Background and Aims
Asexual reproduction is a prominent evolutionary process within land plant lineages and especially in ferns. Up to 10 % of the approx. 10 000 fern species are assumed to be obligate asexuals. In the Asplenium monanthes species complex, previous studies identified two triploid, apomictic species. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the phylogenetic relationships in the A. monanthes complex and to investigate the occurrence and evolution of apomixis within this group.
DNA sequences of three plastid markers and one nuclear single copy gene were used for phylogenetic analyses. Reproductive modes were assessed by examining gametophytic and sporophyte development, while polyploidy was inferred from spore measurements.
Asplenium monanthes and A. resiliens are confirmed to be apomictic. Asplenium palmeri, A. hallbergii and specimens that are morphologically similar to A. heterochroum are also found to be apomictic. Apomixis is confined to two main clades of taxa related to A. monanthes and A. resiliens, respectively, and is associated with reticulate evolution. Two apomictic A. monanthes lineages, and two putative diploid sexual progenitor species are identified in the A. monanthes clade.
Multiple origins of apomixis are inferred, in both alloploid and autoploid forms, within the A. resiliens and A. monanthes clades.
Apomixis; Asplenium monanthes; asexual reproduction; apogamy; diplospory; reticulate evolution; hybridization; polyploidy
Background and aims
Fruit structural characters have traditionally been important in the taxonomy of the family Apiaceae. Previous investigations using a limited number of taxa have shown that the carpophore may be especially useful in helping to circumscribe subfamily Azorelloideae. The present study examines, for the first time, carpophore structure in 92 species from 43 genera, representing all subfamilies of Apiaceae, and including all genera assigned to subfamily Azorelloideae. Phylogenetic interpretations are made for the first time, using all available information, and a standard terminology is proposed to describe the various character states found in carpophores.
Carpophore structure was studied in detail using light microscopy.
Carpophores, when present, may be categorized into two main groups (B and C) based mainly on the arrangement of the vascular bundles in transverse section, and further divided into six sub-types according to the length of the carpophore (short in B1 and C1) and whether they are entire (B1–B3 and C1) or bifurcate (B4 and C2). Free carpophores are absent in subfamily Mackinlayoideae, and in tribes Lichtensteinieae and Phlyctidocarpeae, which have two opposite vascular bundles (Group A). Entire carpophores with one or two vascular bundles, or bifurcate carpophores with lateral vascular bundles (arranged side by side within the commissural plane), are the main types characterizing Azorelloideae. The short, hygroscopic carpophores found in Choritaenia are unique in Apiaceae and provide additional evidence for the exclusion of this genus from Azorelloideae. Carpophore type C2 is typical for most Apioideae sensu lato (exceptions are, for example, Arctopus and Alepidea, which have type B2).
A single carpophore and ventral vascular bundles not forming free carpophores are proposed to be the ancestral conditions in Apiaceae, while bifurcate carpophores with opposite vascular bundles are the derived state, present in most Apioideae. Secondary reductions seem to have occurred in several unrelated lineages in all major groups, e.g. many Azorelloideae, several protoapioids (including nearly all members of the tribe Saniculeae) and 29 euapioid genera (e.g. some Oenantheae).
Apiaceae; Apiales; Azorelloideae; carpophore; descriptive terminology; euapioids; phylogeny; protoapioids; Umbelliferae; vascular bundle
Background and Aims
Differences in dormancy and germination requirements have been documented in heteromorphic seeds of many species, but it is unknown how this difference contributes to maintenance and regeneration of populations. The primary aim of this study was to compare the seed bank dynamics, including dormancy cycling, of the two seed morphs (black and brown) of the cold desert halophyte Suaeda corniculata and, if differences were found, to determine their influence on regeneration of the species.
Seeds of the two seed morphs were buried, exhumed and tested monthly for 24 months over a range of temperatures and salinities, and germination recovery and viability were determined after exposure to salinity and water stress. Seedling emergence and dynamics of the soil seed bank were also investigated for the two morphs.
Black seeds had an annual dormancy/non-dormancy cycle, while brown seeds, which were non-dormant at maturity, remained non-dormant. Black seeds also exhibited an annual cycle in sensitivity of germination to salinity. Seedlings derived from black seeds emerged in July and August and those from brown seeds in May. Seedlings were recruited from 2·6 % of the black seeds and from 2·8 % of the brown seeds in the soil, and only 0·5 % and 0·4 % of the total number of black and brown seeds in the soil, respectively, gave rise to seedlings that survived to produce seeds. Salinity and water stress induced dormancy in black seeds and decreased viability of brown seeds. Brown seeds formed only a transient soil seed bank and black seeds a persistent seed bank.
The presence of a dormancy cycle in black but not in brown seeds of S. corniculata and differences in germination requirements of the two morphs cause them to differ in their germination dynamics. The study contributes to our limited knowledge of dormancy cycling and seed bank formation in species producing heteromorphic seeds.
Dormancy; halophyte seeds; salinity; seed germination; seedling recruitment; seed bank dynamics; Suaeda corniculata
Background and Aims
Legumes overcome nitrogen limitations by entering into a mutualistic symbiosis with N2-fixing bacteria (rhizobia). Fully compatible associations (effective) between Trifolium spp. and Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. trifolii result from successful recognition of symbiotic partners in the rhizosphere, root hair infection and the formation of nodules where N2-fixing bacteroids reside. Poorly compatible associations can result in root nodule formation with minimal (sub-optimal) or no (ineffective) N2-fixation. Despite the abundance and persistence of strains in agricultural soils which are poorly compatible with the commercially grown clover species, little is known of how and why they fail symbiotically. The aims of this research were to determine the morphological aberrations occurring in sub-optimal and ineffective clover nodules and to determine whether reduced bacteroid numbers or reduced N2-fixing activity is the main cause for the Sub-optimal phenotype.
Symbiotic effectiveness of four Trifolium hosts with each of four R. leguminosarum bv. trifolii strains was assessed by analysis of plant yields and nitrogen content; nodule yields, abundance, morphology and internal structure; and bacteroid cytology, quantity and activity.
Effective nodules (Nodule Function 83–100 %) contained four developmental zones and N2-fixing bacteroids. In contrast, Sub-optimal nodules of the same age (Nodule Function 24–57 %) carried prematurely senescing bacteroids and a small bacteroid pool resulting in reduced shoot N. Ineffective-differentiated nodules carried bacteroids aborted at stage 2 or 3 in differentiation. In contrast, bacteroids were not observed in Ineffective-vegetative nodules despite the presence of bacteria within infection threads.
Three major responses to N2-fixation incompatibility between Trifolium spp. and R. l. trifolii strains were found: failed bacterial endocytosis from infection threads into plant cortical cells, bacteroid differentiation aborted prematurely, and a reduced pool of functional bacteroids which underwent premature senescence. We discuss possible underlying genetic causes of these developmental abnormalities and consider impacts on N2-fixation of clovers.
Trifolium subterraneum; T. purpureum; T. polymorphum; Rhizobium; symbiosis; bacteroid; clover; compatibility; effective; nitrogen fixation; nodule morphology
Background and Aims
The actual number of domestications of a crop is one of the key questions in domestication studies. Answers to this question have generally been based on relationships between wild progenitors and domesticated descendants determined with anonymous molecular markers. In this study, this question was investigated by determining the number of instances a domestication phenotype had been selected in a crop species. One of the traits that appeared during domestication of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) is determinacy, in which stems end with a terminal inflorescence. It has been shown earlier that a homologue of the arabidopsis TFL1 gene – PvTFL1y – controls determinacy in a naturally occurring variation of common bean.
Sequence variation was analysed for PvTFL1y in a sample of 46 wild and domesticated accessions that included determinate and indeterminate accessions.
Indeterminate types – wild and domesticated – showed only synonymous nucleotide substitutions. Determinate types – observed only among domesticated accessions – showed, in addition to synonymous substitutions, non-synonymous substitutions, indels, a putative intron-splicing failure, a retrotransposon insertion and a deletion of the entire locus. The retrotransposon insertion was observed in 70 % of determinate cultivars, in the Americas and elsewhere. Other determinate mutants had a more restricted distribution in the Americas only, either in the Andean or in the Mesoamerican gene pool of common bean.
Although each of the determinacy haplotypes probably does not represent distinct domestication events, they are consistent with the multiple (seven) domestication pattern in the genus Phaseolus. The predominance of determinacy in the Andean gene pool may reflect domestication of common bean prior to maize introduction in the Andes.
Determinate growth habit; mutability; TFL1y; centroradialis; domestication; common bean; Phaseolus vulgaris
The optimal defence hypothesis (ODH) predicts that tissues that contribute most to a plant's fitness and have the highest probability of being attacked will be the parts best defended against biotic threats, including herbivores. In general, young sink tissues and reproductive structures show stronger induced defence responses after attack from pathogens and herbivores and contain higher basal levels of specialized defensive metabolites than other plant parts. However, the underlying physiological mechanisms responsible for these developmentally regulated defence patterns remain unknown.
This review summarizes current knowledge about optimal defence patterns in above- and below-ground plant tissues, including information on basal and induced defence metabolite accumulation, defensive structures and their regulation by jasmonic acid (JA). Physiological regulations underlying developmental differences of tissues with contrasting defence patterns are highlighted, with a special focus on the role of classical plant growth hormones, including auxins, cytokinins, gibberellins and brassinosteroids, and their interactions with the JA pathway. By synthesizing recent findings about the dual roles of these growth hormones in plant development and defence responses, this review aims to provide a framework for new discoveries on the molecular basis of patterns predicted by the ODH.
Almost four decades after its formulation, we are just beginning to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms responsible for the patterns of defence allocation predicted by the ODH. A requirement for future advances will be to understand how developmental and defence processes are integrated.
Optimal defence hypothesis; growth; development; defence; herbivores; pathogens; jasmonic acid; auxin; gibberellins; cytokinins; brassinosteroids; plant–herbivore interactions
Background and Aims
α-Amylase in grass caryopses (seeds) is usually expressed upon commencement of germination and is rarely seen in dry, mature seeds. A heat-stable α-amylase activity was unexpectedly selected for expression in dry annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum) seeds during targeted selection for low primary dormancy. The aim of this study was to characterize this constitutive activity biochemically and determine if its presence conferred insensitivity to the germination inhibitors abscisic acid and benzoxazolinone.
α-Amylase activity in developing, mature and germinating seeds from the selected (low-dormancy) and a field-collected (dormant) population was characterized by native activity PAGE. The response of seed germination and α-amylase activity to abscisic acid and benzoxazolinone was assessed. Using an alginate affinity matrix, α-amylase was purified from dry and germinating seeds for analysis of its enzymatic properties.
The constitutive α-amylase activity appeared late during seed development and was mainly localized in the aleurone; in germinating seeds, this activity was responsive to both glucose and gibberellin. It migrated differently on native PAGE compared with the major activities in germinating seeds of the dormant population, but the enzymatic properties of α-amylase purified from the low-dormancy and dormant seeds were largely indistinguishable. Seed imbibition on benzoxazolinone had little effect on the low-dormancy seeds but greatly inhibited germination and α-amylase activity in the dormant population.
The constitutive α-amylase activity in annual ryegrass seeds selected for low dormancy is electrophoretically different from that in germinating seeds and its presence confers insensitivity to benzoxazolinone. The concurrent selection of low dormancy and constitutive α-amylase activity may help to enhance seedling establishment under competitive conditions.
α-amylase; annual ryegrass; benzoxazolinone; dormancy; germination; Lolium rigidum; seed; xylanase inhibitor protein
Background and Aims
Prolonged treatment of Allium cepa root meristems with changing concentrations of hydroxyurea (HU) results in either premature chromosome condensation or cell nuclei with an uncommon form of biphasic chromatin organization. The aim of the current study was to assess conditions that compromise cell cycle checkpoints and convert DNA replication stress into an abnormal course of mitosis.
Interphase-mitotic (IM) cells showing gradual changes of chromatin condensation were obtained following continuous 72 h treatment of seedlings with 0·75 mm HU (without renewal of the medium). HU-treated root meristems were analysed using histochemical stainings (DNA-DAPI/Feulgen; starch-iodide and DAB staining for H2O2 production), Western blotting [cyclin B-like (CBL) proteins] and immunochemistry (BrdU incorporation, detection of γ-H2AX and H3S10 phosphorylation).
Continuous treatment of onion seedlings with a low concentration of HU results in shorter root meristems, enhanced production of H2O2, γ-phosphorylation of H2AX histones and accumulation of CBL proteins. HU-induced replication stress gives rise to axially elongated cells with half interphase/half mitotic structures (IM-cells) having both decondensed and condensed domains of chromatin. Long-term HU treatment results in cell nuclei resuming S phase with gradients of BrdU labelling. This suggests a polarized distribution of factors needed to re-initiate stalled replication forks. Furthermore, prolonged HU treatment extends both the relative time span and the spatial scale of H3S10 phosphorylation known in plants.
The minimum cell length and a threshold level of accumulated CBL proteins are both determining factors by which the nucleus attains commitment to induce an asynchronous course of chromosome condensation. Replication stress-induced alterations in an orderly route of the cell cycle events probably reflect a considerable reprogramming of metabolic functions of chromatin combined with gradients of morphological changes spread along the nucleus.
Chromatin; cyclin B-like proteins; DNA damage; DNA replication; γ-H2AX; histone H3 phosphorylation; hydrogen peroxide; hydroxyurea; mitosis; premature chromosome condensation
Background and Aims
The importance of thermal thresholds for predicting seed dormancy release and germination timing under the present climate conditions and simulated climate change scenarios was investigated. In particular, Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris was investigated in four Sardinian populations over the full altitudinal range of the species (from approx. 100 to 800 m a.s.l).
Dried and fresh seeds from each population were incubated in the light at a range of temperatures (10–25 and 25/10 °C), without any pre-treatment and after a warm (3 months at 25 °C) or a cold (3 months at 5 °C) stratification. A thermal time approach was then applied to the germination results for dried seeds and the seed responses were modelled according to the present climate conditions and two simulated scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): B1 (+1·8 °C) and A2 (+3·4 °C).
Cold stratification released physiological dormancy, while very few seeds germinated without treatments or after warm stratification. Fresh, cold-stratified seeds germinated significantly better (>80 %) at temperatures ≥20 °C than at lower temperatures. A base temperature for germination (Tb) of 9·0–11·3 °C and a thermal time requirement for 50 % of germination (θ50) ranging from 33·6 °Cd to 68·6 °Cd were identified for non-dormant cold-stratified seeds, depending on the populations. This complex combination of thermal requirements for dormancy release and germination allowed prediction of field emergence from March to May under the present climatic conditions for the investigated populations.
The thermal thresholds for seed germination identified in this study (Tb and θ50) explained the differences in seed germination detected among populations. Under the two simulated IPCC scenarios, an altitude-related risk from climate warming is identified, with lowland populations being more threatened due to a compromised seed dormancy release and a narrowed seed germination window.
Base temperature; climate change; cold stratification; crop wild relative; IPCC scenarios; physiological dormancy; thermal time; Vitaceae; Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris
Background and Aims
Edible bananas originated mainly from two wild species, Musa acuminata Colla (AA) and Musa balbisiana Colla (BB), and triploid cultivars with an AAA, AAB or ABB genome are the most widely used. In the present study, chromosome pairing affinities are investigated in a sterile AB Indian variety and in its fertile colchicine-induced allotetraploid (AABB) derivative to determine the inheritance pattern of the tetraploid genotype. The potential implications of interspecific recombination and chromosomal composition of diploid gametes for Musa improvement are presented.
The pairing of different chromosome sets at diploid and tetraploid levels was investigated through a combination of conventional cytogenetic and genomic in-situ hybridization (GISH) analyses of meiotic chromosomes, leading to a likelihood model of the pairing behaviour. GISH analysis of mitotic chromosomes was also conducted to reveal the chromosome constitution of hybrids derived from crosses involving the allotetraploid genotype.
Analysis of chromosome associations at both ploidy levels suggested that the newly formed allotetraploid behaves as a ‘segmental allotetraploid’ with three chromosome sets in a tetrasomic pattern, three sets in a likely disomic pattern and the five remaining sets in an intermediate pattern. Balanced and unbalanced diploid gametes were detected in progenies, with the chromosome constitution appearing to be more homogenous in pollen than in ovules.
Colchicine-induced allotetraploids in Musa provide access to the genetic background of natural AB varieties. The segmental inheritance pattern exhibited by the AABB allotetraploid genotype implies chromosome exchanges between M. acuminata and M. balbisiana species and opens new horizons for reciprocal transfer of valuable alleles.
Musa; banana; polyploidy; homoeologous pairing; inheritance pattern; gamete selection; GISH
Background and Aims
The pollination biology of very few Chloraeinae orchids has been studied to date, and most of these studies have focused on breeding systems and fruiting success. Chloraea membranacea Lindl. is one of the few non-Andean species in this group, and the aim of the present contribution is to elucidate the pollination biology, functional floral morphology and breeding system in native populations of this species from Argentina (Buenos Aires) and Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul State).
Floral features were examined using light microscopy, and scanning and transmission electron microscopy. The breeding system was studied by means of controlled pollinations applied to plants, either bagged in the field or cultivated in a glasshouse. Pollination observations were made on natural populations, and pollinator behaviour was recorded by means of photography and video.
Both Argentinean and Brazilian plants were very consistent regarding all studied features. Flowers are nectarless but scented and anatomical analysis indicates that the dark, clavate projections on the adaxial labellar surface are osmophores (scent-producing glands). The plants are self-compatible but pollinator-dependent. The fruit-set obtained through cross-pollination and manual self-pollination was almost identical. The main pollinators are male and female Halictidae bees that withdraw the pollinarium when leaving the flower. Remarkably, the bees tend to visit more than one flower per inflorescence, thus promoting self-pollination (geitonogamy). Fruiting success in Brazilian plants reached 60·78 % in 2010 and 46 % in 2011. Some pollinarium-laden female bees were observed transferring pollen from the carried pollinarium to their hind legs. The use of pollen by pollinators is a rare record for Orchidaceae in general.
Chloraea membrancea is pollinated by deceit. Together, self-compatibility, pollinarium texture, pollinator abundance and behaviour may account for the observed high fruiting success. It is suggested that a reappraisal and re-analysis of important flower features in Chloraeinae orchids is necessary.
Breeding system; Chloraea membrancea; Chloraeinae; Halictidae; Orchidaceae; orchids; pollination
Background and Aims
The amount of DNA in an unreplicated haploid nuclear genome (C-value) ranges over several orders of magnitude among plant species and represents a key metric for comparing plant genomes. To extend previously published datasets on plant nuclear content and to characterize the DNA content of many species present in one region of North America, flow cytometry was used to estimate C-values of woody and herbaceous species collected in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, USA.
A total of 674 samples and vouchers were collected from locations across Wisconsin and Michigan, USA. From these, C-value estimates were obtained for 514 species, subspecies and varieties of vascular plants. Nuclei were extracted from samples of these species in one of two buffers, stained with the fluorochrome propidium iodide, and an Accuri C-6 flow cytometer was used to measure fluorescence peaks relative to those of an internal standard. Replicate extractions, coefficients of variation and comparisons to published C-values in the same and related species were used to confirm the accuracy and reliability of our results.
Key Results and Conclusions
Prime C-values for 407 taxa are provided for which no published data exist, including 390 angiosperms, two gymnosperms, ten monilophytes and five lycophytes. Non-prime reports for 107 additional taxa are also provided. The prime values represent new reports for 129 genera and five families (of 303 genera and 97 families sampled). New family C-value maxima or minima are reported for Betulaceae, Ericaceae, Ranunculaceae and Sapindaceae. These data provide the basis for phylogenetic analyses of C-value variation and future analyses of how C-values covary with other functional traits.
Genome size; C-value; flow cytometry; vascular plants; angiosperms; gymnosperms; monilphytes; lycophytes; Wisconsin; Michigan
Background and Aims
How plant cell-cycle genes interface with development is unclear. Preliminary evidence from our laboratory suggested that over-expression of the cell cycle checkpoint gene, WEE1, repressed growth and development. Here the hypothesis is tested that the level of WEE1 has a dosage effect on growth and development in Arabidospis thaliana. To do this, a comparison was made of the development of gain- and loss-of-function WEE1 arabidopsis lines both in vivo and in vitro.
Hypocotyl explants from an over-expressing Arath;WEE1 line (WEE1oe), two T-DNA insertion lines (wee1-1 and wee1-4) and wild type (WT) were cultured on two-way combinations of kinetin and naphthyl acetic acid. Root growth and meristematic cell size were also examined.
Quantitative data indicated a repressive effect in WEE1oe and a significant increase in morphogenetic capacity in the two T-DNA insertion lines compared with WT. Compared with WT, WEE1oe seedlings exhibited a slower cell-doubling time in the root apical meristem and a shortened primary root, with fewer laterals, whereas there were no consistent differences in the insertion lines compared with WT. However, significantly fewer adventitious roots were recorded for WEE1oe and significantly more for the insertion mutant wee1-1. Compared with WT there was a significant increase in meristem cell size in WEE1oe for all three ground tissues but for wee1-1 only cortical cell size was reduced.
There is a gene dosage effect of WEE1 on morphogenesis from hypocotyls both in vitro and in vivo.
Arabidopsis thaliana; cell cycle; development; growth; hypocotyl; tissue culture; WEE1
Background and Aims
A model to predict anthesis time of a wheat plant from environmental and genetic information requires integration of current concepts in physiological and molecular biology. This paper describes the structure of an integrated model and quantifies its response mechanisms.
Literature was reviewed to formulate the components of the model. Detailed re-analysis of physiological observations are utilized from a previous publication by the second two authors. In this approach measurements of leaf number and leaf and primordia appearance of near isogenic lines of spring and winter wheat grown for different durations in different temperature and photoperiod conditions are used to quantify mechanisms and parameters to predict time of anthesis.
The model predicts the time of anthesis from the length of sequential phases: 1, embryo development; 2, dormant; 3, imbibed/emerging; 4, vegetative; 5, early reproductive; 6, pseudo-stem extension; and 7, ear development. Phase 4 ends with vernalization saturation (VS), Phase 5 with terminal spikelet (TS) and Phase 6 with flag leaf ligule appearance (FL). The durations of Phases 4 and 5 are linked to the expression of Vrn genes and are calculated in relation to change in Haun stage (HS) to account for the effects of temperature per se. Vrn1 must be expressed to sufficient levels for VS to occur. Vrn1 expression occurs at a base rate of 0·08/HS in winter ‘Batten’ and 0·17/HS in spring ‘Batten’ during Phases 1, 3 and 4. Low temperatures promote expression of Vrn1 and accelerate progress toward VS. Our hypothesis is that a repressor, Vrn4, must first be downregulated for this to occur. Rates of Vrn4 downregulation and Vrn1 upregulation have the same exponential response to temperature, but Vrn4 is quickly upregulated again at high temperatures, meaning short exposure to low temperature has no impact on the time of VS. VS occurs when Vrn1 reaches a relative expression of 0·76 and Vrn3 expression begins. However, Vrn2 represses Vrn3 expression so Vrn1 must be further upregulated to repress Vrn2 and enable Vrn3 expression. As a result, the target for Vrn1 to trigger VS was 0·76 in 8-h photoperiods (Pp) and increased at 0·026/HS under 16-h Pp as levels of Vrn2 increased. This provides a mechanism to model short-day vernalization. Vrn3 is expressed in Phase 5 (following VS), and apparent rates of Vrn3 expression increased from 0·15/HS at 8-h Pp to 0·33/HS at 16-h Pp. The final number of leaves is calculated as a function of the HS at which TS occurred (TSHS): 2·86 + 1·1 × TSHS. The duration of Phase 6 is then dependent on the number of leaves left to emerge and how quickly they emerge.
The analysis integrates molecular biology and crop physiology concepts into a model framework that links different developmental genes to quantitative predictions of wheat anthesis time in different field situations.
Anthesis; model; phenology; photoperiod; temperature; short-day vernalization; Triticum aestivum; vernalization; Vrn1; Vrn2; Vrn3; Vrn4; wheat
Background and Aims
Globally, conifer dominance is restricted to nutient-poor habitats in colder, drier or waterlogged environments, probably due to competition with angiosperms. Analysis of canopy structure is important for understanding the mechanism of plant coexistence in relation to competition for light. Most conifers are shade intolerant, and often have narrow, deep, conical crowns. In this study it is predicted that conifer-admixed forests have less distinct upper canopies and more undulating canopy surfaces than angiosperm-dominated forests.
By using a ground-based, portable light detection and ranging (LIDAR) system, canopy structure was quantified for old-growth evergreen rainforests with varying dominance of conifers along altitudinal gradients (200–3100 m a.s.l.) on tropical and sub-tropical mountains (Mount Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo and Yakushima Island, Japan) that have different conifer floras.
Conifers dominated at higher elevations on both mountains (Podocarpaceae and Araucariaceae on Kinabalu and Cupressaceae and Pinaceae on Yakushima), but conifer dominance also varied with soil/substrate conditions on Kinabalu. Conifer dominance was associated with the existence of large-diameter conifers. Forests with higher conifer dominance showed a canopy height profile (CHP) more skewed towards the understorey on both Kinabalu and Yakushima. In contrast, angiosperm-dominated forests had a CHP skewed towards upper canopy, except for lowland dipterocarp forests and a sub-alpine scrub dominated by small-leaved Leptospermum recurvum (Myrtaceae) on Kinabalu. Forests with a less dense upper canopy had more undulating outer canopy surfaces. Mixed conifer–angiosperm forests on Yakushima and dipterocarp forests on Kinabalu showed similar canopy structures.
The results generally supported the prediction, suggesting that lower growth of angiosperm trees (except L. recurvum on Kinabalu) in cold and nutrient-poor environments results in a sparser upper canopy, which allows shade-intolerant conifers to co-occur with angiosperm trees either as emergents or as codominants in the open canopy.
Additive basal area; altitudinal gradient; canopy structure; conifer–angiosperm coexistence; forest stratification; portable LIDAR system; Mount Kinabalu; Yakushima Island
Forage plant breeding is under increasing pressure to deliver new cultivars with improved yield, quality and persistence to the pastoral industry. New innovations in DNA sequencing technologies mean that quantitative trait loci analysis and marker-assisted selection approaches are becoming faster and cheaper, and are increasingly used in the breeding process with the aim to speed it up and improve its precision. High-throughput phenotyping is currently a major bottle neck and emerging technologies such as metabolomics are being developed to bridge the gap between genotype and phenotype; metabolomics studies on forages are reviewed in this article.
Major challenges for pasture production arise from the reduced availability of resources, mainly water, nitrogen and phosphorus, and metabolomics studies on metabolic responses to these abiotic stresses in Lolium perenne and Lotus species will be discussed here. Many forage plants can be associated with symbiotic microorganisms such as legumes with nitrogen fixing rhizobia, grasses and legumes with phosphorus-solubilizing arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, and cool temperate grasses with fungal anti-herbivorous alkaloid-producing Neotyphodium endophytes and metabolomics studies have shown that these associations can significantly affect the metabolic composition of forage plants. The combination of genetics and metabolomics, also known as genetical metabolomics can be a powerful tool to identify genetic regions related to specific metabolites or metabolic profiles, but this approach has not been widely adopted for forages yet, and we argue here that more studies are needed to improve our chances of success in forage breeding.
Metabolomics combined with other ‘-omics’ technologies and genome sequencing can be invaluable tools for large-scale geno- and phenotyping of breeding populations, although the implementation of these approaches in forage breeding programmes still lags behind. The majority of studies using metabolomics approaches have been performed with model species or cereals and findings from these studies are not easily translated to forage species. To be most effective these approaches should be accompanied by whole-plant physiology and proof of concept (modelling) studies. Wider considerations of possible consequences of novel traits on the fitness of new cultivars and symbiotic associations need also to be taken into account.
Metabolomics; forage plants; Lolium perenne; drought stress, nutrient stress; Neotyphodium spp. endophytes; Medicago sativa; Lotus spp.; arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi; rhizobia; metabolic profiling; genetical metabolomics
Background and Aims
Advanced phenotyping, i.e. the application of automated, high-throughput methods to characterize plant architecture and performance, has the potential to accelerate breeding progress but is far from being routinely used in current breeding approaches. In forage and turf improvement programmes, in particular, where breeding populations and cultivars are characterized by high genetic diversity and substantial genotype × environment interactions, precise and efficient phenotyping is essential to meet future challenges imposed by climate change, growing demand and declining resources.
This review highlights recent achievements in the establishment of phenotyping tools and platforms. Some of these tools have originally been established in remote sensing, some in precision agriculture, while others are laboratory-based imaging procedures. They quantify plant colour, spectral reflection, chlorophyll-fluorescence, temperature and other properties, from which traits such as biomass, architecture, photosynthetic efficiency, stomatal aperture or stress resistance can be derived. Applications of these methods in the context of forage and turf breeding are discussed.
Progress in cutting-edge molecular breeding tools is beginning to be matched by progress in automated non-destructive imaging methods. Joint application of precise phenotyping machinery and molecular tools in optimized breeding schemes will improve forage and turf breeding in the near future and will thereby contribute to amended performance of managed grassland agroecosystems.
Forage; turf; breeding; phenotyping; growth; biomass; imaging; marker-assisted selection; remote sensing
Background and Aims
Lolium perenne (perennial ryegrass) is the most important forage grass species of temperate regions. We have previously released the chloroplast genome sequence of L. perenne ‘Cashel’. Here nine chloroplast microsatellite markers are published, which were designed based on knowledge about genetically variable regions within the L. perenne chloroplast genome. These markers were successfully used for characterizing the genetic diversity in Lolium and different grass species.
Chloroplast genomes of 14 Poaceae taxa were screened for mononucleotide microsatellite repeat regions and primers designed for their amplification from nine loci. The potential of these markers to assess genetic diversity was evaluated on a set of 16 Irish and 15 European L. perenne ecotypes, nine L. perenne cultivars, other Lolium taxa and other grass species.
All analysed Poaceae chloroplast genomes contained more than 200 mononucleotide repeats (chloroplast simple sequence repeats, cpSSRs) of at least 7 bp in length, concentrated mainly in the large single copy region of the genome. Nucleotide composition varied considerably among subfamilies (with Pooideae biased towards poly A repeats). The nine new markers distinguish L. perenne from all non-Lolium taxa. TeaCpSSR28 was able to distinguish between all Lolium species and Lolium multiflorum due to an elongation of an A8 mononucleotide repeat in L. multiflorum. TeaCpSSR31 detected a considerable degree of microsatellite length variation and single nucleotide polymorphism. TeaCpSSR27 revealed variation within some L. perenne accessions due to a 44-bp indel and was hence readily detected by simple agarose gel electrophoresis. Smaller insertion/deletion events or single nucleotide polymorphisms detected by these new markers could be visualized by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis or DNA sequencing, respectively.
The new markers are a valuable tool for plant breeding companies, seed testing agencies and the wider scientific community due to their ability to monitor genetic diversity within breeding pools, to trace maternal inheritance and to distinguish closely related species.
Lolium perenne; perennial ryegrass; Poaceae; chloroplast microsatellite markers; chloroplast genome; genetic diversity
Backgound and Aims
Extending the cultivation of forage legume species into regions where they are close to the margin of their natural distribution requires knowledge of population responses to environmental stresses. This study was conducted at three north European sites (Iceland, Sweden and the UK) using AFLP markers to analyse changes in genetic structure over time in two population types of red and white clover (Trifolium pratense and T. repens, respectively): (1) standard commercial varieties; (2) wide genetic base (WGB) composite populations constructed from many commercial varieties plus unselected material obtained from germplasm collections.
At each site populations were grown in field plots, then randomly sampled after 3–5 years to obtain survivor populations. AFLP markers were used to calculate genetic differentiation within and between original and survivor populations.
No consistent changes in average genetic diversity were observed between original and survivor populations. In both species the original varieties were always genetically distinct from each other. Significant genetic shift was observed in the white clover ‘Ramona’ grown in Sweden. The WGB original populations were more genetically similar. However, genetic differentiation occurred between original and survivor WGB germplasm in both species, particularly in Sweden. Regression of climatic data with genetic differentiation showed that low autumn temperature was the best predictor. Within the set of cold sites the highest level of genetic shift in populations was observed in Sweden.
The results suggest that changes in population structure can occur within a short time span in forage legumes, resulting in the rapid formation of distinct survivor populations in environmentally challenging sites.
AFLP markers; forage legumes; Trifolium pratense; T. repens; genetic shift; population structure
Background and Aims
Reconstructions have identified the 20th century as being uniquely warm in the last 1000 years. Changes in the phenology of primary meristems converged toward increases in length of the growing season. Has the phenology of secondary meristem changed during the last century, and to what extent?
Timings of wood formation in black spruce, Picea mariana, were monitored for 9 years on a weekly timescale at four sites in the boreal forest of Quebec, Canada. Models for assessing xylem phenology were defined and applied to reconstruct onset, ending and duration of xylogenesis between 1950 and 2010 using thermal thresholds on chronologies of maximum and minimum temperatures.
All sites exhibited increasing trends of both annual and May–September temperatures, with the greatest changes observed at the higher latitudes. Phenological events in spring were more affected than those occurring in autumn, with cambial resumptions occurring 0·5–0·8 d decade−1 earlier. The duration of xylogenesis has lengthened significantly since 1950, although the models supplied wide ranges of variations, between 0·07 and 1·5 d decade−1, respectively.
The estimated changes in past cambial phenology demonstrated the marked effects of the recent increase in temperature on the phenological traits of secondary meristems. In the long run, the advancement of cambial activity could modify the short time window for growth of boreal species and dramatically affect the dynamics and productivity of trees in these temperature-limited ecosystems.
boreal forest; cell differentiation; Picea mariana; threshold temperature; wood formation; xylogenesis
Background and Aims
Variation in the composition of floral nectar reflects intrinsic plant characteristics as well as the action of extrinsic factors. Micro-organisms, particularly yeasts, represent one extrinsic factor that inhabit the nectar of animal-pollinated flowers worldwide. In this study a ‘microbial imprint hypothesis’ is formulated and tested, in which it is proposed that natural community-wide variation in nectar sugar composition will partly depend on the presence of yeasts in flowers.
Occurrence and density of yeasts were studied microscopically in single-flower nectar samples of 22 animal-pollinated species from coastal xeric and sub-humid tropical habitats of the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. Nectar sugar concentration and composition were concurrently determined on the same samples using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) methods.
Microscopical examination of nectar samples revealed the presence of yeasts in nearly all plant species (21 out of 22 species) and in about half of the samples examined (51·8 % of total, all species combined). Plant species and individuals differed significantly in nectar sugar concentration and composition, and also in the incidence of nectar yeasts. After statistically controlling for differences between plant species and individuals, nectar yeasts still accounted for a significant fraction of community-wide variance in all nectar sugar parameters considered. Significant yeast × species interactions on sugar parameters revealed that plant species differed in the nectar sugar correlates of variation in yeast incidence.
The results support the hypothesis that nectar yeasts impose a detectable imprint on community-wide variation in nectar sugar composition and concentration. Since nectar sugar features influence pollinator attraction and plant reproduction, future nectar studies should control for yeast presence and examine the extent to which microbial signatures on nectar characteristics ultimately have some influence on pollination services in plant communities.
Floral nectar; nectar composition; nectar sugars; flower yeasts
Background and Aims
Large-scale ploidy surveys using flow cytometry have become an essential tool to study plant genome dynamics and to gain insight into the mechanisms and genetic barriers framing ploidy diversity. As an ideal complement to traditional techniques such as chromosome counting, the analysis of cytotype diversity in plant systems such as Sorbus provides primary investigation into the potential patterns and evolutionary implications of hybrid speciation.
Ploidy was assessed by means of relative nuclear DNA content using propidium iodide flow cytometry in 474 Sorbus samples collected from 65 populations in southern Wales and South-West England. Statistical tests were applied to evaluate the utility of this technique to confidently discriminate ploidy in the genus.
Flow cytometric profiles revealed the presence of four cytotypes (2x, 3x, 4x and 5x), confirming in many cases chromosome counts previously reported and demonstrating cytotype heterogeneity within specific Sorbus aggregates. Diploid cytotypes were restricted to the potential parental species and homoploid hybrids. Most of the samples processed were polyploid. The occurrence of the pentaploid cytotype had previously only been reported from a single specimen; it is now confirmed for two taxa occurring at different sites.
Flow cytometry results obtained have proved useful in shedding light on the taxonomy of several controversial taxa and in confirming the presence of cytoypes which occur at very low frequencies. Notably, the coexistence of several cytotypes in Sorbus populations has probably been facilitated by the overlapping distribution of many of the species studied, which might also explain the high incidence of potential hybrid apomictic polyploids. These results will provide a solid baseline for molecular research aiming to better understand the genetic pathways controlling the formation and establishment of polyploid Sorbus.
Apomixis; cytotype mixture; flow cytometry; genome size; hybridization; ploidy; polyploidy; whitebeam
Collenchyma has remained in the shadow of commercially exploited mechanical tissues such as wood and fibres, and therefore has received little attention since it was first described. However, collenchyma is highly dynamic, especially compared with sclerenchyma. It is the main supporting tissue of growing organs with walls thickening during and after elongation. In older organs, collenchyma may become more rigid due to changes in cell wall composition or may undergo sclerification through lignification of newly deposited cell wall material. While much is known about the systematic and organographic distribution of collenchyma, there is rather less information regarding the molecular architecture and properties of its cell walls.
Scope and conclusions
This review summarizes several aspects that have not previously been extensively discussed including the origin of the term ‘collenchyma’ and the history of its typology. As the cell walls of collenchyma largely determine the dynamic characteristics of this tissue, I summarize the current state of knowledge regarding their structure and molecular composition. Unfortunately, to date, detailed studies specifically focusing on collenchyma cell walls have not been undertaken. However, generating a more detailed understanding of the structural and compositional modifications associated with the transition from plastic to elastic collenchyma cell wall properties is likely to provide significant insights into how specific configurations of cell wall polymers result in specific functional properties. This approach, focusing on architecture and functional properties, is likely to provide improved clarity on the controversial definition of collenchyma.
Collenchyma; histology; plant anatomy; mechanical tissue; plant cell wall; primary and secondary cell walls; plant biomechanics