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author:("Peng, liangi")
1.  Positive selection drives adaptive diversification of the 4-coumarate: CoA ligase (4CL) gene in angiosperms 
Ecology and Evolution  2015;5(16):3413-3420.
Lignin and flavonoids play a vital role in the adaption of plants to a terrestrial environment. 4-Coumarate: coenzyme A ligase (4CL) is a key enzyme of general phenylpropanoid metabolism which provides the precursors for both lignin and flavonoids biosynthesis. However, very little is known about how such essential enzymatic functions evolve and diversify. Here, we analyze 4CL sequence variation patterns in a phylogenetic framework to further identify the evolutionary forces that lead to functional divergence. The results reveal that lignin-biosynthetic 4CLs are under positive selection. The majority of the positively selected sites are located in the substrate-binding pocket and the catalytic center, indicating that nonsynonymous substitutions might contribute to the functional evolution of 4CLs for lignin biosynthesis. The evolution of 4CLs involved in flavonoid biosynthesis is constrained by purifying selection and maintains the ancestral role of the protein in response to biotic and abiotic factors. Overall, our results demonstrate that protein sequence evolution via positive selection is an important evolutionary force driving adaptive diversification in 4CL proteins in angiosperms. This diversification is associated with adaption to a terrestrial environment.
PMCID: PMC4569036  PMID: 26380674
4-Coumarate: coenzyme A ligase; diversification; evolution; phylogeny; positive selection
2.  Biomass Enzymatic Saccharification Is Determined by the Non-KOH-Extractable Wall Polymer Features That Predominately Affect Cellulose Crystallinity in Corn 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108449.
Corn is a major food crop with enormous biomass residues for biofuel production. Due to cell wall recalcitrance, it becomes essential to identify the key factors of lignocellulose on biomass saccharification. In this study, we examined total 40 corn accessions that displayed a diverse cell wall composition. Correlation analysis showed that cellulose and lignin levels negatively affected biomass digestibility after NaOH pretreatments at p<0.05 & 0.01, but hemicelluloses did not show any significant impact on hexoses yields. Comparative analysis of five standard pairs of corn samples indicated that cellulose and lignin should not be the major factors on biomass saccharification after pretreatments with NaOH and H2SO4 at three concentrations. Notably, despite that the non-KOH-extractable residues covered 12%–23% hemicelluloses and lignin of total biomass, their wall polymer features exhibited the predominant effects on biomass enzymatic hydrolysis including Ara substitution degree of xylan (reverse Xyl/Ara) and S/G ratio of lignin. Furthermore, the non-KOH-extractable polymer features could significantly affect lignocellulose crystallinity at p<0.05, leading to a high biomass digestibility. Hence, this study could suggest an optimal approach for genetic modification of plant cell walls in bioenergy corn.
PMCID: PMC4177209  PMID: 25251456
3.  The Minor Wall-Networks between Monolignols and Interlinked-Phenolics Predominantly Affect Biomass Enzymatic Digestibility in Miscanthus 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105115.
Plant lignin is one of the major wall components that greatly contribute to biomass recalcitrance for biofuel production. In this study, total 79 representative Miscanthus germplasms were determined with wide biomass digestibility and diverse monolignol composition. Integrative analyses indicated that three major monolignols (S, G, H) and S/G ratio could account for lignin negative influence on biomass digestibility upon NaOH and H2SO4 pretreatments. Notably, the biomass enzymatic digestions were predominately affected by the non-KOH-extractable lignin and interlinked-phenolics, other than the KOH-extractable ones that cover 80% of total lignin. Furthermore, a positive correlation was found between the monolignols and phenolics at p<0.05 level in the non-KOH-extractable only, suggesting their tight association to form the minor wall-networks against cellulases accessibility. The results indicated that the non-KOH-extractable lignin-complex should be the target either for cost-effective biomass pretreatments or for relatively simply genetic modification of plant cell walls in Miscanthus.
PMCID: PMC4136839  PMID: 25133694
4.  An integrated genomic and metabolomic framework for cell wall biology in rice 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):596.
Plant cell walls are complex structures that full-fill many diverse functions during plant growth and development. It is therefore not surprising that thousands of gene products are involved in cell wall synthesis and maintenance. However, functional association for the majority of these gene products remains obscure. One useful approach to infer biological associations is via transcriptional coordination, or co-expression of genes. This approach has proved useful for several biological processes. Nevertheless, combining co-expression with other large-scale measurements may improve the biological inferences.
In this study, we used a combined approach of co-expression and cell wall metabolomics to obtain new insight into cell wall synthesis in rice. We initially created a weighted gene co-expression network from publicly available datasets, and then established a comprehensive cell wall dataset by determining cell wall compositions from 29 tissues that almost cover the whole life cycle of rice. We subsequently combined the datasets through the conversion of co-expressed gene modules into eigen-vectors, representing expression profiles for the genes in the modules, and performed comparative analyses against the cell wall contents. Here, we made three major discoveries. First, we confirmed our approach by finding primary and secondary wall cellulose biosynthesis modules, respectively. Second, we found co-expressed modules that strongly correlated with re-organization of the secondary cell walls and with modifications and degradation of hemicellulosic structures. Third, we inferred that at least one module is likely to play a regulatory role in the production of G-rich lignification.
Here, we integrated transcriptomic associations and cell wall metabolism and found that certain co-expressed gene modules are positively correlated with distinct cell wall characteristics. We propose that combining multiple data-types, such as coordinated transcription and cell wall analyses, may be a useful approach to glean new insight into biological processes. The combination of multiple datasets, as illustrated here, can further improve the functional inferences that typically are generated via a single type of datasets. In addition, our data extend the typical co-expression approach to allow deeper insight into cell wall biology in rice.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-596) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4112216  PMID: 25023612
Rice; Cell wall; Co-expression network; Metabolomics
5.  Biomass digestibility is predominantly affected by three factors of wall polymer features distinctive in wheat accessions and rice mutants 
Wheat and rice are important food crops with enormous biomass residues for biofuels. However, lignocellulosic recalcitrance becomes a crucial factor on biomass process. Plant cell walls greatly determine biomass recalcitrance, thus it is essential to identify their key factors on lignocellulose saccharification. Despite it has been reported about cell wall factors on biomass digestions, little is known in wheat and rice. In this study, we analyzed nine typical pairs of wheat and rice samples that exhibited distinct cell wall compositions, and identified three major factors of wall polymer features that affected biomass digestibility.
Based on cell wall compositions, ten wheat accessions and three rice mutants were classified into three distinct groups each with three typical pairs. In terms of group I that displayed single wall polymer alternations in wheat, we found that three wall polymer levels (cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin) each had a negative effect on biomass digestibility at similar rates under pretreatments of NaOH and H2SO4 with three concentrations. However, analysis of six pairs of wheat and rice samples in groups II and III that each exhibited a similar cell wall composition, indicated that three wall polymer levels were not the major factors on biomass saccharification. Furthermore, in-depth detection of the wall polymer features distinctive in rice mutants, demonstrated that biomass digestibility was remarkably affected either negatively by cellulose crystallinity (CrI) of raw biomass materials, or positively by both Ara substitution degree of non-KOH-extractable hemicelluloses (reverse Xyl/Ara) and p-coumaryl alcohol relative proportion of KOH-extractable lignin (H/G). Correlation analysis indicated that Ara substitution degree and H/G ratio negatively affected cellulose crystallinity for high biomass enzymatic digestion. It was also suggested to determine whether Ara and H monomer have an interlinking with cellulose chains in the future.
Using nine typical pairs of wheat and rice samples having distinct cell wall compositions and wide biomass saccharification, Ara substitution degree and monolignin H proportion have been revealed to be the dominant factors positively determining biomass digestibility upon various chemical pretreatments. The results demonstrated the potential of genetic modification of plant cell walls for high biomass saccharification in bioenergy crops.
PMCID: PMC3878626  PMID: 24341349
Cell wall; Cellulose crystallinity; Arabinose substitution degree; p-coumaryl alcohol proportion; Biomass digestibility; Chemical pretreatment; Wheat; Rice
6.  Global Identification of Multiple OsGH9 Family Members and Their Involvement in Cellulose Crystallinity Modification in Rice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e50171.
Plant glycoside hydrolase family 9 (GH9) comprises typical endo-β-1,4-glucanase (EGases, EC3.2.1.4). Although GH9A (KORRIGAN) family genes have been reported to be involved in cellulose biosynthesis in plants, much remains unknown about other GH9 subclasses. In this study, we observed a global gene co-expression profiling and conducted a correlation analysis between OsGH9 and OsCESA among 66 tissues covering most periods of life cycles in 2 rice varieties. Our results showed that OsGH9A3 and B5 possessed an extremely high co-expression with OsCESA1, 3, and 8 typical for cellulose biosynthesis in rice. Using two distinct rice non-GH9 mutants and wild type, we performed integrative analysis of gene expression level by qRT-PCR, cellulase activities in situ and in vitro, and lignocellulose crystallinity index (CrI) in four internodes of stem tissues. For the first time, OsGH9B1, 3, and 16 were characterized with the potential role in lignocellulose crystallinity alteration in rice, whereas OsGH9A3 and B5 were suggested for cellulose biosynthesis. In addition, phylogenetic analysis and gene co-expression comparison revealed GH9 function similarity in Arabidopsis and rice. Hence, the data can provide insights into GH9 function in plants and offer the potential strategy for genetic manipulation of plant cell wall using the five aforementioned novel OsGH9 genes.
PMCID: PMC3537678  PMID: 23308094
7.  Hemicelluloses negatively affect lignocellulose crystallinity for high biomass digestibility under NaOH and H2SO4 pretreatments in Miscanthus 
Lignocellulose is the most abundant biomass on earth. However, biomass recalcitrance has become a major factor affecting biofuel production. Although cellulose crystallinity significantly influences biomass saccharification, little is known about the impact of three major wall polymers on cellulose crystallization. In this study, we selected six typical pairs of Miscanthus samples that presented different cell wall compositions, and then compared their cellulose crystallinity and biomass digestibility after various chemical pretreatments.
A Miscanthus sample with a high hemicelluloses level was determined to have a relatively low cellulose crystallinity index (CrI) and enhanced biomass digestibility at similar rates after pretreatments of NaOH and H2SO4 with three concentrations. By contrast, a Miscanthus sample with a high cellulose or lignin level showed increased CrI and low biomass saccharification, particularly after H2SO4 pretreatment. Correlation analysis revealed that the cellulose CrI negatively affected biomass digestion. Increased hemicelluloses level by 25% or decreased cellulose and lignin contents by 31% and 37% were also found to result in increased hexose yields by 1.3-times to 2.2-times released from enzymatic hydrolysis after NaOH or H2SO4 pretreatments. The findings indicated that hemicelluloses were the dominant and positive factor, whereas cellulose and lignin had synergistic and negative effects on biomass digestibility.
Using six pairs of Miscanthus samples with different cell wall compositions, hemicelluloses were revealed to be the dominant factor that positively determined biomass digestibility after pretreatments with NaOH or H2SO4 by negatively affecting cellulose crystallinity. The results suggested potential approaches to the genetic modifications of bioenergy crops.
PMCID: PMC3462114  PMID: 22883929
8.  Expression profiling and integrative analysis of the CESA/CSL superfamily in rice 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:282.
The cellulose synthase and cellulose synthase-like gene superfamily (CESA/CSL) is proposed to encode enzymes for cellulose and non-cellulosic matrix polysaccharide synthesis in plants. Although the rice (Oryza sativa L.) genome has been sequenced for a few years, the global expression profiling patterns and functions of the OsCESA/CSL superfamily remain largely unknown.
A total of 45 identified members of OsCESA/CSL were classified into two clusters based on phylogeny and motif constitution. Duplication events contributed largely to the expansion of this superfamily, with Cluster I and II mainly attributed to tandem and segmental duplication, respectively. With microarray data of 33 tissue samples covering the entire life cycle of rice, fairly high OsCESA gene expression and rather variable OsCSL expression were observed. While some members from each CSL family (A1, C9, D2, E1, F6 and H1) were expressed in all tissues examined, many of OsCSL genes were expressed in specific tissues (stamen and radicles). The expression pattern of OsCESA/CSL and OsBC1L which extensively co-expressed with OsCESA/CSL can be divided into three major groups with ten subgroups, each showing a distinct co-expression in tissues representing typically distinct cell wall constitutions. In particular, OsCESA1, -3 & -8 and OsCESA4, -7 & -9 were strongly co-expressed in tissues typical of primary and secondary cell walls, suggesting that they form as a cellulose synthase complex; these results are similar to the findings in Arabidopsis. OsCESA5/OsCESA6 is likely partially redundant with OsCESA3 for OsCESA complex organization in the specific tissues (plumule and radicle). Moreover, the phylogenetic comparison in rice, Arabidopsis and other species can provide clues for the prediction of orthologous gene expression patterns.
The study characterized the CESA/CSL of rice using an integrated approach comprised of phylogeny, transcriptional profiling and co-expression analyses. These investigations revealed very useful clues on the major roles of CESA/CSL, their potentially functional complement and their associations for appropriate cell wall synthesis in higher plants.
PMCID: PMC3022907  PMID: 21167079

Results 1-8 (8)