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1.  Selective recognition of DNA from olive leaves and olive oil by PNA and modified-PNA microarrays 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2012;3(2):63-72.
PNA probes for the specific detection of DNA from olive oil samples by microarray technology were developed. The presence of as low as 5% refined hazelnut (Corylus avellana) oil in extra-virgin olive oil (Olea europaea L.) could be detected by using a PNA microarray. A set of two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from the Actin gene of Olive was chosen as a model for evaluating the ability of PNA probes for discriminating olive cultivars. Both unmodified and C2-modified PNAs bearing an arginine side-chain were used, the latter showing higher sequence specificity. DNA extracted from leaves of three different cultivars (Ogliarola leccese, Canino and Frantoio) could be easily discriminated using a microarray with unmodified PNA probes, whereas discrimination of DNA from oil samples was more challenging, and could be obtained only by using chiral PNA probes.
PMCID: PMC3429532  PMID: 22772038
PNA; olive oil; hazelnut oil; SNP; cultivar identification; DNA fingerprinting
2.  An Italian functional genomic resource for Medicago truncatula 
BMC Research Notes  2008;1:129.
Medicago truncatula is a model species for legumes. Its functional genomics have been considerably boosted in recent years due to initiatives based both in Europe and US. Collections of mutants are becoming increasingly available and this will help unravel the genetic control of important traits for many species of legumes.
Our report is on the production of three complementary mutant collections of the model species Medicago truncatula produced in Italy in the frame of a national genomic initiative. Well established strategies were used: Tnt1 mutagenesis, TILLING and activation tagging. Both forward and reverse genetics screenings proved the efficiency of the mutagenesis approaches adopted, enabling the isolation of interesting mutants which are in course of characterization. We anticipate that the reported collections will be complementary to the recently established functional genomics tools developed for Medicago truncatula both in Europe and in the United States.
PMCID: PMC2633015  PMID: 19077311
3.  Do pathogen-specific defense mechanisms contribute to wound-induced resistance in tomato? 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2008;3(5):340-341.
A network of shared intermediates/components and/or common molecular outputs in biotic and abiotic stress signaling has long been known, but the possibility of effective influence between differently triggered stresses (co-protection) is less studied. Recent observations show that wounding induces transient protection in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) to four pathogens with a range of lifestyles, locally and systemically. The contribution of ethylene (ET) in basal but also in wound-induced resistance to each pathogen, although dispensable, is demonstrated to be positive (Botrytis cinerea, Phytophthora capsici) or negative (Fusarium oxysporum, Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato). Furthermore, the expression of several defense markers is influenced locally and/or systemically by wounding and ET, and might be part of that core of conserved molecular responses whereby an abiotic stress such as wounding imparts co-resistance to biotic stress. In this addendum, we speculate on some of the physiological responses to wounding that might contribute to the modulation of resistance in a more pathogen-specific manner.
PMCID: PMC2634277  PMID: 19841665
tomato; phytophthora; fusarium; wounding; ethylene; defense mechanisms; electric fields; zoospores; tylosis
4.  The human immunodeficiency virus antigen Nef forms protein bodies in leaves of transgenic tobacco when fused to zeolin 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2008;59(10):2815-2829.
Protein bodies (PB) are stable polymers naturally formed by certain seed storage proteins within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The human immunodeficiency virus negative factor (Nef) protein, a potential antigen for the development of an anti-viral vaccine, is highly unstable when introduced into the plant secretory pathway, probably because of folding defects in the ER environment. The aim of this study was to promote the formation of Nef-containing PB in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) leaves by fusing the Nef sequence to the N-terminal domains of the maize storage protein γ-zein or to the chimeric protein zeolin (which efficiently forms PB and is composed of the vacuolar storage protein phaseolin fused to the N-terminal domains of γ-zein). Protein blots and pulse–chase indicate that fusions between Nef and the same γ-zein domains present in zeolin are degraded by ER quality control. Consistently, a mutated zeolin, in which wild-type phaseolin was substituted with a defective version known to be degraded by ER quality control, is unstable in plant cells. Fusion of Nef to the entire zeolin sequence instead allows the formation of PB detectable by electron microscopy and subcellular fractionation, leading to zeolin–Nef accumulation higher than 1% of total soluble protein, consistently reproduced in independent transgenic plants. It is concluded that zeolin, but not its γ-zein portion, has a positive dominant effect over ER quality control degradation. These results provide insights into the requirements for PB formation and avoidance of quality-control degradation, and indicate a strategy for enhancing foreign protein accumulation in plants.
PMCID: PMC2486477  PMID: 18540021
Endoplasmic reticulum; protein accumulation; protein bodies; plant factories; zein
5.  Genetic Structure of Wild and Cultivated Olives in the Central Mediterranean Basin 
Annals of Botany  2006;98(5):935-942.
• Background and Aims Olive cultivars and their wild relatives (oleasters) represent two botanical varieties of Olea europaea subsp. europaea (respectively europaea and sylvestris). Olive cultivars have undergone human selection and their area of diffusion overlaps that of oleasters. Populations of genuine wild olives seem restricted to isolated areas of Mediterranean forests, while most other wild-looking forms of olive may include feral forms that escaped cultivation.
• Methods The genetic structure of wild and cultivated olive tree populations was evaluated by amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers at a microscale level in one continental and two insular Italian regions.
• Key Results The observed patterns of genetic variation were able to distinguish wild from cultivated populations and continental from insular regions. Island oleasters were highly similar to each other and were clearly distinguishable from those of continental regions. Ancient cultivated material from one island clustered with the wild plants, while the old plants from the continental region clustered with the cultivated group.
• Conclusions On the basis of these results, we can assume that olive trees have undergone a different selection/domestication process in the insular and mainland regions. The degree of differentiation between oleasters and cultivated trees on the islands suggests that all cultivars have been introduced into these regions from the outside, while the Umbrian cultivars have originated either by selection from local oleasters or by direct introduction from other regions.
PMCID: PMC2803593  PMID: 16935868
Olea europaea; AFLP; genetic diversity; population structure; wild populations
6.  Reevaluation of the Life Cycle of Tuber magnatum†  
Tuber spp. are ectomycorrhizal ascomycetes that produce ascocarps known as truffles. Basic aspects of Tuber biology have yet to be fully elucidated. In particular, there are conflicting hypotheses concerning the mating system and the ploidy level of the mycorrhizal and truffle hyphae. We used polymorphic microsatellites to compare the allelic configurations of asci with those from the network of the surrounding hyphae in single Tuber magnatum truffles. We then used these truffles to inoculate host plants and evaluated the microsatellite configurations of the resulting mycorrhizal root tips. These analyses provide direct evidence that T. magnatum outcrosses and that its life cycle is predominantly haploid. In addition to its scientific significance, this basic understanding of the T. magnatum life cycle may have practical importance in developing strategies to obtain and select nursery-produced mycorrhizal plants as well as in the management of artificial plantations of this and other Tuber spp.
PMCID: PMC1449033  PMID: 16597935
7.  Genetic and Phylogeographic Structures of the Symbiotic Fungus Tuber magnatum†  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2005;71(11):6584-6589.
The quality and market price of truffles vary with the species and, traditionally, the place of origin. The premium species Tuber magnatum produces white truffles and has a patchy distribution restricted to Italy and some Balkan areas. We used polymorphic microsatellites to evaluate 316 specimens grouped into 26 populations sampled across the species' geographic range to determine if natural populations of T. magnatum are genetically differentiated. We found that the southernmost and the northwesternmost populations were significantly differentiated from the rest of the populations. The simple sequence repeat data also could be used to make inferences about the postglacial T. magnatum expansion pattern. This study is the first to identify a genetic and phylogeographic structure in T. magnatum. The presence of a genetic structure can be of practical interest in tracing truffle populations according to their geographic origin for marketing strategies. Evidence for extensive outcrossing in field populations of T. magnatum also is provided for the first time.
PMCID: PMC1287743  PMID: 16269685

Results 1-7 (7)