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1.  Identification and characterization of circadian clock genes in a native tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:172.
A plant’s endogenous clock (circadian clock) entrains physiological processes to light/dark and temperature cycles. Forward and reverse genetic approaches in Arabidopsis have revealed the mechanisms of the circadian clock and its components in the genome. Similar approaches have been used to characterize conserved clock elements in several plant species. A wild tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata has been studied extensively to understand responses to biotic or abiotic stress in the glasshouse and also in their native habitat. During two decades of field experiment, we observed several diurnal rhythmic traits of N. attenuata in nature. To expand our knowledge of circadian clock function into the entrainment of traits important for ecological processes, we here report three core clock components in N. attenuata.
Protein similarity and transcript accumulation allowed us to isolate orthologous genes of the core circadian clock components, LATE ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL (LHY), TIMING OF CAB EXPRESSION 1/PSEUDO-RESPONSE REGULATOR 1 (TOC1/PRR1), and ZEITLUPE (ZTL). Transcript accumulation of NaLHY peaked at dawn and NaTOC1 peaked at dusk in plants grown under long day conditions. Ectopic expression of NaLHY and NaZTL in Arabidopsis resulted in elongated hypocotyl and late-flowering phenotypes. Protein interactions between NaTOC1 and NaZTL were confirmed by yeast two-hybrid assays. Finally, when NaTOC1 was silenced in N. attenuata, late-flowering phenotypes under long day conditions were clearly observed.
We identified three core circadian clock genes in N. attenuata and demonstrated the functional and biochemical conservation of NaLHY, NaTOC1, and NaZTL.
PMCID: PMC3489836  PMID: 23006446
Circadian clock; Flowering time; NaLHY; NaTOC1; NaZTL; Nicotiana attenuata; Protein interaction
2.  Tissue Specific Diurnal Rhythms of Metabolites and Their Regulation during Herbivore Attack in a Native Tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26214.
Ecological performance is all about timing and the endogenous clock that allows the entrainment of rhythms and anticipation of fitness-determining events is being rapidly characterized. How plants anticipate daily abiotic stresses, such as cold in early mornings and drought at noon, as well as biotic stresses, such as the timing of pathogen infections, is being explored, but little is known about the clock's role in regulating responses to insect herbivores and mutualists, whose behaviors are known to be strongly diurnally regulated and whose attack is known to reconfigure plant metabolomes. We developed a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry procedure and analyzed its output with model-based peak picking algorithms to identify metabolites with diurnal accumulation patterns in sink/source leaves and roots in an unbiased manner. The response of metabolites with strong diurnal patterns to simulated attack from the specialist herbivore, Manduca sexta larvae was analyzed and annotated with in-house and public databases. Roots and leaves had largely different rhythms and only 10 ions of 182 oscillating ions in leaves and 179 oscillating ions in roots were rhythmic in both tissues: root metabolites mainly peaked at dusk or night, while leaf metabolites peaked during the day. Many oscillating metabolites showed tissue-specific regulation by simulated herbivory of which systemic responses in unattacked tissues were particularly pronounced. Diurnal and herbivory-elicited accumulation patterns of disaccharide, phenylalanine, tyrosine, lyciumoside I, coumaroyl tyramine, 12-oxophytodienoic acid and jasmonic acid and those of their related biosynthetic transcripts were examined in detail. We conclude that oscillating metabolites of N. attenuata accumulate in a highly tissue-specific manner and the patterns reveal pronounced diurnal rhythms in the generalized and specialized metabolism that mediates the plant's responses to herbivores and mutualists. We propose that diurnal regulation will prove to an important element in orchestrating a plant's responses to herbivore attack.
PMCID: PMC3196511  PMID: 22028833

Results 1-2 (2)