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1.  A proteomics survey on wheat susceptibility to Fusarium head blight during grain development 
The mycotoxigenic fungal species Fusarium graminearum is able to attack several important cereal crops, such as wheat and barley. By causing Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) disease, F. graminearum induces yield and quality losses and poses a public health concern due to in planta mycotoxin production. The molecular and physiological plant responses to FHB, and the cellular biochemical pathways used by F. graminearum to complete its infectious process remain still unknown. In this study, a proteomics approach, combining 2D-gel approach and mass spectrometry, has been used to determine the specific protein patterns associated with the development of the fungal infection during grain growth on susceptible wheat. Our results reveal that F. graminearum infection does not deeply alter the grain proteome and does not significantly disturb the first steps of grain ontogeny but impacts molecular changes during the grain filling stage (impact on starch synthesis and storage proteins). The differentially regulated proteins identified were mainly involved in stress and defence mechanisms, primary metabolism, and main cellular processes such as signalling and transport. Our survey suggests that F. graminearum could take advantage of putative susceptibility factors closely related to grain development processes and thus provide new insights into key molecular events controlling the susceptible response to FHB in wheat grains.
PMCID: PMC4318354  PMID: 25663750
Susceptibility factors; Wheat; Fusarium graminearum; FHB; Mycotoxin
2.  Benefits of migration in a partially-migratory tropical ungulate 
BMC Ecology  2013;13:36.
Partial migration, where one portion of a population conducts seasonal migrations while the other remains on a single range, is common in wild ungulate populations. However the relative costs and benefits associated with the distinct strategies adopted by coexisting migrant and resident individuals have rarely been investigated. Here we compare the body condition of migrants and residents in a partially migratory population of impalas (Aepyceros melampus) in Zimbabwe. The study was conducted during two consecutive years with highly contrasted population densities (16.4 and 8.6 indiv/km2) due to harvesting.
We first identify a population substructure with a north–south sub-division in two spatial units related to distinct soils and vegetation cover. Impalas in the north range had a consistently higher diet quality and body condition than those in the south range. At the beginning of the dry season about one third of the individuals migrated from the lower (i.e. south) to the higher (i.e. north) diet quality range. This partial migration pattern was consistent between the consecutive years, and most individuals showed constancy to their moving strategy (migrant or resident). In both years, these migrants had a significantly higher body condition at the end of the dry season than the south residents that remained year-round in the lower diet quality range. Diet quality and body condition of impalas were higher in the year of lower density; however we did not detect any evidence for density-dependence in migration propensity, at the individual or population levels, nor in the benefit associated with migration.
Our findings provide rare evidence for a significant relationship between body condition and seasonal migration strategy in wild ungulates in relation to a difference in the quality of resources acquired between distinct seasonal ranges. This study also constitutes rare evidence of partial migration in a tropical ungulate population.
PMCID: PMC3852153  PMID: 24079650
Partial migration; Habitat–performance relationships; Density dependence; Impala; Individual variability; Spatial heterogeneity; Diet quality; Savannah
3.  Deciphering the genomic structure, function and evolution of carotenogenesis related phytoene synthases in grasses 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:221.
Carotenoids are isoprenoid pigments, essential for photosynthesis and photoprotection in plants. The enzyme phytoene synthase (PSY) plays an essential role in mediating condensation of two geranylgeranyl diphosphate molecules, the first committed step in carotenogenesis. PSY are nuclear enzymes encoded by a small gene family consisting of three paralogous genes (PSY1-3) that have been widely characterized in rice, maize and sorghum.
In wheat, for which yellow pigment content is extremely important for flour colour, only PSY1 has been extensively studied because of its association with QTLs reported for yellow pigment whereas PSY2 has been partially characterized. Here, we report the isolation of bread wheat PSY3 genes from a Renan BAC library using Brachypodium as a model genome for the Triticeae to develop Conserved Orthologous Set markers prior to gene cloning and sequencing. Wheat PSY3 homoeologous genes were sequenced and annotated, unravelling their novel structure associated with intron-loss events and consequent exonic fusions. A wheat PSY3 promoter region was also investigated for the presence of cis-acting elements involved in the response to abscisic acid (ABA), since carotenoids also play an important role as precursors of signalling molecules devoted to plant development and biotic/abiotic stress responses. Expression of wheat PSYs in leaves and roots was investigated during ABA treatment to confirm the up-regulation of PSY3 during abiotic stress.
We investigated the structural and functional determinisms of PSY genes in wheat. More generally, among eudicots and monocots, the PSY gene family was found to be associated with differences in gene copy numbers, allowing us to propose an evolutionary model for the entire PSY gene family in Grasses.
PMCID: PMC3413518  PMID: 22672222
Carotenoids; Phytoene synthase; Wheat; Intron loss; Abiotic stress; Evolution
4.  (Homo)glutathione Deficiency Impairs Root-knot Nematode Development in Medicago truncatula 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(1):e1002471.
Root-knot nematodes (RKN) are obligatory plant parasitic worms that establish and maintain an intimate relationship with their host plants. During a compatible interaction, RKN induce the redifferentiation of root cells into multinucleate and hypertrophied giant cells essential for nematode growth and reproduction. These metabolically active feeding cells constitute the exclusive source of nutrients for the nematode. Detailed analysis of glutathione (GSH) and homoglutathione (hGSH) metabolism demonstrated the importance of these compounds for the success of nematode infection in Medicago truncatula. We reported quantification of GSH and hGSH and gene expression analysis showing that (h)GSH metabolism in neoformed gall organs differs from that in uninfected roots. Depletion of (h)GSH content impaired nematode egg mass formation and modified the sex ratio. In addition, gene expression and metabolomic analyses showed a substantial modification of starch and γ-aminobutyrate metabolism and of malate and glucose content in (h)GSH-depleted galls. Interestingly, these modifications did not occur in (h)GSH-depleted roots. These various results suggest that (h)GSH have a key role in the regulation of giant cell metabolism. The discovery of these specific plant regulatory elements could lead to the development of new pest management strategies against nematodes.
Author Summary
Parasitic nematodes are microscopic worms that cause major diseases of plants, animals and humans. During compatible interactions, root-knot nematodes (RKN) induce the formation of galls in which redifferentiation of root cells into multinucleate and hypertrophied giant cells is essential for nematode growth and reproduction. The importance of glutathione (GSH), a major antioxidant molecule involved in plant development, in plant microbe interaction and in abiotic stress response, was analyzed during the plant-RKN interaction. Our analyses demonstrated that the gall development and functioning are characterized by an adapted GSH metabolism and that depletion of GSH content impairs nematode reproduction and modified sex ratio. This phenotype is linked to specific modifications of carbon metabolism which do not occur in uninfected roots indicating a peculiar metabolism of this neoformed organ. This first metabolomic analysis during the plant-RKN interaction highlights the regulatory role played by GSH in this pathogenic interaction and completes our vision of the role of GSH during plant-pathogen interactions. RKN sex ratio modification has previously been observed under unfavorable nematode feeding conditions suggesting that the GSH-redox system could be a general sensor of gall fitness in natural conditions.
PMCID: PMC3252378  PMID: 22241996
5.  Spindle Assembly Checkpoint Protein Dynamics Reveal Conserved and Unsuspected Roles in Plant Cell Division 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(8):e6757.
In eukaryotes, the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) ensures that chromosomes undergoing mitosis do not segregate until they are properly attached to the microtubules of the spindle.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We investigated the mechanism underlying this surveillance mechanism in plants, by characterising the orthogolous SAC proteins BUBR1, BUB3 and MAD2 from Arabidopsis. We showed that the cell cycle-regulated BUBR1, BUB3.1 and MAD2 proteins interacted physically with each other. Furthermore, BUBR1 and MAD2 interacted specifically at chromocenters. Following SAC activation by global defects in spindle assembly, these three interacting partners localised to unattached kinetochores. In addition, in cases of ‘wait anaphase’, plant SAC proteins were associated with both kinetochores and kinetochore microtubules. Unexpectedly, BUB3.1 was also found in the phragmoplast midline during the final step of cell division in plants.
We conclude that plant BUBR1, BUB3.1 and MAD2 proteins may have the SAC protein functions conserved from yeast to humans. The association of BUB3.1 with both unattached kinetochore and phragmoplast suggests that in plant, BUB3.1 may have other roles beyond the spindle assembly checkpoint itself. Finally, this study of the SAC dynamics pinpoints uncharacterised roles of this surveillance mechanism in plant cell division.
PMCID: PMC2728542  PMID: 19710914

Results 1-5 (5)