreased survivorship and reproductive output. Additionally, specific plant species (legumes) and tissues (flowers) are often selectively targeted by herbivores, like deer. These types of herbivory influence a plant's growth and abundance. The objective of this study was to identify the effects of leaf and meristem removal (simulated herbivory within an exclosure) on fruit and flower production in four species (Rhus glabra, Rosa arkansana, Lathyrus venosus, and Phlox pilosa) which are known targets of deer herbivory.
Lathyrus never flowered or went to seed, so we were unable to detect any treatment effects. Leaf removal did not affect flower number in the other three species. However, Phlox, Rosa, and Rhus all showed significant negative correlations between seed mass and leaf removal. Meristem removal had a more negative effect than leaf removal on flower number in Phlox and on both flower number and seed mass in Rosa.
Meristem removal caused a greater response than defoliation alone in both Phlox and Rosa, which suggests that meristem loss has a greater effect on reproduction. The combination of leaf and meristem removal as well as recruitment limitation by deer, which selectively browse for these species, is likely to be one factor contributing to their low abundance in prairies.
Seed size has significant implications in ecology, because of its effects on plant fitness. The hybrid seeds that result from crosses between crops and their wild relatives are often small, and the consequences of this have been poorly investigated. Here we report on plant performance of hybrid and its parental transgenic oilseed rape (Brassica napus) and wild B. juncea, all grown from seeds sorted into three seed-size categories.
Three seed-size categories were sorted by seed diameter for transgenic B. napus, wild B. juncea and their transgenic and non-transgenic hybrids. The seeds were sown in a field at various plant densities. Globally, small-seeded plants had delayed flowering, lower biomass, fewer flowers and seeds, and a lower thousand-seed weight. The seed-size effect varied among plant types but was not affected by plant density. There was no negative effect of seed size in hybrids, but it was correlated with reduced growth for both parents.
Our results imply that the risk of further gene flow would probably not be mitigated by the small size of transgenic hybrid seeds. No fitness cost was detected to be associated with the Bt-transgene in this study.
Mechanistic inter-relationships in sinks between sucrose compartmentation/metabolism and phloem unloading/translocation are poorly understood. Developing grain legume seeds provide tractable experimental systems to explore this question. Metabolic demand by cotyledons is communicated to phloem unloading and ultimately import by sucrose withdrawal from the seed apoplasmic space via a turgor-homeostat mechanism. What is unknown is how metabolic demand is communicated to cotyledon sucrose transporters responsible for withdrawing sucrose from the apoplasmic space. This question was explored here using a pea rugosus mutant (rrRbRb) compromised in starch biosynthesis compared with its wild-type counterpart (RRRbRb). Sucrose influx into cotyledons was found to account for 90% of developmental variations in their absolute growth and hence starch biosynthetic rates. Furthermore, rr and RR cotyledons shared identical response surfaces, indicating that control of transporter activity was likely to be similar for both lines. In this context, sucrose influx was correlated positively with expression of a sucrose/H+ symporter (PsSUT1) and negatively with two sucrose facilitators (PsSUF1 and PsSUF4). Sucrose influx exhibited a negative curvilinear relationship with cotyledon concentrations of sucrose and hexoses. In contrast, the impact of intracellular sugars on transporter expression was transporter dependent, with expression of PsSUT1 inhibited, PsSUF1 unaffected, and PsSUF4 enhanced by sugars. Sugar supply to, and sugar concentrations of, RR cotyledons were manipulated using in vitro pod and cotyledon culture. Collectively the results obtained showed that intracellular sucrose was the physiologically active sugar signal that communicated metabolic demand to sucrose influx and this transport function was primarily determined by PsSUT1 regulated at the transcriptional level.
Cotyledon; hexose; pea; rugosus loci; seed development; sucrose; sucrose transporter
The respiration rates R (oxygen uptake per min) and body mass M (mg per individual) of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) seedlings were measured for populations raised in the dark (scotomorphogenesis) and for plants subsequently grown in white light (photomorphogenesis) to determine the allometric (scaling) relationship for R vs. M. Based on ordinary least squares and reduced major axis regression protocols, cellular respiration rates were found to increase non-linearly as a ‘broken-stick’ curve of increasing M. During germination, the scaling was ca. 7.5-fold higher than after the emergence of the cotyledons from the seed coat, which can be attributed to the hypoxic conditions of the enclosed embryo. During seedling development, R was found to scale roughly as the 3/7 power of body mass (i.e., R ∼ M−3/7), regardless of whether plants were grown in the dark or subsequently in white light. The numerical value of 3/7 statistically significantly differs from that reported across small field- or laboratory-grown plants (i.e., R ∼ M−1.0). It also differs from the expectations of recent allometric theory (i.e., R ∼ M−0.75 to M−1.0). This difference is interpreted to be the result of species-specific tissue-compositions that affect the volume fractions of metabolically active and less active cells. These findings, which are supported by cytological and ultrastructural observations (i.e., scanning- and transmission electron micrographs), draw attention to the need to measure R of developing plants in a tissue- or organ-specific context.
dark respiration; metabolic scaling; photomorphogenesis; oxygen uptake; skotomorphogenesis
Background and Aims
In seeds with deep simple epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy, warm and cold stratification are required to break dormancy of the radicle and shoot, respectively. Although the shoot remains inside the seed all winter, little is known about its growth and morphological development prior to emergence in spring. The aims of the present study were to determine the temperature requirements for radicle and shoot emergence in seeds of Viburnum betulifolium and V. parvifolium and to monitor growth of the epicotyl, plumule and cotyledons in root-emerged seeds.
Fresh and pre-treated seeds of V. betulifolium and V. parvifolium were incubated under various temperature regimes and monitored for radicle and shoot emergence. Growth of the epicotyl and cotyledons at different stages was observed with dissecting and scanning electron microscopes.
The optimum temperature for radicle emergence of seeds of both species, either kept continuously at a single regime or exposed to a sequence of regimes, was 20/10 °C. GA3 had no effect on radicle emergence. Cold stratification (5 °C) was required for shoot emergence. The shoot apical meristem in fresh seeds did not form a bulge until the embryo had grown to the critical length for radicle emergence. After radicle emergence, the epicotyl–plumule and cotyledons grew slowly at 5 and 20/10 °C, and the first pair of true leaves was initiated. However, the shoot emerged only from seeds that received cold stratification.
Seeds of V. betulifolium and V. parvifolium have deep simple epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy, C1bB (root)–C3 (epicotyl). Warm stratification was required to break the first part of physiological dormancy (PD), thereby allowing embryo growth and subsequently radicle emergence. Although cold stratification was not required for differentiation of the epicotyl–plumule, it was required to break the second part of PD, thereby allowing the shoot to emerge in spring.
Epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy; epicotyl–plumule growth; radicle emergence; seed germination; shoot growth; Viburnum
The fossil history of most extant seed plant groups is relatively well documented. Cycads, conifers and Ginkgo all have an extensive fossil record, and the understanding of early angiosperm diversity is increasing. The Gnetales are an exception. Few macrofossils have been described, and character evolution within the group is poorly known. Cratonia cotyledon is a new gnetalean fossil from the Early Cretaceous Crato Formation of Brazil. This well-preserved seedling consists of two cotyledons, a feeder and a root. The leaf surface shows polygonal epidermal cells and apparently paracytic or actinocytic stomata. The cotyledons have a very specific venation pattern, shared only by Cratonia and Welwitschia, with parallel primary veins and secondary veins fusing to form inverted 'Y's between the main veins. Based on the 'Y'-venation and the presence of a feeder, we assign Cratonia to the Gnetum-Welwitschia clade. Fossil seedlings are unusual and this complete specimen with unambiguously welwitschioid characters is spectacular. Cratonia indicates that the evolutionary split between Gnetum and Welwitschia had occurred in the Early Cretaceous. Further, the close relationship between a West African plant and an east South American Early Cretaceous fossil is consistent with a major geological event: the rifting of the Gondwana continent.
Background and Aims
Plant functional trait responses to processes such as grassland management have been analysed frequently; however, the scaling-up from individual traits to the outcomes of vegetation dynamics has seldom been tested. In this experiment, germination success was studied with respect to the relationships between grassland management (mowing and grazing), as well as abandonment, and two traits that are relevant for seedling recruitment: seed mass and germination season. On the basis of discussions in the literature and indirect trait analyses in our previous studies, the following hypotheses are proposed: (1) with respect to seed mass, mowing and grazing favour the germination of small seeds, whereas after abandonment the germination success of larger seeds is higher; and (2) with respect to germination season, mowing and grazing favour autumn-germinating seeds, whereas succession promotes spring-germinating seeds.
The germination experiment took place in a semi-natural, dry grassland in north-east Germany. Seeds of eight herbaceous species that differ with respect to seed mass and germination season were sown in mown, grazed and abandoned plots. Germination success was documented during the following year.
Key Results and Conclusions
Contrary to the hypothesis, germination of small seeds was not promoted by mowing or grazing and they germinated relatively more often than expected in the abandoned plots. A relationship between abandonment and gaps of bare soil below the vegetation cover that favour germination of small seeds was likely, but could not be proved statistically. It is possible that the small seeds suffered less from predation. Mowing favoured autumn germination, which could be explained by the removal of biomass in late summer. Contrary to our expectation, there was relatively more spring germination after grazing than after mowing, yet vegetation height was smallest in spring. Generally, germination season was found to be related to the temporal occurrence of favourable light conditions.
Field experiment; functional analysis; germination success; seed characteristics; semi-natural grassland; assembly rules
In soybean seeds, numerous variations in colors and pigmentation patterns exist, most of which are observed in the seed coat. Patterns of seed coat pigmentation are determined by four alleles (I, ii, ik and i) of the classically defined I locus, which controls the spatial distribution of anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins in the seed coat. Most commercial soybean cultivars produce yellow seeds with yellow cotyledons and nonpigmented seed coats, which are important traits of high-quality seeds. Plants carrying the I or ii allele show complete inhibition of pigmentation in the seed coat or pigmentation only in the hilum, respectively, resulting in a yellow seed phenotype. Classical genetic analyses of the I locus were performed in the 1920s and 1930s but, until recently, the molecular mechanism by which the I locus regulated seed coat pigmentation remained unclear. In this review, we provide an overview of the molecular suppressive mechanism of seed coat pigmentation in yellow soybean, with the main focus on the effect of the I allele. In addition, we discuss seed coat pigmentation phenomena in yellow soybean and their relationship to inhibition of I allele action.
CHS genes; dsRNA; pigmentation; RNA silencing; seed coat; siRNA; soybean
Background and Aims
Diptychocarpus strictus is an annual ephemeral in the cold desert of northwest China that produces heteromorphic fruits and seeds. The primary aims of this study were to characterize the morphology and anatomy of fruits and seeds of this species and compare the role of fruit and seed hetermorphism in dispersal and germination.
Shape, size, mass and dispersal of siliques and seeds and the thickness of the mucilage layer on seeds were measured, and the anatomy of siliques and seeds, the role of seed mucilage in water absorption/dehydration, germination and adherence of seeds to soil particles, the role of pericarp of lower siliques in seed dormancy and seed after-ripening and germination phenology were studied using standard procedures.
Plants produce dehiscent upper siliques with a thin pericarp containing seeds with large wings and a thick mucilage layer and indehiscent lower siliques with a thick pericarp containing nearly wingless seeds with a thin mucilage layer. The dispersal ability of seeds from the upper siliques was much greater than that of intact lower siliques. Mucilage increased the amount of water absorbed by seeds and decreased the rate of dehydration. Seeds with a thick mucilage layer adhered to soil particles much better than those with a thin mucilage layer or those from which mucilage had been removed. Fresh seeds were physiologically dormant and after-ripened during summer. Non-dormant seeds germinated to high percentages in light and in darkness. Germination of seeds from upper siliques is delayed until spring primarily by drought in summer and autumn, whereas the thick, indehiscent pericarp prevents germination for >1 year of seeds retained in lower siliques.
The life cycle of D. strictus is morphologically and physiologically adapted to the cold desert environment in time and space via a combination of characters associated with fruit and seed heteromorphism.
Cold desert annual ephemeral; Diptychocarpus; fruit and seed heteromorphism; non-deep physiological dormancy; seed dispersal; seed germination
Background and Aims
Cotyledon number has long been a primary morphological feature distinguishing monocots from other angiosperms. Recent placement of Hydatellaceae near the early-divergent angiosperm order Nymphaeales, rather than in the monocot order Poales, has prompted reassessment of seedling morphology in this poorly known family.
Seedlings of six species representing all eco-geographical groups of Hydatellaceae are described using light and scanning electron microscopy.
Two seedling types were discovered. Material examined of Trithuria submersa, T. bibracteata, T. austinensis and T. filamentosa possess a transparent bilobed sheathing structure that surrounds the main axis below the first foliage leaf. The seed coat is attached to the sheathing structure. Seedlings of Trithuria lanterna and T. konkanensis lack a sheathing structure, and the seed coat is attached to a short, narrow lateral outgrowth on the main axis of the seedling.
The sheathing structure that is present in seedlings of some Hydatellaceae could be homologized with the two united cotyledons of water lilies. It also resembles the single cotyledon of some monocots, and hence demonstrates a possible pathway of the origin of a monocot-like embryo, though no homology is implied. The sheathing structure is reduced in Trithuria lanterna and T. konkanensis, and the short, narrow outgrowth of its seedling could represent a single cotyledon. This synapomorphy suggests that the only Indian species of Hydatellaceae, T. konkanensis, is closer to the northern Australian T. lanterna than to the south-western Australian T. bibracteata.
Seedling; cotyledon; monocot; dicot; Hydatellaceae; Trithuria
We analysed the combined effects of pollination and seed predation on seed set of Centaurea jacea in 15 landscapes differing in structural complexity. In the centre of each landscape, a patch of Centaurea plants was established for standardized measurements of flower visitation, seed predation and seed set. Both the number of flower-visiting bees and the proportion of flower heads damaged by seed predators increased with landscape complexity, which was measured as the proportion of semi-natural habitats. The mean number of seeds per flower head did not increase with the proportion of semi-natural habitats, presumably because of the counterbalancing effects of pollination and seed predation. For a subset of undamaged flower heads, the number of seeds per flower head was positively correlated with the number of flower visits. Further reasons for the unexpected failure to detect a correlation between landscape complexity and seed set appeared to be changes in flower-visitor behaviour and the contrasting responses of honeybees and wild bees to habitat context. Landscape analyses at eight spatial scales (radius of landscape sectors, 250-3000 m) showed that different groups perceived the landscape at different spatial scales. Changes in pollinator numbers could be explained only at small scales (up to 1000 m), while the seed predators also responded to large scales (up to 2500 m).
Fruits harvested from tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) plants carrying mutations at the DAMAGED DNA BINDING PROTEIN 1 gene (SlDDB1; hp-1 and hp-1w) are characterized by significantly elevated levels of lycopene and several other phytonutrients. We hypothesize that the pleotropic effect on mutant Slddb1 are some general function of DDB1 protein on cell growth. The main objective of this research was to carry out functional analysis of the mutant SlDDB1 alleles both in-planta and ex-planta in comparison to their normal counterparts. Our major results indicate that: mutant Slddb1 seedlings exhibited delayed growth and smaller cell size, greater chloroplast density, smaller chloroplasts and higher concentration of chlorophyll.
Cotyledons cells of Slddb1 mutant also displayed abnormal stomatal pattern, reduced content of CDT1 transcript and altered response to cytokinin. Some of these observations were previously described to be connected to defects in cell cycle control. Our results, coupled with former studies, also suggest that the CDD complex (composed of DDB1, DET1 and COP10) mediate the effect of light and cytokinin activity by possibly regulating the replication licensing factor CDT1 thus affecting both cell size and plastid multiplication.
CDT1; DDB1; tomato; chloroplast compartment size
Both ploidy and hybridity affect cell size and growth vigor in plants and animals, but the relative effects of genome dosage and hybridization on biomass, fitness, and gene expression changes have not been systematically examined. Here we performed the first comparative analysis of seed, cell, and flower sizes, starch and chlorophyll content, biomass, and gene expression changes in diploid, triploid, and tetraploid hybrids and their respective parents in three Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes: Columbia, C24, and Landsberg erecta (Ler). Ploidy affects many morphological and fitness traits, including stomatal size, flower size, and seed weight, whereas hybridization between the ecotypes leads to altered expression of central circadian clock genes and increased starch and chlorophyll content, biomass, and seed weight. However, varying ploidy levels has subtle effects on biomass, circadian clock gene expression, and chlorophyll and starch content. Interestingly, biomass, starch content, and seed weight are significantly different between the reciprocal hybrids at all ploidy levels tested, with the lowest and highest levels found in the reciprocal triploid hybrids, suggesting parent-of-origin effects on biomass, starch content, and seed weight. These findings provide new insights into molecular events of polyploidy and heterosis, as well as complex agronomic traits that are important to biomass and seed production in hybrid and polyploid crops.
polyploidy; heterosis; gene expression; hybrids; circadian clock
Plant genome sequencing has resulted in the identification of a large number of uncharacterized genes. To investigate these unknown gene functions, several transient transformation systems have been developed as quick and convenient alternatives to the lengthy transgenic assay. These transient assays include biolistic bombardment, protoplast transfection and Agrobacterium-mediated transient transformation, each having advantages and disadvantages depending on the research purposes.
We present a novel transient assay based on cocultivation of young Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) seedlings with Agrobacterium tumefaciens in the presence of a surfactant which does not require any dedicated equipment and can be carried out within one week from sowing seeds to protein analysis. This Fast Agro-mediated Seedling Transformation (FAST) was used successfully to express a wide variety of constructs driven by different promoters in Arabidopsis seedling cotyledons (but not roots) in diverse genetic backgrounds. Localizations of three previously uncharacterized proteins were identified by cotransformation with fluorescent organelle markers. The FAST procedure requires minimal handling of seedlings and was also adaptable for use in 96-well plates. The high transformation efficiency of the FAST procedure enabled protein detection from eight transformed seedlings by immunoblotting. Protein-protein interaction, in this case HY5 homodimerization, was readily detected in FAST-treated seedlings with Förster resonance energy transfer and bimolecular fluorescence complementation techniques. Initial tests demonstrated that the FAST procedure can also be applied to other dicot and monocot species, including tobacco, tomato, rice and switchgrass.
The FAST system provides a rapid, efficient and economical assay of gene function in intact plants with minimal manual handling and without dedicated device. This method is potentially ideal for future automated high-throughput analysis.