Although a number of leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinase-encoding genes (LRR-RLKs) have been identified in plants, a functional role has been determined for only a few. Recent studies have demonstrated that an LRR-RLK, PXY/TDR, is important for the process of secondary vascular development. Other studies have indicated that PXY/TDR is unlikely to be the sole LRR-RLK involved in this complex process.
In this study, in silico analyses led to the identification of three Arabidopsis LRR-RLK genes (PXY-correlated; PXC1, 2, 3) with transcript accumulation profiles that correlated strongly with several key regulators of vascular development, including PXY/TDR, HB-8, REV, and CLE41. Expression profiling using qPCR and promoter:reporter lines indicated that all three PXC genes are associated with the vasculature. One in particular, PXC1 (At2g36570), had a strong correlation with PXY/TDR. Shifting pxc1 mutants from long-days to short-days showed that loss of the gene led to a dramatic reduction in secondary wall formation in xylem fibers. Transcript analysis of mutants for a variety of secondary cell wall-associated genes, including PXY/TDR indicated that the pathways mediated by PXC1 connect with those mediated by the TDIF-PXY/TDR-WOX4 system.
The data indicate that the LRR-RLK, PXC1 is involved in secondary cell wall formation in xylem fibers. Whereas further study is needed to identify the ligands and mode of action of the PXC1 protein, it is clear from this work that similarly to the shoot apical meristem (SAM), secondary vascular development requires contributions from a number of LRR-RLKs.
LRR-RLK; Arabidopsis; Secondary Wall Formation; TDIF-PXY/TDR-WOX4 Signaling
The cuticle is a hydrophobic barrier located at the aerial surface of all terrestrial plants. Recent studies performed on model plants, such as Arabidopsis thaliana, have suggested that the cuticle may be involved in drought stress adaptation, preventing non-stomatal water loss. Although forest trees will face more intense drought stresses (in duration and intensity) with global warming, very few studies on the role of the cuticle in drought stress adaptation in these long-lived organisms have been so far reported.
This aspect was investigated in a conifer, maritime pine (Pinus pinaster Ait.), in a factorial design with two genetic units (two half-sib families with different growth rates) and two treatments (irrigated vs non-irrigated), in field conditions. Saplings were grown in an open-sided greenhouse and half were irrigated three times per week for two growing seasons. Needles were sampled three times per year for cuticular wax (composition and content) and transcriptome (of 11 genes involved in cuticle biosynthesis) analysis. Non-irrigated saplings (i) had a higher cuticular wax content than irrigated saplings and (ii) overexpressed most of the genes studied. Both these trends were more marked in the faster growing family.
The higher cuticular wax content observed in the non-irrigated treatment associated with strong modifications in products from the decarbonylation pathway suggest that cuticular wax may be involved in drought stress adaptation in maritime pine. This study provides also a set of promising candidate genes for future forward genetic studies in conifers.
Cuticle biosynthesis; Drought; Edaphic stress; Field experiment; Gene expression; Maritime pine
Taxol is an anti-cancer drug harvested from Taxus trees, proposed ecologically to act as a fungicide. Taxus is host to fungal endophytes, defined as organisms that inhabit plants without causing disease. The Taxus endophytes have been shown to synthesize Taxol in vitro, providing Taxus with a second potential biosynthetic route for this protective metabolite. Taxol levels in plants vary 125-fold between individual trees, but the underlying reason has remained unknown.
Comparing Taxus trees or branches within a tree, correlations were observed between Taxol content, and quantity of its resident Taxol-producing endophyte, Paraconiothyrium SSM001. Depletion of fungal endophyte in planta by fungicide reduced plant Taxol accumulation. Fungicide treatment of intact plants caused concomitant decreases in transcript and/or protein levels corresponding to two critical genes required for plant Taxol biosynthesis. Taxol showed fungicidal activity against fungal pathogens of conifer wood, the natural habitat of the Taxol-producing endophyte. Consistent with other Taxol-producing endophytes, SSM001 was resistant to Taxol.
These results suggest that the variation in Taxol content between intact Taxus plants and/or tissues is at least in part caused by varying degrees of transcriptional elicitation of plant Taxol biosynthetic genes by its Taxol-producing endophyte. As Taxol is a fungicide, and the endophyte is resistant to Taxol, we discuss how this endophyte strategy may be to prevent colonization by its fungal competitors but at minimal metabolic cost to itself.
Taxus; Paraconiothyrium; Fungus; Endophyte; Taxol; Biosynthesis; Fungicide; DXR; Taxadiene synthase
Absence of or low sensitivity to photoperiod is necessary for short-day crops, such as rice and soybean, to adapt to high latitudes. Photoperiod insensitivity in soybeans is controlled by two genetic systems and involves three important maturity genes: E1, a repressor for two soybean orthologs of Arabidopsis FLOWERING LOCUS T (GmFT2a and GmFT5a), and E3 and E4, which are phytochrome A genes. To elucidate the diverse mechanisms underlying photoperiod insensitivity in soybean, we assessed the genotypes of four maturity genes (E1 through E4) in early-flowering photoperiod-insensitive cultivars and their association with post-flowering responses.
We found two novel dysfunctional alleles in accessions originally considered to have a dominant E3 allele according to known DNA markers. The E3 locus, together with E1 and E4, contained multiple dysfunctional alleles. We identified 15 multi-locus genotypes, which we subdivided into 6 genotypic groups by classifying their alleles by function. Of these, the e1-as/e3/E4 genotypic group required an additional novel gene (different from E1, E3, and E4) to condition photoperiod insensitivity. Despite their common pre-flowering photoperiod insensitivity, accessions with different multi-locus genotypes responded differently to the post-flowering photoperiod. Cultivars carrying E3 or E4 were sensitive to photoperiod for post-flowering characteristics, such as reproductive period and stem growth after flowering. The phytochrome A–regulated expression of the determinate growth habit gene Dt1, an ortholog of Arabidopsis TERMINAL FLOWER1, was involved in the persistence of the vegetative activity at the stem apical meristem of flower-induced plants under long-day conditions.
Diverse genetic mechanisms underlie photoperiod insensitivity in soybean. At least three multi-locus genotypes consisting of various allelic combinations at E1, E3, and E4 conferred pre-flowering photoperiod insensitivity to soybean cultivars but led to different responses to photoperiod during post-flowering vegetative and reproductive development. The phyA genes E3 and E4 are major controllers underlying not only pre-flowering but also post-flowering photoperiod responses. The current findings improve our understanding of genetic diversity in pre-flowering photoperiod insensitivity and mechanisms of post-flowering photoperiod responses in soybean.
Photoperiod; Soybean; Flowering; Determinate habit; Post-flowering; Genetic variation
Cytosine DNA methylation (5mC) is an epigenetic modification that is important to genome stability and regulation of gene expression. Perturbations of 5mC have been implicated as a cause of phenotypic variation among plants regenerated through in vitro culture systems. However, the pattern of change in 5mC and its functional role with respect to gene expression, are poorly understood at the genome scale. A fuller understanding of how 5mC changes during in vitro manipulation may aid the development of methods for reducing or amplifying the mutagenic and epigenetic effects of in vitro culture and plant transformation.
We investigated the in vitro methylome of the model tree species Populus trichocarpa in a system that mimics routine methods for regeneration and plant transformation in the genus Populus (poplar). Using methylated DNA immunoprecipitation followed by high-throughput sequencing (MeDIP-seq), we compared the methylomes of internode stem segments from micropropagated explants, dedifferentiated calli, and internodes from regenerated plants. We found that more than half (56%) of the methylated portion of the genome appeared to be differentially methylated among the three tissue types. Surprisingly, gene promoter methylation varied little among tissues, however, the percentage of body-methylated genes increased from 9% to 14% between explants and callus tissue, then decreased to 8% in regenerated internodes. Forty-five percent of differentially-methylated genes underwent transient methylation, becoming methylated in calli, and demethylated in regenerants. These genes were more frequent in chromosomal regions with higher gene density. Comparisons with an expression microarray dataset showed that genes methylated at both promoters and gene bodies had lower expression than genes that were unmethylated or only promoter-methylated in all three tissues. Four types of abundant transposable elements showed their highest levels of 5mC in regenerated internodes.
DNA methylation varies in a highly gene- and chromosome-differential manner during in vitro differentiation and regeneration. 5mC in redifferentiated tissues was not reset to that in original explants during the study period. Hypermethylation of gene bodies in dedifferentiated cells did not interfere with transcription, and may serve a protective role against activation of abundant transposable elements.
Members of the WUSCHEL-RELATED HOMEOBOX (WOX) gene family have important functions during all stages of plant development and have been implicated in the development of morphological novelties during evolution. Most studies have examined the function of these genes in angiosperms and very little is known from other plant species.
In this study we examine the presence and expression of WOX genes in the conifer Picea abies. We have cloned 11 WOX genes from both mRNA and genomic DNA and examined their phylogenetic relationship to WOX genes from other species as well as their expression during somatic embryogenesis and in adult tissues.
Our study shows that all major radiations within the WOX gene family took place before the angiosperm-gymnosperm split and that there has been a recent expansion within the intermediate clade in the Pinaceae family. Furthermore, we show that the genes from the intermediate clade are preferentially expressed during embryo development in Picea abies. Our data also indicates that there are clear orthologs of both WUS and WOX5 present in the P. abies genome.
Picea abies; Somatic embryogenesis; WOX genes
Ammopiptanthus mongolicus is the only evergreen broadleaf shrub in the northwest desert of China, which can survive long-term aridity and extremely cold environments. In order to understand the genetic mechanisms underlying stress tolerance and adaptation to unfavorable environments of woody plants, an EST approach was used to investigate expression patterns of A. mongolicus in response to abiotic stresses.
ESTs were generated from a cDNA library constructed from A. mongolicus seedlings subjected to cold and drought stresses. Analysis of 5,637 cDNA sequences led to the identification of 5,282 ESTs and 1,594 unigenes, which were denoted as the AmCDUnigene set. Of these, 70% of unigenes were annotated and classified into 12 functional categories according to Gene Ontology, and 30% of unigenes encoded unknown function proteins, suggesting some of them were novel or A. mongolicus specific genes. Using comparative analysis with the reported genes from other plants, 528 (33%) unigenes were identified as stress-responsive genes. The functional classification of the 528 genes showed that a majority of them are associated with scavenging reactive oxygen species, stress response, cellular transport, signal transduction and transcription. To further identify candidate abiotic stress-tolerance genes, the 528 stress-responsive genes were compared with reported abiotic stress genes in the Comparative Stress Genes Catalog of GCP. This comparative analysis identified 120 abiotic stress-responsive genes, and their expression in A. mongolicus seedlings under cold or drought stress were characterized by qRT-PCR. Significantly, 82 genes responded to cold and/or drought stress. These cold- and/or drought-inducible genes confirmed that the ROS network, signal transduction and osmolyte accumulation undergo transcriptional reorganization when exposed to cold or drought stress treatments. Additionally, among the 1,594 unigenes sequences, 155 simple sequence repeats (SSRs) were identified.
This study represents a comprehensive analysis of cold and/or drought stress-responsive transcriptiome of A. mongolicus. The newly characterized genes and gene-derived markers from the AmCDUnigene set are valuable resources for a better understanding of the mechanisms that govern stress tolerance in A. mongolicus and other related species. Certain up-regulated genes characterizing these processes are potential targets for breeding for cold and/or drought tolerance of woody plants.
Ammopiptanthus mongolicus; Cold tolerance; Differential expression; Drought tolerance; Expressed sequence tags; Stress-responsive genes
Hordeum chilense, a native South American diploid wild barley, is one of the species of the genus Hordeum with a high potential for cereal breeding purposes, given its high crossability with other members of the Triticeae tribe. Hexaploid tritordeum (×Tritordeum Ascherson et Graebner, 2n=6×=42, AABBHchHch) is the fertile amphiploid obtained after chromosome doubling of hybrids between Hordeum chilense and durum wheat. Approaches used in the improvement of this crop have included crosses with hexaploid wheat to promote D/Hch chromosome substitutions. While this approach has been successful as was the case with triticale, it has also complicated the genetic composition of the breeding materials. Until now tritordeum lines were analyzed based on molecular cytogenetic techniques and screening with a small set of DNA markers. However, the recent development of DArT markers in H. chilense offers new possibilities to screen large number of accessions more efficiently.
Here, we have applied DArT markers to genotype composition in forty-six accessions of hexaploid tritordeum originating from different stages of tritordeum breeding program and to H. chilense-wheat chromosome addition lines to allow their physical mapping. Diversity analyses were conducted including dendrogram construction, principal component analysis and structure inference. Euploid and substituted tritordeums were clearly discriminated independently of the method used. However, dendrogram and Structure analyses allowed the clearest discrimination among substituted tritordeums. The physically mapped markers allowed identifying these groups as substituted tritordeums carrying the following disomic substitutions (DS): DS1D (1Hch), DS2D (2Hch), DS5D (5Hch), DS6D (6Hch) and the double substitution DS2D (2Hch), DS5D (5Hch). These results were validated using chromosome specific EST and SSR markers and GISH analysis.
In conclusion, DArT markers have proved to be very useful to detect chromosome substitutions in the tritordeum breeding program and thus they are expected to be equally useful to detect translocations both in the tritordeum breeding program and in the transference of H. chilense genetic material in wheat breeding programs.
Tritordeum; DArT; Chromosome substitution; GISH; EST; SSR markers
Heavy metal pollution in crop fields is one of the major issues in sustainable agriculture production. To improve crop growth and reduce the toxic effects of metals is an ideal strategy. Understanding the resilience of gibberellins producing endophytic fungi associated with crop plants in metal contaminated agriculture fields could be an important step towards reducing agrochemical pollutions. In present study, it was aimed to screen and identify metal resistant endophyte and elucidate its role in rescuing crop plant growth and metabolism during metal stress.
Fungal endophyte, Penicillium funiculosum LHL06, was identified to possess higher growth rate in copper (Cu) and cadmium contaminated mediums as compared to other endophytes (Metarhizium anisopliae, Promicromonospora sp. and Exophiala sp.). P. funiculosum had high biosorption potential toward copper as compared to cadmium. An endophyte-metal-plant interaction was assessed by inoculating the host Glycine max L. plants with P. funiculosum during Cu (100 μM) stress. The Cu application adversely affected the biomass, chlorophyll and total protein content of non-inoculated control plants. The control plants unable to synthesis high carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen because the roots had lower access to phosphorous, potassium, sulphur and calcium during Cu treatment. Conversely, P. funiculosum-association significantly increased the plant biomass, root physiology and nutrients uptake to support higher carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen assimilation in shoot. The metal-removal potential of endophyte-inoculated plants was significantly higher than control as the endophyte-association mediated the Cu uptake via roots into shoots. The symbiosis rescued the host-plant growth by minimizing Cu-induced electrolytic leakage and lipid peroxidation while increasing reduces glutathione activities to avoid oxidative stress. P. funiculosum-association synthesized higher quantities of proline and glutamate as compared to control. Stress-responsive abscisic acid was significantly down-regulated in the plant-metal-microbe association.
The endophyte P. funiculosum symbiosis counteracted the Cu stress and reprogrammed soybean plant growth. Such growth promoting and stress mediating endophytes can be applied at field levels to help in bioremediation of the polluted agricultural fields.
Glycine max L; Root essential nutrients; Endophytism; Copper stress
NAC transcription factors belong to a large family of plant-specific transcription factors with more than 100 family members in monocot and dicot species. To date, the majority of the studied NAC proteins are involved in the response to abiotic stress, to biotic stress and in the regulation of developmental processes. Maize NAC transcription factors involved in the biotic stress response have not yet been identified.
We have found that two NAC transcription factors, ZmNAC41 and ZmNAC100, are transcriptionally induced both during the initial biotrophic as well as the ensuing necrotrophic colonization of maize leaves by the hemibiotrophic ascomycete fungus C. graminicola. ZmNAC41 transcripts were also induced upon infection with C. graminicola mutants that are defective in host penetration, while the induction of ZmNAC100 did not occur in such interactions. While ZmNAC41 transcripts accumulated specifically in response to jasmonate (JA), ZmNAC100 transcripts were also induced by the salicylic acid analog 2,6-dichloroisonicotinic acid (INA).
To assess the phylogenetic relation of ZmNAC41 and ZmNAC100, we studied the family of maize NAC transcription factors based on the recently annotated B73 genome information. We identified 116 maize NAC transcription factor genes that clustered into 12 clades. ZmNAC41 and ZmNAC100 both belong to clade G and appear to have arisen by a recent gene duplication event. Including four other defence-related NAC transcription factors of maize and functionally characterized Arabidopsis and rice NAC transcription factors, we observed an enrichment of NAC transcription factors involved in host defense regulation in clade G. In silico analyses identified putative binding elements for the defence-induced ERF, Myc2, TGA and WRKY transcription factors in the promoters of four out of the six defence-related maize NAC transcription factors, while one of the analysed maize NAC did not contain any of these potential binding sites.
Our study provides a systematic in silico analysis of maize NAC transcription factors in which we propose a nomenclature for maize genes encoding NAC transcription factors, based on their chromosomal position. We have further identified five pathogen-responsive maize NAC transcription factors that harbour putative binding elements for other defence-associated transcription factors in the proximal promoter region, indicating an involvement of the described NACs in the maize defence network. Our phylogenetic analysis has revealed that the majority of the yet described pathogen responsive NAC proteins from all plant species belong to clade G and suggests that they are phylogenetically related.
NAC transcription factor; Maize; Colletotrichum graminicola; Biotic stress response; Phylogeny; NAC domain; DNA binding element
myo-Inositol (Ins) metabolism during early stages of seed development plays an important role in determining the distributional relationships of some seed storage components such as the antinutritional factors, sucrose galactosides (also known as raffinose oligosaccharides) and phytic acid (PhA) (myo-inositol 1,2,3,4,5,6-hexakisphosphate). The former is a group of oligosaccharides, which plays a role in desiccation at seed maturation. They are not easily digested by monogastric animals, hence their flatulence-causing properties. Phytic acid is highly negatively charged, which chelates positive ions of essential minerals and decreases their bioavailability. It is also a major cause of phosphate-related water pollution. Our aim was to investigate the influence of competitive diversion of Ins as common substrate on the biosynthesis of phytate and sucrose galactosides.
We have studied the initial metabolic patterns of Ins in developing seeds of Brassica napus and determined that early stages of seed development are marked by rapid deployment of Ins into a variety of pathways, dominated by interconversion of polar (Ins phosphates) and non-polar (phospholipids) species. In a time course experiment at early stages of seed development, we show Ins to be a highly significant constituent of the endosperm and seed coat, but with no phytate biosynthesis occurring in either tissue. Phytate accumulation appears to be confined mainly within the embryo throughout seed development and maturation. In our approach, the gene for myo-inositol methyltransferase (IMT), isolated from Mesembryanthemum crystallinum (ice plant), was transferred to B. napus under the control of the seed-specific promoters, napin and phaseolin. Introduction of this new metabolic step during seed development prompted Ins conversion to the corresponding monomethyl ether, ononitol, and affected phytate accumulation. We were able to produce homozygous transgenic lines with 19% - 35% average phytate reduction. Additionally, changes in the raffinose content and related sugars occurred along with enhanced sucrose levels. Germination rates, viability and other seed parameters were unaffected by the IMT transgene over-expression.
Competitive methylation of Ins during seed development reduces seed antinutritional components and enhances its nutritional characteristics while maintaining adequate phosphate reserves. Such approach should potentially raise the canola market value and likely, that of other crops.
Brassica napus; Seed coat; Protein translation; Ononitol; Seed development; myo-Inositol methyltransferase; Phytic acid; Sucrose; Raffinose oligosaccharides; Galactinol
The PLAnt co-EXpression database (PLANEX) is a new internet-based database for plant gene analysis. PLANEX (http://planex.plantbioinformatics.org) contains publicly available GeneChip data obtained from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). PLANEX is a genome-wide co-expression database, which allows for the functional identification of genes from a wide variety of experimental designs. It can be used for the characterization of genes for functional identification and analysis of a gene’s dependency among other genes. Gene co-expression databases have been developed for other species, but gene co-expression information for plants is currently limited.
We constructed PLANEX as a list of co-expressed genes and functional annotations for Arabidopsis thaliana, Glycine max, Hordeum vulgare, Oryza sativa, Solanum lycopersicum, Triticum aestivum, Vitis vinifera and Zea mays. PLANEX reports Pearson’s correlation coefficients (PCCs; r-values) that distribute from a gene of interest for a given microarray platform set corresponding to a particular organism. To support PCCs, PLANEX performs an enrichment test of Gene Ontology terms and Cohen’s Kappa value to compare functional similarity for all genes in the co-expression database. PLANEX draws a cluster network with co-expressed genes, which is estimated using the k-mean method. To construct PLANEX, a variety of datasets were interpreted by the IBM supercomputer Advanced Interactive eXecutive (AIX) in a supercomputing center.
PLANEX provides a correlation database, a cluster network and an interpretation of enrichment test results for eight plant species. A typical co-expressed gene generates lists of co-expression data that contain hundreds of genes of interest for enrichment analysis. Also, co-expressed genes can be identified and cataloged in terms of comparative genomics by using the ‘Co-expression gene compare’ feature. This type of analysis will help interpret experimental data and determine whether there is a common term among genes of interest.
Co-expression; Database; Pearson’s correlation coefficients; Clustering
Intracellular configuration is an important feature of cell status. Recent advances in microscopic imaging techniques allow us to easily obtain a large number of microscopic images of intracellular structures. In this circumstance, automated microscopic image recognition techniques are of extreme importance to future phenomics/visible screening approaches. However, there was no benchmark microscopic image dataset for intracellular organelles in a specified plant cell type. We previously established the Live Images of Plant Stomata (LIPS) database, a publicly available collection of optical-section images of various intracellular structures of plant guard cells, as a model system of environmental signal perception and transduction. Here we report recent updates to the LIPS database and the establishment of a database table, LIPService.
We updated the LIPS dataset and established a new interface named LIPService to promote efficient inspection of intracellular structure configurations. Cell nuclei, microtubules, actin microfilaments, mitochondria, chloroplasts, endoplasmic reticulum, peroxisomes, endosomes, Golgi bodies, and vacuoles can be filtered using probe names or morphometric parameters such as stomatal aperture. In addition to the serial optical sectional images of the original LIPS database, new volume-rendering data for easy web browsing of three-dimensional intracellular structures have been released to allow easy inspection of their configurations or relationships with cell status/morphology. We also demonstrated the utility of the new LIPS image database for automated organelle recognition of images from another plant cell image database with image clustering analyses.
The updated LIPS database provides a benchmark image dataset for representative intracellular structures in Arabidopsis guard cells. The newly released LIPService allows users to inspect the relationship between organellar three-dimensional configurations and morphometrical parameters.
3-D structures; Arabidopsis thaliana; Fluorescent proteins; Microscopic image; Organelle; Stomata
The mountain pine beetle (MPB, Dendroctonus ponderosae) epidemic has affected lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) across an area of more than 18 million hectares of pine forests in western Canada, and is a threat to the boreal jack pine (Pinus banksiana) forest. Defence of pines against MPB and associated fungal pathogens, as well as other pests, involves oleoresin monoterpenes, which are biosynthesized by families of terpene synthases (TPSs). Volatile monoterpenes also serve as host recognition cues for MPB and as precursors for MPB pheromones. The genes responsible for terpene biosynthesis in jack pine and lodgepole pine were previously unknown.
We report the generation and quality assessment of assembled transcriptome resources for lodgepole pine and jack pine using Sanger, Roche 454, and Illumina sequencing technologies. Assemblies revealed transcripts for approximately 20,000 - 30,000 genes from each species and assembly analyses led to the identification of candidate full-length prenyl transferase, TPS, and P450 genes of oleoresin biosynthesis. We cloned and functionally characterized, via expression of recombinant proteins in E. coli, nine different jack pine and eight different lodgepole pine mono-TPSs. The newly identified lodgepole pine and jack pine mono-TPSs include (+)-α-pinene synthases, (-)-α-pinene synthases, (-)-β-pinene synthases, (+)-3-carene synthases, and (-)-β-phellandrene synthases from each of the two species.
In the absence of genome sequences, transcriptome assemblies are important for defence gene discovery in lodgepole pine and jack pine, as demonstrated here for the terpenoid pathway genes. The product profiles of the functionally annotated mono-TPSs described here can account for the major monoterpene metabolites identified in lodgepole pine and jack pine.
Conifer defence; Pine oleoresin; Terpenoid biosynthesis; Metabolite profile; Prenyl transferase; Cytochrome P450; Conifer genome
Legumes have the unique capacity to undergo two important root endosymbioses: the root nodule symbiosis and the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis. Medicago truncatula is widely used to unravel the functions of genes during these root symbioses. Here we describe the development of an artificial microRNA (amiR)-mediated gene silencing system for M. truncatula roots.
The endogenous microRNA (miR) mtr-miR159b was selected as a backbone molecule for driving amiR expression. Heterologous expression of mtr-miR159b-amiR constructs in tobacco showed that the backbone is functional and mediates an efficient gene silencing. amiR-mediated silencing of a visible marker was also effective after root transformation of M. truncatula constitutively expressing the visible marker. Most importantly, we applied the novel amiR system to shed light on the function of a putative transcription factor, MtErf1, which was strongly induced in arbuscule-containing cells during mycorrhizal symbiosis. MtPt4 promoter driven amiR-silencing led to strongly decreased transcript levels and deformed, non-fully truncated arbuscules indicating that MtErf1 is required for arbuscule development.
The endogenous amiR system demonstrated here presents a novel and highly efficient tool to unravel gene functions during root endosymbioses.
ANGUSTIFOLIA (AN), one of the CtBP family proteins, plays a major role in microtubule-dependent cell morphogenesis. Microarray analysis of mammalian AN homologs suggests that AN might function as a transcriptional activator and regulator of a wide range of genes. Genetic characterization of AN mutants suggests that AN might be involved in multiple biological processes beyond cell morphology regulation.
Using a reverse genetic approach, we provide in this paper the genetic, biochemical, and physiological evidence for ANGUSTIFOLIA’s role in other new biological functions such as abiotic and biotic stress response in higher plants. The T-DNA knockout an-t1 mutant exhibits not only all the phenotypes of previously described angustifolia null mutants, but also copes better than wild type under dehydration and pathogen attack. The stress tolerance is accompanied by a steady-state modulation of cellular H2O2 content, malondialdehyde (MDA) derived from cellular lipid peroxidation, and over-expression of stress responsive genes. Our results indicate that ANGUSTIFOLIA functions beyond cell morphology control through direct or indirect functional protein interaction networks mediating other biological processes such as drought and pathogen attacks.
Our results indicate that the ANGUSTIFOLIA gene participates in several biochemical pathways controlling cell morphogenesis, abiotic, and biotic stress responses in higher plants. Our results suggest that the in vivo function of plant ANGUSTIFOLIA has been overlooked and it needs to be further studied beyond microtubule-dependent cell morphogenesis.
Angustifolia; Cell morphogenesis; Arabidopsis thaliana; Abiotic stress; Biotic stress; T-DNA knockout mutant
Flax is valued for its fiber, seed oil and nutraceuticals. Recently, the fiber industry has invested in the development of products made from linseed stems, making it a dual purpose crop. Simultaneous targeting of genomic regions controlling stem fiber and seed quality traits could enable the development of dual purpose cultivars. However, the genetic diversity, population structure and linkage disequilibrium (LD) patterns necessary for association mapping (AM) have not yet been assessed in flax because genomic resources have only recently been developed. We characterized 407 globally distributed flax accessions using 448 microsatellite markers. The data was analyzed to assess the suitability of this core collection for AM. Genomic scans to identify candidate genes selected during the divergent breeding process of fiber flax and linseed were conducted using the whole genome shotgun sequence of flax.
Combined genetic structure analysis assigned all accessions to two major groups with six sub-groups. Population differentiation was weak between the major groups (FST = 0.094) and for most of the pairwise comparisons among sub-groups. The molecular coancestry analysis indicated weak relatedness (mean = 0.287) for most individual pairs. Abundant genetic diversity was observed in the total panel (5.32 alleles per locus), and some sub-groups showed a high proportion of private alleles. The average genome-wide LD (r2) was 0.036, with a relatively fast decay of 1.5 cM. Genomic scans between fiber flax and linseed identified candidate genes involved in cell-wall biogenesis/modification, xylem identity and fatty acid biosynthesis congruent with genes previously identified in flax and other plant species.
Based on the abundant genetic diversity, weak population structure and relatedness and relatively fast LD decay, we concluded that this core collection is suitable for AM studies targeting multiple agronomic and quality traits aiming at the improvement of flax as a true dual purpose crop. Our genomic scans provide the first insights into candidate regions affected by divergent selection in flax. In combination with AM, genomic scans have the ability to increase the power to detect loci influencing complex traits.
Genetic diversity; Population structure; Linkage disequilibrium; Association mapping; Linum usitatissimum; Fiber flax; Linseed; Divergent selection
Thaxtomin A (TA) is a phytotoxin produced by plant pathogenic Streptomyces spp. responsible for potato common scab. TA inhibits cellulose biosynthesis in expanding plant tissues and is essential for disease induction. Auxin treatment of various plant tissues has been repeatedly demonstrated to inhibit TA toxicity and to reduce common scab. This work utilises Arabidopsis thaliana mutants with resistance to cellulose biosynthesis inhibitors (CBIs) to investigate the interaction between TA, other CBIs and auxins.
Three CBI resistant A. thaliana mutants; txr1-1 (tolerance to TA), ixr1-1 (tolerance to isoxaben - IXB) and KOR1 (cellulose deficiency), showed no altered root growth response to treatment with natural or synthetic auxins, nor with the auxin efflux transport inhibitor 2,3,5-Triiodobenzoic acid (TIBA). However, all mutants had significantly enhanced tolerance to 1-napthylphthalamic acid (NPA), another auxin efflux transport inhibitor, which blocks polar auxin transport at a site distinct from TIBA. NPA tolerance of txr1-1 and ixr1-1 was further supported by electrophysiological analysis of net H+ fluxes in the mature, but not elongation zone of roots. All three mutants showed increased tolerance to IXB, but only txr1-1 showed tolerance to TA. No mutant showed enhanced tolerance to a third CBI, dichlobenil (DCB).
We have demonstrated that plant tolerance to TA and IXB, as well as cell wall synthesis modifications in roots, have resulted in specific co-resistance to NPA but not TIBA. This suggests that CBI resistance has an impact on polar auxin efflux transport processes associated with the NPA binding protein. We also show that NPA inhibitory response in roots occurs in the mature root zone but not the elongation zone. Responses of mutants to CBIs indicate a similar, but not identical mode of action of TA and IXB, in contrast to DCB.
1-napthylphthalamic acid - NPA; 2,3,5-Triiodobenzoic acid - TIBA; Thaxtomin A; Isoxaben; Dichlobenil; Cellulose biosynthetic inhibitor; Common scab; Ion fluxes; Plasma membrane
The Arabidopsis thaliana MHX gene (AtMHX) encodes a Mg2+/H+ exchanger. Among non-plant proteins, AtMHX showed the highest similarity to mammalian Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCX) transporters, which are part of the Ca2+/cation (CaCA) exchanger superfamily.
Sequences showing similarity to AtMHX were searched in the databases or sequenced from cDNA clones. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the MHX family is limited to plants, and constitutes a sixth family within the CaCA superfamily. Some plants include, besides a full MHX gene, partial MHX-related sequences. More than one full MHX gene was currently identified only in Oryza sativa and Mimulus guttatus, but an EST for more than one MHX was identified only in M. guttatus. MHX genes are not present in the currently available chlorophyte genomes. The prevalence of upstream ORFs in MHX genes is much higher than in most plant genes, and can limit their expression. A structural model of the MHXs, based on the resolved structure of NCX1, implies that the MHXs include nine transmembrane segments. The MHXs and NCXs share 32 conserved residues, including a GXG motif implicated in the formation of a tight-turn in a reentrant-loop. Three residues differ between all MHX and NCX proteins. Altered mobility under reducing and non-reducing conditions suggests the presence of an intramolecular disulfide-bond in AtMHX.
The absence of MHX genes in non-plant genomes and in the currently available chlorophyte genomes, and the presence of an NCX in Chlamydomonas, are consistent with the suggestion that the MHXs evolved from the NCXs after the split of the chlorophyte and streptophyte lineages of the plant kingdom. The MHXs underwent functional diploidization in most plant species. De novo duplication of MHX occurred in O. sativa before the split between the Indica and Japonica subspecies, and was apparently followed by translocation of one MHX paralog from chromosome 2 to chromosome 11 in Japonica. The structural analysis presented and the identification of elements that differ between the MHXs and the NCXs, or between the MHXs of specific plant groups, can contribute to clarification of the structural basis of the function and ion selectivity of MHX transporters.
CaCA superfamily; Magnesium proton exchanger; MHX; NCX; Sodium calcium exchanger; Transporter; Vacuole; Zinc
To survive herbivore attack, plants have evolved potent mechanisms of mechanical or chemical defense that are either constitutively present or inducible after herbivore attack. Due to the costs of defense deployment, plants often regulate their biosynthesis using various transcription factors (TFs). MYC2 regulators belong to the bHLH family of transcription factors that are involved in many aspects of plant defense and development. In this study, we identified a novel MYC2 TF from N. attenuata and characterized its regulatory function using a combination of molecular, analytic and ecological methods.
The transcript and targeted metabolite analyses demonstrated that NaMYC2 is mainly involved in the regulation of the biosynthesis of nicotine and phenolamides in N. attenuata. In addition, using broadly-targeted metabolite analysis, we identified a number of other metabolite features that were regulated by NaMYC2, which, after full annotation, are expected to broaden our understanding of plant defense regulation. Unlike previous reports, the biosynthesis of jasmonates and some JA-/NaCOI1-dependent metabolites (e.g. HGL-DTGs) were not strongly regulated by NaMYC2, suggesting the involvement of other independent regulators. No significant differences were observed in the performance of M. sexta on MYC2-silenced plants, consistent with the well-known ability of this specialist insect to tolerate nicotine.
By regulating the biosynthesis of nicotine, NaMYC2 is likely to enhance plant resistance against non-adapted herbivores and contribute to plant fitness; however, multiple JA/NaCOI1-dependent mechanisms (perhaps involving other MYCs) that regulate separate defense responses are likely to exist in N. attenuata. The considerable variation observed amongst different plant families in the responses regulated by jasmonate signaling highlights the sophistication with which plants craft highly specific and fine-tuned responses against the herbivores that attack them.
bHLH; Manduca sexta; MYC2; Transcription factors; Nicotiana attenuata; Nicotine; Phenolamides; Plant-insect interactions; Transcriptional regulation
Natural hybridization is prevalent in ferns, and plays an important role in fern evolution and speciation. In the Indo West-Pacific region, the mangrove fern genus Acrostichum consists of two largely sympatric species, A. aureum and A. speciosum. Although there has been no report of interspecific hybridization before, we found some individuals morphologically intermediate between them in Guangdong and Hainan, China, for the first time, which were suspected to be hybrids. In this study, we aimed to test the hypothesis of natural hybridization between A. aureum and A. speciosum in Guangdong and Hainan using three low-copy nuclear genes. A chloroplast intergenic spacer was used to infer the hybridization direction once the hybrid status was confirmed. In addition, we examined spore shapes and germination for these taxa.
Both A. aureum and A. speciosum showed a low level of polymorphism at all three nuclear genes; however, they were well separated at these loci. At both locations, each individual of the putative hybrid showed additivity in chromatograms at all sites where the two species showed fixed differences. Haplotype analysis at all three nuclear genes indicated that each individual of the putative hybrid possessed two haplotypes, matching with those of A. aureum and A. speciosum, respectively. Sequencing of the chloroplast trnV-trnM regions showed that A. aureum differed from A. speciosum by eleven nucleotide substitutions and three indels (insertions/deletions), and all sampled individuals of the putative hybrid had the identical sequences with A. speciosum. Compared with A. aureum and A. speciosum, the putative hybrid had much reduced spore germination rate.
Sequence data of the three nuclear genes provide compelling evidence for natural hybridization between A. aureum and A. speciosum, and all the hybrid individuals are likely F1s. The hybridization is unidirectional and A. speciosum is the maternal parent of the hybrid based on the assumption of maternal inheritance of chloroplast DNA. Human disturbance on mangrove habitats may facilitate the establishment of hybrids of Acrostichum.
Acrostichum; Chloroplast DNA; Ferns; Mangroves; Natural hybridization; Nuclear genes
Cold acclimation in woody perennials is a metabolically intensive process, but coincides with environmental conditions that are not conducive to the generation of energy through photosynthesis. While the negative effects of low temperatures on the photosynthetic apparatus during winter have been well studied, less is known about how this is reflected at the level of gene and metabolite expression, nor how the plant generates primary metabolites needed for adaptive processes during autumn.
The MapMan tool revealed enrichment of the expression of genes related to mitochondrial function, antioxidant and associated regulatory activity, while changes in metabolite levels over the time course were consistent with the gene expression patterns observed. Genes related to thylakoid function were down-regulated as expected, with the exception of plastid targeted specific antioxidant gene products such as thylakoid-bound ascorbate peroxidase, components of the reactive oxygen species scavenging cycle, and the plastid terminal oxidase. In contrast, the conventional and alternative mitochondrial electron transport chains, the tricarboxylic acid cycle, and redox-associated proteins providing reactive oxygen species scavenging generated by electron transport chains functioning at low temperatures were all active.
A regulatory mechanism linking thylakoid-bound ascorbate peroxidase action with “chloroplast dormancy” is proposed. Most importantly, the energy and substrates required for the substantial metabolic remodeling that is a hallmark of freezing acclimation could be provided by heterotrophic metabolism.
Microarray; Sitka spruce; Carbon metabolism; Cell walls; Adaptation mechanisms; Visualization
A crucial step in the evaluation of newly produced transgenic plants is the selection of homozygous plants. Here we describe an efficient and highly flexible real-time PCR-based method for the development of homozygous lines in plant models with complex (multiple) genomes and/or relatively long generation times (>3 months) using direct copy number determinations.
An existing DNA extraction method was converted into a high-throughput plant leaf DNA extraction procedure yielding DNA suitable for real-time PCR analyses. Highly specific and efficient primer pairs were developed for a bread wheat reference gene (Epsilon Cyclase) and for standard sequence elements in the gene cassette routinely used for cereal transformations (an intron bridge and the Nopaline Synthase terminator). The real-time PCR assay reliably distinguished wheat plants with a single copy of the transgene from individuals with multiple copies or those lacking the transgene. To obtain homozygous lines carrying a unique insertion event as efficiently as possible, T0 plants (plants raised from transformed callus) with a single copy of the transgene were selected and their progeny screened for homozygous plants. Finally, the assay was adapted to work on rice.
The ability to quickly, easily and accurately quantify the construct copy numbers, as provided by the real-time PCR assay, greatly improved the efficiency and reliability of the selection of homozygous transgenic plants in our case study. We were able to select homozygous plants in early generations, avoiding time-consuming methods such as large scale analysis of segregation patterns of descendants and/or Southern blotting. Additionally, the ability to specifically develop homozygous lines carrying a unique insertion event could be important in avoiding gene silencing due to co-suppression, and if needed assist in the selection of lines suitable for future deregulation. The same primer pairs can be used to quantify many different wheat transgenic events because the construct-specific primer pairs are targeted to standard sequence elements of the cereal gene cassettes, making the method widely applicable in wheat GM research. Moreover, because all procedures described here are standardized, the method may easily be adapted to vectors lacking the target regions used here and/or to other plant models.
Real-time PCR; qPCR; Cereal; Wheat; Transgene; Copy number; Homozygous line
Neuroblastoma Amplified Gene (NAG) was identified as a gene co-amplified with the N-myc gene, whose genomic amplification correlates with poor prognosis of neuroblastoma. Later it was found that NAG is localized in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and is a component of the syntaxin 18 complex that is involved in Golgi-to-ER retrograde transport in human cells. Homologous sequences of NAG are found in plant databases, but its function in plant cells remains unknown.
Nicotiana benthamania Neuroblastoma-Amplified Gene (NbNAG) encodes a protein of 2,409 amino acids that contains the secretory pathway Sec39 domain and is mainly localized in the ER. Silencing of NbNAG by virus-induced gene silencing resulted in growth arrest and acute plant death with morphological markers of programmed cell death (PCD), which include chromatin fragmentation and modification of mitochondrial membrane potential. NbNAG deficiency caused induction of ER stress genes, disruption of the ER network, and relocation of bZIP28 transcription factor from the ER membrane to the nucleus, similar to the phenotypes of tunicamycin-induced ER stress in a plant cell. NbNAG silencing caused defects in intracellular transport of diverse cargo proteins, suggesting that a blocked secretion pathway by NbNAG deficiency causes ER stress and programmed cell death.
These results suggest that NAG, a conserved protein from yeast to mammals, plays an essential role in plant growth and development by modulating protein transport pathway, ER stress response and PCD.
bZIP28; ER stress gene expression; Promoter-GUS fusion; Protein transport assay; Virus-induced gene silencing