Arabidopsis AtHB7 and AtHB12 transcription factors (TFs) belong to the homeodomain-leucine zipper subfamily I (HD-Zip I) and present 62% amino acid identity. These TFs have been associated with the control of plant development and abiotic stress responses; however, at present it is not completely understood how AtHB7 and AtHB12 regulate these processes.
By using different expression analysis approaches, we found that AtHB12 is expressed at higher levels during early Arabidopsis thaliana development whereas AtHB7 during later developmental stages. Moreover, by analysing gene expression in single and double Arabidopsis mutants and in transgenic plants ectopically expressing these TFs, we discovered a complex mechanism dependent on the plant developmental stage and in which AtHB7 and AtHB12 affect the expression of each other. Phenotypic analysis of transgenic plants revealed that AtHB12 induces root elongation and leaf development in young plants under standard growth conditions, and seed production in water-stressed plants. In contrast, AtHB7 promotes leaf development, chlorophyll levels and photosynthesis and reduces stomatal conductance in mature plants. Moreover AtHB7 delays senescence processes in standard growth conditions.
We demonstrate that AtHB7 and AtHB12 have overlapping yet specific roles in several processes related to development and water stress responses. The analysis of mutant and transgenic plants indicated that the expression of AtHB7 and AtHB12 is regulated in a coordinated manner, depending on the plant developmental stage and the environmental conditions. The results suggested that AtHB7 and AtHB12 evolved divergently to fine tune processes associated with development and responses to mild water stress.
AtHB7; AtHB12; Homeodomain-leucine zipper (HD-Zip I); Moderate water stress; Yield; Plant growth
Plant ALDH10 enzymes are aminoaldehyde dehydrogenases (AMADHs) that oxidize different ω-amino or trimethylammonium aldehydes, but only some of them have betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase (BADH) activity and produce the osmoprotectant glycine betaine (GB). The latter enzymes possess alanine or cysteine at position 441 (numbering of the spinach enzyme, SoBADH), while those ALDH10s that cannot oxidize betaine aldehyde (BAL) have isoleucine at this position. Only the plants that contain A441- or C441-type ALDH10 isoenzymes accumulate GB in response to osmotic stress. In this work we explored the evolutionary history of the acquisition of BAL specificity by plant ALDH10s.
We performed extensive phylogenetic analyses and constructed and characterized, kinetically and structurally, four SoBADH variants that simulate the parsimonious intermediates in the evolutionary pathway from I441-type to A441- or C441-type enzymes. All mutants had a correct folding, average thermal stabilities and similar activity with aminopropionaldehyde, but whereas A441S and A441T exhibited significant activity with BAL, A441V and A441F did not. The kinetics of the mutants were consistent with their predicted structural features obtained by modeling, and confirmed the importance of position 441 for BAL specificity. The acquisition of BADH activity could have happened through any of these intermediates without detriment of the original function or protein stability. Phylogenetic studies showed that this event occurred independently several times during angiosperms evolution when an ALDH10 gene duplicate changed the critical Ile residue for Ala or Cys in two consecutive single mutations. ALDH10 isoenzymes frequently group in two clades within a plant family: one includes peroxisomal I441-type, the other peroxisomal and non-peroxisomal I441-, A441- or C441-type. Interestingly, high GB-accumulators plants have non-peroxisomal A441- or C441-type isoenzymes, while low-GB accumulators have the peroxisomal C441-type, suggesting some limitations in the peroxisomal GB synthesis.
Our findings shed light on the evolution of the synthesis of GB in plants, a metabolic trait of most ecological and physiological relevance for their tolerance to drought, hypersaline soils and cold. Together, our results are consistent with smooth evolutionary pathways for the acquisition of the BADH function from ancestral I441-type AMADHs, thus explaining the relatively high occurrence of this event.
Osmoprotection; Osmotic stress; Aminoaldehyde dehydrogenase; Enzyme kinetics; Substrate specificity; Enzyme subcellular location; Protein stability; Protein structure; Protein evolution
Sorghum genotypes used for grain production in temperate regions are photoperiod insensitive and flower early avoiding adverse environments during the reproductive phase. In contrast, energy sorghum hybrids are highly photoperiod sensitive with extended vegetative phases in long days, resulting in enhanced biomass accumulation. SbPRR37 and SbGHD7 contribute to photoperiod sensitivity in sorghum by repressing expression of SbEHD1 and FT-like genes, thereby delaying flowering in long days with minimal influence in short days (PNAS_108:16469-16474, 2011; Plant Genome_in press, 2014). The GIGANTEA (GI)-CONSTANS (CO)-FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) pathway regulates flowering time in Arabidopsis and the grasses (J Exp Bot_62:2453-2463, 2011). In long day flowering plants, such as Arabidopsis and barley, CONSTANS activates FT expression and flowering in long days. In rice, a short day flowering plant, Hd1, the ortholog of CONSTANS, activates flowering in short days and represses flowering in long days.
Quantitative trait loci (QTL) that modify flowering time in sorghum were identified by screening Recombinant Inbred Lines (RILs) derived from BTx642 and Tx7000 in long days, short days, and under field conditions. Analysis of the flowering time QTL on SBI-10 revealed that BTx642 encodes a recessive CONSTANS allele containing a His106Tyr substitution in B-box 2 known to inactivate CONSTANS in Arabidopsis thaliana. Genetic analysis characterized sorghum CONSTANS as a floral activator that promotes flowering by inducing the expression of EARLY HEADING DATE 1 (SbEHD1) and sorghum orthologs of the maize FT genes ZCN8 (SbCN8) and ZCN12 (SbCN12). The floral repressor PSEUDORESPONSE REGULATOR PROTEIN 37 (PRR37) inhibits sorghum CONSTANS activity and flowering in long days.
Sorghum CONSTANS is an activator of flowering that is repressed post-transcriptionally in long days by the floral inhibitor PRR37, contributing to photoperiod sensitive flowering in Sorghum bicolor, a short day plant.
Photoperiod; Sorghum; Flowering time; QTL; CONSTANS; PRR37
Uncoupling protein one (UCP1) is a mitochondrial inner membrane protein capable of uncoupling the electrochemical gradient from adenosine-5′-triphosphate (ATP) synthesis, dissipating energy as heat. UCP1 plays a central role in nonshivering thermogenesis in the brown adipose tissue (BAT) of hibernating animals and small rodents. A UCP1 ortholog also occurs in plants, and aside from its role in uncoupling respiration from ATP synthesis, thereby wasting energy, it plays a beneficial role in the plant response to several abiotic stresses, possibly by decreasing the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and regulating cellular redox homeostasis. However, the molecular mechanisms by which UCP1 is associated with stress tolerance remain unknown.
Here, we report that the overexpression of UCP1 increases mitochondrial biogenesis, increases the uncoupled respiration of isolated mitochondria, and decreases cellular ATP concentration. We observed that the overexpression of UCP1 alters mitochondrial bioenergetics and modulates mitochondrial-nuclear communication, inducing the upregulation of hundreds of nuclear- and mitochondrial-encoded mitochondrial proteins. Electron microscopy analysis showed that these metabolic changes were associated with alterations in mitochondrial number, area and morphology. Surprisingly, UCP1 overexpression also induces the upregulation of hundreds of stress-responsive genes, including some involved in the antioxidant defense system, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPX) and glutathione-S-transferase (GST). As a consequence of the increased UCP1 activity and increased expression of oxidative stress-responsive genes, the UCP1-overexpressing plants showed reduced ROS accumulation. These beneficial metabolic effects may be responsible for the better performance of UCP1-overexpressing lines in low pH, high salt, high osmolarity, low temperature, and oxidative stress conditions.
Overexpression of UCP1 in the mitochondrial inner membrane induced increased uncoupling respiration, decreased ROS accumulation under abiotic stresses, and diminished cellular ATP content. These events may have triggered the expression of mitochondrial and stress-responsive genes in a coordinated manner. Because these metabolic alterations did not impair plant growth and development, UCP1 overexpression can potentially be used to create crops better adapted to abiotic stress conditions.
UCP1; Mitochondria; Oxidative stress; Biogenesis; Plant; Stress response
The whitebacked planthopper (WBPH), Sogatella furcifera Horváth, is a serious rice pest in Asia. Ovicidal resistance is a natural rice defense mechanism against WBPH and is characterized by the formation of watery lesions (WLs) and increased egg mortality (EM) at the WBPH oviposition sites.
This study aimed to understand the genetic and molecular basis of rice ovicidal resistance to WBPH by combining genetic and genomic analyses. First, the ovicidal trait in doubled haploid rice lines derived from a WBPH-resistant cultivar (CJ06) and a WBPH-susceptible cultivar (TN1) were phenotyped based on the necrotic symptoms of the leaf sheaths and EM. Using a constructed molecular linkage map, 19 quantitative trait loci (QTLs) associated with WLs and EM were identified on eight chromosomes. Of them, qWL6 was determined to be a major QTL for WL. Based on chromosome segment substitution lines and a residual heterozygous population, a high-resolution linkage analysis further defined the qWL6 locus to a 122-kb region on chromosome 6, which was annotated to encode 20 candidate genes. We then conducted an Affymetrix microarray analysis to determine the transcript abundance in the CJ06 and TN1 plants. Upon WBPH infestation, 432 genes in CJ06 and 257 genes in TN1 were significantly up-regulated, while 802 genes in CJ06 and 398 genes in TN1 were significantly down-regulated. This suggests that remarkable global changes in gene expression contribute to the ovicidal resistance of rice. Notably, four genes in the 122-kb region of the qWL6 locus were differentially regulated between CJ06 and TN1 in response to the WBPH infestation, suggesting they may be candidate resistance genes.
The information obtained from the fine mapping of qWL6 and the microarray analyses will facilitate the isolation of this important resistance gene and its use in breeding WBPH-resistant rice.
Fine mapping; Gene expression profiling; Ovicidal response; qWL6; Sogatella furcifera Horváth; Whitebacked planthopper
Past clonal propagation of olive trees is intimately linked to grafting. However, evidence on grafting in ancient trees is scarce, and not much is known about the source of plant material used for rootstocks. Here, the Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) marker technique was used to study genetic diversity of rootstocks and scions in ancient olive trees from the Levant and its implications for past cultivation of olives. Leaf samples were collected from tree canopies (scions) and shoots growing from the trunk base (suckers). A total of 310 trees were sampled in 32 groves and analyzed with 14 SSR markers.
In 82.7% of the trees in which both scion and suckers could be genotyped, these were genetically different, and thus suckers were interpreted to represent the rootstock of grafted trees. Genetic diversity values were much higher among suckers than among scions, and 194 and 87 multi-locus genotypes (MLGs) were found in the two sample groups, respectively. Only five private alleles were found among scions, but 125 among suckers. A frequency analysis revealed a bimodal distribution of genetic distance among MLGs, indicating the presence of somatic mutations within clones. When assuming that MLGs differing by one mutation are identical, scion and sucker MLGs were grouped in 20 and 147 multi-locus lineages (MLLs). The majority of scions (90.0%) belonged to a single common MLL, whereas 50.5% of the suckers were single-sample MLLs. However, one MLL was specific to suckers and found in 63 (22.6%) of the samples.
Our results provide strong evidence that the majority of olive trees in the study are grafted, that the large majority of scions belong to a single ancient cultivar containing somatic mutations, and that the widespread occurrence of one sucker genotype may imply rootstock selection. For the majority of grafted trees it seems likely that saplings were used as rootstocks; their genetic diversity probably is best explained as the result of a long history of sexual reproduction involving cultivated, feral and wild genotypes.
Domestication; Grafting; Microsatellites; Olive cultivars; Propagation
NaTrxh, a thioredoxin type h, shows differential expression between self-incompatible and self-compatible Nicotiana species. NaTrxh interacts in vitro with S-RNase and co-localizes with it in the extracellular matrix of the stylar transmitting tissue. NaTrxh contains N- and C-terminal extensions, a feature shared by thioredoxin h proteins of subgroup 2. To ascertain the function of these extensions in NaTrxh secretion and protein-protein interaction, we performed a deletion analysis on NaTrxh and fused the resulting variants to GFP.
We found an internal domain in the N-terminal extension, called Nβ, that is essential for NaTrxh secretion but is not hydrophobic, a canonical feature of a signal peptide. The lack of hydrophobicity as well as the location of the secretion signal within the NaTrxh primary structure, suggest an unorthodox secretion route for NaTrxh. Notably, we found that the fusion protein NaTrxh-GFP(KDEL) is retained in the endoplasmic reticulum and that treatment of NaTrxh-GFP-expressing cells with Brefeldin A leads to its retention in the Golgi, which indicates that NaTrxh uses, to some extent, the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus for secretion. Furthermore, we found that Nβ contributes to NaTrxh tertiary structure stabilization and that the C-terminus functions in the protein-protein interaction with S-RNase.
The extensions contained in NaTrxh sequence have specific functions on the protein. While the C-terminus directly participates in protein-protein interaction, particularly on its interaction with S-RNase in vitro; the N-terminal extension contains two structurally different motifs: Nα and Nβ. Nβ, the inner domain (Ala-17 to Pro-27), is essential and enough to target NaTrxh towards the apoplast. Interestingly, when it was fused to GFP, this protein was also found in the cell wall of the onion cells. Although the biochemical features of the N-terminus suggested a non-classical secretion pathway, our results provided evidence that NaTrxh at least uses the endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus and also vesicles for secretion. Therefore, the Nβ domain sequence is suggested to be a novel signal peptide.
Thioredoxin; Secretion; Self-incompatibility; Nicotiana alata; Gametophytic; S-RNase
Soybean (Glycine max) seeds are the primary source of edible oil in the United States. Despite its widespread utility, soybean oil is oxidatively unstable. Until recently, the majority of soybean oil underwent chemical hydrogenation, a process which also generates trans fats. An alternative to chemical hydrogenation is genetic modification of seed oil through identification and introgression of mutant alleles. One target for improvement is the elevation of a saturated fat with no negative cardiovascular impacts, stearic acid, which typically constitutes a minute portion of seed oil (~3%).
We examined radiation induced soybean mutants with moderately increased stearic acid (10-15% of seed oil, ~3-5 X the levels in wild-type soybean seeds) via comparative whole genome hybridization and genetic analysis. The deletion of one SACPD isoform encoding gene (SACPD-C) was perfectly correlated with moderate elevation of seed stearic acid content. However, SACPD-C deletion lines were also found to have altered nodule fatty acid composition and grossly altered morphology. Despite these defects, overall nodule accumulation and nitrogen fixation were unaffected, at least under laboratory conditions.
Although no yield penalty has been reported for moderate elevated seed stearic acid content in soybean seeds, our results demonstrate that genetic alteration of seed traits can have unforeseen pleiotropic consequences. We have identified a role for fatty acid biosynthesis, and SACPD activity in particular, in the establishment and maintenance of symbiotic nitrogen fixation.
Soybean (Glycine max); Stearic acid; Fatty acid composition; Radiation mutagenesis; Comparative genome hybridization; Nodulation
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding RNAs playing essential roles in plant growth, development, and stress responses. Sequencing of small RNAs is a starting point for understanding their number, diversity, expression and possible roles in plants.
In this study, we conducted a genome-wide survey of wheat miRNAs from 11 tissues, characterizing a total of 323 novel miRNAs belonging to 276 families in wheat. A miRNA conservation analysis identified 191 wheat-specific miRNAs, 2 monocot-specific miRNAs, and 30 wheat-specific variants from 9 highly conserved miRNA families. To understand possible roles of wheat miRNAs, we determined 524 potential targets for 124 miRNA families through degradome sequencing, and cleavage of a subset of them was validated via 5′ RACE. Based on the genome-wide identification and characterization of miRNAs and their associated target genes, we further identified 64 miRNAs preferentially expressing in developing or germinating grains, which could play important roles in grain development.
We discovered 323 wheat novel miRNAs and 524 target genes for 124 miRNA families in a genome-wide level, and our data will serve as a foundation for future research into the functional roles of miRNAs in wheat.
Pre-exposing plants to diverse abiotic stresses may alter their physiological and transcriptional responses to a subsequent stress, suggesting a form of “stress memory”. Arabidopsis thaliana plants that have experienced multiple exposures to dehydration stress display transcriptional behavior suggesting “memory” from an earlier stress. Genes that respond to a first stress by up-regulating or down-regulating their transcription but in a subsequent stress provide a significantly different response define the ‘memory genes’ category. Genes responding similarly to each stress form the ‘non-memory’ category. It is unknown whether such memory responses exists in other Angiosperm lineages and whether memory is an evolutionarily conserved response to repeated dehydration stresses.
Here, we determine the transcriptional responses of maize (Zea mays L.) plants that have experienced repeated exposures to dehydration stress in comparison with plants encountering the stress for the first time. Four distinct transcription memory response patterns similar to those displayed by A. thaliana were revealed. The most important contribution is the evidence that monocot and eudicot plants, two lineages that have diverged 140 to 200 M years ago, display similar abilities to ‘remember’ a dehydration stress and to modify their transcriptional responses, accordingly. The highly sensitive RNA-Seq analyses allowed to identify genes that function similarly in the two lineages, as well as genes that function in species-specific ways. Memory transcription patterns indicate that the transcriptional behavior of responding genes under repeated stresses is different from the behavior during an initial dehydration stress, suggesting that stress memory is a complex phenotype resulting from coordinated responses of multiple signaling pathways.
Structurally related genes displaying the same memory responses in the two species would suggest conservation of the genes’ memory during the evolution of plants’ dehydration stress response systems. On the other hand, divergent transcription memory responses by genes encoding similar functions would suggest occurrence of species-specific memory responses. The results provide novel insights into our current knowledge of how plants respond to multiple dehydration stresses, as compared to a single exposure, and may serve as a reference platform to study the functions of memory genes in adaptive responses to water deficit in monocot and eudicot plants.
Plant induced defense against herbivory are generally associated with metabolic costs that result in the allocation of photosynthates from growth and reproduction to the synthesis of defense compounds. Therefore, it is essential that plants are capable of sensing and differentiating mechanical injury from herbivore injury. Studies have shown that oral secretions (OS) from caterpillars contain elicitors of induced plant responses. However, studies that shows whether these elicitors originated from salivary glands or from other organs associated with feeding, such as the ventral eversible gland (VEG) are limited. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the secretions from the VEG gland of Spodoptera exigua caterpillars contain elicitors that induce plant defenses by regulating the expression of genes involved in the biosynthesis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other defense-related genes. To test this hypothesis, we quantified and compared the activity of defense-related enzymes, transcript levels of defense-related genes and VOC emission in tomato plants damaged by S. exigua caterpillars with the VEG intact (VEGI) versus plants damaged by caterpillars with the VEG ablated (VEGA).
The quantified defense-related enzymes (i.e. peroxidase, polyphenol oxidase, and lipoxigenase) were expressed in significantly higher amounts in plants damaged by VEGI caterpillars than in plants damaged by VEGA caterpillars. Similarly, the genes that encode for the key enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of jasmonic acid and terpene synthase genes that regulate production of terpene VOCs, were up-regulated in plants damaged by VEGI caterpillars. Moreover, the OS of VEGA caterpillars were less active in inducing the expression of defense genes in tomato plants. Increased emissions of VOCs were detected in the headspace of plants damaged by VEGI caterpillars compared to plants damaged by VEGA caterpillars.
These results suggest that the VEG of S. exigua caterpillars contains elicitors of late plant defense signaling in tomato which trigger defense-related enzymatic activity, regulate expression of defense-related genes, and induce emission of plant VOCs. These signaling cascades may have important ramifications for plant-insect and tritrophic interactions.
VEG; Enzymatic activity; VOCs; Defense-related genes
The pepper fruit is the second most consumed vegetable worldwide. However, low temperature affects the vegetative development and reproduction of the pepper, resulting in economic losses. To identify cold-related genes regulated by abscisic acid (ABA) in pepper seedlings, cDNA representational difference analysis was previously performed using a suppression subtractive hybridization method. One of the genes cloned from the subtraction was homologous to Solanum tuberosum MBF1 (StMBF1) encoding the coactivator multiprotein bridging factor 1. Here, we have characterized this StMBF1 homolog (named CaMBF1) from Capsicum annuum and investigated its role in abiotic stress tolerance.
Tissue expression profile analysis using quantitative RT-PCR showed that CaMBF1 was expressed in all tested tissues, and high-level expression was detected in the flowers and seeds. The expression of CaMBF1 in pepper seedlings was dramatically suppressed by exogenously supplied salicylic acid, high salt, osmotic and heavy metal stresses. Constitutive overexpression of CaMBF1 in Arabidopsis aggravated the visible symptoms of leaf damage and the electrolyte leakage of cell damage caused by cold stress in seedlings. Furthermore, the expression of RD29A, ERD15, KIN1, and RD22 in the transgenic plants was lower than that in the wild-type plants. On the other hand, seed germination, cotyledon greening and lateral root formation were more severely influenced by salt stress in transgenic lines compared with wild-type plants, indicating that CaMBF1-overexpressing Arabidopsis plants were hypersensitive to salt stress.
Overexpression of CaMBF1 in Arabidopsis displayed reduced tolerance to cold and high salt stress during seed germination and post-germination stages. CaMBF1 transgenic Arabidopsis may reduce stress tolerance by downregulating stress-responsive genes to aggravate the leaf damage caused by cold stress. CaMBF1 may be useful for genetic engineering of novel pepper cultivars in the future.
Capsicum annuum L; Cold stress; Salt stress; CaMBF1; Arabidopsis
Red coralline algae are critical components of tropical reef systems, and their success and development is, at least in part, dependent on photosynthesis. However, natural variability in the photosynthetic characteristics of red coralline algae is poorly understood. This study investigated diurnal variability in encrusting Porolithon sp. and free-living Lithophyllum kotschyanum. Measured parameters included: photosynthetic characteristics, pigment composition, thallus reflectance and intracellular concentrations of dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP), an algal antioxidant that is derived from methionine, an indirect product of photosynthesis. L. kotschyanum thalli were characterised by a bleached topside and a pigmented underside.
Minimum saturation intensity and intracellular DMSP concentrations in Porolithon sp. were characterised by significant diurnal patterns in response to the high-light regime. A smaller diurnal pattern in minimum saturation intensity in the topside of L. kotschyanum was also evident. The overall reflectance of the topside of L. kotschyanum also exhibited a diurnal pattern, becoming increasingly reflective with increasing ambient irradiance. The underside of L. kotschyanum, which is shaded from ambient light exposure, exhibited a much smaller diurnal variability.
This study highlights a number of dynamic photoinhibition strategies adopted by coralline algae, enabling them to tolerate, rather than be inhibited by, the naturally high irradiance of tropical reef systems; a factor that may become more important in the future under global change projections. In this context, this research has significant implications for tropical reef management planning and conservation monitoring, which, if natural variability is not taken into account, may become flawed. The information provided by this research may be used to inform future investigations into the contribution of coralline algae to reef accretion, ecosystem service provision and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction.
Dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP); PAM fluorometry; Maerl; Rhodolith; Coral reef; Crustose coralline algae (CCA); Photosynthesis; Photosynthetic pigment
The circadian clock enables living organisms to anticipate recurring daily and seasonal fluctuations in their growth habitats and synchronize their biology to the environmental cycle. The plant circadian clock consists of multiple transcription-translation feedback loops that are entrained by environmental signals, such as light and temperature. In recent years, alternative splicing emerges as an important molecular mechanism that modulates the clock function in plants. Several clock genes are known to undergo alternative splicing in response to changes in environmental conditions, suggesting that the clock function is intimately associated with environmental responses via the alternative splicing of the clock genes. However, the alternative splicing events of the clock genes have not been studied at the molecular level.
We systematically examined whether major clock genes undergo alternative splicing under various environmental conditions in Arabidopsis. We also investigated the fates of the RNA splice variants of the clock genes. It was found that the clock genes, including EARLY FLOWERING 3 (ELF3) and ZEITLUPE (ZTL) that have not been studied in terms of alternative splicing, undergo extensive alternative splicing through diverse modes of splicing events, such as intron retention, exon skipping, and selection of alternative 5′ splice site. Their alternative splicing patterns were differentially influenced by changes in photoperiod, temperature extremes, and salt stress. Notably, the RNA splice variants of TIMING OF CAB EXPRESSION 1 (TOC1) and ELF3 were degraded through the nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) pathway, whereas those of other clock genes were insensitive to NMD.
Taken together, our observations demonstrate that the major clock genes examined undergo extensive alternative splicing under various environmental conditions, suggesting that alternative splicing is a molecular scheme that underlies the linkage between the clock and environmental stress adaptation in plants. It is also envisioned that alternative splicing of the clock genes plays more complex roles than previously expected.
Arabidopsis thaliana; Circadian clock; Transcription factor; Alternative splicing; Nonsense-mediated decay (NMD); Environmental stress
The improvement of fruit aroma is currently one of the most sought-after objectives in peach breeding programs. To better characterize and assess the genetic potential for increasing aroma quality by breeding, a quantity trait locus (QTL) analysis approach was carried out in an F1 population segregating largely for fruit traits.
Linkage maps were constructed using the IPSC peach 9 K Infinium ® II array, rendering dense genetic maps, except in the case of certain chromosomes, probably due to identity-by-descent of those chromosomes in the parental genotypes. The variability in compounds associated with aroma was analyzed by a metabolomic approach based on GC-MS to profile 81 volatiles across the population from two locations. Quality-related traits were also studied to assess possible pleiotropic effects. Correlation-based analysis of the volatile dataset revealed that the peach volatilome is organized into modules formed by compounds from the same biosynthetic origin or which share similar chemical structures. QTL mapping showed clustering of volatile QTL included in the same volatile modules, indicating that some are subjected to joint genetic control. The monoterpene module is controlled by a unique locus at the top of LG4, a locus previously shown to affect the levels of two terpenoid compounds. At the bottom of LG4, a locus controlling several volatiles but also melting/non-melting and maturity-related traits was found, suggesting putative pleiotropic effects. In addition, two novel loci controlling lactones and esters in linkage groups 5 and 6 were discovered.
The results presented here give light on the mode of inheritance of the peach volatilome confirming previously loci controlling the aroma of peach but also identifying novel ones.
Miscanthus is a promising biomass crop for temperate regions. Despite the increasing interest in this plant, limited sequence information has constrained research into its biology, physiology, and breeding. The whole genome transcriptomes of M. sinensis and M. sacchariflorus presented in this study may provide good resources to understand functional compositions of two important Miscanthus genomes and their evolutionary relationships.
For M. sinensis, a total of 457,891 and 512,950 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) were produced from leaf and rhizome tissues, respectively, which were assembled into 12,166 contigs and 89,648 singletons for leaf, and 13,170 contigs and 112,138 singletons for rhizome. For M. sacchariflorus, a total of 288,806 and 267,952 ESTs from leaf and rhizome tissues, respectively, were assembled into 8,732 contigs and 66,881 singletons for leaf, and 8,104 contigs and 63,212 singletons for rhizome. Based on the distributions of synonymous nucleotide substitution (Ks), sorghum and Miscanthus diverged about 6.2 million years ago (MYA), Saccharum and Miscanthus diverged 4.6 MYA, and M. sinensis and M. sacchariflorus diverged 1.5 MYA. The pairwise alignment of predicted protein sequences from sorghum-Miscanthus and two Miscanthus species found a total of 43,770 and 35,818 nsSNPs, respectively. The impacts of striking mutations found by nsSNPs were much lower between sorghum and Miscanthus than those between the two Miscanthus species, perhaps as a consequence of the much higher level of gene duplication in Miscanthus and resulting ability to buffer essential functions against disturbance.
The ESTs generated in the present study represent a significant addition to Miscanthus functional genomics resources, permitting us to discover some candidate genes associated with enhanced biomass production. Ks distributions based on orthologous ESTs may serve as a guideline for future research into the evolution of Miscanthus species as well as its close relatives sorghum and Saccharum.
Miscanthus sinensis; Miscanthus sacchariflorus; Expressed sequence tags; Synonymous substitution; Orthologous sequences; Nonsynonymous SNPs
R2R3 MYB proteins constitute one of the largest plant transcription factor clades and regulate diverse plant-specific processes. Several R2R3 MYB proteins act as regulators of secondary cell wall (SCW) biosynthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana (At), a dicotyledenous plant. Relatively few studies have examined SCW R2R3 MYB function in grasses, which may have diverged from dicots in terms of SCW regulatory mechanisms, as they have in cell wall composition and patterning. Understanding cell wall regulation is especially important for improving lignocellulosic bioenergy crops, such as switchgrass.
Here, we describe the results of applying phylogenic, OrthoMCL, and sequence identity analyses to classify the R2R3 MYB family proteins from the annotated proteomes of Arabidposis, poplar, rice, maize and the initial genome (v0.0) and translated transcriptome of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). We find that the R2R3 MYB proteins of the five species fall into 48 subgroups, including three dicot-specific, six grass-specific, and two panicoid grass-expanded subgroups. We observe four classes of phylogenetic relationships within the subgroups of known SCW-regulating MYB proteins between Arabidopsis and rice, ranging from likely one-to-one orthology (for AtMYB26, AtMYB103, AtMYB69) to no homologs identifiable (for AtMYB75). Microarray data for putative switchgrass SCW MYBs indicate that many maintain similar expression patterns with the Arabidopsis SCW regulators. However, some of the switchgrass-expanded candidate SCW MYBs exhibit differences in gene expression patterns among paralogs, consistent with subfunctionalization. Furthermore, some switchgrass representatives of grass-expanded clades have gene expression patterns consistent with regulating SCW development.
Our analysis suggests that no single comparative genomics tool is able to provide a complete picture of the R2R3 MYB protein family without leaving ambiguities, and establishing likely false-negative and -positive relationships, but that used together a relatively clear view emerges. Generally, we find that most R2R3 MYBs that regulate SCW in Arabidopsis are likely conserved in the grasses. This comparative analysis of the R2R3 MYB family will facilitate transfer of understanding of regulatory mechanisms among species and enable control of SCW biosynthesis in switchgrass toward improving its biomass quality.
Comparative genomics; Secondary cell wall; R2R3 MYB; Transcription factor; Homolog; Ortholog; Biofuel
In plants, calcium-dependent protein kinases (CDPKs) are involved in tolerance to abiotic stresses and in plant seed development. However, the functions of only a few rice CDPKs have been clarified. At present, it is unclear whether CDPKs also play a role in regulating spikelet fertility.
We cloned and characterized the rice CDPK gene, OsCPK9. OsCPK9 transcription was induced by abscisic acid (ABA), PEG6000, and NaCl treatments. The results of OsCPK9 overexpression (OsCPK9-OX) and OsCPK9 RNA interference (OsCPK9-RNAi) analyses revealed that OsCPK9 plays a positive role in drought stress tolerance and spikelet fertility. Physiological analyses revealed that OsCPK9 improves drought stress tolerance by enhancing stomatal closure and by improving the osmotic adjustment ability of the plant. It also improves pollen viability, thereby increasing spikelet fertility. In OsCPK9-OX plants, shoot and root elongation showed enhanced sensitivity to ABA, compared with that of wild-type. Overexpression and RNA interference of OsCPK9 affected the transcript levels of ABA- and stress-responsive genes.
Our results demonstrated that OsCPK9 is a positive regulator of abiotic stress tolerance, spikelet fertility, and ABA sensitivity.
Abscisic acid (ABA) signaling; Abiotic stresses; Calcium-dependent protein kinase (CDPK); Drought stress tolerance; Rice; Spikelet fertility
Cadmium (Cd) exposure and sulfate limitation induce root sulfate uptake to meet the metabolic demand for reduced sulfur. Although these responses are well studied, some aspects are still an object of debate, since little is known about the molecular mechanisms by which changes in sulfate availability and sulfur metabolic demand are perceived and transduced into changes in the expression of the high-affinity sulfate transporters of the roots. The analysis of the natural variation occurring in species with complex and highly redundant genome could provide precious information to better understand the topic, because of the possible retention of mutations in the sulfate transporter genes.
The analysis of plant sulfur nutritional status and root sulfate uptake performed on plants of Brassica juncea – a naturally occurring allotetraploid species – grown either under Cd exposure or sulfate limitation showed that both these conditions increased root sulfate uptake capacity but they caused quite dissimilar nutritional states, as indicated by changes in the levels of nonprotein thiols, glutathione and sulfate of both roots and shoots. Such behaviors were related to the general accumulation of the transcripts of the transporters involved in root sulfate uptake (BjSultr1;1 and BjSultr1;2). However, a deeper analysis of the expression patterns of three redundant, fully functional, and simultaneously expressed Sultr1;2 forms (BjSultr1;2a, BjSultr1;2b, BjSultr1;2c) revealed that sulfate limitation induced the expression of all the variants, whilst BjSultr1;2b and BjSultr1;2c only seemed to have the capacity to respond to Cd.
A novel method to estimate the apparent kM for sulfate, avoiding the use of radiotracers, revealed that BjSultr1;1 and BjSultr1;2a/b/c are fully functional high-affinity sulfate transporters. The different behavior of the three BjSultr1;2 variants following Cd exposure or sulfate limitation suggests the existence of at least two distinct signal transduction pathways controlling root sulfate uptake in dissimilar nutritional and metabolic states.
Brassica juncea; Cadmium; Sulfate limitation; High-affinity sulfate transporters
SPLs, a family of transcription factors specific to plants, play vital roles in plant growth and development through regulation of various physiological and biochemical processes. Although Populus trichocarpa is a model forest tree, the PtSPL gene family has not been systematically studied.
Here we report the identification of 28 full-length PtSPLs, which distribute on 14 P. trichocarpa chromosomes. Based on the phylogenetic relationships of SPLs in P. trichocarpa and Arabidopsis, plant SPLs can be classified into 6 groups. Each group contains at least a PtSPL and an AtSPL. The N-terminal zinc finger 1 (Zn1) of SBP domain in group 6 SPLs has four cysteine residues (CCCC-type), while Zn1 of SPLs in the other groups mainly contains three cysteine and one histidine residues (C2HC-type). Comparative analyses of gene structures, conserved motifs and expression patterns of PtSPLs and AtSPLs revealed the conservation of plant SPLs within a group, whereas among groups, the P. trichocarpa and Arabidopsis SPLs were significantly different. Various conserved motifs were identified in PtSPLs but not found in AtSPLs, suggesting the diversity of plant SPLs. A total of 11 pairs of intrachromosome-duplicated PtSPLs were identified, suggesting the importance of gene duplication in SPL gene expansion in P. trichocarpa. In addition, 18 of the 28 PtSPLs, belonging to G1, G2 and G5, were found to be targets of miR156. Consistently, all of the AtSPLs in these groups are regulated by miR156. It suggests the conservation of miR156-mediated posttranscriptional regulation in plants.
A total of 28 full-length SPLs were identified from the whole genome sequence of P. trichocarpa. Through comprehensive analyses of gene structures, phylogenetic relationships, chromosomal locations, conserved motifs, expression patterns and miR156-mediated posttranscriptional regulation, the PtSPL gene family was characterized. Our results provide useful information for evolution and biological function of plant SPLs.
The natural interactions between plant roots and their rhizospheric microbiome are vital to plant fitness, modulating both growth promotion and disease suppression. In rice (Oryza sativa), a globally important food crop, as much as 30% of yields are lost due to blast disease caused by fungal pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae. Capitalizing on the abilities of naturally occurring rice soil bacteria to reduce M. oryzae infections could provide a sustainable solution to reduce the amount of crops lost to blast disease.
Naturally occurring root-associated rhizospheric bacteria were isolated from California field grown rice plants (M-104), eleven of which were taxonomically identified by16S rRNA gene sequencing and fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) analysis. Bacterial isolates were tested for biocontrol activity against the devastating foliar rice fungal pathogen, M. oryzae pathovar 70–15. In vitro, a Pseudomonas isolate, EA105, displayed antibiosis through reducing appressoria formation by nearly 90% as well as directly inhibiting fungal growth by 76%. Although hydrogen cyanide (HCN) is a volatile commonly produced by biocontrol pseudomonads, the activity of EA105 seems to be independent of its HCN production. During in planta experiments, EA105 reduced the number of blast lesions formed by 33% and Pantoea agglomerans isolate, EA106 by 46%. Our data also show both EA105 and EA106 trigger jasmonic acid (JA) and ethylene (ET) dependent induced systemic resistance (ISR) response in rice.
Out of 11 bacteria isolated from rice soil, pseudomonad EA105 most effectively inhibited the growth and appressoria formation of M. oryzae through a mechanism that is independent of cyanide production. In addition to direct antagonism, EA105 also appears to trigger ISR in rice plants through a mechanism that is dependent on JA and ET signaling, ultimately resulting in fewer blast lesions. The application of native bacteria as biocontrol agents in combination with current disease protection strategies could aid in global food security.
Rice; Blast; Magnaporthe oryzae; Psuedomonas; Hydrogen cyanide (HCN); Biocontrol; Induced systemic resistance
Plant growth is plastic, able to rapidly adjust to fluctuation in environmental conditions such as drought and salinity. Due to long-term irrigation use in agricultural systems, soil salinity is increasing; consequently crop yield is adversely affected. It is known that salt tolerance is a quantitative trait supported by genes affecting ion homeostasis, ion transport, ion compartmentalization and ion selectivity. Less is known about pathways connecting NaCl and cell proliferation and cell death. Plant growth and cell proliferation is, in part, controlled by the concerted activity of the heterotrimeric G-protein complex with glucose. Prompted by the abundance of stress-related, functional annotations of genes encoding proteins that interact with core components of the Arabidopsis heterotrimeric G protein complex (AtRGS1, AtGPA1, AGB1, and AGG), we tested the hypothesis that G proteins modulate plant growth under salt stress.
Na+ activates G signaling as quantitated by internalization of Arabidopsis Regulator of G Signaling protein 1 (AtRGS1). Despite being components of a singular signaling complex loss of the Gβ subunit (agb1-2 mutant) conferred accelerated senescence and aborted development in the presence of Na+, whereas loss of AtRGS1 (rgs1-2 mutant) conferred Na+ tolerance evident as less attenuated shoot growth and senescence. Site-directed changes in the Gα and Gβγ protein-protein interface were made to disrupt the interaction between the Gα and Gβγ subunits in order to elevate free activated Gα subunit and free Gβγ dimer at the plasma membrane. These mutations conferred sodium tolerance. Glucose in the growth media improved the survival under salt stress in Col but not in agb1-2 or rgs1-2 mutants.
These results demonstrate a direct role for G-protein signaling in the plant growth response to salt stress. The contrasting phenotypes of agb1-2 and rgs1-2 mutants suggest that G-proteins balance growth and death under salt stress. The phenotypes of the loss-of-function mutations prompted the model that during salt stress, G activation promotes growth and attenuates senescence probably by releasing ER stress.
Grain size and shape greatly influence grain weight which ultimately enhances grain yield in wheat. Digital imaging (DI) based phenomic characterization can capture the three dimensional variation in grain size and shape than has hitherto been possible. In this study, we report the results from using digital imaging of grain size and shape to understand the relationship among different components of this trait, their contribution to enhance grain weight, and to identify genomic regions (QTLs) controlling grain morphology using genome wide association mapping with high density diversity array technology (DArT) and allele-specific markers.
Significant positive correlations were observed between grain weight and grain size measurements such as grain length (r = 0.43), width, thickness (r = 0.64) and factor from density (FFD) (r = 0.69). A total of 231 synthetic hexaploid wheats (SHWs) were grouped into five different sub-clusters by Bayesian structure analysis using unlinked DArT markers. Linkage disequilibrium (LD) decay was observed among DArT loci > 10 cM distance and approximately 28% marker pairs were in significant LD. In total, 197 loci over 60 chromosomal regions and 79 loci over 31 chromosomal regions were associated with grain morphology by genome wide analysis using general linear model (GLM) and mixed linear model (MLM) approaches, respectively. They were mainly distributed on homoeologous group 2, 3, 6 and 7 chromosomes. Twenty eight marker-trait associations (MTAs) on the D genome chromosomes 2D, 3D and 6D may carry novel alleles with potential to enhance grain weight due to the use of untapped wild accessions of Aegilops tauschii. Statistical simulations showed that favorable alleles for thousand kernel weight (TKW), grain length, width and thickness have additive genetic effects. Allelic variations for known genes controlling grain size and weight, viz. TaCwi-2A, TaSus-2B, TaCKX6-3D and TaGw2-6A, were also associated with TKW, grain width and thickness. In silico functional analysis predicted a range of biological functions for 32 DArT loci and receptor like kinase, known to affect plant development, appeared to be common protein family encoded by several loci responsible for grain size and shape.
Conclusively, we demonstrated the application and integration of multiple approaches including high throughput phenotyping using DI, genome wide association studies (GWAS) and in silico functional analysis of candidate loci to analyze target traits, and identify candidate genomic regions underlying these traits. These approaches provided great opportunity to understand the breeding value of SHWs for improving grain weight and enhanced our deep understanding on molecular genetics of grain weight in wheat.
Agrobacterium tumefaciens-based transient assays have become a common tool for answering questions related to protein localization and gene expression in a cellular context. The use of these assays assumes that the transiently transformed cells are observed under relatively authentic physiological conditions and maintain ‘normal’ sub-cellular behaviour. Although this premise is widely accepted, the question of whether cellular organization and organelle morphology is altered in Agrobacterium-infiltrated cells has not been examined in detail. The first indications of an altered sub-cellular environment came from our observation that a common laboratory strain, GV3101(pMP90), caused a drastic increase in stromule frequency. Stromules, or ‘stroma-filled-tubules’ emanate from the surface of plastids and are sensitive to a variety of biotic and abiotic stresses. Starting from this observation, the goal of our experiments was to further characterize the changes to the cell resulting from short-term bacterial infestation, and to identify the factor responsible for eliciting these changes.
Using a protocol typical of transient assays we evaluated the impact of GV3101(pMP90) infiltration on chloroplast behaviour and morphology in Nicotiana benthamiana. Our experiments confirmed that GV3101(pMP90) consistently induces stromules and alters plastid position relative to the nucleus. These effects were found to be the result of strain-dependant secretion of cytokinin and its accumulation in the plant tissue. Bacterial production of the hormone was found to be dependant on the presence of a trans-zeatin synthase gene (tzs) located on the Ti plasmid of GV3101(pMP90). Bacteria-derived cytokinins were also correlated with changes to both soluble sugar level and starch accumulation.
Although we have chosen to focus on how transient Agrobacterium infestation alters plastid based parameters, these changes to the morphology and position of a single organelle, combined with the measured increases in sugar and starch content, suggest global changes to cell physiology. This indicates that cells visualized during transient assays may not be as ‘normal’ as was previously assumed. Our results suggest that the impact of the bacteria can be minimized by choosing Agrobacterium strains devoid of the tzs gene, but that the alterations to sub-cellular organization and cell carbohydrate status cannot be completely avoided using this strategy.
Agrobacterium tumefaciens; Nicotiana benthamiana; Transient assays; GV3101(pMP90); LBA4404; Plastid; Stromules; Bacteria-derived; Cytokinin; Trans-zeatin synthase
Effector proteins function not only as toxins to induce plant cell death, but also enable pathogens to suppress or evade plant defense responses. NLP-like proteins are considered to be effector proteins, and they have been isolated from bacteria, fungi, and oomycete plant pathogens. There is increasing evidence that NLPs have the ability to induce cell death and ethylene accumulation in plants.
We evaluated the expression patterns of 11 targeted PcNLP genes by qRT-PCR at different time points after infection by P. capsici. Several PcNLP genes were strongly expressed at the early stages in the infection process, but the expression of other PcNLP genes gradually increased to a maximum at late stages of infection. The genes PcNLP2, PcNLP6 and PcNLP14 showed the highest expression levels during infection by P. capsici. The necrosis-inducing activity of all targeted PcNLP genes was evaluated using heterologous expression by PVX agroinfection of Capsicum annuum and Nicotiana benthamiana and by Western blot analysis. The members of the PcNLP family can induce chlorosis or necrosis during infection of pepper and tobacco leaves, but the chlorotic or necrotic response caused by PcNLP genes was stronger in pepper leaves than in tobacco leaves. Moreover, PcNLP2, PcNLP6, and PcNLP14 caused the largest chlorotic or necrotic areas in both host plants, indicating that these three genes contribute to strong virulence during infection by P. capsici. This was confirmed through functional evaluation of their silenced transformants. In addition, we further verified that four conserved residues are putatively active sites in PcNLP1 by site-directed mutagenesis.
Each targeted PcNLP gene affects cells or tissues differently depending upon the stage of infection. Most PcNLP genes could trigger necrotic or chlorotic responses when expressed in the host C. annuum and the non-host N. benthamiana. Individual PcNLP genes have different phytotoxic effects, and PcNLP2, PcNLP6, and PcNLP14 may play important roles in symptom development and may be crucial for virulence, necrosis-inducing activity, or cell death during infection by P. capsici.
Phytophthora capsici; Necrosis-inducing proteins (NLPs); PcNLP genes; Chlorotic or necrotic response; mRNA expression; PcNLPs protein expression