For the Solanaceae-type self-incompatibility, also possessed by Rosaceae and Plantaginaceae, the specificity of self/non-self interactions between pollen and pistil is controlled by two polymorphic genes at the S-locus: the S-locus F-box gene (SLF or SFB) controls pollen specificity and the S-RNase gene controls pistil specificity.
This review focuses on the work from the authors' laboratory using Petunia inflata (Solanaceae) as a model. Here, recent results on the identification and functional studies of S-RNase and SLF are summarized and a protein-degradation model is proposed to explain the biochemical mechanism for specific rejection of self-pollen tubes by the pistil.
The protein-degradation model invokes specific degradation of non-self S-RNases in the pollen tube mediated by an SLF, and can explain compatible versus incompatible pollination and the phenomenon of competitive interaction, where SI breaks down in pollen carrying two different S-alleles. In Solanaceae, Plantaginaceae and subfamily Maloideae of Rosaceae, there also exist multiple S-locus-linked SLF/SFB-like genes that potentially function as the pollen S-gene. To date, only three such genes, all in P. inflata, have been examined, and they do not function as the pollen S-gene in the S-genotype backgrounds tested. Interestingly, subfamily Prunoideae of Rosaceae appears to possess only a single SLF/SFB gene, and competitive interaction, observed in Solanaceae, Plantaginaceae and subfamily Maloideae, has not been observed. Thus, although the cytotoxic function of S-RNase is an integral part of SI in Solanaceae, Plantaginaceae and Rosaceae, the function of SLF/SFB may have diverged. This highlights the complexity of the S-RNase-based SI mechanism. The review concludes by discussing some key experiments that will further advance our understanding of this self/non-self discrimination mechanism.
Competitive interaction; Petunia inflata; Plantaginaceae; protein degradation; Rosaceae; self-incompatibility; S-locus F-box protein; Solanaceae; S-RNase; ubiquitination
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.
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.
Auxin; cytokinins; CDKs; Cucurbita maxima; root apical meristems
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
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.
Arabidopsis thaliana; cell-cycle checkpoints; hydroxyurea; root growth; NaCl; zeocin
The structure of roots has been studied for many years, but despite their importance to the growth and well-being of plants, most researchers tend to ignore them. This is unfortunate, because their simple body plan makes it possible to study complex developmental pathways without the complications sometimes found in the shoot. In this illustrated essay, my objective is to describe the body plan of the root and the root apical meristem (RAM) and point out the control points where differentiation and cell cycle decisions are made. Hopefully this outline will assist plant biologists in identifying the structural context for their observations.
Scope and Conclusions
This short paper outlines the types of RAM, i.e. basic-open, intermediate-open and closed, shows how they are similar and different, and makes the point that the structure and shape of the RAM are not static, but changes in shape, size and organization occur depending on root growth rate and development stage. RAMs with a closed organization lose their outer root cap layers in sheets of dead cells, while those with an open organization release living border cells from the outer surfaces of the root cap. This observation suggests a possible difference in the mechanisms whereby roots with different RAM types communicate with soil-borne micro-organisms. The root body is organized in cylinders, sectors (xylem and phloem in the vascular cylinder), cell files, packets and modules, and individual cells. The differentiation in these root development units is regulated at control points where genetic regulation is needed, and the location of these tissue-specific control points can be modulated as a function of root growth rate. In Arabidopsis thaliana the epidermis and peripheral root cap develop through a highly regulated series of steps starting with a periclinal division of an initial cell, the root cap/protoderm (RCP) initial. The derivative cells from the RCP initial divide into two cells, the inner cell divides again to renew the RCP and the other cell divides through four cycles to form 16 epidermal cells in a packet; the outer cell divides through four cycles to form the 16 cells making up the peripheral root cap packet. Together, the epidermal packet and the peripheral root cap packet make up a module of cells which are clonally related.
Root apical meristem; RAM; cell cycle; differentiation; peripheral root cap; closed RAM organization; open RAM organization; epidermis; module; determination; levels of organization; plasmodesmata; T-division; root cap/protoderm initial; columella initial
PCNA (proliferating cell nuclear antigen) has been found in the nuclei of yeast, plant and animal cells that undergo cell division, suggesting a function in cell cycle regulation and/or DNA replication. It subsequently became clear that PCNA also played a role in other processes involving the cell genome.
This review discusses eukaryotic PCNA, with an emphasis on plant PCNA, in terms of the protein structure and its biochemical properties as well as gene structure, organization, expression and function. PCNA exerts a tripartite function by operating as (1) a sliding clamp during DNA synthesis, (2) a polymerase switch factor and (3) a recruitment factor. Most of its functions are mediated by its interactions with various proteins involved in DNA synthesis, repair and recombination as well as in regulation of the cell cycle and chromatid cohesion. Moreover, post-translational modifications of PCNA play a key role in regulation of its functions. Finally, a phylogenetic comparison of PCNA genes suggests that the multi-functionality observed in most species is a product of evolution.
Most plant PCNAs exhibit features similar to those found for PCNAs of other eukaryotes. Similarities include: (1) a trimeric ring structure of the PCNA sliding clamp, (2) the involvement of PCNA in DNA replication and repair, (3) the ability to stimulate the activity of DNA polymerase δ and (4) the ability to interact with p21, a regulator of the cell cycle. However, many plant genomes seem to contain the second, probably functional, copy of the PCNA gene, in contrast to PCNA pseudogenes that are found in mammalian genomes.
Proliferating cell nuclear antigen; PCNA; cyclin; DNA replication; DNA repair; cell cycle
Background and Aims
Cytokinins are a major group of plant hormones and are associated with various developmental processes. Developing caryopses of maize have high levels of cytokinins, but little is known about their spatial and temporal distribution. The localization and quantification of cytokinins was investigated in maize (Zea mays) caryopsis from 0 to 28 d after pollination together with the expression and localization of isopentenyltransferase ZmIPT1 involved in cytokinin biosynthesis and ZmCNGT, the gene putatively involved in N9-glucosylation.
Biochemical, cellular and molecular approaches resolved the overall cytokinin profiles, and several gene expression assays were used for two critical genes to assess cytokinin cell-specific biosynthesis and conversion to the biologically inactive form. Cytokinins were immunolocalized for the first time in maize caryopses.
During the period 0–28 d after pollination (DAP): (1) large quantities of cytokinins were detected in the maternal pedicel region relative to the filial tissues during the early stages after fertilization; (2) unpollinated ovules did not accumulate cytokinins; (3) the maternal nucellar region showed little or no cytokinin signal; (4) the highest cytokinin concentrations in filial endosperm and embryo were detected at 12 DAP, predominantly zeatin riboside and zeatin-9-glucoside, respectively; and (5) a strong cytokinin immuno-signal was detected in specific cell types in the pedicel, endosperm and embryo.
The cytokinins of developing maize caryopsis may originate from both local syntheses as well as by transport. High levels of fertilization-dependent cytokinins in the pedicel suggest filial control on metabolism in the maternal tissue; they may also trigger developmental programmed cell death in the pedicel.
Caryopsis; cytokinins; immunolocalization; maize; N9-glucosylation; programmed cell death; Zea mays
Background and Aims
There is increasing interest in the development of plant growth models representing the complex system of interactions between the different determinants of plant development. These approaches are particularly relevant for grapevine organogenesis, which is a highly plastic process dependent on temperature, solar radiation, soil water deficit and trophic competition.
The extent to which three plant growth models were able to deal with the observed plasticity of axis organogenesis was assessed. In the first model, axis organogenesis was dependent solely on temperature, through thermal time. In the second model, axis organogenesis was modelled through functional relationships linking meristem activity and trophic competition. In the last model, the rate of phytomer appearence on each axis was modelled as a function of both the trophic status of the plant and the direct effect of soil water content on potential meristem activity.
The model including relationships between trophic competition and meristem behaviour involved a decrease in the root mean squared error (RMSE) for the simulations of organogenesis by a factor nine compared with the thermal time-based model. Compared with the model in which axis organogenesis was driven only by trophic competition, the implementation of relationships between water deficit and meristem behaviour improved organogenesis simulation results, resulting in a three times divided RMSE. The resulting model can be seen as a first attempt to build a comprehensive complete plant growth model simulating the development of the whole plant in fluctuating conditions of temperature, solar radiation and soil water content.
We propose a new hypothesis concerning the effects of the different determinants of axis organogenesis. The rate of phytomer appearance according to thermal time was strongly affected by the plant trophic status and soil water deficit. Futhermore, the decrease in meristem activity when soil water is depleted does not result from source/sink imbalances.
Thermal time; trophic competition; axis organogenesis; soil water deficit; plant growth models; phenotypic plasticity; grapevine; Vitis vinifera
Background and Aims
Functional–structural modelling can be used to increase our understanding of how different aspects of plant structure and function interact, identify knowledge gaps and guide priorities for future experimentation. By integrating existing knowledge of the different aspects of the kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa) vine's architecture and physiology, our aim is to develop conceptual and mathematical hypotheses on several of the vine's features: (a) plasticity of the vine's architecture; (b) effects of organ position within the canopy on its size; (c) effects of environment and horticultural management on shoot growth, light distribution and organ size; and (d) role of carbon reserves in early shoot growth.
Using the L-system modelling platform, a functional–structural plant model of a kiwifruit vine was created that integrates architectural development, mechanistic modelling of carbon transport and allocation, and environmental and management effects on vine and fruit growth. The branching pattern was captured at the individual shoot level by modelling axillary shoot development using a discrete-time Markov chain. An existing carbon transport resistance model was extended to account for several source/sink components of individual plant elements. A quasi-Monte Carlo path-tracing algorithm was used to estimate the absorbed irradiance of each leaf.
Several simulations were performed to illustrate the model's potential to reproduce the major features of the vine's behaviour. The model simulated vine growth responses that were qualitatively similar to those observed in experiments, including the plastic response of shoot growth to local carbon supply, the branching patterns of two Actinidia species, the effect of carbon limitation and topological distance on fruit size and the complex behaviour of sink competition for carbon.
The model is able to reproduce differences in vine and fruit growth arising from various experimental treatments. This implies it will be a valuable tool for refining our understanding of kiwifruit growth and for identifying strategies to improve production.
Actinidia deliciosa; kiwifruit; L-systems; plant architecture; carbon allocation; functional–structural plant model
Background and Aims
The phenotypes of grasses show differences depending on growth conditions and ontogenetic stage. Understanding these responses and finding suitable mathematical formalizations are an essential part of the development of plant and crop models. Usually, a marked change in architecture between juvenile and adult plants is observed, where dimension and shape of leaves are likely to change. In this paper, the plasticity of leaf shape is analysed according to growth conditions and ontogeny.
Leaf shape of Triticum aestivum, Hordeum vulgare and Zea mays cultivars grown under varying conditions was measured using digital image processing. An empirical leaf shape model was fitted to measured shape data of single leaves. Obtained values of model parameters were used to analyse the patterns in leaf shape.
The model was able to delineate leaf shape of all studied species. The model error was small. Differences in leaf shape between juvenile and adult leaves in T. aestivum and H. vulgare were observed. Varying growth conditions impacted leaf dimensions but did not impact leaf shape of the respective species.
Leaf shape of the studied T. aestivum and H. vulgare cultivars was remarkably stable for a comparable ontogenetic stage (leaf rank), but differed between stages. Along with other aspects of grass architecture, leaf shape changed during the transition from juvenile to adult growth phase. Model-based analysis of leaf shape is a method to investigate these differences. Presented results can be integrated into architectural models of plant development to delineate leaf shape for different species, cultivars and environmental conditions.
Leaf shape; model; model-based analysis; ontogeny; image processing; Triticum aestivum; Hordeum vulgare; Zea mays
Background and Aims
Autoregulation of nodulation is a long-distance shoot–root signalling regulatory system that regulates nodule meristem proliferation in legume plants. However, due to the intricacy and subtleness of the signalling nature in plants, molecular and biochemical details underlying mechanisms of autoregulation of nodulation remain largely unknown. The purpose of this study is to use functional–structural plant modelling to investigate the complexity of this signalling system. There are two major challenges to be met: modelling the 3D architecture of legume roots with nodulation and co-ordinating signalling-developmental processes with various rates.
Soybean (Glycine max) was chosen as the target legume. Its root system was observed to capture lateral root branching and nodule distribution patterns. L-studio, a software tool supporting context-sensitive L-system modelling, was used for the construction of the architectural model and integration with the internal signalling.
A branching pattern with regular radial angles was found between soybean lateral roots, from which a root mapping method was developed to characterize the laterals. Nodules were mapped based on ‘nodulation section’ to reveal nodule distribution. A root elongation algorithm was then developed for simulation of root development. Based on the use of standard sub-modules, a synchronization algorithm was developed to co-ordinate multi-rate signalling and developmental processes.
The modelling methods developed here not only allow recreation of legume root architecture with lateral branching and nodulation details, but also enable parameterization of internal signalling to produce different regulation results. This provides the basis for using virtual experiments to help in investigating the signalling mechanisms at work.
Legume; soybean; soya bean; virtual plant; L-system; root reconstruction; synchronization; nodulation
Background and Aims
The formation of root cortical aerenchyma (RCA) reduces root respiration and nutrient content by converting living tissue to air volume. It was hypothesized that RCA increases soil resource acquisition by reducing the metabolic and phosphorus cost of soil exploration.
To test the quantitative logic of the hypothesis, SimRoot, a functional–structural plant model with emphasis on root architecture and nutrient acquisition, was employed. Sensitivity analyses for the effects of RCA on the initial 40 d of growth of maize (Zea mays) and common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) were conducted in soils with varying degrees of phosphorus availability. With reference to future climates, the benefit of having RCA in high CO2 environments was simulated.
The model shows that RCA may increase the growth of plants faced with suboptimal phosphorus availability up to 70 % for maize and 14 % for bean after 40 d of growth. Maximum increases were obtained at low phosphorus availability (3 µm). Remobilization of phosphorus from dying cells had a larger effect on plant growth than reduced root respiration. The benefit of both these functions was additive and increased over time. Larger benefits may be expected for mature plants. Sensitivity analysis for light-use efficiency showed that the benefit of having RCA is relatively stable, suggesting that elevated CO2 in future climates will not significantly effect the benefits of having RCA.
The results support the hypothesis that RCA is an adaptive trait for phosphorus acquisition by remobilizing phosphorus from the root cortex and reducing the metabolic costs of soil exploration. The benefit of having RCA in low-phosphorus soils is larger for maize than for bean, as maize is more sensitive to low phosphorus availability while it has a more ‘expensive’ root system. Genetic variation in RCA may be useful for breeding phosphorus-efficient crop cultivars, which is important for improving global food security.
Zea mays; Phaseolus vulgaris; root cortical aerenchyma; phosphorus deficiency; SimRoot; functional structural modelling; carbon economy
Background and Aims
This study aimed to characterize the interaction between architecture and source–sink relationships in winter oilseed rape (WOSR): do the costs of ramification compromise the source–sink ratio during seed filling? The GreenLab model is a good candidate to address this question because it has been already used to describe interactions between source–sink relationships and architecture for other species. However, its adaptation to WOSR is a challenge because of the complexity of its developmental scheme, especially during the reproductive phase.
Equations were added in GreenLab to compute expansion delays for ramification, flowering of each axis and photosynthesis of pods including the energetic cost of oil synthesis. Experimental field data were used to estimate morphological parameters while source–sink parameters of the model were estimated by adjustment of model outputs to the data. Ecophysiological outputs were used to assess the sources/sink relationships during the whole growth cycle.
First results indicated that, at the plant scale, the model correctly simulates the dynamics of organ growth. However, at the organ scale, errors were observed that could be explained either by secondary growth that was not incorporated or by uncertainties in morphological parameters (durations of expansion and life). Ecophysiological outputs highlighted the dramatic negative impact of ramification on the source–sink ratio, as well as the decrease in this ratio during seed filling despite pod envelope photosynthesis that allowed significant biomass production to be maintained.
This work is a promising first step in the construction of a structure–function model for a plant as complex as WOSR. Once tested for other environments and/or genotypes, the model can be used for studies on WOSR architectural plasticity.
Biological system modelling; source–sink relationships; ramification; GreenLab model; energetic cost; oleaginous seeds; Brassica napus; winter oilseed rape
Background and Aims
It is widely accepted that fruit-set in plants is related to source–sink ratio. Despite its critical importance to yield, prediction of fruit-set remains an ongoing problem in crop models. Functional–structural plant models are potentially able to simulate organ-level plasticity of plants. To predict fruit-set, the quantitative link between source–sink ratio and fruit-set probability is analysed here via a functional–structural plant model, GreenLab.
Two experiments, each with four plant densities, were carried out in a solar greenhouse during two growth seasons (started in spring and autumn). Dynamic fruit-set probability was estimated by frequent observation on inflorescences. Source and sink parameter values were obtained by fitting GreenLab outputs for the biomass of plant parts (lamina, petiole, internode, fruit), at both organ and plant level, to corresponding destructive measurements at six dates from real plants. The dynamic source–sink ratio was calculated as the ratio between biomass production and plant demand (sum of all organ sink strength) per growth cycle, both being outputs of the model.
Key Results and Conclusions
Most sink parameters were stable over multiple planting densities and seasons. From planting, source–sink ratio increased in the vegetative stage and reached a peak after fruit-set commenced, followed by a decrease of leaf appearance rate. Fruit-set probability was correlated with the source–sink ratio after the appearance of flower buds. The relationship between fruit-set probability and the most correlated source–sink ratio could be quantified by a single regression line for both experiments. The current work paves the way to predicting dynamic fruit-set using a functional structure model.
Tomato; Solanum lycopersicum; fruit-set probability; time step; source–sink ratio; sink strength; functional–structural plant model; inverse modelling; plant plasticity
Background and Aims
Epidemiological simulation models coupling plant growth with the dispersal and disease dynamics of an airborne plant pathogen were devised for a better understanding of host–pathogen dynamic interactions and of the capacity of grapevine development to modify the progress of powdery mildew epidemics.
The first model is a complex discrete mechanistic model (M-model) that explicitly incorporates the dynamics of host growth and the development and dispersion of the pathogen at the vine stock scale. The second model is a simpler ordinary differential equations (ODEs) compartmental SEIRT model (C-model) handling host growth (foliar surface) and the ontogenic resistance of the leaves. With the M-model various levels of vine development are simulated under three contrasting climatic scenarios and the relationship between host and disease variables are examined at key periods in the epidemic process. The ability of the C-model to retrieve the main dynamics of the disease for a range of vine growth given by the M-model is investigated.
The M-model strengthens experimental results observed regarding the effect of the rate of leaf emergence and of the number of leaves at flowering on the severity of the disease. However, it also underlines strong variations of the dynamics of disease depending on the vigour and indirectly on the climatic scenarios. The C-model could be calibrated by using the M-model provided that different parameters before and after shoot topping and for various vigour levels and inoculation time are used. Biologically relevant estimations of the parameters that could be used for its extension to the vineyard scale are obtained.
The M-model is able to generate a wide range of growth scenarios with a strong impact on disease evolution. The C-model is a promising tool to be used at a larger scale.
Host–pathogen models; mechanistic model; SEIRT model; host growth; powdery mildew; grapevine
Background and Aims
Mongolian Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica) is one of the principal species used for windbreak and sand stabilization in arid and semi-arid areas in northern China. A model-assisted analysis of its canopy architectural development and functions is valuable for better understanding its behaviour and roles in fragile ecosystems. However, due to the intrinsic complexity and variability of trees, the parametric identification of such models is currently a major obstacle to their evaluation and their validation with respect to real data. The aim of this paper was to present the mathematical framework of a stochastic functional–structural model (GL2) and its parameterization for Mongolian Scots pines, taking into account inter-plant variability in terms of topological development and biomass partitioning.
In GL2, plant organogenesis is determined by the realization of random variables representing the behaviour of axillary or apical buds. The associated probabilities are calibrated for Mongolian Scots pines using experimental data including means and variances of the numbers of organs per plant in each order-based class. The functional part of the model relies on the principles of source–sink regulation and is parameterized by direct observations of living trees and the inversion method using measured data for organ mass and dimensions.
The final calibration accuracy satisfies both organogenetic and morphogenetic processes. Our hypothesis for the number of organs following a binomial distribution is found to be consistent with the real data. Based on the calibrated parameters, stochastic simulations of the growth of Mongolian Scots pines in plantations are generated by the Monte Carlo method, allowing analysis of the inter-individual variability of the number of organs and biomass partitioning. Three-dimensional (3D) architectures of young Mongolian Scots pines were simulated for 4-, 6- and 8-year-old trees.
This work provides a new method for characterizing tree structures and biomass allocation that can be used to build a 3D virtual Mongolian Scots pine forest. The work paves the way for bridging the gap between a single-plant model and a stand model.
Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica; functional–structural plant model; canopy architecture; three-dimensional; forest canopy; virtual plant; GreenLab, parameterization
Background and aims
Many indeterminate plants can have wide fluctuations in the pattern of fruit-set and harvest. Fruit-set in these types of plants depends largely on the balance between source (assimilate supply) and sink strength (assimilate demand) within the plant. This study aims to evaluate the ability of functional–structural plant models to simulate different fruit-set patterns among Capsicum cultivars through source–sink relationships.
A greenhouse experiment of six Capsicum cultivars characterized with different fruit weight and fruit-set was conducted. Fruit-set patterns and potential fruit sink strength were determined through measurement. Source and sink strength of other organs were determined via the GREENLAB model, with a description of plant organ weight and dimensions according to plant topological structure established from the measured data as inputs. Parameter optimization was determined using a generalized least squares method for the entire growth cycle.
Key Results and Conclusions
Fruit sink strength differed among cultivars. Vegetative sink strength was generally lower for large-fruited cultivars than for small-fruited ones. The larger the size of the fruit, the larger variation there was in fruit-set and fruit yield. Large-fruited cultivars need a higher source–sink ratio for fruit-set, which means higher demand for assimilates. Temporal heterogeneity of fruit-set affected both number and yield of fruit. The simulation study showed that reducing heterogeneity of fruit-set was obtained by different approaches: for example, increasing source strength; decreasing vegetative sink strength, source–sink ratio for fruit-set and flower appearance rate; and harvesting individual fruits earlier before full ripeness. Simulation results showed that, when we increased source strength or decreased vegetative sink strength, fruit-set and fruit weight increased. However, no significant differences were found between large-fruited and small-fruited groups of cultivars regarding the effects of source and vegetative sink strength on fruit-set and fruit weight. When the source–sink ratio at fruit-set decreased, the number of fruit retained on the plant increased competition for assimilates with vegetative organs. Therefore, total plant and vegetative dry weights decreased, especially for large-fruited cultivars. Optimization study showed that temporal heterogeneity of fruit-set and ripening was predicted to be reduced when fruits were harvested earlier. Furthermore, there was a 20 % increase in the number of extra fruit set.
Source–sink relationship; fruit-set pattern; functional–structural models; Capsicum annuum
Background and Aims
The effects of cotyledon damage on seedling growth and survival are relatively well established, but little is known about the effects on aspects of plant fitness such as seed number and size. Here the direct and indirect mechanisms linking cotyledon damage and plant fitness in the annual species Medicago lupulina are examined.
Growth and reproductive traits, including mature plant size, time to first flowering, flower number, seed number and individual seed mass were monitored in M. lupulina plants when zero, one or two cotyledons were removed at 7 d old. Structural equation modelling (SEM) was used to examine the mechanisms linking cotyledon damage to seed number and seed mass.
Cotyledon damage reduced seed number but not individual seed mass. The primary mechanism was a reduction in plant biomass with cotyledon damage that in turn reduced seed number primarily through a reduction in flower numbers. Although cotyledon damage delayed flower initiation, it had little effect on seed number. Individual seed mass was not affected by cotyledon removal, but there was a trade-off between seed number and seed mass.
It is shown how a network of indirect mechanisms link damage to cotyledons and fitness in M. lupulina. Cotyledon damage had strong direct effects on both plant size and flowering phenology, but an analysis of the causal relationships among plant traits and fitness components showed that a reduction in plant size associated with cotyledon damage was an important mechanism influencing fitness.
Cotyledon damage; herbivory; fitness; Medicago lupulina L.; alpine grassland; structural equation modelling (SEM); plant growth; flowering phenology
Background and Aims
The Hawaiian silversword alliance (Asteraceae) is one the best examples of a plant adaptive radiation, exhibiting extensive morphological and ecological diversity. No research within this group has addressed the role of geographical isolation, independent of ecological adaptation, in contributing to taxonomic diversity. The aims of this study were to examine genetic differentiation among subspecies of Dubautia laxa (Asteraceae) to determine if allopatric or sympatric populations and subspecies form distinct genetic clusters to understand better the role of geography in diversification within the alliance.
Dubautia laxa is a widespread member of the Hawaiian silversword alliance, occurring on four of the five major islands of the Hawaiian archipelago, with four subspecies recognized on the basis of morphological, ecological and geographical variation. Nuclear microsatellites and plastid DNA sequence data were examined. Data were analysed using maximum-likelihood and Bayesian phylogenetic methodologies to identify unique evolutionary lineages.
Plastid DNA sequence data resolved two highly divergent lineages, recognized as the Laxa and Hirsuta groups, that are more similar to other members of the Hawaiian silversword alliance than they are to each other. The Laxa group is basal to the young island species of Dubautia, whereas the Hirsuta group forms a clade with the old island lineages of Dubautia and with Argyroxiphium. The divergence between the plastid groups is supported by Bayesian microsatellite clustering analyses, but the degree of nuclear differentiation is not as great. Clear genetic differentiation is only observed between allopatric populations, both within and among islands.
These results indicate that geographical separation has aided diversification in D. laxa, whereas ecologically associated morphological differences are not associated with neutral genetic differentiation. This suggests that, despite the stunning ecological adaptation observed, geography has also played an important role in the Hawaiian silversword alliance plant adaptive radiation.
Dubautia laxa; Hawaiian silversword alliance; infraspecific divergence; subspecies; speciation; geographical divergence; microsatellites; plastid DNA; chloroplast DNA
Background and Aims
The maintenance of species boundaries in sympatric populations of closely related species requires some kind of reproductive isolation that limits gene flow among species and/or prevents the production of viable progeny. Because in orchids mycorrhizal fungi are needed for seed germination and subsequent seedling establishment, orchid–mycorrhizal associations may be involved in acting as a post-mating barrier.
We investigated the strength of post-mating barriers up to the seed germination stage acting between three closely related Orchis species (Orchis anthropophora, O. militaris and O. purpurea) and studied the role of mycorrhizal fungi in hybridization by burying seed packets of pure and hybrid seeds. After retrieval and assessment of seed germination, the fungi associating with protocorms originating from hybrid and pure seeds were determined and compared with those associating with adult individuals using DNA array technology.
Whereas pre-zygotic post-mating barriers were rather weak in most crosses, post-zygotic post-mating barriers were stronger, particularly when O. purpurea was crossed with O. anthropophora. Germination trials in the field showed that seed germination percentages of hybrid seeds were in most cases lower than those originating from pure crosses. In all species pair combinations, total post-mating reproductive isolation was asymmetric. Protocorms associated with a smaller range of fungal symbionts than adult plants, but there was considerable overlap in mycorrhizal associations between protocorms and their respective parents.
Our results suggest that mycorrhizal associations contribute little to reproductive isolation. Pre-mating barriers are probably the main factors determining hybridization rates between the investigated species.
DNA array; gene flow; hybrid zones; mycorrhizal associations; reproductive barriers; seed germination
Background and Aims
Plant biomass–density relationships during self-thinning are determined mainly by allometry. Both allometry and biomass–density relationship have been shown to vary with abiotic conditions, but the effects of biotic interactions have not been investigated. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) can promote plant growth and affect plant form. Here experiments were carried out to test whether AMF affect plant allometry and the self-thinning trajectory.
Two experiments were conducted on Medicago sativa L., a leguminous species known to be highly dependent on mycorrhiza. Two mycorrhizal levels were obtained by applying benomyl (low AMF) or not (high AMF). Experiment 1 investigated the effects of AMF on plant growth in the absence of competition. Experiment 2 was a factorial design with two mycorrhizal levels and two plant densities (6000 and 17 500 seeds m−2). Shoot biomass, root biomass and canopy radius were measured 30, 60, 90 and 120 d after sowing. The allometric relationships among these aspects of size were estimated by standardized major axis regression on log-transformed data.
Shoot biomass in the absence of competition was lower under low AMF treatment. In self-thinning populations, the slope of the log (mean shoot biomass) vs. log density relationship was significantly steeper for the high AMF treatment (slope = –1·480) than for the low AMF treatment (–1·133). The canopy radius–biomass allometric exponents were not significantly affected by AMF level, but the root–shoot allometric exponent was higher in the low AMF treatment. With a high level of AMF, the biomass–density exponent can be predicted from the above-ground allometric model of self-thinning, while this was not the case when AMF were reduced by fungicide.
AMF affected the importance of below-ground relative to above-ground interactions and changed root vs. shoot allocation. This changed allometric allocation of biomass and altered the self-thinning trajectory.
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi; biomass–density relationship; canopy radius–biomass allometry; root–shoot biomass allometry; Medicago sativa; self-thinning
Background and Aims
Aluminium (Al) toxicity is one of the factors limiting crop production on acid soils. However, genotypic differences exist among plant species or cultivars in response to Al toxicity. This study aims to investigate genotypic differences among eight cultivars of tatary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum) for Al resistance and explore the possible mechanisms of Al resistance.
Al resistance was evaluated based on relative root elongation (root elongation with Al/root elongation without Al). Root apex Al content, pectin content and exudation of root organic acids were determined and compared.
Genotypic differences among the eight cultivars were correlated with exclusion of Al from the root apex. However, there was a lack of correlation between Al exclusion and Al-induced oxalate secretion. Interestingly, cell-wall pectin content of the root apex was generally lower in Al-resistant cultivars than in Al-sensitive cultivars. Although we were unable to establish a significant correlation between Al exclusion and pectin content among the eight cultivars, a strong correlation could be established among six cultivars, in which the pectin content in the most Al-resistant cultivar ‘Chuan’ was significantly lower than that in the most Al-sensitive cultivar ‘Liuku2’. Furthermore, root apex cell-wall pectin methylesterase activity (PME) was similar in ‘Chuan’ and ‘Liuku2’ in the absence of Al, but Al treatment resulted in increased PME activity in ‘Liuku2’ compared with ‘Chuan’. Immunolocalization of pectins also showed that the two cultivars had similar amounts of either low-methyl-ester pectins or high-methyl-ester pectins in the absence of Al, but Al treatment resulted in a more significant increase of low-methyl-ester pectins and decrease of high-methyl-ester pectins in ‘Liuku2’.
Cell-wall pectin content may contribute, at least in part, to differential Al resistance among tatary buckwheat cultivars.
Aluminium resistance; cell wall; exclusion mechanism; Fagopyrum tataricum; pectin; pectin methylesterase; oxalate; toxicity
Background and Aims
In the Mediterranean basin, the Italian peninsula has been suggested to be one of the most important glacial refugia for temperate tree species. The orchid genus Epipactis is widely represented in the Italian peninsula by widespread species and several endemic, localized taxa, including selfing and outcrossing taxa. Here the phylogenetic and phylogeographic relationships in a group of closely related taxa in Epipactis are investigated with the aim of understanding the role of this refugial area for cladogenesis and speciation in herbaceous species, such as terrestrial orchids.
Ribosomal DNA (rDNA) was employed to assess phylogenetic relationships, and plastid sequence variation in the rbcL–accD spacer was used to reveal phylogeographic patterns among plastid haplotypes using a parsimony network.
Low genetic variation and shared ribotypes were detected in rDNA, whereas high levels of sequence variation and a strong phylogeographic structure were found in the examined plastid region. The parsimony plastid haplotype network identified two main haplotype groups, one including E. atrorubens/microphylla/muelleri/leptochila and the other including all accessions of E. helleborine and several localized and endemic taxa, with a combination of widespread and rare haplotypes detected across the Italian peninsula. A greater genetic divergence separated the Italian and other European accessions of E. helleborine.
Phylogenetic and phylogeographic patterns support a working hypothesis in which the Italian peninsula has only recently been colonized by Epipactis, probably during the most recent phase of the Quaternary age and, nevertheless, it acted as a remarkable centre of diversification for this orchid lineage. Changes in pollination strategy and recurrent shifts in mating system (from allogamy to autogamy) could have represented the mechanism promoting this rapid diversification and the observed high taxonomic complexity detected in the E. helleborine species complex.
Epipactis; chloroplast DNA; genetic variation; plastid haplotype network; mating systems; orchids; plastid spacer; ribosomal spacer
Background and Aims
Calotropis procera and Calotropis gigantea, originally from warm parts of Africa and Asia, are now pan-tropical and in ecological terms considered an indicator of overgrazed, disturbed lands; they grow successfully in dry areas. Variations in water relations, morphology and photosynthesis of the two species growing in the same habitat were studied to assess possible mechanisms of tolerance to drought and how these relate to their ecophysiological success. Also the hypothesis that their photosynthetic rate (A) under drought would be affected by stomatal and non-stomatal limitations was tested.
Water relations, gas exchange, water use efficiency (WUE), fluorescence parameters, pubescence and specific leaf area (SLA) of Calotropis procera and C. gigantea plants growing in the field were evaluated during the wet (WS) and dry (DS) seasons.
The xylem water potential (ψ) was similar in both species during the WS and DS; drought caused a 28 % decrease of ψ. In C. procera, A, stomatal conductance (gs) and carboxylation efficiency (CE) were higher in the WS with half the values of those during the DS, this species being more affected by drought than C. gigantea. A high δ13C of C. gigantea (–26·2 ‰) in the WS indicated a higher integrated WUE, in agreement with its lower gs. Leaves of C. gigantea were more pubescent than C. procera. Relative stomatal and non-stomatal limitation of A increased with drought in both species; no changes in maximum quantum yield of photosystem II (PSII; Fv/Fm) were observed. The decrease in the relative quantum yield of PSII (φPSII) and in the photochemical quenching coefficient (qP) was more pronounced in C. procera than in C. gigantea.
The photosynthetic capacity of C. procera was higher than that of C. gigantea. During the DS, A was regulated by stomatal and non-stomatal factors in a coordinated manner and drought did not cause chronic photoinhibition. A higher density of trichomes and leaf angle in C. gigantea may contribute to the maintenance of A and confer more efficient protection of photochemical activity in the DS. Ecophysiological traits such as high photosynthetic rate throughout the year even during the DS, and high WUE, highly pubescent leaves and low SLA observed in both species contribute to the establishment and growth of Calotropis in dry conditions.
Photosynthesis; Calotropis procera; Calotropis gigantea; fluorescence; non-stomatal limitation; stomatal limitation; drought
Background and Aims
To date, the structure of the nectary spur of Aeridinae has not been studied in detail, and data relating to the nectaries of ornithophilous orchids remain scarce. The present paper compares the structural organization of the floral nectary in a range of Aeridinae species, including both entomophilous and ornithophilous taxa.
Nectary spurs of Ascocentrum ampullaceum (Roxb.) Schltr. var. aurantiacum Pradhan, A. curvifolium (Lindl.) Schltr., A. garayi Christenson, Papilionanthe vandarum (Rchb.f.) Garay, Schoenorchis gemmata (Lindl.) J.J. Sm., Sedirea japonica (Rchb.f.) Garay & H.R. Sweet and Stereochilus dalatensis (Guillaumin) Garay were examined by means of light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy.
Key Results and Conclusions
The diverse anatomy of the nectary is described for a range of Aeridinae species. All species of Ascocentrum investigated displayed features characteristic of ornithophilous taxa. They have weakly zygomorphic, scentless, red or orange flowers, display diurnal anthesis, possess cryptic anther caps and produce nectar that is secluded in a relatively massive nectary spur. Unicellular, secretory hairs line the lumen at the middle part of the spur. Generally, however, with the exception of Papilionanthe vandarum, the nectary spurs of all entomophilous species studied here (Schoenorchis gemmata, Sedirea japonica, Stereochilus dalatensis) lack secretory trichomes. Moreover, collenchymatous secretory tissue, present only in the nectary spur of Asiatic Ascocentrum species, closely resembles that found in nectaries of certain Neotropical species that are hummingbird-pollinated and assigned to subtribes Maxillariinae Benth., Laeliinae Benth. and Oncidiinae Benth. This similarity in anatomical organization of the nectary, regardless of geographical distribution and phylogeny, indicates convergence.
Aeridinae; collenchyma; entomophily; floral anatomy; micromorphology; nectar; nectary spur; Orchidaceae; ornithophily; trichomes
Background and Aims
Density is a crucial variable in forest and wood science and is evaluated by a multitude of methods. Direct gravimetric methods are mostly destructive and time-consuming. Therefore, faster and semi- to non-destructive indirect methods have been developed.
Profiles of wood density variations with a resolution of approx. 50 µm were derived from one-dimensional resistance drillings, two-dimensional neutron scans, and three-dimensional neutron and X-ray scans. All methods were applied on Terminalia superba Engl. & Diels, an African pioneer species which sometimes exhibits a brown heart (limba noir).
The use of X-ray tomography combined with a reference material permitted direct estimates of wood density. These X-ray-derived densities overestimated gravimetrically determined densities non-significantly and showed high correlation (linear regression, R2 = 0·995). When comparing X-ray densities with the attenuation coefficients of neutron scans and the amplitude of drilling resistance, a significant linear relation was found with the neutron attenuation coefficient (R2 = 0·986) yet a weak relation with drilling resistance (R2 = 0·243). When density patterns are compared, all three methods are capable of revealing the same trends. Differences are mainly due to the orientation of tree rings and the different characteristics of the indirect methods.
High-resolution X-ray computed tomography is a promising technique for research on wood cores and will be explored further on other temperate and tropical species. Further study on limba noir is necessary to reveal the causes of density variations and to determine how resistance drillings can be further refined.
High-resolution X-ray tomography; neutron imaging; drilling resistance; Terminalia superba; wood density