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26.  Abscisic acid negatively interferes with basal defence of barley against Magnaporthe oryzae 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:7.
Background
Plant hormones are well known regulators which balance plant responses to abiotic and biotic stresses. We investigated the role of abscisic acid (ABA) in resistance of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) against the plant pathogenic fungus Magnaporthe oryzae.
Results
Exogenous application of ABA prior to inoculation with M. oryzae led to more disease symptoms on barley leaves. This result contrasted the finding that ABA application enhances resistance of barley against the powdery mildew fungus. Microscopic analysis identified diminished penetration resistance as cause for enhanced susceptibility. Consistently, the barley mutant Az34, impaired in ABA biosynthesis, was less susceptible to infection by M. oryzae and displayed elevated penetration resistance as compared to the isogenic wild type cultivar Steptoe. Chemical complementation of Az34 mutant plants by exogenous application of ABA re-established disease severity to the wild type level. The role of ABA in susceptibility of barley against M. oryzae was corroborated by showing that ABA application led to increased disease severity in all barley cultivars under investigation except for the most susceptible cultivar Pallas. Interestingly, endogenous ABA concentrations did not significantly change after infection of barley with M. oryzae.
Conclusion
Our results revealed that elevated ABA levels led to a higher disease severity on barley leaves to M. oryzae. This supports earlier reports on the role of ABA in enhancing susceptibility of rice to the same pathogen and thereby demonstrates a host plant-independent function of this phytohormone in pathogenicity of monocotyledonous plants against M. oryzae.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0409-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0409-x
PMCID: PMC4307682  PMID: 25604965
Penetration resistance; Rice blast; Head blast; Quantitative microscopy; Biotic stress
27.  Phytohormone-mediated interkingdom signaling shapes the outcome of rice-Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae interactions 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:10.
Background
Small-molecule hormones are well known to play key roles in the plant immune signaling network that is activated upon pathogen perception. In contrast, little is known about whether phytohormones also directly influence microbial virulence, similar to what has been reported in animal systems.
Results
In this paper, we tested the hypothesis that hormones fulfill dual roles in plant-microbe interactions by orchestrating host immune responses, on the one hand, and modulating microbial virulence traits, on the other. Employing the rice-Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae (Xoo) interaction as a model system, we show that Xoo uses the classic immune hormone salicylic acid (SA) as a trigger to activate its virulence-associated quorum sensing (QS) machinery. Despite repressing swimming motility, sodium salicylate (NaSA) induced production of the Diffusible Signal Factor (DSF) and Diffusible Factor (DF) QS signals, with resultant accumulation of xanthomonadin and extracellular polysaccharides. In contrast, abscisic acid (ABA), which favors infection by Xoo, had little impact on DF- and DSF-mediated QS, but promoted bacterial swimming via the LuxR solo protein OryR. Moreover, we found both DF and DSF to influence SA- and ABA-responsive gene expression in planta.
Conclusions
Together our findings indicate that the rice SA and ABA signaling pathways cross-communicate with the Xoo DF and DSF QS systems and underscore the importance of bidirectional interkingdom signaling in molding plant-microbe interactions.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0411-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0411-3
PMCID: PMC4307914  PMID: 25605284
Plant immunity; Oryza sativa; Defense; Hormone signaling; Quorum sensing; Pathogenicity
28.  Identification and characterization of microRNAs from Chinese pollination constant non-astringent persimmon using high-throughput sequencing 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:11.
Background
microRNAs (miRNAs) have been shown to play key roles in regulating gene expression at post-transcriptional level, but miRNAs associated with natural deastringency of Chinese pollination-constant nonastringent persimmon (CPCNA) have never been identified.
Results
In this study, two small RNA libraries established using ‘Eshi No. 1’ persimmon (Diospyros kaki Thunb.; CPCNA) fruits collected at 15 and 20 weeks after flowering (WAF) were sequenced through Solexa platform in order to identify miRNAs involved in deastringency of persimmon. A total of 6,258,487 and 7,634,169 reads were generated for the libraries at 15 and 20 WAF, respectively. Based on sequence similarity and hairpin structure prediction, 236 known miRNAs belonging to 65 miRNA families and 33 novel miRNAs were identified using persimmon transcriptome data. Sixty one of the characterized miRNAs exhibited pronounced difference in the expression levels between 15 and 20 WAF, 17 up-regulated and 44 down-regulated. Expression profiles of 12 conserved and 10 novel miRNAs were validated by stem loop qRT-PCR. A total of 198 target genes were predicted for the differentially expressed miRNAs, including several genes that have been reported to be implicated in proanthocyanidins (PAs, or called tannin) accumulation. In addition, two transcription factors, a GRF and a bHLH, were experimentally confirmed as the targets of dka-miR396 and dka-miR395, respectively.
Conclusions
Taken together, the present data unraveled several important miRNAs in persimmon. Among them, miR395p-3p and miR858b may regulate bHLH and MYB, respectively, which are influenced by SPL under the control of miR156j-5p and in turn regulate the structural genes involved in PA biosynthesis. In addition, dka-miR396g and miR2911a may regulate their target genes associated with glucosylation and insolubilization of tannin precursors. All of these miRNAs might play key roles in the regulation of (de)astringency in persimmon fruits under normal development conditions.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0400-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0400-6
PMCID: PMC4308916  PMID: 25604351
Diospyros kaki Thunb; Deastringency; High-throughput sequencing; MicroRNA; Proanthocyanidins; Target identification
29.  Global insights into high temperature and drought stress regulated genes by RNA-Seq in economically important oilseed crop Brassica juncea 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:9.
Background
Brassica juncea var. Varuna is an economically important oilseed crop of family Brassicaceae which is vulnerable to abiotic stresses at specific stages in its life cycle. Till date no attempts have been made to elucidate genome-wide changes in its transcriptome against high temperature or drought stress. To gain global insights into genes, transcription factors and kinases regulated by these stresses and to explore information on coding transcripts that are associated with traits of agronomic importance, we utilized a combinatorial approach of next generation sequencing and de-novo assembly to discover B. juncea transcriptome associated with high temperature and drought stresses.
Results
We constructed and sequenced three transcriptome libraries namely Brassica control (BC), Brassica high temperature stress (BHS) and Brassica drought stress (BDS). More than 180 million purity filtered reads were generated which were processed through quality parameters and high quality reads were assembled de-novo using SOAPdenovo assembler. A total of 77750 unique transcripts were identified out of which 69,245 (89%) were annotated with high confidence. We established a subset of 19110 transcripts, which were differentially regulated by either high temperature and/or drought stress. Furthermore, 886 and 2834 transcripts that code for transcription factors and kinases, respectively, were also identified. Many of these were responsive to high temperature, drought or both stresses. Maximum number of up-regulated transcription factors in high temperature and drought stress belonged to heat shock factors (HSFs) and dehydration responsive element-binding (DREB) families, respectively. We also identified 239 metabolic pathways, which were perturbed during high temperature and drought treatments. Analysis of gene ontologies associated with differentially regulated genes forecasted their involvement in diverse biological processes.
Conclusions
Our study provides first comprehensive discovery of B. juncea transcriptome under high temperature and drought stress conditions. Transcriptome resource generated in this study will enhance our understanding on the molecular mechanisms involved in defining the response of B. juncea against two important abiotic stresses. Furthermore this information would benefit designing of efficient crop improvement strategies for tolerance against conditions of high temperature regimes and water scarcity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0405-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0405-1
PMCID: PMC4310166  PMID: 25604693
Brassica juncea; Transcriptome; High temperature stress; Drought stress; Differential gene expression; Transcription factors; Kinases; Gene ontologies and pathways
30.  Genome-wide identification and comparative analysis of the heat shock transcription factor family in Chinese white pear (Pyrus bretschneideri) and five other Rosaceae species 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:12.
Background
Heat shock transcription factors (Hsfs), which act as important transcriptional regulatory proteins in eukaryotes, play a central role in controlling the expression of heat-responsive genes. At present, the genomes of Chinese white pear (‘Dangshansuli’) and five other Rosaceae fruit crops have been fully sequenced. However, information about the Hsfs gene family in these Rosaceae species is limited, and the evolutionary history of the Hsfs gene family also remains unresolved.
Results
In this study, 137 Hsf genes were identified from six Rosaceae species (Pyrus bretschneideri, Malus × domestica, Prunus persica, Fragaria vesca, Prunus mume, and Pyrus communis), 29 of which came from Chinese white pear, designated as PbHsf. Based on the structural characteristics and phylogenetic analysis of these sequences, the Hsf family genes could be classified into three main groups (classes A, B, and C). Segmental and dispersed duplications were the primary forces underlying Hsf gene family expansion in the Rosaceae. Most of the PbHsf duplicated gene pairs were dated back to the recent whole-genome duplication (WGD, 30–45 million years ago (MYA)). Purifying selection also played a critical role in the evolution of Hsf genes. Transcriptome data demonstrated that the expression levels of the PbHsf genes were widely different. Six PbHsf genes were upregulated in fruit under naturally increased temperature.
Conclusion
A comprehensive analysis of Hsf genes was performed in six Rosaceae species, and 137 full length Hsf genes were identified. The results presented here will undoubtedly be useful for better understanding the complexity of the Hsf gene family and will facilitate functional characterization in future studies.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0401-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0401-5
PMCID: PMC4310194  PMID: 25604453
Hsf; Stress-response; Evolution; Transcriptome sequencing; Pear; Rosaceae
31.  “The usual suspects”- analysis of transcriptome sequences reveals deviating B gene activity in C. vulgaris bud bloomers 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:8.
Background
The production of heather (Calluna vulgaris) in Germany is highly dependent on cultivars with mutated flower morphology, the so-called diplocalyx bud bloomers. So far, this unique flower type of C. vulgaris has not been reported in any other plant species. The flowers are characterised by an extremely extended flower attractiveness, since the flower buds remain closed throughout the complete flowering season. The flowers of C. vulgaris bud bloomers are male sterile, because the stamens are absent. Furthermore, petals are converted into sepals. Therefore the diplocalyx bud bloomer flowers consist of two whorls of sepals directly followed by the gynoecium.
Results
A broad comparison was undertaken to identify genes differentially expressed in the bud flowering phenotype and in the wild type of C. vulgaris. Transcriptome sequence reads were generated using 454 sequencing of two flower type specific cDNA libraries. In total, 360,000 sequence reads were obtained, assembled to 12,200 contigs, functionally mapped, and annotated. Transcript abundances were compared and 365 differentially expressed genes detected. Among these differentially expressed genes, Calluna vulgaris PISTILLATA (CvPI) which is the orthologue of the Arabidopsis B gene PISTILLATA (PI) was considered as the most promising candidate gene. Quantitative Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (qRT PCR) was performed to analyse the gene expression levels of two C. vulgaris B genes CvPI and Calluna vulgaris APETALA 3 (CvAP3) in both flower types. CvAP3 which is the orthologue of the Arabidopsis B gene APETALA 3 (AP3) turned out to be ectopically expressed in sepals of wild type and bud bloomer flowers. CvPI expression was proven to be reduced in the bud blooming flowers.
Conclusions
Differential expression patterns of the B-class genes CvAP3 and CvPI were identified to cause the characteristic morphology of C. vulgaris flowers leading to the following hypotheses: ectopic expression of CvAP3 is a convincing explanation for the formation of a completely petaloid perianth in both flower types. In C. vulgaris, CvPI is essential for determination of petal and stamen identity. The characteristic transition of petals into sepals potentially depends on the observed deficiency of CvPI and CvAP3 expression in bud blooming flowers.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0407-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0407-z
PMCID: PMC4312453  PMID: 25604890
454 sequencing; Bud flowering; Floral organ identity; Heather; Homeotic mutant; Real-time PCR; Transcriptome; Transcription factor
32.  ocsESTdb: a database of oil crop seed EST sequences for comparative analysis and investigation of a global metabolic network and oil accumulation metabolism 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:19.
Background
Oil crop seeds are important sources of fatty acids (FAs) for human and animal nutrition. Despite their importance, there is a lack of an essential bioinformatics resource on gene transcription of oil crops from a comparative perspective. In this study, we developed ocsESTdb, the first database of expressed sequence tag (EST) information on seeds of four large-scale oil crops with an emphasis on global metabolic networks and oil accumulation metabolism that target the involved unigenes.
Description
A total of 248,522 ESTs and 106,835 unigenes were collected from the cDNA libraries of rapeseed (Brassica napus), soybean (Glycine max), sesame (Sesamum indicum) and peanut (Arachis hypogaea). These unigenes were annotated by a sequence similarity search against databases including TAIR, NR protein database, Gene Ontology, COG, Swiss-Prot, TrEMBL and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG). Five genome-scale metabolic networks that contain different numbers of metabolites and gene–enzyme reaction–association entries were analysed and constructed using Cytoscape and yEd programs. Details of unigene entries, deduced amino acid sequences and putative annotation are available from our database to browse, search and download. Intuitive and graphical representations of EST/unigene sequences, functional annotations, metabolic pathways and metabolic networks are also available. ocsESTdb will be updated regularly and can be freely accessed at http://ocri-genomics.org/ocsESTdb/.
Conclusion
ocsESTdb may serve as a valuable and unique resource for comparative analysis of acyl lipid synthesis and metabolism in oilseed plants. It also may provide vital insights into improving oil content in seeds of oil crop species by transcriptional reconstruction of the metabolic network.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0399-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0399-8
PMCID: PMC4312456  PMID: 25604238
Database; Expressed sequence tag; Metabolic network; Oil crop seeds
33.  Protein kinase GCN2 mediates responses to glyphosate in Arabidopsis 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:14.
Background
The increased selection pressure of the herbicide glyphosate has played a role in the evolution of glyphosate-resistance in weedy species, an issue that is becoming a threat to global agriculture. The molecular components involved in the cellular toxicity response to this herbicide at the expression level are still unidentified.
Results
In this study, we identify the protein kinase GCN2 as a cellular component that fosters the action of glyphosate in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Comparative studies using wild-type and gcn2 knock-out mutant seedlings show that the molecular programme that the plant deploys after the treatment with the herbicide, is compromised in gcn2. Moreover, gcn2 adult plants show a lower inhibition of photosynthesis, and both seedlings and adult gcn2 plants accumulate less shikimic acid than wild-type after treatment with glyphosate.
Conclusions
These results points to an unknown GCN2-dependent factor involved in the cascade of events triggered by glyphosate in plants. Data suggest either that the herbicide does not equally reach the target-enzyme in a gcn2 background, or that a decreased flux in the shikimate pathway in a gcn2 plants minimize the impact of enzyme inhibition.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0378-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0378-0
PMCID: PMC4312595  PMID: 25603772
Glyphosate; Gcn2; Transcriptomic; Shikimate; Translation; Herbicide
34.  Global nucleosome positioning regulates salicylic acid mediated transcription in Arabidopsis thaliana 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:13.
Background
The nucleosome positioning regulates the gene expression and many other DNA-related processes in eukaryotes. Genome-wide mapping of nucleosome positions and correlation of genome-wide nucleosomal remodeling with the changes in the gene expression can help us understanding gene regulation on genome level.
Results
In the present study, we correlate the gene expression and the genomic nucleosomal remodeling in response to salicylic acid (SA) treatment in A. thaliana. We have mapped genome-wide nucleosomes by performing tiling microarray using 146 bp mononucleosomal template DNA. The average nucleosomal coverage is approximately 346 bp per nucleosome both under the control and the SA-treated conditions. The nucleosomal coverage is more in the coding region than in the 5′ regulatory regions. We observe approximately 50% nucleosomal remodeling on SA treatment where significant nucleosomal depletion and nucleosomal enrichment around the transcription start site (TSS) occur in SA induced genes and SA repressed genes respectively in response to SA treatment. Especially in the case of the SA-induced group, the nucleosomal remodeling over the minimal promoter in response to SA is especially significant in the Non-expresser of PR1 (NPR1)-dependent genes. A detailed investigation of npr1-1 mutant confirms a distinct role of NPR1 in the nucleosome remodeling over the core promoter. We have also identified several motifs for various hormonal responses; including ABRE elements in the remodeled nucleosomal regions around the promoter region in the SA regulated genes. We have further identified that the W-box and TGACG/C motif, reported to play an important role in SA-mediated induction, are enriched in nucleosome free regions (NFRs) of the promoter region of the SA induced genes.
Conclusions
This is the first study reporting genome-wide effects of SA treatment on the chromatin architecture of A. thaliana. It also reports significant role of NPR1 in genome-wide nucleosomal remodeling in response to SA.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0404-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0404-2
PMCID: PMC4318435  PMID: 25604550
Nucleosome; Plants; Chromatin; Salicylic Acid; Arabidopsis thaliana
35.  Label-free nanoUPLC-MSE based quantification of antimicrobial peptides from the leaf apoplast of Nicotiana attenuata 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:18.
Background
Overexpressing novel antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in plants is a promising approach for crop disease resistance engineering. However, the in planta stability and subcellular localization of each AMP should be validated for the respective plant species, which can be challenging due to the small sizes and extreme pI ranges of AMPs which limits the utility of standard proteomic gel-based methods. Despite recent advances in quantitative shotgun proteomics, its potential for AMP analysis has not been utilized and high throughput methods are still lacking.
Results
We created transgenic Nicotiana attenuata plants that independently express 10 different AMPs under a constitutive 35S promoter and compared the extracellular accumulation of each AMP using a universal and versatile protein quantification method. We coupled a rapid apoplastic peptide extraction with label-free protein quantification by nanoUPLC-MSE analysis using Hi3 method and identified/quantified 7 of 10 expressed AMPs in the transgenic plants ranging from 37 to 91 amino acids in length. The quantitative comparison among the transgenic plant lines showed that three particular peptides, belonging to the defensin, knottin and lipid-transfer protein families, attained the highest concentrations of 91 to 254 pmol per g leaf fresh mass, which identified them as best suited for ectopic expression in N. attenuata. The chosen mass spectrometric approach proved to be highly sensitive in the detection of different AMP types and exhibited the high level of analytical reproducibility required for label-free quantitative measurements along with a simple protocol required for the sample preparation.
Conclusions
Heterologous expression of AMPs in plants can result in highly variable and non-predictable peptide amounts and we present a universal quantitative method to confirm peptide stability and extracellular deposition. The method allows for the rapid quantification of apoplastic peptides without cumbersome and time-consuming purification or chromatographic steps and can be easily adapted to other plant species.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0398-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0398-9
PMCID: PMC4318441  PMID: 25604123
Intercellular fluid; Cysteine-rich peptides; Heterologous expression; Transgenic plants; Vacuum infiltration; Data-independent acquisition; Defensin; Lipid-transfer protein; Knottin
36.  Cell wall traits as potential resources to improve resistance of durum wheat against Fusarium graminearum 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:6.
Background
Fusarium graminearum, one of the causal agents of Fusarium Head Blight (FHB, scab), leads to severe losses in grain yield and quality due to the production of mycotoxins which are harmful to human and livestock. Different traits for FHB resistance in wheat were identified for common wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) while the sources of FHB resistance in durum wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp. Durum), one of the cereals most susceptible to F. graminearum infection, have not been found. New lines of evidence indicate that content and composition of cell wall polymers affect the susceptibility of the wall to degrading enzymes produced by pathogens during infection and can play a role in the outcome of host-pathogen interactions. The objective of our research is to identify potential cell wall biochemical traits linked to Fusariosis resistance to be transferred from a resistant common wheat to a susceptible durum wheat line.
Results
A detailed analysis of cell wall composition in spikes isolated from a highly resistant common wheat accession “02-5B-318”, a breeding line derived from the FHB-resistant Chinese cv. Sumai-3 and a high susceptible durum wheat cv. Saragolla was performed. Significant differences in lignin monolignols composition, arabinoxylan (AX) substitutions and pectin methylesterification were found between resistant and susceptible plants. We isolated and characterized a pectin methylesterase gene WheatPME1, which we found being down regulated in the FHB-resistant line and induced by fungal infection in the susceptible wheat.
Conclusions
Our results indicate cell wall traits differing between the FHB sensitive and resistant wheat genotypes, possibly related to FHB-resistance, and identify the line 02-5B-318R as a potential resource of such traits. Evidence suggests that WheatPME1 is involved in wheat response to F. graminearum.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0369-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0369-1
PMCID: PMC4298115  PMID: 25597920
Fusarium Head Blight resistance; Wheat; Pectin methylesterase; Cell wall; Fusarium graminearum
37.  Association mapping of QTLs for sclerotinia stem rot resistance in a collection of soybean plant introductions using a genotyping by sequencing (GBS) approach 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:5.
Background
Sclerotinia stem rot (SSR) is the most important soybean disease in Eastern Canada. The development of resistant cultivars represents the most cost-effective means of limiting the impact of this disease. In view of ensuring durable resistance, it is imperative to identify germplasm harbouring different resistance loci and to provide breeders with closely linked molecular markers to facilitate breeding. With this end in view, we assessed resistance using a highly reproducible artificial inoculation method on a diverse collection of 101 soybean lines, mostly composed of plant introductions (PIs) and some of which had previously been reported to be resistant to sclerotinia stem rot.
Results
Overall, 50% of the lines exhibited a level of resistance equal to or better than the resistant checks among elite material. Of the 50 lines previously reported to be resistant, only 20 were in this category and a few were highly susceptible under these inoculation conditions. The collection of lines was genetically characterized using a genotyping by sequencing (GBS) protocol that we have optimized for soybean. A total of 8,397 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were obtained and used to perform an association analysis for SSR by using a mixed linear model as implemented in the TASSEL software. Three genomic regions were found to exhibit a significant association at a stringent threshold (q = 0.10) and all of the most highly resistant PIs shared the same alleles at these three QTLs. The strongest association was found on chromosome Gm03 (P-value = 2.03 × 10−6). The other significantly associated markers were found on chromosomes Gm08 and Gm20 with P-values <10−5.
Conclusion
This work will facilitate breeding efforts for increased resistance to Sclerotinia stem rot through the use of these PIs.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0408-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0408-y
PMCID: PMC4304118  PMID: 25595526
Soybean; Sclerotinia; QTL; Association mapping
38.  Herbivore associated elicitor-induced defences are highly specific among closely related Nicotiana species 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:2.
Background
Herbivore-induced defence responses are often specific - different herbivores induce different defence responses in plants - and their specificity is largely mediated by chemical cues (herbivore-associated elicitors: HAEs) in insect oral or oviposition secretions. However, the specificity and the mechanisms of HAE-induced defence have not been investigated in the context of the evolutionary relationships among plant species. Here we compare the responses of six closely related Nicotiana species to a synthetic elicitor, N-linolenoyl-glutamic acid (C18:3-Glu) and HAE of two insect herbivores (the Solanaceae specialist Manduca sexta and generalist Spodoptera littoralis).
Results
HAE-induced defences are highly specific among closely related Nicotiana species at three perspectives. 1) A single Nicotiana species can elicit distinct responses to different HAEs. N. pauciflora elicited increased levels of JA and trypsin proteinase inhibitors (TPI) in response to C18:3-Glu and the oral secretions of M. sexta (OSMs) but not to oral secretions of S. littoralis (OSSl). In contrast, N. miersii only responded to OSSl but not to the other two HAEs. The specific responses to different HAEs in Nicotiana species are likely due to the perception by the plant of each specific component of the HAE. 2) One HAE can induce different defence responses among closely related Nicotiana species. OSMs and C18:3-Glu induced JA and TPI accumulations in N. linearis, N. attenuata, N. acuminata and N. pauciflora, but not in N. miersii and N. obtusifolia. 3) The effect of HAE-induced defences differ for the Solanaceae specialist M. sexta and the generalist S. littoralis. Among the four tested Nicotiana species, while the growth rate of M. sexta was only reduced by the induced defences elicited by C18:3-Glu; the growth rate of S. littoralis can be reduced by the induced defences elicited by all three HAEs. This is likely due to differences in the susceptibility of the specialist M. sexta and generalist S. littoralis to induced defences of their host.
Conclusions
Closely related Nicotiana species elicit highly specific defence responses to herbivore associated elicitors and provide an ideal framework for investigating the molecular mechanisms and evolutionary divergence of induced resistance in plants.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0406-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0406-0
PMCID: PMC4304619  PMID: 25592329
Specificity of herbivore induced defence; Nicotiana; Jasmonic acid; Trypsin proteinase inhibitor; Induced resistance; Specialist and generalist
39.  Hessian fly larval feeding triggers enhanced polyamine levels in susceptible but not resistant wheat 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:3.
Background
Hessian fly (Mayetiola destructor), a member of the gall midge family, is one of the most destructive pests of wheat (Triticum aestivum) worldwide. Probing of wheat plants by the larvae results in either an incompatible (avirulent larvae, resistant plant) or a compatible (virulent larvae, susceptible plant) interaction. Virulent larvae induce the formation of a nutritive tissue, resembling the inside surface of a gall, in susceptible wheat. These nutritive cells are a rich source of proteins and sugars that sustain the developing virulent Hessian fly larvae. In addition, on susceptible wheat, larvae trigger a significant increase in levels of amino acids including proline and glutamic acid, which are precursors for the biosynthesis of ornithine and arginine that in turn enter the pathway for polyamine biosynthesis.
Results
Following Hessian fly larval attack, transcript abundance in susceptible wheat increased for several genes involved in polyamine biosynthesis, leading to higher levels of the free polyamines, putrescine, spermidine and spermine. A concurrent increase in polyamine levels occurred in the virulent larvae despite a decrease in abundance of Mdes-odc (ornithine decarboxylase) transcript encoding a key enzyme in insect putrescine biosynthesis. In contrast, resistant wheat and avirulent Hessian fly larvae did not exhibit significant changes in transcript abundance of genes involved in polyamine biosynthesis or in free polyamine levels.
Conclusions
The major findings from this study are: (i) although polyamines contribute to defense in some plant-pathogen interactions, their production is induced in susceptible wheat during interactions with Hessian fly larvae without contributing to defense, and (ii) due to low abundance of transcripts encoding the rate-limiting ornithine decarboxylase enzyme in the larval polyamine pathway the source of polyamines found in virulent larvae is plausibly wheat-derived. The activation of the host polyamine biosynthesis pathway during compatible wheat-Hessian fly interactions is consistent with a model wherein the virulent larvae usurp the polyamine biosynthesis machinery of the susceptible plant to acquire nutrients required for their own growth and development.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0396-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0396-y
PMCID: PMC4308891  PMID: 25592131
Polyamines; Wheat; Hessian fly; Compatible; Incompatible; RT-qPCR; Odc; Samdc; Spds
40.  Association between Chloroplast and Mitochondrial DNA sequences in Chinese Prunus genotypes (Prunus persica, Prunus domestica, and Prunus avium) 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:4.
Background
The nuclear DNA is conventionally used to assess the diversity and relatedness among different species, but variations at the DNA genome level has also been used to study the relationship among different organisms. In most species, mitochondrial and chloroplast genomes are inherited maternally; therefore it is anticipated that organelle DNA remains completely associated. Many research studies were conducted simultaneously on organelle genome. The objectives of this study was to analyze the genetic relationship between chloroplast and mitochondrial DNA in three Chinese Prunus genotypes viz., Prunus persica, Prunus domestica, and Prunus avium.
Results
We investigated the genetic diversity of Prunus genotypes using simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers relevant to the chloroplast and mitochondria. Most of the genotypes were genetically similar as revealed by phylogenetic analysis. The Y2 Wu Xing (Cherry) and L2 Hong Xin Li (Plum) genotypes have a high similarity index (0.89), followed by Zi Ye Li (0.85), whereas; L1 Tai Yang Li (plum) has the lowest genetic similarity (0.35). In case of cpSSR, Hong Tao (Peach) and L1 Tai Yang Li (Plum) genotypes demonstrated similarity index of 0.85 and Huang Tao has the lowest similarity index of 0.50. The mtSSR nucleotide sequence analysis revealed that each genotype has similar amplicon length (509 bp) except M5Y1 i.e., 505 bp with CCB256 primer; while in case of NAD6 primer, all genotypes showed different sizes. The MEHO (Peach), MEY1 (Cherry), MEL2 (Plum) and MEL1 (Plum) have 586 bps; while MEY2 (Cherry), MEZI (Plum) and MEHU (Peach) have 585, 584 and 566 bp, respectively. The CCB256 primer showed highly conserved sequences and minute single polymorphic nucleotides with no deletion or mutation. The cpSSR (ARCP511) microsatellites showed the harmonious amplicon length. The CZI (Plum), CHO (Peach) and CL1 (Plum) showed 182 bp; whileCHU (Peach), CY2 (Cherry), CL2 (Plum) and CY1 (Cherry) showed 181 bp amplicon lengths.
Conclusions
These results demonstrated high conservation in chloroplast and mitochondrial genome among Prunus species during the evolutionary process. These findings are valuable to study the organelle DNA diversity in different species and genotypes of Prunus to provide in depth insight in to the mitochondrial and chloroplast genomes.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0402-4
PMCID: PMC4310034  PMID: 25592231
Organelle DNA sequences; Prunus; SSR markers; Genetic diversity; Prunus persica; Prunus domestica; Prunus avium
41.  Characterization of miRNAs associated with Botrytis cinerea infection of tomato leaves 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:1.
Background
Botrytis cinerea Pers. Fr. is an important pathogen causing stem rot in tomatoes grown indoors for extended periods. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been reported as gene expression regulators related to several stress responses and B. cinerea infection in tomato. However, the function of miRNAs in the resistance to B. cinerea remains unclear.
Results
The miRNA expression patterns in tomato in response to B. cinerea stress were investigated by high-throughput sequencing. In total, 143 known miRNAs and seven novel miRNAs were identified and their corresponding expression was detected in mock- and B. cinerea-inoculated leaves. Among those, one novel and 57 known miRNAs were differentially expressed in B. cinerea-infected leaves, and 8 of these were further confirmed by quantitative reverse-transcription PCR (qRT-PCR). Moreover, five of these eight differentially expressed miRNAs could hit 10 coding sequences (CDSs) via CleaveLand pipeline and psRNAtarget program. In addition, qRT-PCR revealed that four targets were negatively correlated with their corresponding miRNAs (miR319, miR394, and miRn1).
Conclusion
Results of sRNA high-throughput sequencing revealed that the upregulation of miRNAs may be implicated in the mechanism by which tomato respond to B. cinerea stress. Analysis of the expression profiles of B. cinerea-responsive miRNAs and their targets strongly suggested that miR319, miR394, and miRn1 may be involved in the tomato leaves’ response to B. cinerea infection.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0410-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0410-4
PMCID: PMC4311480  PMID: 25592487
Tomato; High-throughput sequencing; B. cinerea-responsive miRNA; Target expression
42.  Co-localisation of the blackleg resistance genes Rlm2 and LepR3 on Brassica napus chromosome A10 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14(1):387.
Background
The protection of canola (Brassica napus) crops against blackleg disease, caused by the fungal pathogen Leptosphaeria maculans, is largely mediated by race-specific resistance genes (R-genes). While many R-genes effective against blackleg disease have been identified in Brassica species, information of the precise genomic locations of the genes is limited.
Results
In this study, the Rlm2 gene for resistance to blackleg, located on chromosome A10 of the B. napus cultivar ‘Glacier’, was targeted for fine mapping. Molecular markers tightly linked to the gene were developed for use in mapping the resistance locus and defining the physical interval in B. napus. Rlm2 was localised to a 5.8 cM interval corresponding to approximately 873 kb of the B. napus chromosome A10.
Conclusion
The recently-cloned B. napus R-gene, LepR3, occupies the same region of A10 as Rlm2 and analysis of the putative B. napus and B. rapa genes in the homologous region identified several additional candidate defense-related genes that may control Rlm2 function.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0387-z
PMCID: PMC4302512  PMID: 25551287
Blackleg; Brassica napus; Leptosphaeria maculans; Marker-assisted breeding; Molecular marker; PGIP-like protein; Receptor-like protein; Resistance
43.  Developmentally distinct activities of the exocyst enable rapid cell elongation and determine meristem size during primary root growth in Arabidopsis 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14(1):386.
Background
Exocytosis is integral to root growth: trafficking components of systems that control growth (e.g., PIN auxin transport proteins) to the plasma membrane, and secreting materials that expand the cell wall to the apoplast. Spatiotemporal regulation of exocytosis in eukaryotes often involves the exocyst, an octameric complex that tethers selected secretory vesicles to specific sites on the plasma membrane and facilitates their exocytosis. We evaluated Arabidopsis lines with mutations in four exocyst components (SEC5, SEC8, EXO70A1 and EXO84B) to explore exocyst function in primary root growth.
Results
The mutants have root growth rates that are 82% to 11% of wild-type. Even in lines with the most severe defects, the organization of the quiescent center and tissue layers at the root tips appears similar to wild-type, although meristematic, transition, and elongation zones are shorter. Reduced cell production rates in the mutants are due to the shorter meristems, but not to lengthened cell cycles. Additionally, mutants demonstrate reduced anisotropic cell expansion in the elongation zone, but not the meristematic zone, resulting in shorter mature cells that are similar in shape to wild-type. As expected, hypersensitivity to brefeldin A links the mutant root growth defect to altered vesicular trafficking. Several experimental approaches (e.g., dose–response measurements, localization of signaling components) failed to identify aberrant auxin or brassinosteroid signaling as a primary driver for reduced root growth in exocyst mutants.
Conclusions
The exocyst participates in two spatially distinct developmental processes, apparently by mechanisms not directly linked to auxin or brassinosteroid signaling pathways, to help establish root meristem size, and to facilitate rapid cell expansion in the elongation zone.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0386-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0386-0
PMCID: PMC4302519  PMID: 25551204
Exocyst; Root growth; Meristem; Cell expansion; Auxin; Brassinosteroid
44.  Transcriptome analysis and transient transformation suggest an ancient duplicated MYB transcription factor as a candidate gene for leaf red coloration in peach 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14(1):388.
Background
Leaf red coloration is an important characteristic in many plant species, including cultivars of ornamental peach (Prunus persica). Peach leaf color is controlled by a single Gr gene on linkage group 6, with a red allele dominant over the green allele. Here, we report the identification of a candidate gene of Gr in peach.
Results
The red coloration of peach leaves is due to accumulation of anthocyanin pigments, which is regulated at the transcriptional level. Based on transcriptome comparison between red- and green-colored leaves, an MYB transcription regulator PpMYB10.4 in the Gr interval was identified to regulate anthocyanin pigmentation in peach leaf. Transient expression of PpMYB10.4 in tobacco and peach leaves can induce anthocyain accumulation. Moreover, a functional MYB gene PpMYB10.2 on linkage group 3, which is homologous to PpMYB10.4, is also expressed in both red- and green-colored leaves, but plays no role in leaf red coloration. This suggests a complex mechanism underlying anthocyanin accumulation in peach leaf. In addition, PpMYB10.4 and other anthocyanin-activating MYB genes in Rosaceae responsible for anthocyanin accumulation in fruit are dated to a common ancestor about 70 million years ago (MYA). However, PpMYB10.4 has diverged from these anthocyanin-activating MYBs to generate a new gene family, which regulates anthocyanin accumulation in vegetative organs such as leaves.
Conclusions
Activation of an ancient duplicated MYB gene PpMYB10.4 in the Gr interval on LG 6, which represents a novel branch of anthocyanin-activating MYB genes in Rosaceae, is able to activate leaf red coloration in peach.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0388-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0388-y
PMCID: PMC4302523  PMID: 25551393
Prunus persica; Anthocyanin coloration; Gene duplication; Transcriptome analysis
45.  Multiscale investigation of mealiness in apple: an atypical role for a pectin methylesterase during fruit maturation 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14(1):375.
Background
Apple fruit mealiness is one of the most important textural problems that results from an undesirable ripening process during storage. This phenotype is characterized by textural deterioration described as soft, grainy and dry fruit. Despite several studies, little is known about mealiness development and the associated molecular events. In this study, we integrated phenotypic, microscopic, transcriptomic and biochemical analyses to gain insights into the molecular basis of mealiness development.
Results
Instrumental texture characterization allowed the refinement of the definition of apple mealiness. In parallel, a new and simple quantitative test to assess this phenotype was developed.
Six individuals with contrasting mealiness were selected among a progeny and used to perform a global transcriptome analysis during fruit development and cold storage. Potential candidate genes associated with the initiation of mealiness were identified. Amongst these, the expression profile of an early down-regulated transcript similar to an Arabidopsis thaliana pectin methylesterase gene (AtPME2) matched with mealiness development. In silico analyses of this Malus x domestica PME gene (MdPME2) confirmed its specific pattern compared with all other identified MdPME genes. Protein fusion experiments showed that MdPME2 is secreted into the apoplast in accordance with a possible activity on pectin structure. Further microscopic analysis indicated a progressive loss of cell to cell adhesion in mealy apple fruits. Biochemical analysis revealed specific modifications of pectin residues associated with mealiness, without global changes in the degree of methylesterification of pectins.
Conclusions
These data support the role of PME in cell wall remodelling during apple fruit development and ripening and suggest a local action of these enzymes. Mealiness may partially result from qualitative and spatial variations of pectin microarchitecture rather than quantitative pectin differences, and these changes may occur early in fruit development. The specific MdPME2 gene highlighted in this study could be a good early marker of texture unfavourable trait in apple.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0375-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0375-3
PMCID: PMC4310206  PMID: 25551767
Apple; Cell wall; Malus domestica; PME; Fruit texture; Transcriptome
46.  Two distinct classes of QTL determine rust resistance in sorghum 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:366.
Background
Agriculture is facing enormous challenges to feed a growing population in the face of rapidly evolving pests and pathogens. The rusts, in particular, are a major pathogen of cereal crops with the potential to cause large reductions in yield. Improving stable disease resistance is an on-going major and challenging focus for many plant breeding programs, due to the rapidly evolving nature of the pathogen. Sorghum is a major summer cereal crop that is also a host for a rust pathogen Puccinia purpurea, which occurs in almost all sorghum growing areas of the world, causing direct and indirect yield losses in sorghum worldwide, however knowledge about its genetic control is still limited. In order to further investigate this issue, QTL and association mapping methods were implemented to study rust resistance in three bi-parental populations and an association mapping set of elite breeding lines in different environments.
Results
In total, 64 significant or highly significant QTL and 21 suggestive rust resistance QTL were identified representing 55 unique genomic regions. Comparisons across populations within the current study and with rust QTL identified previously in both sorghum and maize revealed a high degree of correspondence in QTL location. Negative phenotypic correlations were observed between rust, maturity and height, indicating a trend for both early maturing and shorter genotypes to be more susceptible to rust.
Conclusions
The significant amount of QTL co-location across traits, in addition to the consistency in the direction of QTL allele effects, has provided evidence to support pleiotropic QTL action across rust, height, maturity and stay-green, supporting the role of carbon stress in susceptibility to rust. Classical rust resistance QTL regions that did not co-locate with height, maturity or stay-green QTL were found to be significantly enriched for the defence-related NBS-encoding gene family, in contrast to the lack of defence-related gene enrichment in multi-trait effect rust resistance QTL. The distinction of disease resistance QTL hot-spots, enriched with defence-related gene families from QTL which impact on development and partitioning, provides plant breeders with knowledge which will allow for fast-tracking varieties with both durable pathogen resistance and appropriate adaptive traits.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0366-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0366-4
PMCID: PMC4335369  PMID: 25551674
Rust resistance; Sorghum; Pleiotropy; Height; Maturity; Stay-green; QTL mapping; Association mapping
47.  Western white pine SNP discovery and high-throughput genotyping for breeding and conservation applications 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14(1):380.
Background
Western white pine (WWP, Pinus monticola Douglas ex D. Don) is of high interest in forest breeding and conservation because of its high susceptibility to the invasive disease white pine blister rust (WPBR, caused by the fungus Cronartium ribicola J. C. Fisch). However, WWP lacks genomic resource development and is evolutionarily far away from plants with available draft genome sequences. Here we report a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) study by bulked segregation-based RNA-Seq analysis.
Results
A collection of resistance germplasm was used for construction of cDNA libraries and SNP genotyping. Approximately 36–89 million 2 × 100-bp reads were obtained per library and de-novo assembly generated the first shoot-tip reference transcriptome containing a total of 54,661 unique transcripts. Bioinformatic SNP detection identified >100,000 high quality SNPs in three expressed candidate gene groups: Pinus highly conserved genes (HCGs), differential expressed genes (DEGs) in plant defense response, and resistance gene analogs (RGAs). To estimate efficiency of in-silico SNP discovery, genotyping assay was developed by using Sequenom iPlex and it unveiled SNP success rates from 40.1% to 61.1%. SNP clustering analyses consistently revealed distinct populations, each composed of multiple full-sib seed families by parentage assignment in the WWP germplasm collection. Linkage disequilibrium (LD) analysis identified six genes in significant association with major gene (Cr2) resistance, including three RGAs (two NBS-LRR genes and one receptor-like protein kinase -RLK gene), two HCGs, and one DEG. At least one SNP locus provided an excellent marker for Cr2 selection across P. monticola populations.
Conclusions
The WWP shoot tip transcriptome and those validated SNP markers provide novel genomic resources for genetic, evolutionary and ecological studies. SNP loci of those candidate genes associated with resistant phenotypes can be used as positional and functional variation sites for further characterization of WWP major gene resistance against C. ribicola. Our results demonstrate that integration of RNA-seq-based transcriptome analysis and high-throughput genotyping is an effective approach for discovery of a large number of nucleotide variations and for identification of functional gene variants associated with adaptive traits in a non-model species.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0380-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0380-6
PMCID: PMC4302426  PMID: 25547170
Five-needle pine; Genotyping array; Linkage disequilibrium; Marker-based selection; Pedigree reconstruction
48.  The GRAS gene family in pine: transcript expression patterns associated with the maturation-related decline of competence to form adventitious roots 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14(1):354.
Background
Adventitious rooting is an organogenic process by which roots are induced from differentiated cells other than those specified to develop roots. In forest tree species, age and maturation are barriers to adventitious root formation by stem cuttings. The mechanisms behind the respecification of fully differentiated progenitor cells, which underlies adventitious root formation, are unknown.
Results
Here, the GRAS gene family in pine is characterized and the expression of a subset of these genes during adventitious rooting is reported. Comparative analyses of protein structures showed that pine GRAS members are conserved compared with their relatives in angiosperms. Relatively high GRAS mRNA levels were measured in non-differentiated proliferating embryogenic cultures and during embryo development. The mRNA levels of putative GRAS family transcription factors, including Pinus radiata’s SCARECROW (SCR), PrSCR, and SCARECROW-LIKE (SCL) 6, PrSCL6, were significantly reduced or non-existent in adult tissues that no longer had the capacity to form adventitious roots, but were maintained or induced after the reprogramming of adult cells in rooting-competent tissues. A subset of genes, SHORT-ROOT (PrSHR), PrSCL1, PrSCL2, PrSCL10 and PrSCL12, was also expressed in an auxin-, age- or developmental-dependent manner during adventitious root formation.
Conclusions
The GRAS family of pine has been characterized by analyzing protein structures, phylogenetic relationships, conserved motifs and gene expression patterns. Individual genes within each group have acquired different and specialized functions, some of which could be related to the competence and reprogramming of adult cells to form adventitious roots.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0354-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0354-8
PMCID: PMC4302573  PMID: 25547982
Age; Cell fate; Conifer; Developmental plasticity; Intrinsically disordered proteins; Pluripotency; Root meristem; Vegetative propagation
49.  A comparison of induced and developmental cell death morphologies in lace plant (Aponogeton madagascariensis) leaves 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14(1):389.
Background
Programmed cell death (PCD) is an important process for the development and maintenance of multicellular eukaryotes. In animals, there are three morphologically distinct cell death types: apoptosis, autophagic cell death, and necrosis. The search for an all-encompassing classification system based on plant cell death morphology continues. The lace plant is a model system for studying PCD as leaf perforations form predictably via this process during development. This study induced death in cells that do not undergo developmental PCD using various degrees and types of stress (heat, salt, acid and base). Cell death was observed via live cell imaging and compared to the developmental PCD pathway.
Results
Morphological similarities between developmental and induced PCD included: disappearance of anthocyanin from the vacuole, increase in vesicle formation, nuclear condensation, and fusing of vesicles containing organelles to the vacuole prior to tonoplast collapse. Plasma membrane retraction was a key feature of developmental PCD but did not occur in all induced modes of cell death.
Conclusions
Regardless of the causal agent in cell death, the vacuole appeared to play a central role in dying cells. The results indicated that within a single system, various types and intensities of stress will influence cell death morphology. In order to establish a plant cell death classification system, future research should combine morphological data with biochemical and molecular data.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0389-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0389-x
PMCID: PMC4302576  PMID: 25547402
Programmed cell death; Vacuole; Plasma membrane; Morphology; Cell death classification; Developmental PCD; Environmentally induced PCD; Tonoplast; Live cell imaging; Autophagy
50.  Nitrogen-driven stem elongation in poplar is linked with wood modification and gene clusters for stress, photosynthesis and cell wall formation 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14(1):391.
Background
Nitrogen is an important nutrient, often limiting plant productivity and yield. In poplars, woody crops used as feedstock for renewable resources and bioenergy, nitrogen fertilization accelerates growth of the young, expanding stem internodes. The underlying molecular mechanisms of nitrogen use for extension growth in poplars are not well understood. The aim of this study was to dissect the nitrogen-responsive transcriptional network in the elongation zone of Populus trichocarpa in relation to extension growth and cell wall properties.
Results
Transcriptome analyses in the first two internodes of P. trichocarpa stems grown without or with nitrogen fertilization (5 mM NH4NO3) revealed 1037 more than 2-fold differentially expressed genes (DEGs). Co-expression analysis extracted a network containing about one-third of the DEGs with three main complexes of strongly clustered genes. These complexes represented three main processes that were responsive to N-driven growth: Complex 1 integrated growth processes and stress suggesting that genes with established functions in abiotic and biotic stress are also recruited to coordinate growth. Complex 2 was enriched in genes with decreased transcript abundance and functionally annotated as photosynthetic hub. Complex 3 was a hub for secondary cell wall formation connecting well-known transcription factors that control secondary cell walls with genes for the formation of cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin. Anatomical and biochemical analysis supported that N-driven growth resulted in early secondary cell wall formation in the elongation zone with thicker cell walls and increased lignin. These alterations contrasted the N influence on the secondary xylem, where thinner cell walls with lower lignin contents than in unfertilized trees were formed.
Conclusion
This study uncovered that nitrogen-responsive elongation growth of poplar internodes is linked with abiotic stress, suppression of photosynthetic genes and stimulation of genes for cell wall formation. Anatomical and biochemical analysis supported increased accumulation of cell walls and secondary metabolites in the elongation zone. The finding of a nitrogen-responsive cell wall hub may have wider implications for the improvement of tree nitrogen use efficiency and opens new perspectives on the enhancement of wood composition as a feedstock for biofuels.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0391-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0391-3
PMCID: PMC4302602  PMID: 25547614
Development; Metaxylem; Nitrogen use; Populus trichocarpa; Stress; Transcriptome; Wood; Xylem

Results 26-50 (1857)