European Phragmites australis is one of four main cp-DNA haplotype clusters present worldwide. The European gene pool extends from North America to Far East Asia and South Africa. Extensive gene flow occurs only within the temperate region of Europe.
Background and aims
Two Phragmites australis taxa are recognized in Europe: P. australis ssp. altissimus, also known as Phragmites isiaca, in the Mediterranean region and P. australis in the temperate region. Another taxonomic group in the Mediterranean is Phragmites frutescens. European genotypes are diverse genetically, cytologically and morphologically, and are related to African, Asiatic and American genotypes. We investigated chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) diversity in Europe and defined the current borders of the European gene pool.
We analysed chloroplast variation with parsimony and genetic distance methods, and compared it with that of nuclear amplified fragment length polymorphism and microsatellites. We also investigated the phenological pattern of 188 genotypes collected worldwide in a common garden in Denmark. We assumed that non-flowering genotypes could indicate climatic, geographic and/or reproductive barriers to dispersal and would have been recorded in the genetic pattern as groups genetically isolated from, or within, the European pool.
The European P. australis gene pool extends from North America to the Far East and South Africa. However, African and North American genotypes are differentiating from the European genotypes. Mediterranean P. australis is genetically different from temperate P. australis and shares several similarities with Phragmites mauritianus in Africa and Phragmites karka in Asia. Phragmites frutescens shares the cpDNA sequences with both these tropical species. Two DNA bands can distinguish Mediterranean P. australis from P. frutescens and P. mauritianus and from temperate P. australis, and reveal possible hybrids among these species in the Mediterranean region. Phenological data confirmed possible gene flow within the temperate region of Europe, whereas the Mediterranean genotypes did not set inflorescences in Denmark, suggesting reproductive barriers between temperate and Mediterranean P. australis.
European P. australis appears as one of four main Phragmites groups known in the world. Further research is needed to understand the implications of long-distance dispersal at the population level.
Global change is predicted to promote plant invasions world-wide, reducing biodiversity and ecosystem function. Phenotypic plasticity may influence the ability of introduced plant species to invade and dominate extant communities. However, interpreting differences in plasticity can be confounded by phylogenetic differences in morphology and physiology. Here we present a novel case investigating the role of fitness trait values and phenotypic plasticity to global change factors between conspecific lineages of Phragmites australis. We hypothesized that due to observed differences in the competitive success of North American-native and Eurasian-introduced P. australis genotypes, Eurasian-introduced P. australis would exhibit greater fitness in response to global change factors. Plasticity and plant performance to ambient and predicted levels of carbon dioxide and nitrogen pollution were investigated to understand how invasion pressure may change in North America under a realistic global change scenario. We found that the introduced Eurasian genotype expressed greater mean trait values in nearly every ecophysiological trait measured – aboveground and belowground – to elevated CO2 and nitrogen, outperforming the native North American conspecific by a factor of two to three under every global change scenario. This response is consistent with “jack and master” phenotypic plasticity. We suggest that differences in plant nitrogen productivity, specific leaf area, belowground biomass allocation, and inherently higher relative growth rate are the plant traits that may enhance invasion of Eurasian Phragmites in North America. Given the high degree of genotypic variability within this species, and our limited number of genotypes, our results must be interpreted cautiously. Our study is the first to demonstrate the potential importance of jack-and-master phenotypic plasticity in plant invasions when facing imminent global change conditions. We suggest that jack-and-master invasive genotypes and/or species similar to introduced P. australis will have an increased ecological fitness, facilitating their invasion in both stressful and resource rich environments.
Determination of spatial genetic structure (SGS) in natural populations is important for both theoretical aspects of evolutionary genetics and their application in species conservation and ecological restoration. In this study, we examined genetic diversity within and among the natural populations of a cosmopolitan grass Phragmites australis (common reed) in the Yellow River Delta (YRD), China, where a mosaic of habitat patches varying in soil salinity was detected. We demonstrated that, despite their close geographic proximity, the common reed populations in the YRD significantly diverged at six microsatellite loci, exhibiting a strong association of genetic variation with habitat heterogeneity. Genetic distances among populations were best explained as a function of environmental difference, rather than geographical distance. Although the level of genetic divergence among populations was relatively low (F’ST = 0.073), weak but significant genetic differentiation, as well as the concordance between ecological and genetic landscapes, suggests spatial structuring of genotypes in relation to patchy habitats. These findings not only provided insights into the population dynamics of common reed in changing environments, but also demonstrated the feasibility of using habitat patches in a mosaic landscape as test systems to identify appropriate genetic sources for ecological restoration.
Hybridization of Phragmites has occurred in the Gulf Coast and likely is occurring elsewhere in North America. However, detection failure may be due to limited genetic tools. Additionally, nomenclature confusion necessitates a revision of the current classification system.
Background and aims
We review evidence for hybridization of Phragmites australis in North America and the implications for the persistence of native P. australis ssp. americanus populations in North America. We also highlight the need for an updated classification system, which takes P. australis intraspecific variation and hybridization into account.
We reviewed available published, in press and in preparation literature to assess the likelihood of hybridization and interbreeding in genotypes of P. australis present in North America.
Experimental results demonstrate that hybridization among introduced and native haplotypes is possible within the genus Phragmites, yet evidence that hybridization has occurred naturally is only starting to emerge. The lag in identifying hybridization in Phragmites in North America may be related to under-sampling in some parts of North America and to a lack of molecular tools that provide the capability to recognize hybrids.
Our understanding of the gene flow within and between species in the genus Phragmites is moving at a fast pace, especially on the east and Gulf coasts of North America. More attention should also be focused on the Great Lakes region, the southwestern and the west coast of the USA, where sympatry has created opportunities for hybridization. Where hybridizations have been detected, there are currently no published data on how hybridization affects plant vigour, morphology, invasiveness or conservation of the genetic integrity of the North American native subspecies. We conclude that the detection of more hybridization is highly likely and that there is a need to develop new markers for the different Phragmites species and lineages to fill current knowledge gaps. Finally, we suggest that the classification system for P. australis should be updated and published to help clarify the nomenclature.
Plant-microbe interactions are considered to be important processes determining
the efficiency of phytoremediation of petroleum pollution, however relatively
little is known about how these interactions are influenced by petroleum
pollution. In this experimental study using a microcosm approach, we examined
how plant ecophysiological traits, soil nutrients and microbial activities were
influenced by petroleum pollution in Phragmites australis, a
phytoremediating species. Generally, petroleum pollution reduced plant
performance, especially at early stages of plant growth. Petroleum had negative
effects on the net accumulation of inorganic nitrogen from its organic forms
(net nitrogen mineralization (NNM)) most likely by decreasing the inorganic
nitrogen available to the plants in petroleum-polluted soils. However, abundant
dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) was found in petroleum-polluted soil. In order
to overcome initial deficiency of inorganic nitrogen, plants by dint of high
colonization of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi might absorb some DON for their
growth in petroleum-polluted soils. In addition, through using a real-time
polymerase chain reaction method, we quantified hydrocarbon-degrading bacterial
traits based on their catabolic genes (i.e. alkB (alkane
monooxygenase), nah (naphthalene dioxygenase) and
tol (xylene monooxygenase) genes). This enumeration of
target genes suggests that different hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria experienced
different dynamic changes during phytoremediation and a greater abundance of
alkB was detected during vegetative growth stages. Because
phytoremediation of different components of petroleum is performed by different
hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria, plants’ ability of phytoremediating
different components might therefore vary during the plant life cycle.
Phytoremediation might be most effective during the vegetative growth stages as
greater abundances of hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria containing
alkB and tol genes were observed at these
stages. The information provided by this study enhances our understanding of the
effects of petroleum pollution on plant-microbe interactions and the roles of
these interactions in the phytoremediation of petroleum-polluted soil.
Chemical communication and perception strategies between plants are highly sophisticated but are only partly understood. Among the different interactions, the suppressive interaction of a class of chemicals released by one plant through root exudates against the neighbouring plants (allelopathy) have been implicated in the invasiveness of many exotic weedy species. Phragmites australis (common reed) is one of the dominant colonizers of the North American wetland marshes and exhibits invasive behavior by virtually replacing the entire native vegetation in its niche. Recently, by adopting a systematic bioassay driven approach we elucidated the role of root derived allelopathy as one of the important mechanisms by which P. australis exerts its invasive behavior. Additionally, our recent preliminary data indicates the involvement of rhizobacterial signaling in the invasive success of P. australis. A better understanding of biochemical weaponry used by P. australis will aid scientists and technologists in addressing the impact of root secretions in invasiveness of weedy species and thus promote a more informed environmental stewardship.
Phragmites australis; roots; phytotoxicity; reactive oxygen species; microtubules; microcosm
The little spotted kiwi (Apteryx owenii) is a flightless ratite formerly found throughout New Zealand but now greatly reduced in distribution. Previous phylogeographic studies of the related brown kiwi (A. mantelli, A. rowi and A. australis), with which little spotted kiwi was once sympatric, revealed extremely high levels of genetic structuring, with mitochondrial DNA haplotypes often restricted to populations. We surveyed genetic variation throughout the present and pre-human range of little spotted kiwi by obtaining mitochondrial DNA sequences from contemporary and ancient samples. Little spotted kiwi and great spotted kiwi (A. haastii) formed a monophyletic clade sister to brown kiwi. Ancient samples of little spotted kiwi from the northern North Island, where it is now extinct, formed a lineage that was distinct from remaining little spotted kiwi and great spotted kiwi lineages, potentially indicating unrecognized taxonomic diversity. Overall, little spotted kiwi exhibited much lower levels of genetic diversity and structuring than brown kiwi, particularly through the South Island. Our results also indicate that little spotted kiwi (or at least hybrids involving this species) survived on the South Island mainland until more recently than previously thought.
The ability to express phenotypically plastic responses to environmental cues might be adaptive in changing environments. We studied phenotypic plasticity in mating behaviour as a response to population density and adult sex ratio in a freshwater isopod (Asellus aquaticus). A. aquaticus has recently diverged into two distinct ecotypes, inhabiting different lake habitats (reed Phragmites australis and stonewort Chara tomentosa, respectively). In field surveys, we found that these habitats differ markedly in isopod population densities and adult sex ratios. These spatially and temporally demographic differences are likely to affect mating behaviour. We performed behavioural experiments using animals from both the ancestral ecotype (“reed” isopods) and from the novel ecotype (“stonewort” isopods) population. We found that neither ecotype adjusted their behaviour in response to population density. However, the reed ecotype had a higher intrinsic mating propensity across densities. In contrast to the effects of density, we found ecotype differences in plasticity in response to sex ratio. The stonewort ecotype show pronounced phenotypic plasticity in mating propensity to adult sex ratio, whereas the reed ecotype showed a more canalised behaviour with respect to this demographic factor. We suggest that the lower overall mating propensity and the phenotypic plasticity in response to sex ratio have evolved in the novel stonewort ecotype following invasion of the novel habitat. Plasticity in mating behaviour may in turn have effects on the direction and intensity of sexual selection in the stonewort habitat, which may fuel further ecotype divergence.
Plants are naturally colonized by many fungal species that produce effects ranging from beneficial to pathogenic. However, how many of these fungi are linked with a single host plant has not been determined. Furthermore, the composition of plant-associated fungal communities has not been rigorously determined. We investigated these essential issues by employing the perennial wetland reed Phragmites australis as a model. DNA extracted from roots, rhizomes, stems, and leaves was used for amplification and cloning of internal transcribed spacer rRNA gene fragments originating from reed-associated fungi. A total of 1,991 clones from 15 clone libraries were differentiated by restriction fragment length polymorphism analyses into 345 operational taxonomical units (OTUs). Nonparametric estimators for total richness (Chao1 and ACE) and also a parametric log normal model predicted a total of about 750 OTUs if the libraries were infinite. Sixty-two percent of the OTUs sequenced were novel at a threshold of 3%. Several of these OTUs represented undocumented fungal species, which also included higher taxonomic levels. In spite of the high diversity of the OTUs, the mycofloras of vegetative organs were dominated by just a few typical fungi, which suggested that competition and niche differentiation influence the composition of plant-associated fungal communities. This suggestion was independently supported by the results of nested PCR assays specifically monitoring two OTUs over 3 years, which revealed significant preferences for host habitat and host organ.
Roads, bridges, and dikes constructed across salt marshes can restrict tidal flow, degrade habitat quality for nekton, and facilitate invasion by non-native plants including Phragmites australis. Introduced P. australis contributes to marsh accretion and eliminates marsh surface pools thereby adversely affecting fish by reducing access to intertidal habitats essential for feeding, reproduction, and refuge. Our study assessed the condition of resident fish populations (Fundulus heteroclitus) at four tidally restricted and four tidally restored marshes in New England invaded by P. australis relative to adjacent reference salt marshes. We used physiological and morphological indicators of fish condition, including proximate body composition (% lipid, % lean dry, % water), recent daily growth rate, age class distributions, parasite prevalence, female gravidity status, length-weight regressions, and a common morphological indicator (Fulton’s K) to assess impacts to fish health. We detected a significant increase in the quantity of parasites infecting fish in tidally restricted marshes but not in those where tidal flow was restored to reduce P. australis cover. Using fish length as a covariate, we found that unparasitized, non-gravid F. heteroclitus in tidally restricted marshes had significantly reduced lipid reserves and increased lean dry (structural) mass relative to fish residing in reference marshes. Fish in tidally restored marshes were equivalent across all metrics relative to those in reference marshes indicating that habitat quality was restored via increased tidal flushing. Reference marshes adjacent to tidally restored sites contained the highest abundance of young fish (ages 0–1) while tidally restricted marshes contained the lowest. Results indicate that F. heteroclitus residing in physically and hydrologically altered marshes are at a disadvantage relative to fish in reference marshes but the effects can be reversed through ecological restoration.
In this study, we compared ecological characteristics of wetland vegetation in a series of restoration projects that were carried out in the wetlands of Yellow River Delta. The investigated characteristics include plant composition structure, species diversity and community similarity in three kinds of Phragmites australis wetlands, i.e. restored P. australis wetlands (R1, R2, R3 and R4: restored in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2009, respectively), natural P. australis wetland (N) and degraded P. australis wetland (D) to assess the process of wetlands restoration. The coverage of the R1 was 99%, which was similar to natural wetland. Among all studied wetlands, the highest and lowest stem density was observed in R1 and R2, respectively, Plant height and stem diameter show the same trend as N > R2 > R1 > R3 > D > R4. Species diversity of restored P. australis wetlands became closed to natural wetland. Both species richness and Shannon–Wiener index had similar tendency: increased first and then decreased with restored time. The highest species richness and species diversity were observed in R2, while the lowest values of those parameters were found in natural P. australis wetland. Similarity indexes between restored wetlands and natural wetland increased with the restoration time, but they were still less than 50%. The results indicate that the vegetation of P. australis wetlands has experienced a great improvement after several years’ restoration, and it is feasible to restored degraded P. australis wetlands by pouring fresh water into those wetlands in the Yellow River Delta. However, it is notable that costal degraded P. australis wetland in this region may take years to decades to reach the status of natural wetland.
Coastal wetland; Wetland restoration; Yellow River Delta; Vegetation characteristics; Species diversity
The invasive species Spartina alterniora Loisel was introduced to the eastern coast of China in the 1970s and 1980s for the purposes of land reclamation and the prevention of soil erosion. The resulting interspecific competition had an important influence on the distribution of native vegetation, which makes studying the patterns and mechanisms of the interactions between Spartina alterniora Loisel and the native species Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin ex Steud in this region very important. There have been some researches on the interspecific interactions between P. australis and S. alterniora in the Dongtan wetland of Chongming, east China, most of which has focused on the comparison of their physiological characteristics. In this paper, we conducted a neighbor removal experiment along a tidal gradient to evaluate the relative competitive abilities of the two species by calculating their relative neighbor effect (RNE) index. We also looked at the influence of environmental stress and disturbance on the competitive abilities of the two species by comparing interaction strength (I) among different tidal zones both for P. australis and S. alterniora. Finally, we measured physiological characteristics of the two species to assess the physiological mechanisms behind their different competitive abilities. Both negative and positive interactions were found between P. australis and S. alterniora along the environmental gradient. When the direction of the competitive intensity index for P. australis and S. alterniora was consistent, the competitive or facilitative effect of S. alterniora on P. australis was stronger than that of P. australis on S. alterniora. The interspecific interactions of P. australis and S. alterniora varied with environmental conditions, as well as with the method used, to measure interspecific interactions.
Leaf ecophysiological traits related to carbon gain and resource use are expected to be under strong selection in desert annuals. We used comparative and phenotypic selection approaches to investigate the importance of leaf ecophysiological traits for Helianthus anomalus, a diploid annual sunflower species of hybrid origin that is endemic to active desert dunes. Comparisons were made within and among five genotypic classes: H. anomalus, its ancestral parent species (H. annuus and H. petiolaris), and two backcrossed populations of the parental species (designated BC2ann and BC2pet) representing putative ancestors of H. anomalus. Seedlings were transplanted into H. anomalus habitat at Little Sahara Dunes, Utah, and followed through a summer growing season for leaf ecophysiological traits, phenology, and fitness estimated as vegetative biomass. Helianthus anomalus had a unique combination of traits when compared to its ancestral parent species, suggesting that lower leaf nitrogen and greater leaf succulence might be adaptive. However, selection on leaf traits in H. anomalus favored larger leaf area and greater nitrogen, which was not consistent with the extreme traits of H. anomalus relative to its ancestral parents. Also contrary to expectation, current selection on the leaf traits in the backcross populations was not consistently similar to, or resulting in evolution toward, the current H. anomalus phenotype. Only the selection for greater leaf succulence in BC2ann and greater water-use efficiency in BC2pet would result in evolution toward the current H. anomalus phenotype. It was surprising that the action of phenotypic selection depended greatly on the genotypic class for these closely related sunflower hybrids grown in a common environment. We speculate that this may be due to either phenotypic correlations between measured and unmeasured but functionally related traits or due to the three genotypic classes experiencing the environment differently as a result of their differing morphology.
Carbon isotope discrimination; fitness; leaf area; nitrogen; succulence; water-use efficiency
To identify the determinants of invasiveness, comparisons of traits of invasive and native species are commonly performed. Invasiveness is generally linked to higher values of reproductive, physiological and growth-related traits of the invasives relative to the natives in the introduced range. Phenotypic plasticity of these traits has also been cited to increase the success of invasive species but has been little studied in invasive tree species. In a greenhouse experiment, we compared ecophysiological traits between an invasive species to Europe, Acer negundo, and early- and late-successional co-occurring native species, under different light, nutrient availability and disturbance regimes. We also compared species of the same species groups in situ, in riparian forests.
Under non-limiting resources, A. negundo seedlings showed higher growth rates than the native species. However, A. negundo displayed equivalent or lower photosynthetic capacities and nitrogen content per unit leaf area compared to the native species; these findings were observed both on the seedlings in the greenhouse experiment and on adult trees in situ. These physiological traits were mostly conservative along the different light, nutrient and disturbance environments. Overall, under non-limiting light and nutrient conditions, specific leaf area and total leaf area of A. negundo were substantially larger. The invasive species presented a higher plasticity in allocation to foliage and therefore in growth with increasing nutrient and light availability relative to the native species.
The higher level of plasticity of the invasive species in foliage allocation in response to light and nutrient availability induced a better growth in non-limiting resource environments. These results give us more elements on the invasiveness of A. negundo and suggest that such behaviour could explain the ability of A. negundo to outperform native tree species, contributes to its spread in European resource-rich riparian forests and impedes its establishment under closed-canopy hardwood forests.
Our study organism, Phragmites australis (common reed), is a unique invader in that both native and introduced lineages are found coexisting in North America. This allows one to make direct assessments of physiological differences between these different subspecies and examine how this relates to invasiveness. Recent efforts to understand plant invasive behavior show that some invasive plants secrete a phytotoxin to ward-off encroachment by neighboring plants (allelopathy) and thus provide the invaders with a competitive edge in a given habitat. Here we show that a varying climatic factor like ultraviolet (UV) light leads to photo-degradation of secreted phytotoxin (gallic acid) in P. australis rhizosphere inducing higher mortality of susceptible seedlings. The photo-degraded product of gallic acid (hereafter GA), identified as mesoxalic acid (hereafter MOA), triggered a similar cell death cascade in susceptible seedlings as observed previously with GA. Further, we detected the biological concentrations of MOA in the natural stands of exotic and native P. australis. Our studies also show that the UV degradation of GA is facilitated at an alkaline pH, suggesting that the natural habitat of P. australis may facilitate the photo-degradation of GA. The study highlights the persistence of the photo-degraded phytotoxin in the P. australis's rhizosphere and its inhibitory effects against the native plants.
ultraviolet; gallic acid; mesoxalic acid; novel weapons; invasive species; Phragmites australis
Given the hybrid genomic constitutions and increased ploidy of many asexual animals, the identification of processes governing the origin and maintenance of clonal diversity provides useful information about the evolutionary consequences of interspecific hybridization, asexuality and polyploidy. In order to understand the processes driving observed diversity of biotypes and clones in the Cobitis taenia hybrid complex, we performed fine-scale genetic analysis of Central European hybrid zone between two sexual species using microsatellite genotyping and mtDNA sequencing. We found that the hybrid zone is populated by an assemblage of clonally (gynogenetically) reproducing di-, tri- and tetraploid hybrid lineages and that successful clones, which are able of spatial expansion, recruit from two ploidy levels, i.e. diploid and triploid. We further compared the distribution of observed estimates of clonal ages to theoretical distributions simulated under various assumptions and showed that new clones are most likely continuously recruited from ancestral populations. This suggests that the clonal diversity is maintained by dynamic equilibrium between origination and extinction of clonal lineages. On the other hand, an interclonal selection is implied by nonrandom spatial distribution of individual clones with respect to the coexisting sexual species. Importantly, there was no evidence for sexually reproducing hybrids or clonally reproducing non-hybrid forms. Together with previous successful laboratory synthesis of clonal Cobitis hybrids, our data thus provide the most compelling evidence that 1) the origin of asexuality is causally linked to interspecific hybridization; 2) successful establishment of clones is not restricted to one specific ploidy level and 3) the initiation of clonality and polyploidy may be dynamic and continuous in asexual complexes.
Background and Aims
Oil pollution of wetlands is a world-wide problem but, to date, research has concentrated on its influences on salt marsh rather than freshwater plant communities. The effects of water-borne light oils (liquid paraffin and diesel) were investigated on the fresh/brackish wetland species Phragmites australis in terms of routes of oil infiltration, internal gas transport, radial O2 loss (ROL), underwater gas films and bud growth.
Pressure flow resistances of pith cavities of nodes and aerenchyma of leaf sheaths, with or without previous exposure to oil, were recorded from flow rates under applied pressure. Convective flows were measured from living excised culms with oiled and non-oiled nodes and leaf sheaths. The effect of oil around culm basal nodes on ROL from rhizome and root apices was measured polarographically. Surface gas films on submerged shoots with and without oil treatment were recorded photographically. Growth and emergence of buds through water with and without an oil film were measured.
Internodes are virtually impermeable, but nodes of senesced and living culms are permeable to oils which can block pith cavity diaphragms, preventing flows at applied pressures of 1 kPa, natural convective transport to the rhizome, and greatly decreasing ROL to phyllospheres and rhizospheres. Oil infiltrating or covering living leaf sheaths prevents humidity-induced convection. Oil displaces surface gas films from laminae and leaf sheaths. Buds emerge only a few centimetres through oil and die.
Oil infiltrates the gas space system via nodal and leaf sheath stomata, reducing O2 diffusion and convective flows into the rhizome system and decreasing oxygenation of phyllospheres and rhizospheres; underwater gas exchange via gas films will be impeded. Plants can be weakened by oil-induced failure of emerging buds. Plants will be most at risk during the growing season.
Phragmites australis; oil pollution; convective flow; pressure flow resistance; phyllosphere oxygenation; rhizosphere oxygenation; underwater gas films; bud emergence; stomata; pith cavity diaphragms; leaf sheath aerenchyma; rhizome aeration
In the process of tumour progression genetic instability is the basis for the evolution of tumour cell clones with various genotypic and phenotypic characteristics causing heterogeneity. Renal cell carcinoma has a long prediagnostic growth period, which increases the probability of clonal evolution. We have studied 200 consecutive renal cell carcinomas, addressing the interrelationship between intratumour heterogeneity and clinicopathological factors. DNA ploidy patterns were analysed in multiple samples from each tumour using flow cytometry and compared with clinical stage, tumour invasion, metastatic rate and survival. Eighty-five of 192 evaluable tumours (44%) were homogeneous concerning DNA ploidy (62% diploid, 38% aneuploid). Among 107 heterogeneous tumours a majority (79%) contained aneuploid as well as diploid cell clones. Homogeneously diploid tumours had a lower incidence of local tumour spread compared with tumours with aneuploid cell clones (P < or = 0.001), but the frequency of distant metastasis at time of diagnosis was similar. The presence of aneuploidy in at least one sample from a tumour was a significant adverse prognostic factor (P < 0.001), whereas the degree of heterogeneity had no influence on survival. The frequent heterogeneity demonstrated indicates that multiple samples must be investigated to evaluate properly the malignant character of renal cell carcinoma.
The international consensus on Medicago truncatula as a model system has lead to the development of powerful approaches for dissecting the genetic and molecular bases of legume nitrogen nutrition. However, such approaches now come up against a poor knowledge of the phenotypic traits that should be used for the large-scale screening of the genotypic variability associated with nitrogen nutrition. This issue was unravelled in a previous report, in which an ecophysiological approach allowed a better understanding of the relationships between plant nitrogen nutrition and plant growth traits, for the model symbiotic association between M. truncatula cv. Jemalong and Rhizobium meliloti strain 2011. From this analysis, phenotypic traits were identified as potentially relevant for the large-scale screening of the genotypic variability. Here, by the phenotyping of a recombinant inbred lines population, we show that the proposed methodology provides a valuable support for assisting the detection of genetic variants affected for nitrogen uptake. Especially, the relative expansion rate of plant leaf area is identified as a good proxy for ranking genotypes according to their ability to uptake nitrogen in given environmental conditions. As leaf area can be measured non-destructively, such finding should pave the way for a more efficient evaluation of the genotypic variability.
genotypic variability; recombinant inbred lines; leaf area; Medicago truncatula; nitrogen; phenotyping
The impact of thermal pollution of leachate from a post-coal mine heap on three macrophyte species: Phragmites australis, Typha latifolia, and Scirpus sylvaticus was examined over the entire vegetation season. Hydrological measurements showed that the temperature of the leachate was ca 50 °C at the site of leachate inflow and decreased to ca 15 °C at the end of discharge canal. The annual temperature and conductivity of leachate from the two control sites, a polluted water stream in the vicinity of the waste tip and an unpolluted stream, differ significantly. However, only the temperature explained the differences in plant traits. In April, and in some cases in May, plants in the leachate were significantly higher than in those on the control sites in terms of biomass and plant height. Thermal pollution caused a phenological shift in all species and also caused Scirpus plants to die out more quickly. Temperature also affected the proportion flowering vs. vegetative individuals, e.g., none of Scirpus plants started to bloom.
Leachate; Macrophytes; Wetland; Thermal pollution; Mining waste
Herbaspirillum sp. strain GW103 was isolated from rhizosphere soil of the reed Phragmites australis on reclaimed land. Here we report the 5.05-Mb draft genome sequence of the strain, providing bioinformation about the agronomic benefits of this strain, such as multiple traits relevant to plant root colonization and plant growth promotion.
Trypanosoma cruzi exhibits remarkable genetic heterogeneity. This is evident at the nucleotide level but also structurally, in the form of karyotypic variation and DNA content differences between strains. Although natural populations of T. cruzi are predominantly clonal, hybrid lineages (TcIId and TcIIe) have been identified and hybridisation has been demonstrated in vitro, raising the possibility that genetic exchange may continue to shape the evolution of this pathogen. The mechanism of genetic exchange identified in the laboratory is unusual, apparently involving fusion of diploid parents followed by genome erosion. We investigated DNA content diversity in natural populations of T. cruzi in the context of its genetic subdivisions by using flow cytometric analysis and multilocus microsatellite genotyping to determine the relative DNA content and estimate the ploidy of 54 cloned isolates. The maximum difference observed was 47.5% between strain Tu18 cl2 (TcIIb) and strain C8 cl1 (TcI), which we estimated to be equivalent to ∼73 Mb of DNA. Large DNA content differences were identified within and between discrete typing units (DTUs). In particular, the mean DNA content of TcI strains was significantly less than that for TcII strains (P < 0.001). Comparisons of hybrid DTUs TcIId/IIe with corresponding parental DTUs TcIIb/IIc indicated that natural hybrids are predominantly diploid. We also measured the relative DNA content of six in vitro-generated TcI hybrid clones and their parents. In contrast to TcIId/IIe hybrid strains these experimental hybrids comprised populations of sub-tetraploid organisms with mean DNA contents 1.65–1.72 times higher than the parental organisms. The DNA contents of both parents and hybrids were shown to be relatively stable after passage through a mammalian host, heat shock or nutritional stress. The results are discussed in the context of hybridisation mechanisms in both natural and in vitro settings.
Trypanosoma cruzi; Hybridisation; DNA content; Ploidy; Microsatellite; Genetic exchange
Background and Aims
The ability to simulate plant competition accurately is essential for plant functional type (PFT)-based models used in climate-change studies, yet gaps and uncertainties remain in our understanding of the details of the competition mechanisms and in ecosystem responses at a landscape level. This study examines secondary succession in a temperate deciduous forest in eastern China with the aim of determining if competition between tree types can be explained by differences in leaf ecophysiological traits and growth allometry, and whether ecophysiological traits and habitat spatial configurations among PFTs differentiate their responses to climate change.
A temperate deciduous broadleaved forest in eastern China was studied, containing two major vegetation types dominated by Quercus liaotungensis (OAK) and by birch/poplar (Betula platyphylla and Populus davidiana; BIP), respectively. The Terrestrial Ecosystem Simulator (TESim) suite of models was used to examine carbon and water dynamics using parameters measured at the site, and the model was evaluated against long-term data collected at the site.
Simulations indicated that a higher assimilation rate for the BIP vegetation than OAK led to the former's dominance during early successional stages with relatively low competition. In middle/late succession with intensive competition for below-ground resources, BIP, with its lower drought tolerance/resistance and smaller allocation to leaves/roots, gave way to OAK. At landscape scale, predictions with increased temperature extrapolated from existing weather records resulted in increased average net primary productivity (NPP; +19 %), heterotrophic respiration (+23 %) and net ecosystem carbon balance (+17 %). The BIP vegetation in higher and cooler habitats showed 14 % greater sensitivity to increased temperature than the OAK at lower and warmer locations.
Drought tolerance/resistance and morphology-related allocation strategy (i.e. more allocation to leaves/roots) played key roles in the competition between the vegetation types. The overall site-average impacts of increased temperature on NPP and carbon stored in plants were found to be positive, despite negative effects of increased respiration and soil water stress, with such impacts being more significant for BIP located in higher and cooler habitats.
Succession; watershed; ecophysiological trait; landscape carbon dynamics; temperate forests; competition; simulation; Quercus liaotungensis; Betula platyphylla; Populus davidiana
Climbing plants are a key component of rainforests, but mechanistic approaches to their distribution and abundance are scarce. In a southern temperate rainforest, we addressed whether the dominance of climbing plants across light environments is associated with the expression of ecophysiological traits. In mature forest and canopy gaps, we measured leaf size, specific leaf area, photosynthetic rate, and dark respiration in six of the most abundant woody vines. Mean values of traits and their phenotypic change (%) between mature forest and canopy gaps were predictor variables. Leaf size and specific leaf area were not significantly associated with climbing plant dominance. Variation in gas-exchange traits between mature forest and canopy gaps explained, at least partly, the dominance of climbers in this forest. A greater increase in photosynthetic rate and a lower increase in dark respiration rate when canopy openings occur were related to the success of climbing plant species. Dominant climbers showed a strategy of maximizing exploitation of resource availability but minimizing metabolic costs. Results may reflect phenotypic plasticity or genetic differentiation in ecophysiological traits between light environments. It is suggested that the dominant climbers in this temperate rainforest would be able to cope with forest clearings due to human activities.
The interactions among Spartina patens and sediment microbial populations and the interactions among Phragmites australis and sediment microbial populations were studied at monotypic sites in Piermont Marsh, a salt marsh of the Hudson River north of New York, N.Y., at key times during the growing season. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) effectively colonized S. patens but not P. australis, and there were seasonal increases and decreases that coincided with plant growth and senescence (17 and 6% of the S. patens root length were colonized, respectively). In sediment samples from the Spartina site, the microbial community and specific bacterial populations were at least twice as large in terms of number and biomass as the microbial community and specific bacterial populations in sediment samples from the Phragmites site, and peak values occurred during reproduction. Members of the domain Bacteria, especially members of the α-, γ-, and δ-subdivisions of the Proteobacteria, were the most abundant organisms at both sites throughout the growing season. The populations were generally more dynamic in samples from the Spartina site than in samples from the Phragmites site. No differences between the two sites and no differences during the growing season were observed when restriction fragment length polymorphism analyses of nifH amplicons were performed in an attempt to detect shifts in the diversity of nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Differences were observed only in the patterns generated by PCR or reverse transcription-PCR for samples from the Spartina site, suggesting that there were differences in the overall and active populations of nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Regression analyses indicated that there was a positive interaction between members of the δ-subdivision of the Proteobacteria and root biomass but not between members of the δ-subdivision of the Proteobacteria and macroorganic matter at both sites. In samples from the Spartina site, there were indications that there were bacterium-fungus interactions since populations of members of the α-subdivision of the Proteobacteria were negatively associated with AMF colonization and populations of members of the γ-subdivision of the Proteobacteria were positively associated with AMF colonization.