Several members of the Yellow Stripe1-Like (YSL) family of transporter proteins are able to transport metal-nicotianamine (NA) complexes. Substantial progress has been made in understanding the roles of the Arabidopsis YSLs that are most closely related to the founding member of the family, ZmYS1 (e.g., AtYSL1, AtYSL2 and AtYSL3), but there is little information concerning members of the other two well-conserved YSL clades. Here, we provide evidence that AtYSL4 and AtYSL6, which are the only genes in Arabidopsis belong to YSL Group II, are localized to vacuole membranes and to internal membranes resembling endoplasmic reticulum. Both single and double mutants for YSL4 and YSL6 were rigorously analyzed, and have surprisingly mild phenotypes, in spite of the strong and wide-ranging expression of YSL6. However, in the presence of toxic levels of Mn and Ni, plants with mutations in YSL4 and YSL6 and plants overexpressing GFP-tagged YSL6 showed growth defects, indicating a role for these transporters in heavy metal stress responses.
nickel; nicotianamine; yellow stripe-like; metal transporters; manganese; iron; tonoplast; endomembrane
Iron uptake and translocation in plants are important processes for both plant and human nutrition, whereas relatively little is known about the molecular mechanisms of iron transport within the plant body. Several reports have shown that yellow stripe 1 (YS1) and YS1-like (YSL) transporters mediate metal-phytosiderophore uptake and/or metal-nicotianamine translocation. Among the 18 YSL genes in rice (OsYSLs), OsYSL18 is predicted to encode a polypeptide of 679 amino acids containing 13 putative transmembrane domains. An OsYSL18-green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion was localized to the plasma membrane when transiently expressed in onion epidermal cells. Electrophysiological measurements using Xenopus laevis oocytes showed that OsYSL18 transports iron(III)–deoxymugineic acid, but not iron(II)–nicotianamine, zinc(II)–deoxymugineic acid, or zinc(II)–nicotianamine. Reverse transcriptase PCR analysis revealed more OsYSL18 transcripts in flowers than in shoots or roots. OsYSL18 promoter-β-glucuronidase (GUS) analysis revealed that OsYSL18 was expressed in reproductive organs including the pollen tube. In vegetative organs, OsYSL18 was specifically expressed in lamina joints, the inner cortex of crown roots, and phloem parenchyma and companion cells at the basal part of every leaf sheath. These results suggest that OsYSL18 is an iron-phytosiderophore transporter involved in the translocation of iron in reproductive organs and phloem in joints.
Iron; Phytosiderophore; Transporter; Rice; Translocation; YS1-like gene
Since the identification of the genes controlling the root acquisition of iron (Fe), the control of inter- and intracellular distribution has become an important challenge in understanding metal homeostasis. The identification of the yellow stripe-like (YSL) transporter family has paved the way to decipher the mechanisms of long-distance transport of Fe.
Once in the plant, Fe will systematically react with organic ligands whose identity is poorly known so far. Among potential ligands, nicotianamine has been identified as an important molecule for the circulation and delivery of metals since it participates in the loading of copper (Cu) and nickel in xylem and prevents Fe precipitation in leaves. Nicotianamine is a precursor of phytosiderophores, which are high-affinity Fe ligands exclusively synthesized by Poaceae species and excreted by roots for the chelation and acquisition of Fe. Maize YS1 is the founding member of a family of membrane transporters called YS1-like (YSL), which functions in root Fe–phytosiderophore uptake from the soil. Next to this well-known Fe acquisition role, most of the other YSL family members are likely to function in plant-wide distribution of metals since (a) they are produced in vascular tissues throughout the plant and (b) they are found in non-Poaceae species that do not synthesize phytosiderophores. The hypothesized activity as Fe–nicotianamine transporters of several YSL members has been demonstrated experimentally by heterologous expression in yeast or by electrophysiology in Xenopus oocytes but, despite numerous attempts, proof of the arabidopsis YSL substrate specificity is still lacking. Reverse genetics, however, has revealed a role for AtYSL members in the remobilization of Cu and zinc from senescing leaves, in the formation of pollen and in the Fe, zinc and Cu loading of seeds.
Preliminary data on the YSL family of transporters clearly argues in favour of its role in the long-distance transport of metals through and between vascular tissues to eventually support gametogenesis and embryo development.
Metals; iron; nicotianamine; yellow stripe-like; YS1-like; circulation; transport; phytosiderophore; xylem; phloem
Monocots, especially the temperate grasses, represent some of the most agriculturally important crops for both current food needs and future biofuel development. Because most of the agriculturally important grass species are difficult to study (e.g., they often have large, repetitive genomes and can be difficult to grow in laboratory settings), developing genetically tractable model systems is essential. Brachypodium distachyon (hereafter Brachypodium) is an emerging model system for the temperate grasses. To fully realize the potential of this model system, publicly accessible discovery tools are essential. High quality cDNA libraries that can be readily adapted for multiple downstream purposes are a needed resource. Additionally, yeast two-hybrid (Y2H) libraries are an important discovery tool for protein-protein interactions and are not currently available for Brachypodium.
We describe the creation of two high quality, publicly available Gateway™ cDNA entry libraries and their derived Y2H libraries for Brachypodium. The first entry library represents cloned cDNA populations from both short day (SD, 8/16-h light/dark) and long day (LD, 20/4-h light/dark) grown plants, while the second library was generated from hormone treated tissues. Both libraries have extensive genome coverage (~5 × 107 primary clones each) and average clone lengths of ~1.5 Kb. These entry libraries were then used to create two recombination-derived Y2H libraries. Initial proof-of-concept screens demonstrated that a protein with known interaction partners could readily re-isolate those partners, as well as novel interactors.
Accessible community resources are a hallmark of successful biological model systems. Brachypodium has the potential to be a broadly useful model system for the grasses, but still requires many of these resources. The Gateway™ compatible entry libraries created here will facilitate studies for multiple user-defined purposes and the derived Y2H libraries can be immediately applied to large scale screening and discovery of novel protein-protein interactions. All libraries are freely available for distribution to the research community.
The wild grass species Brachypodium distachyon (Brachypodium hereafter) is emerging as a new model system for grass crop genomics research and biofuel grass biology. A draft nuclear genome sequence is expected to be publicly available in the near future; an explosion of gene expression studies will undoubtedly follow. Therefore, stable reference genes are necessary to normalize the gene expression data.
A systematic exploration of suitable reference genes in Brachypodium is presented here. Nine reference gene candidates were chosen, and their gene sequences were obtained from the Brachypodium expressed sequence tag (EST) databases. Their expression levels were examined by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) using 21 different Brachypodium plant samples, including those from different plant tissues and grown under various growth conditions. Effects of plant growth hormones were also visualized in the assays. The expression stability of the candidate genes was evaluated using two analysis software packages, geNorm and NormFinder. In conclusion, the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme 18 gene (UBC18) was validated as a suitable reference gene across all the plant samples examined. While the expression of the polyubiquitin genes (Ubi4 and Ubi10) was most stable in different plant tissues and growth hormone-treated plant samples, the expression of the S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase gene (SamDC) ranked was most stable in plants grown under various environmental stresses.
This study identified the reference genes that are most suitable for normalizing the gene expression data in Brachypodium. These reference genes will be particularly useful when stress-responsive genes are analyzed in order to produce transgenic plants that exhibit enhanced stress resistance.
Brachypodium distachyon (L.) Beauv. is a temperate wild grass species; its morphological and genomic characteristics make it a model system when compared to many other grass species. It has a small genome, short growth cycle, self-fertility, many diploid accessions, and simple growth requirements. In addition, it is phylogenetically close to economically important crops, like wheat and barley, and several potential biofuel grasses. It exhibits agricultural traits similar to those of these target crops. For cereal genomes, it is a better model than Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa (rice), the former used as a model for all flowering plants and the latter hitherto used as model for genomes of all temperate grass species including major cereals like barley and wheat. Increasing interest in this species has resulted in the development of a series of genomics resources, including nuclear sequences and BAC/EST libraries, together with the collection and characterization of other genetic resources. It is expected that the use of this model will allow rapid advances in generation of genomics information for the improvement of all temperate crops, particularly the cereals.
Background and Aims
Brachypodium is a small genus of temperate grasses that comprises 12–15 species. Brachypodium distachyon is now well established as a model species for temperate cereals and forage grasses. In contrast to B. distachyon, other members of the genus have been poorly investigated at the chromosome level or not at all.
Twenty accessions comprising six species and two subspecies of Brachypodium were analysed cytogenetically. Measurements of nuclear genome size were made by flow cytometry. Chromosomal localization of 18–5·8–25S rDNA and 5S rDNA loci was performed by dual-colour fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) on enzymatically digested root-tip meristematic cells. For comparative phylogenetic analyses genomic in situ hybridization (GISH) applied to somatic chromosome preparations was used.
All Brachypodium species examined have rather small genomes and chromosomes. Their chromosome numbers and genome sizes vary from 2n = 10 and 0·631 pg/2C in B. distachyon to 2n = 38 and 2·57 pg/2C in B. retusum, respectively. Genotypes with 18 and 28 chromosomes were found among B. pinnatum accessions. GISH analysis revealed that B. pinnatum with 28 chromosomes is most likely an interspecific hybrid between B. distachyon (2n = 10) and B. pinnatum (2n = 18). Two other species, B. phoenicoides and B. retusum, are also allopolyploids and B. distachyon or a close relative seems to be one of their putative ancestral species. In chromosomes of all species examined the 45S rDNA loci are distally distributed whereas loci for 5S rDNA are pericentromeric.
The increasing significance of B. distachyon as a model grass emphasizes the need to understand the evolutionary relationships in the genus Brachypodium and to ensure consistency in the biological nomenclature of its species. Modern molecular cytogenetic techniques such as FISH and GISH are suitable for comparative phylogenetic analyses and may provide informative chromosome- and/or genome-specific landmarks.
5S rDNA; 25S rDNA; B. distachyon; Brachypodium; FISH; flow cytometry; GISH; nuclear genome size; ribosomal RNA genes
The model grass Brachypodium distachyon (Brachypodium) is an excellent system for studying the basic biology underlying traits relevant to the use of grasses as food, forage and energy crops. To add to the growing collection of Brachypodium resources available to plant scientists, we further optimized our Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated high-efficiency transformation method and generated 8,491 Brachypodium T-DNA lines. We used inverse PCR to sequence the DNA flanking the insertion sites in the mutants. Using these flanking sequence tags (FSTs) we were able to assign 7,389 FSTs from 4,402 T-DNA mutants to 5,285 specific insertion sites (ISs) in the Brachypodium genome. More than 29% of the assigned ISs are supported by multiple FSTs. T-DNA insertions span the entire genome with an average of 19.3 insertions/Mb. The distribution of T-DNA insertions is non-uniform with a larger number of insertions at the distal ends compared to the centromeric regions of the chromosomes. Insertions are correlated with genic regions, but are biased toward UTRs and non-coding regions within 1 kb of genes over exons and intron regions. More than 1,300 unique genes have been tagged in this population. Information about the Western Regional Research Center Brachypodium insertional mutant population is available on a searchable website (http://brachypodium.pw.usda.gov) designed to provide researchers with a means to order T-DNA lines with mutations in genes of interest.
Grain development and its evolution in grasses remains poorly understood, despite cereals being our most important source of food. The grain, for which many grass species have been domesticated, is a single-seeded fruit with prominent and persistent endosperm. Brachypodium distachyon, a small wild grass, is being posited as a new model system for the temperate small grain cereals, but little is known about its endosperm development and how this compares with that of the domesticated cereals. A cellular and molecular map of domains within the developing Brachypodium endosperm is constructed. This provides the first detailed description of grain development in Brachypodium for the reference strain, Bd21, that will be useful for future genetic and comparative studies. Development of Brachypodium grains is compared with that of wheat. Notably, the aleurone is not regionally differentiated as in wheat, suggesting that the modified aleurone region may be a feature of only a subset of cereals. Also, the central endosperm and the nucellar epidermis contain unusually prominent cell walls that may act as a storage material. The composition of these cell walls is more closely related to those of barley and oats than to those of wheat. Therefore, although endosperm development is broadly similar to that of temperate small grain cereals, there are significant differences that may reflect its phylogenetic position between the Triticeae and rice.
Brachypodium distachyon; development; endosperm; evolution; gene expression; grain structure
Brachypodium distachyon L. is a newly emerging model plant system for temperate cereal crop species. However, its grain protein compositions are still not clear. In the current study, we carried out a detailed proteomics and molecular genetics study on grain glutenin proteins in B. distachyon.
SDS-PAGE and RP-HPLC analysis of grain proteins showed that Brachypodium has few gliadins and high molecular weight glutenin subunits. In contrast the electrophoretic patterns for the albumin, globulin and low molecular weight glutenin subunit (LMW-GS) fractions of the grain protein were similar to those in wheat. In particular, the LMW-C type subunits in Brachypodium were more abundant than the equivalent proteins in common wheat. Southern blotting analysis confirmed that Brachypodium has 4–5 copies of LMW-GS genes. A total of 18 LMW-GS genes were cloned from Brachypodium by allele specific PCR. LMW-GS and 4 deduced amino acid sequences were further confirmed by using Western-blotting and MALDI-TOF-MS. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that Brachypodium was closer to Ae. markgrafii and Ae. umbellulata than to T. aestivum.
Brachypodium possessed a highly conserved Glu-3 locus that is closely related to Triticum and related species. The presence of LMW-GS in B. distachyon grains indicates that B. distachyon may be used as a model system for studying wheat quality attributes.
In the past, rice genome served as a good model for studies involving comparative genomics of grass species. More recently, however, Brachypodium distachyon genome has emerged as a better model system for genomes of temperate cereals including wheat. During the present study, Brachypodium EST contigs were utilized to resolve orthologous relationships among the genomes of Brachypodium, wheat and rice.
Comparative sequence analysis of 3,818 Brachypodium EST (bEST) contigs and 3,792 physically mapped wheat EST (wEST) contigs revealed that as many as 449 bEST contigs were orthologous to 1,154 wEST loci that were bin-mapped on all the 21 wheat chromosomes. Similarly 743 bEST contigs were orthologous to specific rice genome sequences distributed on all the 12 rice chromosomes. As many as 183 bEST contigs were orthologous to both wheat and rice genome sequences, which harbored as many as 17 SSRs conserved across the three species. Primers developed for 12 of these 17 conserved SSRs were used for a wet-lab experiment, which resolved relatively high level of conservation among the genomes of Brachypodium, wheat and rice.
The present study confirmed that Brachypodium is a better model than rice for analysis of the genomes of temperate cereals like wheat and barley. The whole genome sequence of Brachypodium, which should become available in the near future, will further facilitate greatly the studies involving comparative genomics of cereals.
Temperate perennial grasses are important worldwide as a livestock nutritive energy source and a potential feedstock for lignocellulosic biofuel production. The annual temperate grass Brachypodium distachyon has been championed as a useful model system to facilitate biological research in agriculturally important temperate forage grasses based on phylogenetic relationships. To physically corroborate genetic predictions, we determined the chemical composition profiles of organ-specific cell walls throughout the development of two common diploid accessions of Brachypodium distachyon, Bd21-3 and Bd21. Chemical analysis was performed on cell walls isolated from distinct organs (i.e., leaves, sheaths, stems, and roots) at three developmental stages of (1) 12-day seedling, (2) vegetative-to-reproductive transition, and (3) mature seed fill. In addition, we have included cell wall analysis of embryonic callus used for genetic transformations. Composition of cell walls based on components lignin, hydroxycinnamates, uronosyls, neutral sugars, and protein suggests that Brachypodium distachyon is similar chemically to agriculturally important forage grasses. There were modest compositional differences in hydroxycinnamate profiles between accessions Bd21-3 and Bd21. In addition, when compared to agronomical important C3 grasses, more mature Brachypodium stem cell walls have a relative increase in glucose of 48% and a decrease in lignin of 36%. Though differences exist between Brachypodium and agronomical important C3 grasses, Brachypodium distachyon should be still a useful model system for genetic manipulation of cell wall composition to determine the impact upon functional characteristics such as rumen digestibility or energy conversion efficiency for bioenergy production.
plant cell wall; biomass; Brachypodium distachyon; grass; chemical composition
Brachypodium distachyon (Brachypodium) is rapidly emerging as a powerful model system to facilitate research aimed at improving grass crops for grain, forage and energy production. To characterize the natural diversity of Brachypodium and provide a valuable new tool to the growing list of resources available to Brachypodium researchers, we created and characterized a large, diverse collection of inbred lines.
We developed 84 inbred lines from eight locations in Turkey. To enable genotypic characterization of this collection, we created 398 SSR markers from BAC end and EST sequences. An analysis of 187 diploid lines from 56 locations with 43 SSR markers showed considerable genotypic diversity. There was some correlation between SSR genotypes and broad geographic regions, but there was also a high level of genotypic diversity at individual locations. Phenotypic analysis of this new germplasm resource revealed considerable variation in flowering time, seed size, and plant architecture. The inbreeding nature of Brachypodium was confirmed by an extremely high level of homozygosity in wild plants and a lack of cross-pollination under laboratory conditions.
Taken together, the inbreeding nature and genotypic diversity observed at individual locations suggest a significant amount of long-distance seed dispersal. The resources developed in this study are freely available to the research community and will facilitate experimental applications based on natural diversity.
To acquire iron (Fe), graminaceous plants secrete mugineic acid family phytosiderophores through the phytosiderophore efflux transporter TOM1 and take up Fe in the form of Fe(III)–phytosiderophore complexes. Yellow stripe 1 (ys1) and ys3 are recessive mutants of maize (Zea mays L.) that show typical symptoms of Fe deficiency, i.e., interveinal chlorosis of the leaves. The ys1 mutant is defective in the Fe(III)–phytosiderophore transporter YS1 and is therefore unable to take up Fe(III)–phytosiderophore complexes. While the ys3 mutant has been shown to be defective in phytosiderophores release, the causative gene has not been identified. The present study was performed to characterize the expression profiles of the genes in ys1 and ys3 mutants to extend our understanding of Fe homeostasis in maize. Using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, we assessed changes in the levels of gene expression in response to Fe deficiency of genes involved in Fe homeostasis, such as those related to phytosiderophore biosynthesis and Fe transport. As with other crops, these Fe deficiency-inducible genes were also upregulated in maize. In addition, these Fe deficiency-inducible genes were upregulated in both the ys1 and ys3 mutants, even under Fe-sufficient conditions. Indeed, the Fe concentrations in the roots of ys1 and ys3 plants were lower than that of wild-type controls. These results suggest that ys1 and ys3 are Fe-deficient during growth in the presence of Fe. In agreement with previous reports, the level of YS1 expression decreased in the ys1 mutant. Moreover, the expression level of a homolog of TOM1 in maize decreased significantly in the ys3 mutant. Unspliced introns of ZmTOM1 were detected only in ys3, and not in YS1YS3 or ys1, suggesting that ZmTOM1 may be involved in the ys3 phenotype.
Wheat, barley, and rye, of tribe Triticeae in the Poaceae, are among the most important crops worldwide but they present many challenges to genomics-aided crop improvement. Brachypodium distachyon, a close relative of those cereals has recently emerged as a model for grass functional genomics. Sequencing of the nuclear and organelle genomes of Brachypodium is one of the first steps towards making this species available as a tool for researchers interested in cereals biology.
The chloroplast genome of Brachypodium distachyon was sequenced by a combinational approach using BAC end and shotgun sequences derived from a selected BAC containing the entire chloroplast genome. Comparative analysis indicated that the chloroplast genome is conserved in gene number and organization with respect to those of other cereals. However, several Brachypodium genes evolve at a faster rate than those in other grasses. Sequence analysis reveals that rice and wheat have a ~2.1 kb deletion in their plastid genomes and this deletion must have occurred independently in both species.
We demonstrate that BAC libraries can be used to sequence plastid, and likely other organellar, genomes. As expected, the Brachypodium chloroplast genome is very similar to those of other sequenced grasses. The phylogenetic analyses and the pattern of insertions and deletions in the chloroplast genome confirmed that Brachypodium is a close relative of the tribe Triticeae. Nevertheless, we show that some large indels can arise multiple times and may confound phylogenetic reconstruction.
Brachypodium distachyon constitutes an excellent model species for grasses. It is a small, easily propagated, temperate grass with a rapid life cycle and a small genome. It is a self-fertile plant that can be transformed with high efficiency using Agrobacteria and callus derived from immature embryos. In addition, considerable genetic and genomic resources are becoming available for this species in the form of mapping populations, large expressed sequence tag collections, T-DNA insertion lines and, in the near future, the complete genome sequence. The development of Brachypodium as a model species is of particular value in the areas of cell wall and biomass research, where differences between dicots and grasses are greatest. Here we explore the effect of mild conditions of pretreatment and hydrolysis in Brachypodium stem segments as a contribution for the establishment of sensitive screening of the saccharification properties in different genetic materials.
The non-cellulosic monosaccharide composition of Brachypodium is closely related to grasses of agricultural importance and significantly different from the dicot model Arabidopsis thaliana. Diluted acid pretreatment of stem segments produced significant release of sugars and negatively affected the amount of sugars obtained by enzymatic hydrolysis. Monosaccharide and oligosaccharide analysis showed that the hemicellulose fraction is the main target of the enzymatic activity under the modest hydrolytic conditions used in our assays. Scanning electron microscopy analysis of the treated materials showed progressive exposure of fibrils in the stem segments.
Results presented here indicate that under mild conditions cellulose and hemicellulose are hydrolysed to differing extents, with hemicellulose hydrolysis predominating. We anticipate that the sub-optimal conditions for hydrolysis identified here will provide a sensitive assay to detect variations in saccharification among Brachypodium plants, providing a useful analytical tool for identifying plants with alterations in this trait.
Puccinia graminis causes stem rust, a serious disease of cereals and forage grasses. Important formae speciales of P. graminis and their typical hosts are P. graminis f. sp. tritici (Pg-tr) in wheat and barley, P. graminis f. sp. lolii (Pg-lo) in perennial ryegrass and tall fescue, and P. graminis f. sp. phlei-pratensis (Pg-pp) in timothy grass. Brachypodium distachyon is an emerging genetic model to study fungal disease resistance in cereals and temperate grasses. We characterized the P. graminis-Brachypodium pathosystem to evaluate its potential for investigating incompatibility and non-host resistance to P. graminis. Inoculation of eight Brachypodium inbred lines with Pg-tr, Pg-lo or Pg-pp resulted in sporulating lesions later accompanied by necrosis. Histological analysis of early infection events in one Brachypodium inbred line (Bd1-1) indicated that Pg-lo and Pg-pp were markedly more efficient than Pg-tr at establishing a biotrophic interaction. Formation of appressoria was completed (60–70% of germinated spores) by 12 h post-inoculation (hpi) under dark and wet conditions, and after 4 h of subsequent light exposure fungal penetration structures (penetration peg, substomatal vesicle and primary infection hyphae) had developed. Brachypodium Bd1-1 exhibited pre-haustorial resistance to Pg-tr, i.e. infection usually stopped at appressorial formation. By 68 hpi, only 0.3% and 0.7% of the Pg-tr urediniospores developed haustoria and colonies, respectively. In contrast, development of advanced infection structures by Pg-lo and Pg-pp was significantly more common; however, Brachypodium displayed post-haustorial resistance to these isolates. By 68 hpi the percentage of urediniospores that only develop a haustorium mother cell or haustorium in Pg-lo and Pg-pp reached 8% and 5%, respectively. The formation of colonies reached 14% and 13%, respectively. We conclude that Brachypodium is an apt grass model to study the molecular and genetic components of incompatiblity and non-host resistance to P. graminis.
Little is known about the potential of Brachypodium distachyon as a model for low temperature stress responses in Pooideae. The ice recrystallization inhibition protein (IRIP) genes, fructosyltransferase (FST) genes, and many C-repeat binding factor (CBF) genes are Pooideae specific and important in low temperature responses. Here we used comparative analyses to study conservation and evolution of these gene families in B. distachyon to better understand its potential as a model species for agriculturally important temperate grasses.
Brachypodium distachyon contains cold responsive IRIP genes which have evolved through Brachypodium specific gene family expansions. A large cold responsive CBF3 subfamily was identified in B. distachyon, while CBF4 homologs are absent from the genome. No B. distachyon FST gene homologs encode typical core Pooideae FST-motifs and low temperature induced fructan accumulation was dramatically different in B. distachyon compared to core Pooideae species.
We conclude that B. distachyon can serve as an interesting model for specific molecular mechanisms involved in low temperature responses in core Pooideae species. However, the evolutionary history of key genes involved in low temperature responses has been different in Brachypodium and core Pooideae species. These differences limit the use of B. distachyon as a model for holistic studies relevant for agricultural core Pooideae species.
Brachypodium distachyon; Cold climate adaptation; Ice recrystallization inhibition protein; Gene expression; Fructosyltransferase; C-repeat binding factor; Gene family evolution
Brachypodium distachyon (Brachypodium) is a model for the temperate grasses which include important cereals such as barley, wheat and oats. Comparison of the Brachypodium genome (accession Bd21) with those of the model dicot Arabidopsis thaliana and the tropical cereal rice (Oryza sativa) provides an opportunity to compare and contrast genetic pathways controlling important traits. We analysed the homologies of genes controlling the induction of flowering using pathways curated in Arabidopsis Reactome as a starting point. Pathways include those detecting and responding to the environmental cues of day length (photoperiod) and extended periods of low temperature (vernalization). Variation in these responses has been selected during cereal domestication, providing an interesting comparison with the wild genome of Brachypodium. Brachypodium Bd21 has well conserved homologues of circadian clock, photoperiod pathway and autonomous pathway genes defined in Arabidopsis and homologues of vernalization pathway genes defined in cereals with the exception of VRN2 which was absent. Bd21 also lacked a member of the CO family (CO3). In both cases flanking genes were conserved showing that these genes are deleted in at least this accession. Segmental duplication explains the presence of two CO-like genes in temperate cereals, of which one (Hd1) is retained in rice, and explains many differences in gene family structure between grasses and Arabidopsis. The conserved fine structure of duplications shows that they largely evolved to their present structure before the divergence of the rice and Brachypodium. Of four flowering-time genes found in rice but absent in Arabidopsis, two were found in Bd21 (Id1, OsMADS51) and two were absent (Ghd7, Ehd1). Overall, results suggest that an ancient core photoperiod pathway promoting flowering via the induction of FT has been modified by the recruitment of additional lineage specific pathways that promote or repress FT expression.
Endo-(1,4)-β-glucanase (cellulase) glycosyl hydrolase GH9 enzymes have been implicated in several aspects of cell wall metabolism in higher plants, including cellulose biosynthesis and degradation, modification of other wall polysaccharides that contain contiguous (1,4)-β-glucosyl residues, and wall loosening during cell elongation.
The endo-(1,4)-β-glucanase gene families from barley (Hordeum vulgare), maize (Zea mays), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), rice (Oryza sativa) and Brachypodium (Brachypodium distachyon) range in size from 23 to 29 members. Phylogenetic analyses show variations in clade structure between the grasses and Arabidopsis, and indicate differential gene loss and gain during evolution. Map positions and comparative studies of gene structures allow orthologous genes in the five species to be identified and synteny between the grasses is found to be high. It is also possible to differentiate between homoeologues resulting from ancient polyploidizations of the maize genome. Transcript analyses using microarray, massively parallel signature sequencing and quantitative PCR data for barley, rice and maize indicate that certain members of the endo-(1,4)-β-glucanase gene family are transcribed across a wide range of tissues, while others are specifically transcribed in particular tissues. There are strong correlations between transcript levels of several members of the endo-(1,4)-β-glucanase family and the data suggest that evolutionary conservation of transcription exists between orthologues across the grass family. There are also strong correlations between certain members of the endo-(1,4)-β-glucanase family and other genes known to be involved in cell wall loosening and cell expansion, such as expansins and xyloglucan endotransglycosylases.
The identification of these groups of genes will now allow us to test hypotheses regarding their functions and joint participation in wall synthesis, re-modelling and degradation, together with their potential role in lignocellulose conversion during biofuel production from grasses and cereal crop residues.
Biofuels; Cell walls; Cellulases; Cellulose synthesis; Co-expression; Grasses; Stem strength
Nuclear Factor Y (NF-Y) is a heterotrimeric transcription factor composed of NF-YA, NF-YB and NF-YC proteins. Using the dicot plant model system Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis), NF-Y were previously shown to control a variety of agronomically important traits, including drought tolerance, flowering time, and seed development. The aim of the current research was to identify and characterize NF-Y families in the emerging monocot model plant Brachypodium distachyon (Brachypodium) with the long term goal of assisting in the translation of known dicot NF-Y functions to the grasses.
We identified, annotated, and further characterized 7 NF-YA, 17 NF-YB, and 12 NF-YC proteins in Brachypodium (BdNF-Y). By examining phylogenetic relationships, orthology predictions, and tissue-specific expression patterns for all 36 BdNF-Y, we proposed numerous examples of likely functional conservation between dicots and monocots. To test one of these orthology predictions, we demonstrated that a BdNF-YB with predicted orthology to Arabidopsis floral-promoting NF-Y proteins can rescue a late flowering Arabidopsis mutant.
The Brachypodium genome encodes a similar complement of NF-Y to other sequenced angiosperms. Information regarding NF-Y phylogenetic relationships, predicted orthologies, and expression patterns can facilitate their study in the grasses. The current data serves as an entry point for translating many NF-Y functions from dicots to the genetically tractable monocot model system Brachypodium. In turn, studies of NF-Y function in Brachypodium promise to be more readily translatable to the agriculturally important grasses.
Brachypodium distachyon (Brachypodium) has been recognized as a new model species for comparative and functional genomics of cereal and bioenergy crops because it possesses many biological attributes desirable in a model, such as a small genome size, short stature, self-pollinating habit, and short generation cycle. To maximize the utility of Brachypodium as a model for basic and applied research it is necessary to develop genomic resources for it. A BAC-based physical map is one of them. A physical map will facilitate analysis of genome structure, comparative genomics, and assembly of the entire genome sequence.
A total of 67,151 Brachypodium BAC clones were fingerprinted with the SNaPshot HICF fingerprinting method and a genome-wide physical map of the Brachypodium genome was constructed. The map consisted of 671 contigs and 2,161 clones remained as singletons. The contigs and singletons spanned 414 Mb. A total of 13,970 gene-related sequences were detected in the BAC end sequences (BES). These gene tags aligned 345 contigs with 336 Mb of rice genome sequence, showing that Brachypodium and rice genomes are generally highly colinear. Divergent regions were mainly in the rice centromeric regions. A dot-plot of Brachypodium contigs against the rice genome sequences revealed remnants of the whole-genome duplication caused by paleotetraploidy, which were previously found in rice and sorghum. Brachypodium contigs were anchored to the wheat deletion bin maps with the BES gene-tags, opening the door to Brachypodium-Triticeae comparative genomics.
The construction of the Brachypodium physical map, and its comparison with the rice genome sequence demonstrated the utility of the SNaPshot-HICF method in the construction of BAC-based physical maps. The map represents an important genomic resource for the completion of Brachypodium genome sequence and grass comparative genomics. A draft of the physical map and its comparisons with rice and wheat are available at .
Roots of some gramineous plants secrete phytosiderophores in response to iron deficiency and take up Fe as a ferric–phytosiderophore complex through the transporter YS1 (Yellow Stripe 1). Here, this transporter in maize (ZmYS1) and barley (HvYS1) was further characterized and compared in terms of expression pattern, diurnal change, and tissue-type specificity of localization. The expression of HvYS1 was specifically induced by Fe deficiency only in barley roots, and increased with the progress of Fe deficiency, whereas ZmYS1 was expressed in maize in the leaf blades and sheaths, crown, and seminal roots, but not in the hypocotyl. HvYS1 expression was not induced by any other metal deficiency. Furthermore, in maize leaf blades, the expression was higher in the young leaf blades showing severe chlorosis than in the old leaf blades showing no chlorosis. The expression of HvYS1 showed a distinct diurnal rhythm, reaching a maximum before the onset of phytosiderophore secretion. In contrast, ZmYS1 did not show such a rhythm in expression. Immunostaining showed that ZmYS1 was localized in the epidermal cells of both crown and lateral roots, with a polar localization at the distal side of the epidermal cells. In maize leaves, ZmYS1 was localized in mesophyll cells, but not epidermal cells. These differences in gene expression pattern and tissue-type specificity of localization suggest that HvYS1 is only involved in primary Fe acquisition by barley roots, whereas ZmYS1 is involved in both primary Fe acquisition and intracellular transport of iron and other metals in maize.
Barley; expression pattern; iron; localization; maize; phytosiderophore; transporter
Wheat and maize genes were hypothesized to be clustered into islands but the hypothesis was not statistically tested. The hypothesis is statistically tested here in four grass species differing in genome size, Brachypodium distachyon, Oryza sativa, Sorghum bicolor, and Aegilops tauschii. Density functions obtained under a model where gene locations follow a homogeneous Poisson process and thus are not clustered are compared with a model-free situation quantified through a non-parametric density estimate. A simple homogeneous Poisson model for gene locations is not rejected for the small O. sativa and B. distachyon genomes, indicating that genes are distributed largely uniformly in those species, but is rejected for the larger S. bicolor and Ae. tauschii genomes, providing evidence for clustering of genes into islands. It is proposed to call the gene islands “gene insulae” to distinguish them from other types of gene clustering that have been proposed. An average S. bicolor and Ae. tauschii insula is estimated to contain 3.7 and 3.9 genes with an average intergenic distance within an insula of 2.1 and 16.5 kb, respectively. Inter-insular distances are greater than 8 and 81 kb and average 15.1 and 205 kb, in S. bicolor and Ae. tauschii, respectively. A greater gene density observed in the distal regions of the Ae. tauschii chromosomes is shown to be primarily caused by shortening of inter-insular distances. The comparison of the four grass genomes suggests that gene locations are largely a function of a homogeneous Poisson process in small genomes. Nonrandom insertions of LTR retroelements during genome expansion creates gene insulae, which become less dense and further apart with the increase in genome size. High concordance in relative lengths of orthologous intergenic distances among the investigated genomes including the maize genome suggests functional constraints on gene distribution in the grass genomes.
Brachypodium distachyon is emerging as the model plant for temperate grass research and the genome of the community line Bd21 has been sequenced. Additionally, techniques have been developed for Agrobacterium-mediated transformation for the generation of T-DNA insertional lines. Recently, it was reported that expression of the polyubiquitin genes, Ubi4 and Ubi10 are stable in different tissues and growth hormone-treated plant samples, leading to the conclusion that both Ubi4 and Ubi10 are good reference genes for normalization of gene expression data using real-time, quantitative PCR (qPCR).
Mining of the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) 8X Brachypodium distachyon genome assembly showed that Ubi4 and Ubi10 share a high level of sequence identity (89%), and in silico analyses of the sequences of Ubi4 (Bradi3g04730) and Ubi10 (Bradi1g32860) showed that the primers used previously exhibit multiple binding sites within the coding sequences arising from the presence of tandem repeats of the coding regions. This can potentially result in over-estimation of steady-state levels of Ubi4 and Ubi10. Additionally, due to the high level of sequence identity between both genes, primers used previously for amplification of Ubi4 can bind to Ubi10 and vice versa, resulting in the formation of non-specific amplification products.
The results from this study indicate that the primers used previously were not sufficiently robust and specific. Additionally, their use would result in over-estimation of the steady-state expression levels of Ubi4. Our results question the validity of using the previously proposed primer sets for qPCR amplification of Ubi4 and Ubi10. We demonstrate that primers designed to target the 3′-UTRs of Ubi4 and Ubi10 are better suited for real-time normalization of steady-state expression levels in Brachypodium distachyon.