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1.  Seed pre-treatment in rice reduces damage, enhances carbohydrate mobilization and improves emergence and seedling establishment under flooded conditions 
AoB Plants  2011;2011:plr007.
Priming rice seeds (soaking followed by drying) or soaking just before sowing improved emergence from flooded soil, reduced membrane damage from ROS and hastened carbohydrate mobilization. Most benefit was to lines with a superior ability to germinate in flooded soil even when untreated.
Background and aims
Early flooding helps control weeds but reduces seedling establishment in direct-seeded rice (Oryza sativa). When combined with appropriate management practices, the use of genotypes that better tolerate flooding during emergence can enhance crop establishment in flood-prone areas. Management options include seed pre-treatment and we tested the influence of pre-soaking for 24 h prior to sowing or of priming (soaking for 24 or 48 h followed by drying).
The effects on seedling establishment after 21-day flooding of pre-soaking seeds for 24 h before sowing and/or of priming seeds were examined together with physiological responses connected with reactive oxygen scavenging. Seeds of four lines with contrasting abilities to tolerate flooding at the germination stage were compared. Seeds were primed using KCl solutions (48 h) or water (24 h) and pre-soaked using water. Lipid peroxidation and activities of reactive oxygen-scavenging enzymes were measured in seeds before sowing. Carbohydrate mobilization in germinating seeds and seedling growth were also monitored at intervals.
Principal results
Seed pre-treatment by pre-soaking or by priming increased survival of flooding and accelerated and improved seedling establishment, especially in tolerant genotypes. Primed seeds had less lipid peroxidation and higher superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) activities than non-primed seeds. Amylase activities and starch breakdown were also hastened in primed seeds. Survival after flooding was positively correlated with amylase activity but negatively correlated with the extent of lipid peroxidation.
Pre-soaking and priming improved seedling establishment in flooded soil, enhanced the capacity to scavenge reactive oxygen species in seeds by increasing SOD and CAT activities, and hastened carbohydrate mobilization. Tolerant genotypes responded better to these treatments, emphasizing the effectiveness of combining genetic tolerance with appropriate seed pre-treatment to improve seedling establishment of rice sown in flooded soils.
PMCID: PMC3072768  PMID: 22476478
2.  Seed Germination Ecology of Echinochloa glabrescens and Its Implication for Management in Rice (Oryza sativa L.) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92261.
Echinochloa glabrescens is a C4 grass weed that is very competitive with rice when left uncontrolled. The competitive ability of weeds is intensified in direct-seeded rice production systems. A better understanding is needed of factors affecting weed seed germination, which can be used as a component of integrated weed management in direct-seeded rice. This study was conducted to determine the effects of temperature, light, salt and osmotic stress, burial depth, crop residue, time and depth of flooding, and herbicide application on the emergence, survival, and growth of two populations [Nueva Ecija (NE) and Los Baños (IR)] of E. glabrescens. Seeds from both populations germinated at all temperatures. The NE population had a higher germination rate (88%) from light stimulation than did the IR population (34%). The salt concentration and osmotic potential required to inhibit 50% of germination were 313 mM and −0.24 MPa, respectively, for the NE population and 254 mM and −0.33 MPa, respectively, for the IR population. Emergence in the NE population was totally inhibited at 4-cm burial depth in the soil, whereas that of the IR population was inhibited at 8 cm. Compared with zero residue, the addition of 5 t ha−1 of rice residue reduced emergence in the NE and IR populations by 38% and 9%, respectively. Early flooding (within 2 days after sowing) at 2-cm depth reduced shoot growth by 50% compared with non-flooded conditions. Pretilachlor applied at 0.075 kg ai ha−1 followed by shallow flooding (2-cm depth) reduced seedling emergence by 94−96% compared with the nontreated flooded treatment. Application of postemergence herbicides at 4-leaf stage provided 85−100% control in both populations. Results suggest that integration of different strategies may enable sustainable management of this weed and of weeds with similar germination responses.
PMCID: PMC3958481  PMID: 24642568
3.  Adaptation to flooding in upland and lowland ecotypes of Cyperus rotundus, a troublesome sedge weed of rice: tuber morphology and carbohydrate metabolism 
Annals of Botany  2008;103(2):295-302.
Background and aims
In recent years, Cyperus rotundus has become a problem weed in lowland rice (Oryza sativa) grown in rotation with vegetables in the Philippines. As the growth of C. rotundus is commonly suppressed by prolonged flooding, the ability of the weed to grow vigorously in flooded as well as upland conditions suggests that adapted ecotypes occur in these rotations. Studies were conducted to elucidate the mechanisms that permit C. rotundus to tolerate flooded soil conditions.
Upland and lowland ecotypes of C. rotundus were compared in terms of growth habit, carbohydrate reserves and metabolism, and activities of enzymes involved in alcoholic fermentation – alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and pyruvate decarboxylase (PDC).
Key Results
The lowland ecotype has much larger tubers than the upland ecotype. Prior to germination, the amylase activity and total non-structural carbohydrate content in the form of soluble sugars were greater in the tubers of lowland plants than in those of upland C. rotundus. At 24 h after germination in hypoxic conditions, PDC and ADH activities in the lowland plants increased, before decreasing at 48 h following germination. In contrast, ADH and PDC activities in the upland plants increased from 24 to 48 h after germination.
Tolerance of lowland C. rotundus of flooding may be attributed to large carbohydrate content and amylase activity, and the ability to maintain high levels of soluble sugars in the tubers during germination and early growth. This is coupled with the modulation of ADH and PDC activities during germination, possibly to control the use of carbohydrate reserves and sustain substrate supply in order to avoid starvation and death of seedlings with prolonged flooding.
PMCID: PMC2707299  PMID: 18515404
Anoxia; ethanol fermentation; flooding tolerance; nutsedge; Cyperus rotundus; Pasteur effect; weed ecology
4.  Morphological and physiological responses of lowland purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus L.) to flooding 
AoB Plants  2010;2010:plq010.
Comparing a lowland and an upland ecotype of Cyperus rotundus, the former had greater carbohydrate reserves in tubers, thicker roots and stems with larger air spaces and, under hypoxia, it maintained relatively lower activities of alcohol dehydrogenase and lactate dehydrogenase.
Background and aims
Purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus L.) is a major weed of upland crops and vegetables. Recently, a flood-tolerant ecotype evolved as a serious weed in lowland rice. This study attempted to establish the putative growth and physiological features that led to this shift in adaptation.
Tubers of upland C. rotundus (ULCR) and lowland C. rotundus (LLCR) ecotypes were collected from their native habitats and maintained under the respective growth conditions in a greenhouse. Five experiments were conducted to assess the variation between the two ecotypes in germination, growth and tuber morphology when grown in their native or ‘switched’ conditions. Carbohydrate storage and mobilization, and variation in anaerobic respiration under hypoxia were compared.
Principal results
Tubers of LLCR were larger than those of ULCR, with higher carbohydrate content, and larger tubers developed with increasing floodwater depth. Stems of LLCR had larger diameter and proportionally larger air spaces than those of ULCR: a method of aerating submerged plant parts. The LLCR ecotype can also mobilize and use carbohydrate reserves under hypoxia, and it maintained relatively lower and steadier activity of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) as a measure of sustained anaerobic respiration. In contrast, ADH activity in ULCR increased faster upon a shift to hypoxia and then sharply decreased, suggesting depletion of available soluble sugar substrates. The LLCR ecotype also maintained lower lactate dehydrogenase activity under flooded conditions, which could reduce chances of cellular acidosis.
These adaptive traits in the LLCR ecotype were expressed constitutively, but some of them, such as tuber growth and aerenchyma development, are enhanced with stress severity. The LLCR ecotype attained numerous adaptive traits that could have evolved as a consequence of natural evolution or repeated management practices, and alternative strategies are necessary because flooding is no longer a feasible management option.
PMCID: PMC3000701  PMID: 22476068
5.  Mechanisms associated with tolerance to flooding during germination and early seedling growth in rice (Oryza sativa) 
Annals of Botany  2008;103(2):197-209.
Background and Aims
Flooding slows seed germination, imposes fatalities and delays seedling establishment in direct-seeded rice. This study describes responses of contrasting rice genotypes subjected to flooding or low oxygen stress during germination and discusses the basis of tolerance shown by certain cultivars.
In one set of experiments, dry seeds were sown in soil and either watered normally or flooded with 10 cm of water. Seedling survival and shoot and root growth were assessed and seed portions of germinating seedlings were assayed for soluble sugars and starch concentrations. The whole germinating seedlings were assayed for amylase and peroxidase activities and for ethylene production. Activities of enzymes associated with anaerobic respiration were examined and gene expression was analysed separately with seeds germinating under different amounts of dissolved oxygen in dilute agar.
Key Results
Flooding during germination reduced survival but to a lesser extent in tolerant genotypes. Starch concentration in germinating seeds decreased while sugar concentration increased under flooding, but more so in tolerant genotypes. Amylase activity correlated positively with elongation (r = 0·85 for shoot and 0·83 for root length) and with plant survival (r = 0·92). Tolerant genotypes had higher amylase activity and higher RAmy3D gene expression. Ethylene was not detected in seeds within 2 d after sowing, but increased thereafter, with a greater increase in tolerant genotypes starting 3 d after sowing. Peroxidase activity was higher in germinating seeds of sensitive genotypes and correlated negatively with survival.
Under low oxygen stress, tolerant genotypes germinate, grow faster and more seedlings survive. They maintain their ability to use stored starch reserves through higher amylase activity and anaerobic respiration, have higher rates of ethylene production and lower peroxidase activity as germinating seeds and as seedlings. Relevance of these traits to tolerance of flooding during germination and early growth is discussed.
PMCID: PMC2707318  PMID: 19001425
Amylase; anoxia; crop establishment; direct-seeded rice; ethylene; flooding; germination; hypoxia; Oryza sativa
6.  Tolerance of anaerobic conditions caused by flooding during germination and early growth in rice (Oryza sativa L.) 
Rice is semi-aquatic, adapted to a wide range of hydrologies, from aerobic soils in uplands to anaerobic and flooded fields in waterlogged lowlands, to even deeply submerged soils in flood-prone areas. Considerable diversity is present in native rice landraces selected by farmers over centuries. Our understanding of the adaptive features of these landraces to native ecosystems has improved considerably over the recent past. In some cases, major genes associated with tolerance have been cloned, such as SUB1A that confers tolerance of complete submergence and SNORKEL genes that control plant elongation to escape deepwater. Modern rice varieties are sensitive to flooding during germination and early growth, a problem commonly encountered in rainfed areas, but few landraces capable of germination under these conditions have recently been identified, enabling research into tolerance mechanisms. Major QTLs were also identified, and are being targeted for molecular breeding and for cloning. Nevertheless, limited progress has been made in identifying regulatory processes for traits that are unique to tolerant genotypes, including faster germination and coleoptile elongation, formation of roots and leaves under hypoxia, ability to catabolize starch into simple sugars for subsequent use in glycolysis and fermentative pathways to generate energy. Here we discuss the state of knowledge on the role of the PDC-ALDH-ACS bypass and the ALDH enzyme as the likely candidates effective in tolerant rice genotypes. Potential involvement of factors such as cytoplasmic pH regulation, phytohormones, reactive oxygen species scavenging and other metabolites is also discussed. Further characterization of contrasting genotypes would help in elucidating the genetic and biochemical regulatory and signaling mechanisms associated with tolerance. This could facilitate breeding rice varieties suitable for direct seeding systems and guide efforts for improving waterlogging tolerance in other crops.
PMCID: PMC3719019  PMID: 23888162
anaerobic germination; alcoholic fermentation; ALDH; pyruvate dehydrogenase bypass; hypoxia; direct seeding; flooding; submergence tolerance
7.  Integration of Agronomic Practices with Herbicides for Sustainable Weed Management in Aerobic Rice 
The Scientific World Journal  2013;2013:916408.
Till now, herbicide seems to be a cost effective tool from an agronomic view point to control weeds. But long term efficacy and sustainability issues are the driving forces behind the reconsideration of herbicide dependent weed management strategy in rice. This demands reappearance of physical and cultural management options combined with judicious herbicide application in a more comprehensive and integrated way. Keeping those in mind, some agronomic tools along with different manual weeding and herbicides combinations were evaluated for their weed control efficacy in rice under aerobic soil conditions. Combination of competitive variety, higher seeding rate, and seed priming resulted in more competitive cropping system in favor of rice, which was reflected in lower weed pressure, higher weed control efficiency, and better yield. Most of the herbicides exhibited excellent weed control efficiency. Treatments comprising only herbicides required less cost involvement but produced higher net benefit. On the contrary, treatments comprising both herbicide and manual weeding required high cost involvement and thus produced lower net benefit. Therefore, adoption of competitive rice variety, higher seed rate, and seed priming along with spraying different early-postemergence herbicides in rotation at 10 days after seeding (DAS) followed by a manual weeding at 30 DAS may be recommended from sustainability view point.
PMCID: PMC3808706  PMID: 24223513
8.  A new insight into arable weed adaptive evolution: mutations endowing herbicide resistance also affect germination dynamics and seedling emergence 
Annals of Botany  2013;111(4):681-691.
Background and Aims
Selective pressures exerted by agriculture on populations of arable weeds foster the evolution of adaptive traits. Germination and emergence dynamics and herbicide resistance are key adaptive traits. Herbicide resistance alleles can have pleiotropic effects on a weed's life cycle. This study investigated the pleiotropic effects of three acetyl-coenzyme A carboxylase (ACCase) alleles endowing herbicide resistance on the seed-to-plant part of the life cycle of the grass weed Alopecurus myosuroides.
In each of two series of experiments, A. myosuroides populations with homogenized genetic backgrounds and segregating for Leu1781, Asn2041 or Gly2078 ACCase mutations which arose independently were used to compare germination dynamics, survival in the soil and seedling pre-emergence growth among seeds containing wild-type, heterozygous and homozygous mutant ACCase embryos.
Key Results
Asn2041 ACCase caused no significant effects. Gly2078 ACCase major effects were a co-dominant acceleration in seed germination (1·25- and 1·10-fold decrease in the time to reach 50 % germination (T50) for homozygous and heterozygous mutant embryos, respectively). Segregation distortion against homozygous mutant embryos or a co-dominant increase in fatal germination was observed in one series of experiments. Leu1781 ACCase major effects were a co-dominant delay in seed germination (1·41- and 1·22-fold increase in T50 for homozygous and heterozygous mutant embryos, respectively) associated with a substantial co-dominant decrease in fatal germination.
Under current agricultural systems, plants carrying Leu1781 or Gly2078 ACCase have a fitness advantage conferred by herbicide resistance that is enhanced or counterbalanced, respectively, by direct pleiotropic effects on the plant phenology. Pleiotropic effects associated with mutations endowing herbicide resistance undoubtedly play a significant role in the evolutionary dynamics of herbicide resistance in weed populations. Mutant ACCase alleles should also prove useful to investigate the role played by seed storage lipids in the control of seed dormancy and germination.
PMCID: PMC3605953  PMID: 23393095
ACCase (acetyl-coenzyme A carboxylase); adaptation; agricultural ecosystem; Alopecurus myosuroides; fitness; grass weed; herbicide resistance; lipid biosynthesis; pleiotropic effect; seed dormancy; survival analysis
9.  Ammonia Volatilization from Urea-Application Influenced Germination and Early Seedling Growth of Dry Direct-Seeded Rice 
The Scientific World Journal  2012;2012:857472.
Poor seed germination and early seedling growth associated with urea-induced soil ammonia volatilization are major constraints in the adoption of dry direct-seeded rice. To directly examine soil ammonia volatilization and its damage to seed germination and early seedling growth of dry direct-seeded rice when urea is applied at seeding, two Petri-dish incubation experiments and a field experiment were conducted. Ammonia volatilization due to urea application significantly reduced seed germination and early seedling growth of dry direct-seedling rice. NBPT significantly reduced ammonia volatilization following urea application. The application of ammonium sulfate, instead of urea at seeding, may mitigate poor crop establishment of dry direct-seeded rice. Root growth of dry direct-seeded rice was more seriously inhibited by soil ammonia volatilization than that of shoot. Results suggest that roots are more sensitive to soil ammonia toxicity than shoots in dry direct-seeded rice system when N is applied as urea at seeding.
PMCID: PMC3289850  PMID: 22454611
10.  The effects of water regime on phosphorus responses of rainfed lowland rice cultivars 
Annals of Botany  2008;103(2):211-220.
Background and Aims
Soil phosphorus (P) solubility declines sharply when a flooded soil drains, and an important component of rice (Oryza sativa) adaptation to rainfed lowland environments is the ability to absorb and utilize P under such conditions. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that rice cultivars differ in their P responses between water regimes because P uptake mechanisms differ.
Six lowland rice cultivars (three considered tolerant of low P soils, three sensitive) were grown in a factorial experiment with three water regimes (flooded, moist and flooded-then-moist) and four soil P levels, and growth and P uptake were measured. Small volumes of soil were used to maximize inter-root competition and uptake per unit root surface. The results were compared with the predictions of a model allowing for the effects of water regime on P solubility and diffusion.
Key Results
The plants were P stressed but not water stressed in all the water regimes at all P levels except the higher P additions in the flooded soil. The cultivar rankings scarcely differed between the water regimes and P additions. In all the treatments, the soil P concentrations required to explain the measured uptake were several times the concentration of freely available P in the soil.
The cultivar rankings were driven more by differences in growth habit than specific P uptake mechanisms, so the hypothesis cannot be corroborated with these data. Evidently all the plants could tap sparingly soluble forms of P by releasing a solubilizing agent or producing a greater root length than measured, or both. However, any cultivar differences in this were not apparent in greater net P uptake, possibly because the restricted rooting volume meant that additional P uptake could not be converted into new root growth to explore new soil volumes.
PMCID: PMC2707314  PMID: 18945744
Oryza sativa; rainfed lowland; phosphorus efficiency; root morphology; solubilization; rice cultivar
11.  Morphological and physiological responses of rice seedlings to complete submergence (flash flooding) 
Annals of Botany  2008;103(2):161-169.
Background and Aims
Reducing damage to rice seedlings caused by flash flooding will improve the productivity of rainfed lowland rice in West Africa. Accordingly, the morphological and physiological responses of different forms of rice to complete submergence were examined in field and pot experiments to identify primary causes of damage.
To characterize the physiological responses, seedlings from a wide genetic base including Oryza sativa, O. glaberrima and interspecific hybrids were compared using principle component analysis.
Key Results
Important factors linked to flash-flood tolerance included minimal shoot elongation underwater, increase in dry matter weight during submergence and post-submergence resistance to lodging. In particular, fast shoot elongation during submergence negatively affected plant growth after de-submergence. Also shoot-elongating cultivars showed a strong negative correlation between dry matter weight of the leaves that developed before submergence and leaves developing during submergence.
Enhancement of shoot elongation during submergence in water that is too deep to permit re-emergence by small seedlings represents a futile escape strategy that takes place at the expense of existing dry matter in circumstances where underwater photosynthetic carbon fixation is negligible. Consequently, it compromises survival or recovery growth once flood water levels recede and plants are re-exposed to the aerial environment. Tolerance is greater in cultivars where acceleration of elongation caused by submergence is minimal.
PMCID: PMC2707308  PMID: 18940854
Africa; flash floods; Oryza glaberrima; rainfed lowland; rice; shoot elongation; stress tolerance; submergence
12.  Morphological Study of the Relationships between Weedy Rice Accessions (Oryza sativa Complex) and Commercial Rice Varieties in Pulau Pinang Rice Granary Area 
Weedy rice (WR) is found in many direct-seeded rice fields. WR possesses morphological characteristics that are similar to cultivated rice varieties in the early stage of growth, making them more difficult to control than other weeds. A comparative morphological study was conducted by collecting WR accessions from four sites within the Pulau Pinang rice growing areas. The objective of the study was to characterise WR accessions of the Pulau Pinang rice granary by comparing their morphological characteristics to those of commercially grown rice in the area. Their morphometric relations were established by comparing 17 morphological characteristics of the WR accessions and the commercial varieties. A total of 36 WR morphotypes were identified from these 4 sites based on 17 characteristics, which included grain shattering habit and germination rate. The Principal Component Analysis (PCA) showed that 45.88% of the variation observed among the WR accessions and commercial varieties were within the first 3 axes. PB6, PP2 and SGA5 WR accessions had a higher number of tillers and longer panicle lengths, culm heights and leaf lengths compared to the commercial rice. The grain sizes of the commercial varieties were slightly longer, and the chlorophyll contents at 60–70 days after sowing (DAS) were higher than those of the WR accessions. Results from this study are useful for predicting potential WR accession growth, which might improve WR management and agriculture practices that control WR in the future.
PMCID: PMC3819074  PMID: 24575197
Weedy Rice; Plant Morphology; Oryza sativa; Pulau Pinang; Cluster Analysis
13.  Impact of Fertilizing Pattern on the Biodiversity of a Weed Community and Wheat Growth 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84370.
Weeding and fertilization are important farming practices. Integrated weed management should protect or improve the biodiversity of farmland weed communities for a better ecological environment with not only increased crop yield, but also reduced use of herbicides. This study hypothesized that appropriate fertilization would benefit both crop growth and the biodiversity of farmland weed communities. To study the effects of different fertilizing patterns on the biodiversity of a farmland weed community and their adaptive mechanisms, indices of species diversity and responses of weed species and wheat were investigated in a 17-year field trial with a winter wheat-soybean rotation. This long term field trial includes six fertilizing treatments with different N, P and K application rates. The results indicated that wheat and the four prevalent weed species (Galium aparine, Vicia sativa, Veronica persica and Geranium carolinianum) showed different responses to fertilizer treatment in terms of density, plant height, shoot biomass, and nutrient accumulations. Each individual weed population exhibited its own adaptive mechanisms, such as increased internode length for growth advantages and increased light interception. The PK treatment had higher density, shoot biomass, Shannon-Wiener and Pielou Indices of weed community than N plus P fertilizer treatments. The N1/2PK treatment showed the same weed species number as the PK treatment. It also showed higher Shannon-Wiener and Pielou Indices of the weed community, although it had a lower wheat yield than the NPK treatment. The negative effects of the N1/2PK treatment on wheat yield could be balanced by the simultaneous positive effects on weed communities, which are intermediate in terms of the effects on wheat and weeds.
PMCID: PMC3885565  PMID: 24416223
14.  Seed Germination Ecology of Feather Lovegrass [Eragrostis tenella (L.) Beauv. Ex Roemer & J.A. Schultes] 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79398.
Feather lovegrass [Eragrostis tenella (L.) Beauv. Ex Roemer & J.A. Schultes] is a C4 grass weed that has the ability to grow in both lowland and upland conditions. Experiments were conducted in the laboratory and screenhouse to evaluate the effect of environmental factors on germination, emergence, and growth of this weed species. Germination in the light/dark regime was higher at alternating day/night temperatures of 30/20 °C (98%) than at 35/25 °C (83%) or 25/15 °C (62%). Germination was completely inhibited by darkness. The osmotic potential and sodium chloride concentrations required for 50% inhibition of maximum germination were -0.7 MPa and 76 mM, respectively. The highest seedling emergence (69%) was observed from the seeds sown on the soil surface and no seedlings emerged from seeds buried at depths of 0.5 cm or more. The use of residue as mulches significantly reduced the emergence and biomass of feather lovegrass seedlings. A residue amount of 0.5 t ha-1 was needed to suppress 50% of the maximum seedlings. Because germination was strongly stimulated by light and seedling emergence was the highest for the seeds sown on the soil surface, feather lovegrass is likely to become a problematic weed in zero-till systems. The knowledge gained from this study could help in developing effective and sustainable weed management strategies.
PMCID: PMC3821846  PMID: 24255700
15.  Ozone Exposure of a Weed Community Produces Adaptive Changes in Seed Populations of Spergula arvensis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75820.
Tropospheric ozone is one of the major drivers of global change. This stress factor alters plant growth and development. Ozone could act as a selection pressure on species communities composition, but also on population genetic background, thus affecting life history traits. Our objective was to evaluate the consequences of prolonged ozone exposure of a weed community on phenotypic traits of Spergulaarvensis linked to persistence. Specifically, we predicted that the selection pressure exerted by high ozone concentrations as well as the concomitant changes in the weed community would drive population adaptive changes which will be reflected on seed germination, dormancy and longevity. In order to test seed viability and dormancy level, we conducted germination experiments for which we used seeds produced by S. arvensis plants grown within a weed community exposed to three ozone treatments during four years (0, 90 and 120 ppb). We also performed a soil seed bank experiment to test seed longevity with seeds coming from both the four-year ozone exposure experiment and from a short-term treatment conducted at ambient and added ozone concentrations. We found that prolonged ozone exposure produced changes in seed germination, dormancy and longevity, resulting in three S. arvensis populations. Seeds from the 90 ppb ozone selection treatment had the highest level of germination when stored at 75% RH and 25 °C and then scarified. These seeds showed the lowest dormancy level when being subjected to 5 ºC/5% RH and 25 ºC/75% followed by 5% RH storage conditions. Furthermore, ozone exposure increased seed persistence in the soil through a maternal effect. Given that tropospheric ozone is an important pollutant in rural areas, changes in seed traits due to ozone exposure could increase weed persistence in fields, thus affecting weed-crop interactions, which could ultimately reduce crop production.
PMCID: PMC3784398  PMID: 24086640
16.  Plant reproduction in the Central Amazonian floodplains: challenges and adaptations 
AoB Plants  2010;2010:plq009.
We review strategies of sexual and asexual reproduction and persistence in plants of flood-prone Central Amazonia. Adaptations in response to the strong instability of these environments are highlighted together with the importance of river connectivity for species dispersal and persistence.
The Central Amazonian floodplain forests are subjected to extended periods of flooding and to flooding amplitudes of 10 m or more. The predictability, the length of the flood pulse, the abrupt transition in the environmental conditions along topographic gradients on the banks of major rivers in Central Amazonia, and the powerful water and sediment dynamics impose a strong selective pressure on plant reproduction systems.
In this review, we examine how the hydrological cycle influences the strategies of sexual and asexual reproduction in herbaceous and woody plants. These are of fundamental importance for the completion of the life cycle. Possible constraints to seed germination, seedling establishment and formation of seed banks are also covered. Likewise, we also discuss the importance of river connectivity for species propagation and persistence in floodplains.
The propagation and establishment strategies employed by the highly diversified assortment of different plant life forms result in contrasting successional stages and a zonation of plant assemblages along the flood-level gradient, whose species composition and successional status are continuously changing not only temporally but also spatially along the river channel.
PMCID: PMC3000700  PMID: 22476067
17.  Taxonomic and Life History Bias in Herbicide Resistant Weeds: Implications for Deployment of Resistant Crops 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e71916.
Evolved herbicide resistance (EHR) is an important agronomic problem and consequently a food security problem, as it jeopardizes herbicide effectiveness and increases the difficulty and cost of weed management. EHR in weeds was first reported in 1970 and the number of cases has accelerated dramatically over the last two decades. Despite 40 years of research on EHR, why some weeds evolve resistance and others do not is poorly understood. Here we ask whether weed species that have EHR are different from weeds in general. Comparing taxonomic and life history traits of weeds with EHR to a control group (“the world's worst weeds”), we found weeds with EHR significantly over-represented in certain plant families and having certain life history biases. In particular, resistance is overrepresented in Amaranthaceae, Brassicaceae and Poaceae relative to all weeds, and annuality is ca. 1.5 times as frequent in weeds with EHR as in the control group. Also, for perennial EHR weeds, vegetative reproduction is only 60% as frequent as in the control group. We found the same trends for subsets of weeds with EHR to acetolactate synthase (ALS), photosystem II (PSII), and 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate (EPSP) synthase-inhibitor herbicides and with multiple resistance. As herbicide resistant crops (transgenic or not) are increasingly deployed in developing countries, the problems of EHR could increase in those countries as it has in the USA if the selecting herbicides are heavily applied and appropriate management strategies are not employed. Given our analysis, we make some predictions about additional species that might evolve resistance.
PMCID: PMC3767681  PMID: 24039727
18.  4-Formylaminooxyvinylglycine, an Herbicidal Germination-Arrest Factor (GAF) from Pseudomonas Rhizosphere Bacteria 
Journal of natural products  2010;73(11):1853-1857.
A new oxyvinylglycine has been identified as a naturally occurring herbicide that irreversibly arrests germination of the seeds of grassy weeds, such as annual bluegrass (Poa annua), without significantly affecting the growth of established grass seedlings and mature plants or germination of the seeds of broadleaf plant species (dicots). Previously, Pseudomonas fluorescens WH6 and over twenty other rhizosphere bacteria were isolated and selected for their ability to arrest germination of P. annua seeds. The Germination-Arrest Factor (GAF, 1) responsible for this developmentally specific herbicidal action has now been isolated from the culture filtrate of P. fluorescens WH6. Purification of this highly polar, low molecular weight natural product allowed its structure to be assigned as 4-formylaminooxy-l-vinylglycine based on NMR spectroscopic and mass spectrometric data, in combination with d/l-amino acid oxidase reactions to establish the absolute configuration. Assay results for P. annua inhibition by related compounds known to regulate plant growth are presented, and a cellular target for 1 is proposed. Furthermore, using bioassays, TLC, and capillary NMR spectroscopy, it has been shown that GAF (1) is secreted by all other herbicidally-active rhizosphere bacteria in our collection.
PMCID: PMC3049220  PMID: 20979386
19.  Amelioration of biodiversity impacts of genetically modified crops: predicting transient versus long-term effects. 
It has been suggested that genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops may benefit biodiversity because spraying of crops may be delayed until later in the growing season, allowing weeds to grow during the early part of the year. This provides an enhanced resource for arthropods, and potentially benefits birds that feed on these. Thus, this technology could enhance biodiversity. Using a review of weed phenologies and a population model, we show that many weeds are unlikely to benefit because spraying is generally delayed insufficiently late in the season to allow most to set seed. The positive effects on biodiversity observed in trials lasting one or two seasons are thus likely to be transient. For one weed of particular significance (Chenopodium album, fat hen) we show that it is unlikely that the positive effects observed could be maintained by inputs of seed during other parts of the rotation. However, we find preliminary evidence that if spraying can be ceased earlier in the season, then a viable population of late-emerging weeds could be maintained. This strategy could benefit weeds in both genetically modified (GM) and non-GM crops, but would probably lead to reduced inputs in GM systems compared with conventional ones.
PMCID: PMC1691595  PMID: 15058445
20.  A Built-In Strategy for Containment of Transgenic Plants: Creation of Selectively Terminable Transgenic Rice 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(3):e1818.
Plant transgenic technology has been widely utilized for engineering crops for trait improvements and for production of high value proteins such as pharmaceuticals. However, the unintended spreading of commercial transgenic crops by pollination and seed dispersal is a major concern for environmental and food safety. Simple and reliable containment strategies for transgenes are highly desirable. Here we report a novel method for creating selectively terminable transgenic rice. In this method, the gene(s) of interest is tagged with a RNA interference cassette, which specifically suppresses the expression of the bentazon detoxification enzyme CYP81A6 and thus renders transgenic rice to be sensitive to bentazon, a herbicide used for rice weed control. We generated transgenic rice plants by this method using a new glyphosate resistant 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS) gene from Pesudomonas putida as the gene of interest, and demonstrated that these transgenic rice plants were highly sensitive to bentazon but tolerant to glyphosate, which is exactly the opposite of conventional rice. Field trial of these transgenic rice plants further confirmed that they can be selectively killed at 100% by one spray of bentazon at a regular dose used for conventional rice weed control. Furthermore, we found that the terminable transgenic rice created in this study shows no difference in growth, development and yield compared to its non-transgenic control. Therefore, this method of creating transgenic rice constitutes a novel strategy of transgene containment, which appears simple, reliable and inexpensive for implementation.
PMCID: PMC2262152  PMID: 18350155
21.  Weed seed resources for birds in fields with contrasting conventional and genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops 
The UK Farm Scale Evaluations (FSEs) have shown that the use of broad spectrum herbicides on genetically modified herbicide-tolerant (GMHT) crops can have dramatic effects on weed seed production compared to management of conventional varieties. Here, we use FSE data and information on bird diets to determine how GMHT cropping might change the food resources available to farmland birds. More than 60 fields of each of four crops, spring- and winter-sown oilseed rape, beet and maize, were split, one half being sown with a conventional variety, the other with a GMHT variety. Seed rain from weeds known to be important in the diets of 17 granivorous farmland bird species was measured under the two treatments. In beet and spring oilseed rape, rain of weed seeds important in the diets of 16 bird species was significantly reduced in GMHT compared to conventional halves; for no species did it increase. In winter oilseed rape, rain of weed seeds important in the diets of 10 species was significantly reduced in GMHT halves; for only one species did it increase significantly. By contrast, in maize, rain of weed seeds important in the diets of seven species was significantly greater in GMHT halves; for no species was it reduced. Treatment effects for the total weed seed energy available to each bird species were very similar to those for seed rain alone. Measuring the effects on individual bird species was outside the scope of this study. Despite this, these results suggest that should beet, spring and winter rape crops in the UK be largely replaced by GMHT varieties and managed as in the FSEs, this would markedly reduce important food resources for farmland birds, many of which declined during the last quarter of the twentieth century. By contrast, GMHT maize would be beneficial to farmland birds.
PMCID: PMC1634768  PMID: 16822753
genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops; weed seeds; farmland birds; bird food
22.  Rapid flooding-induced adventitious root development from preformed primordia in Solanum dulcamara 
AoB Plants  2014;6:plt058.
Flooding strongly affects plant growth, as it leads to low oxygen concentrations in the submerged tissues. Understanding plant responses to flooding may benefit both management of wetland ecosystems and improve progress in creating flood-tolerant crop species. Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara), a species related to tomato and eggplant, has dormant primordia on the stem that develop into adventitious roots within 3 days of flooding. Changes in gene expression were present within 2 hours and included activation of hypoxia and ethylene signalling genes. Unexpectedly, these early changes in gene expression were closely similar in primordia and adjacent stem tissue, suggesting a dominant general response in tissues during early flooding.
Flooding is a common stress factor in both natural and agricultural systems, and affects plant growth by the slow diffusion rate of gases in water. This results in low oxygen concentrations in submerged tissues, and hence in a decreased respiration rate. Understanding the responses of plants to flooding is essential for the management of wetland ecosystems, and may benefit research to improve the flood tolerance of crop species. This study describes the response to partial submergence of bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara). Bittersweet is a Eurasian species that grows both in dry habitats such as coastal dunes, and in wetlands, and therefore is a suitable model plant for studying responses to a variety of environmental stresses. A further advantage is that the species is closely related to flood-intolerant crops such as tomato and eggplant. The species constitutively develops dormant primordia on the stem, which we show to have a predetermined root identity. We investigated adventitious root growth from these primordia during flooding. The synchronized growth of roots from the primordia was detected after 2–3 days of flooding and was due to a combination of cell division and cell elongation. Gene expression analysis demonstrated that the molecular response to flooding began within 2 h and included activation of hypoxia and ethylene signalling genes. Unexpectedly, these early changes in gene expression were very similar in primordia and adjacent stem tissue, suggesting that there is a dominant general response in tissues during early flooding.
PMCID: PMC3922303
Adventitious roots; cDNA-AFLP; gene expression; partial submergence; root primordia; soil flooding; Solanum dulcamara; waterlogging.
23.  Intraspecific variation in the magnitude and pattern of flooding-induced shoot elongation in Rumex palustris 
Annals of Botany  2009;104(6):1057-1067.
Background and Aims
Intraspecific variation in flooding tolerance is the basic pre-condition for adaptive flooding tolerance to evolve, and flooding-induced shoot elongation is an important trait that enables plants to survive shallow, prolonged flooding. Here an investigation was conducted to determine to what extent variation in flooding-induced leaf elongation exists among and within populations of the wetland species Rumex palustris, and whether the magnitude of elongation can be linked to habitat characteristics.
Offspring of eight genotypes collected in each of 12 populations from different sites (ranging from river mudflats with dynamic flooding regimes to areas with stagnant water) were submerged, and petioles, laminas and roots were harvested separately to measure traits related to elongation and plant growth.
Key Results
We found strong elongation of petioles upon submergence, and both among- and within-population variation in this trait, not only in final length, but also in the timing of the elongation response. However, the variation in elongation responses could not be linked to habitat type.
Spatio-temporal variation in the duration and depth of flooding in combination with a presumably weak selection against flooding-induced elongation may have contributed to the maintenance of large genetic variation in flooding-related traits among and within populations.
PMCID: PMC2766193  PMID: 19687030
Flooding tolerance; intraspecific variation; shoot elongation; lamina elongation; petiole elongation; population differentiation; Rumex palustris; submergence
24.  The role of carbohydrates in seed germination and seedling establishment of Himatanthus sucuuba, an Amazonian tree with populations adapted to flooded and non-flooded conditions 
Annals of Botany  2009;104(6):1111-1119.
Background and Aims
In the Amazonian floodplains plants withstand annual periods of flooding which can last 7 months. Under these conditions seedlings remain submerged in the dark for long periods since light penetration in the water is limited. Himatanthus sucuuba is a tree species found in the ‘várzea’ (VZ) floodplains and adjacent non-flooded ‘terra-firme’ (TF) forests. Biochemical traits which enhance flood tolerance and colonization success of H. sucuuba in periodically flooded environments were investigated.
Storage carbohydrates of seeds of VZ and TF populations were extracted and analysed by HPAEC/PAD. Starch was analysed by enzyme (glucoamylase) degradation followed by quantification of glucose oxidase. Carbohydrate composition of roots of VZ and TF seedlings was studied after experimental exposure to a 15-d period of submersion in light versus darkness.
Key Results
The endosperm contains a large proportion of the seed reserves, raffinose being the main non-structural carbohydrate. Around 93 % of the cell wall storage polysaccharides (percentage dry weight basis) in the endosperm of VZ seeds was composed of mannose, while soluble sugars accounted for 2·5%. In contrast, 74 % of the endosperm in TF seeds was composed of galactomannans, while 22 % of the endosperm was soluble sugars. This suggested a larger carbohydrate allocation to germination in TF populations whereas VZ populations allocate comparatively more to carbohydrates mobilized during seedling development. The concentration of root non-structural carbohydrates in non-flooded seedlings strongly decreased after a 15-d period of darkness, whereas flooded seedlings were less affected. These effects were more pronounced in TF seedlings, which showed significantly lower root non-structural carbohydrate concentrations.
There seem to be metabolic adjustments in VZ but not TF seedlings that lead to adaptation to the combined stresses of darkness and flooding. This seems to be important for the survival of the species in these contrasting environments, leading these populations to different directions during evolution.
PMCID: PMC2766203  PMID: 19770164
Carbohydrate reserves; Himatanthus sucuuba; submergence tolerance; floodplains; galactomannans; raffinose; population differentiation; Amazon; storage
25.  Embryo growth, testa permeability, and endosperm weakening are major targets for the environmentally regulated inhibition of Lepidium sativum seed germination by myrigalone A 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2012;63(14):5337-5350.
Myrigalone A (MyA) is a rare flavonoid in fruit leachates of Myrica gale, a deciduous shrub adapted to flood-prone habitats. As a putative allelochemical it inhibits seed germination and seedling growth. Using Lepidium sativum as a model target species, experiments were conducted to investigate how environmental cues modulate MyA’s interference with key processes of seed germination. Time course analyses of L. sativum testa and endosperm rupture under different light conditions and water potentials were combined with quantifying testa permeability, endosperm weakening, tissue-specific gibberellin (GA) and abscisic acid (ABA) contents, as well as embryo growth and apoplastic superoxide production important for cell expansion growth. Lepidium sativum testa permeability and early water uptake by imbibition is enhanced by MyA. During late germination, MyA inhibits endosperm weakening and embryo growth, both processes required for endosperm rupture. Inhibition of embryo cell expansion by MyA depends on environmental cues, which is evident from the light-modulated severity of the MyA-mediated inhibition of apoplastic superoxide accumulation. Several important key weakening and growth processes during early and late germination are targets for MyA. These effects are modulated by light conditions and ambient water potential. It is speculated that MyA is a soil seed bank-destroying allelochemical that secures the persistence of M. gale in its flood-prone environment.
PMCID: PMC3431005  PMID: 22821938
Allelochemical, apoplastic superoxide, embryo growth, endosperm cap weakening, gibberellins (GAs), imbibition, Lepidium sativum, myrigalone A (MyA), seed germination, testa permeability

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