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1.  Gene family structure, expression and functional analysis of HD-Zip III genes in angiosperm and gymnosperm forest trees 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:273.
Background
Class III Homeodomain Leucine Zipper (HD-Zip III) proteins have been implicated in the regulation of cambium identity, as well as primary and secondary vascular differentiation and patterning in herbaceous plants. They have been proposed to regulate wood formation but relatively little evidence is available to validate such a role. We characterised and compared HD-Zip III gene family in an angiosperm tree, Populus spp. (poplar), and the gymnosperm Picea glauca (white spruce), representing two highly evolutionarily divergent groups.
Results
Full-length cDNA sequences were isolated from poplar and white spruce. Phylogenetic reconstruction indicated that some of the gymnosperm sequences were derived from lineages that diverged earlier than angiosperm sequences, and seem to have been lost in angiosperm lineages. Transcript accumulation profiles were assessed by RT-qPCR on tissue panels from both species and in poplar trees in response to an inhibitor of polar auxin transport. The overall transcript profiles HD-Zip III complexes in white spruce and poplar exhibited substantial differences, reflecting their evolutionary history. Furthermore, two poplar sequences homologous to HD-Zip III genes involved in xylem development in Arabidopsis and Zinnia were over-expressed in poplar plants. PtaHB1 over-expression produced noticeable effects on petiole and primary shoot fibre development, suggesting that PtaHB1 is involved in primary xylem development. We also obtained evidence indicating that expression of PtaHB1 affected the transcriptome by altering the accumulation of 48 distinct transcripts, many of which are predicted to be involved in growth and cell wall synthesis. Most of them were down-regulated, as was the case for several of the poplar HD-Zip III sequences. No visible physiological effect of over-expression was observed on PtaHB7 transgenic trees, suggesting that PtaHB1 and PtaHB7 likely have distinct roles in tree development, which is in agreement with the functions that have been assigned to close homologs in herbaceous plants.
Conclusions
This study provides an overview of HD-zip III genes related to woody plant development and identifies sequences putatively involved in secondary vascular growth in angiosperms and in gymnosperms. These gene sequences are candidate regulators of wood formation and could be a source of molecular markers for tree breeding related to wood properties.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-273
PMCID: PMC3017839  PMID: 21143995
2.  Transcriptome resources and functional characterization of monoterpene synthases for two host species of the mountain pine beetle, lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) and jack pine (Pinus banksiana) 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:80.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-80
PMCID: PMC3668260  PMID: 23679205
Conifer defence; Pine oleoresin; Terpenoid biosynthesis; Metabolite profile; Prenyl transferase; Cytochrome P450; Conifer genome

Results 1-2 (2)