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1.  Priority effects during fungal community establishment in beech wood 
The ISME Journal  2015;9(10):2246-2260.
Assembly history of fungal communities has a crucial role in the decomposition of woody resources, and hence nutrient cycling and ecosystem function. However, it has not been clearly determined whether the fungal species that arrive first may, potentially, dictate the subsequent pathway of community development, that is, whether there is a priority effect at the species level. We used traditional culture-based techniques coupled with sequencing of amplified genetic markers to profile the fungal communities in beech (Fagus sylvatica) disks that had been pre-colonised separately with nine species from various stages of fungal succession. Clear differences in community composition were evident following pre-colonisation by different species with three distinct successor communities identified, indicating that individual species may have pivotal effects in driving assembly history. Priority effects may be linked to biochemical alteration of the resource and combative ability of the predecessor.
PMCID: PMC4579477  PMID: 25798754
2.  Wounding tomato fruit elicits ripening-stage specific changes in gene expression and production of volatile compounds 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2015;66(5):1511-1526.
As tomato fruit ripen, the wounding-elicited transcriptome and VOC profiles alter. This shift is consistent with a change from protection of developing seeds to attraction of frugivores for seed dispersal.
Fleshy fruits develop from an unripe organ that needs to be protected from damage to a ripe organ that attracts frugivores for seed dispersal through production of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Thus, different responses to wounding damage are predicted. The aim of this study was to discover whether wound-induced changes in the transcriptome and VOC production alter as tomato transitions from unripe to ripe. Transcript changes were analysed 3h post-wounding using microarray analysis in two commercial salad-tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) cultivars: Luna Rossa and AVG, chosen for their high aroma production. This was followed by quantitative PCR on Luna Rossa genes involved in VOC biosynthesis and defence responses. VOCs elicited by wounding at different ripening stages were analysed by solid phase micro extraction and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Approximately 4000 differentially expressed genes were identified in the cultivar AVG and 2500 in Luna Rossa. In both cultivars the majority of genes were up-regulated and the most affected pathways were metabolism of terpenes, carotenoids, and lipids. Defence-related genes were mostly up-regulated in immature stages of development, whereas expression of genes related to VOCs changed at riper stages. More than 40 VOCs were detected and profiles changed with ripening stage. Thus, both transcriptome and VOC profiles elicited by wounding depend on stage of ripening, indicating a shift from defence to attraction.
PMCID: PMC4339607  PMID: 25614658
Microarrays; molecular markers; Solanum lycopersicum; ripening; VOCs; wounding.
3.  Auxin involvement in tepal senescence and abscission in Lilium: a tale of two lilies 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;66(3):945-956.
Strong evidence is presented for auxin regulating lily tepal abscission timing in relation to senescence. Transcriptome data was used to correlate auxin levels with expression of auxin-related genes.
Petal wilting and/or abscission terminates the life of the flower. However, how wilting and abscission are coordinated is not fully understood. There is wide variation in the extent to which petals wilt before abscission, even between cultivars of the same species. For example, tepals of Lilium longiflorum wilt substantially, while those of the closely related Lilium longiflorum×Asiatic hybrid (L.A.) abscise turgid. Furthermore, close comparison of petal death in these two Lilium genotypes shows that there is a dramatic fall in fresh weight/dry weight accompanied by a sharp increase in ion leakage in late senescent L. longiflorum tepals, neither of which occur in Lilium L.A. Despite these differences, a putative abscission zone was identified in both lilies, but while the detachment force was reduced to zero in Lilium L.A., wilting of the fused tepals in L. longiflorum occurred before abscission was complete. Abscission is often negatively regulated by auxin, and the possible role of auxin in regulating tepal abscission relative to wilting was tested in the two lilies. There was a dramatic increase in auxin levels with senescence in L. longiflorum but not in Lilium L.A. Fifty auxin-related genes were expressed in early senescent L. longiflorum tepals including 12 ARF-related genes. In Arabidopsis, several ARF genes are involved in the regulation of abscission. Expression of a homologous transcript to Arabidopsis ARF7/19 was 8-fold higher during senescence in L. longiflorum compared with abscising Lilium L.A., suggesting a conserved role for auxin-regulated abscission in monocotyledonous ethylene-insensitive flowers.
PMCID: PMC4321550  PMID: 25422499
Abscission zone; ARF transcription factors; floral senescence; IAA; Lilium longiflorum; transcriptome.
4.  Gene dosage effect of WEE1 on growth and morphogenesis from arabidopsis hypocotyl explants 
Annals of Botany  2012;110(8):1631-1639.
Background and Aims
How plant cell-cycle genes interface with development is unclear. Preliminary evidence from our laboratory suggested that over-expression of the cell cycle checkpoint gene, WEE1, repressed growth and development. Here the hypothesis is tested that the level of WEE1 has a dosage effect on growth and development in Arabidospis thaliana. To do this, a comparison was made of the development of gain- and loss-of-function WEE1 arabidopsis lines both in vivo and in vitro.
Hypocotyl explants from an over-expressing Arath;WEE1 line (WEE1oe), two T-DNA insertion lines (wee1-1 and wee1-4) and wild type (WT) were cultured on two-way combinations of kinetin and naphthyl acetic acid. Root growth and meristematic cell size were also examined.
Key Results
Quantitative data indicated a repressive effect in WEE1oe and a significant increase in morphogenetic capacity in the two T-DNA insertion lines compared with WT. Compared with WT, WEE1oe seedlings exhibited a slower cell-doubling time in the root apical meristem and a shortened primary root, with fewer laterals, whereas there were no consistent differences in the insertion lines compared with WT. However, significantly fewer adventitious roots were recorded for WEE1oe and significantly more for the insertion mutant wee1-1. Compared with WT there was a significant increase in meristem cell size in WEE1oe for all three ground tissues but for wee1-1 only cortical cell size was reduced.
There is a gene dosage effect of WEE1 on morphogenesis from hypocotyls both in vitro and in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3503502  PMID: 23065633
Arabidopsis thaliana; cell cycle; development; growth; hypocotyl; tissue culture; WEE1
5.  Plant WEE1 kinase is cell cycle regulated and removed at mitosis via the 26S proteasome machinery 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2013;64(7):2093-2106.
In yeasts and animals, premature entry into mitosis is prevented by the inhibitory phosphorylation of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) by WEE1 kinase, and, at mitosis, WEE1 protein is removed through the action of the 26S proteasome. Although in higher plants WEE1 function has been confirmed in the DNA replication checkpoint, Arabidopsis wee1 insertion mutants grow normally, and a role for the protein in the G2/M transition during an unperturbed plant cell cycle is yet to be confirmed. Here data are presented showing that the inhibitory effect of WEE1 on CDK activity in tobacco BY-2 cell cultures is cell cycle regulated independently of the DNA replication checkpoint: it is high during S-phase but drops as cells traverse G2 and enter mitosis. To investigate this mechanism further, a yeast two-hybrid screen was undertaken to identify proteins interacting with Arabidopsis WEE1. Three F-box proteins and a subunit of the proteasome complex were identified, and bimolecular fluorescence complementation confirmed an interaction between AtWEE1 and the F-box protein SKP1 INTERACTING PARTNER 1 (SKIP1). Furthermore, the AtWEE1–green fluorescent protein (GFP) signal in Arabidopsis primary roots treated with the proteasome inhibitor MG132 was significantly increased compared with mock-treated controls. Expression of AtWEE1–YFPC (C-terminal portion of yellow fluorescent protein) or AtWEE1 per se in tobacco BY-2 cells resulted in a premature increase in the mitotic index compared with controls, whereas co-expression of AtSKIP1–YFPN negated this effect. These data support a role for WEE1 in a normal plant cell cycle and its removal at mitosis via the 26S proteasome.
PMCID: PMC3638832  PMID: 23536609
Arabidopsis thaliana; bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC); BY-2 cell line; CDKA/B; cell cycle; F-box; green fluorescent protein (GFP); mitosis; Nicotiana tabacum; 26S proteasome SKIP1; WEE1.
6.  Differential spatial expression of A- and B-type CDKs, and distribution of auxins and cytokinins in the open transverse root apical meristem of Cucurbita maxima 
Annals of Botany  2010;107(7):1223-1234.
Background and Aims
Aside from those on Arabidopsis, very few studies have focused on spatial expression of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) in root apical meristems (RAMs), and, indeed, none has been undertaken for open meristems. The extent of interfacing between cell cycle genes and plant growth regulators is also an increasingly important issue in plant cell cycle studies. Here spatial expression/localization of an A-type and B-type CDK, auxin and cytokinins are reported in relation to the hitherto unexplored anatomy of RAMs of Cucurbita maxima.
Median longitudinal sections were cut from 1-cm-long primary root tips of C. maxima. Full-length A-type CDKs and a B-type CDK were cloned from C. maxima using degenerate primers, probes of which were localized on sections of RAMs using in situ hybridization. Isopentenyladenine (iPA), trans-zeatin (t-Z) and indole-3yl-acetic acid (IAA) were identified on sections by immunolocalization.
Key Results
The C. cucurbita RAM conformed to an open transverse (OT) meristem typified by an absence of a clear boundary between the eumeristem and root cap columella, but with a distinctive longitudinally thickened epidermis. Cucma;CDKA;1 expression was detected strongly in the longitudinally thickened epidermis, a tissue with mitotic competence that contributes cells radially to the root cap of OT meristems. Cucma;CDKB2 was expressed mainly in proliferative regions of the RAM and in lateral root primordia. iPA and t-Z were mainly distributed in differentiated cells whilst IAA was distributed more uniformly in all tissues of the RAM.
Cucma;CDKA;1 was expressed most strongly in cells that have proliferative competence whereas Cucma;CDKB2 was confined mainly to mitotic cells. iPA and t-Z marked differentiated cells in the RAM, consistent with the known effect of cytokinins in promoting differentiation in root systems. iPA/t-Z were distributed in a converse pattern to Cucma;CDKB2 expression whereas IAA was detected in most cells in the RAM regardless of their proliferative potential.
PMCID: PMC3091794  PMID: 20601387
Auxin; cytokinins; CDKs; Cucurbita maxima; root apical meristems
7.  Arabidopsis T-DNA insertional lines for CDC25 are hypersensitive to hydroxyurea but not to zeocin or salt stress 
Annals of Botany  2010;107(7):1183-1192.
Background and Aims
In yeasts and animals, cyclin-dependent kinases are key regulators of cell cycle progression and are negatively and positively regulated by WEE1 kinase and CDC25 phosphatase, respectively. In higher plants a full-length orthologue of CDC25 has not been isolated but a shorter gene with homology only to the C-terminal catalytic domain is present. The Arabidopis thaliana;CDC25 can act as a phosphatase in vitro. Since in arabidopsis, WEE1 plays an important role in the DNA damage/DNA replication checkpoints, the role of Arath;CDC25 in conditions that induce these checkpoints or induce abiotic stress was tested.
arath;cdc25 T-DNA insertion lines, Arath;CDC25 over-expressing lines and wild type were challenged with hydroxyurea (HU) and zeocin, substances that stall DNA replication and damage DNA, respectively, together with an abiotic stressor, NaCl. A molecular and phenotypic assessment was made of all genotypes
Key Results
There was a null phenotypic response to perturbation of Arath;CDC25 expression under control conditions. However, compared with wild type, the arath;cdc25 T-DNA insertion lines were hypersensitive to HU, whereas the Arath;CDC25 over-expressing lines were relatively insensitive. In particular, the over-expressing lines consistently outgrew the T-DNA insertion lines and wild type when challenged with HU. All genotypes were equally sensitive to zeocin and NaCl.
Arath;CDC25 plays a role in overcoming stress imposed by HU, an agent know to induce the DNA replication checkpoint in arabidopsis. However, it could not enhance tolerance to either a zeocin treatment, known to induce DNA damage, or salinity stress.
PMCID: PMC3091795  PMID: 20647223
Arabidopsis thaliana; cell-cycle checkpoints; hydroxyurea; root growth; NaCl; zeocin
8.  Perturbation of cytokinin and ethylene-signalling pathways explain the strong rooting phenotype exhibited by Arabidopsis expressing the Schizosaccharomyces pombe mitotic inducer, cdc25 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:45.
Entry into mitosis is regulated by cyclin dependent kinases that in turn are phosphoregulated. In most eukaryotes, phosphoregulation is through WEE1 kinase and CDC25 phosphatase. In higher plants a homologous CDC25 gene is unconfirmed and hence the mitotic inducer Schizosaccharomyces pombe (Sp) cdc25 has been used as a tool in transgenic plants to probe cell cycle function. Expression of Spcdc25 in tobacco BY-2 cells accelerates entry into mitosis and depletes cytokinins; in whole plants it stimulates lateral root production. Here we show, for the first time, that alterations to cytokinin and ethylene signaling explain the rooting phenotype elicited by Spcdc25 expression in Arabidopsis.
Expressing Spcdc25 in Arabidopsis results in increased formation of lateral and adventitious roots, a reduction of primary root width and more isodiametric cells in the root apical meristem (RAM) compared with wild type. Furthermore it stimulates root morphogenesis from hypocotyls when cultured on two way grids of increasing auxin and cytokinin concentrations. Microarray analysis of seedling roots expressing Spcdc25 reveals that expression of 167 genes is changed by > 2-fold. As well as genes related to stress responses and defence, these include 19 genes related to transcriptional regulation and signaling. Amongst these was the up-regulation of genes associated with ethylene synthesis and signaling. Seedlings expressing Spcdc25 produced 2-fold more ethylene than WT and exhibited a significant reduction in hypocotyl length both in darkness or when exposed to 10 ppm ethylene. Furthermore in Spcdc25 expressing plants, the cytokinin receptor AHK3 was down-regulated, and endogenous levels of iPA were reduced whereas endogeous IAA concentrations in the roots increased.
We suggest that the reduction in root width and change to a more isodiametric cell phenotype in the RAM in Spcdc25 expressing plants is a response to ethylene over-production. The increased rooting phenotype in Spcdc25 expressing plants is due to an increase in the ratio of endogenous auxin to cytokinin that is known to stimulate an increased rate of lateral root production. Overall, our data reveal important cross talk between cell division and plant growth regulators leading to developmental changes.
PMCID: PMC3362767  PMID: 22452972
9.  Volatile emissions of scented Alstroemeria genotypes are dominated by terpenes, and a myrcene synthase gene is highly expressed in scented Alstroemeria flowers 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2012;63(7):2739-2752.
Native to South America, Alstroemeria flowers are known for their colourful tepals, and Alstroemeria hybrids are an important cut flower. However, in common with many commercial cut flowers, virtually all the commercial Alstroemeria hybrids are not scented. The cultivar ‘Sweet Laura’ is one of very few scented commercial Alstroemeria hybrids. Characterization of the volatile emission profile of these cut flowers revealed three major terpene compounds: (E)-caryophyllene, humulene (also known as α-caryophyllene), an ocimene-like compound, and several minor peaks, one of which was identified as myrcene. The profile is completely different from that of the parental scented species A. caryophyllaea. Volatile emission peaked at anthesis in both scented genotypes, coincident in cv. ‘Sweet Laura’ with the maximal expression of a putative terpene synthase gene AlstroTPS. This gene was preferentially expressed in floral tissues of both cv. ‘Sweet Laura’ and A. caryophyllaea. Characterization of the AlstroTPS gene structure from cv. ‘Sweet Laura’ placed it as a member of the class III terpene synthases, and the predicted 567 amino acid sequence placed it into the subfamily TPS-b. The conserved sequences R28(R)X8W and D321DXXD are the putative Mg2+-binding sites, and in vitro assay of AlstroTPS expressed in Escherichia coli revealed that the encoded enzyme possesses myrcene synthase activity, consistent with a role for AlstroTPS in scent production in Alstroemeria cv. ‘Sweet Laura’ flowers.
PMCID: PMC3346232  PMID: 22268153
Alstroemeria; caryophyllene; gene expression; humulene; myrcene; scent emission; terpene synthase; volatiles
10.  Programmed Cell Death in Floral Organs: How and Why do Flowers Die? 
Annals of Botany  2006;97(3):309-315.
• Background Flowers have a species-specific, limited life span with an irreversible programme of senescence, which is largely independent of environmental factors, unlike leaf senescence, which is much more closely linked with external stimuli.
• Timing Life span of the whole flower is regulated for ecological and energetic reasons, but the death of individual tissues and cells within the flower is co-ordinated at many levels to ensure correct timing. Some floral cells die selectively during organ development, whereas others are retained until the whole organ dies.
• Triggers Pollination is an important floral cell death trigger in many species, and its effects are mediated by the plant growth regulator (PGR) ethylene. In some species ethylene is a major regulator of floral senescence, but in others it plays a very minor role and the co-ordinating signals involved remain elusive. Other PGRs such as cytokinin and brassinosteroids are also important but their role is understood only in some specific systems.
• Mechanisms In two floral cell types (the tapetum and the pollen-tube) there is strong evidence for apoptotic-type cell death, similar to that in animal cells. However, in petals there is stronger evidence for an autophagous type of cell death involving endoplasmic reticulum-derived vesicles and the vacuole. Proteases are important, and homologues to animal caspases, key regulators of animal cell death, exist in plants. However, their role is not yet clear.
• Comparison with Other Organs There are similarities to cell death in other plant organs, and many of the same genes are up-regulated in both leaf and petal senescence; however, there are also important differences for example in the role of PGRs.
• Conclusions Understanding gene regulation may help to understand cell death in floral organs better, but alone it cannot provide all the answers.
PMCID: PMC2803638  PMID: 16394024
Programmed cell death; flowers; petal; tapetum; pollen-tubes; senescence; ethylene; apoptosis; autophagy; ricinosomes; metacaspases; chromoplasts

Results 1-10 (10)