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1.  Analysis of expression sequence tags from a full-length-enriched cDNA library of developing sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum) 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:180.
Sesame (Sesamum indicum) is one of the most important oilseed crops with high oil contents and rich nutrient value. However, genetic improvement efforts in sesame could not get benefit from molecular biology technology due to poor DNA and RNA sequence resources. In this study, we carried out a large scale of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) sequencing from developing sesame seeds and further conducted analysis on seed storage products-related genes.
A normalized and full-length enriched cDNA library from 5 ~ 30 days old immature seeds was constructed and randomly sequenced, leading to generation of 41,248 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) which then formed 4,713 contigs and 27,708 singletons with 44.9% uniESTs being putative full-length open reading frames. Approximately 26,091 of all these uniESTs have significant matches to the counterparts in Nr database of GenBank, and 21,628 of them were assigned to one or more Gene ontology (GO) terms. Homologous genes involved in oil biosynthesis were identified including some conservative transcription factors regulating oil biosynthesis such as LEAFY COTYLEDON1 (LEC1), PICKLE (PKL), WRINKLED1 (WRI1) and majority of them were found for the first time in sesame seeds. One hundred and 17 ESTs were identified possibly involved in biosynthesis of sesame lignans, sesamin and sesamolin. In total, 9,347 putative functional genes from developing seeds were identified, which accounts for one third of total genes in the sesame genome. Further analysis of the uniESTs identified 1,949 non-redundant simple sequence repeats (SSRs).
This study has provided an overview of genes expressed during sesame seed development. This collection of sesame full-length cDNAs covered a wide variety of genes in seeds, in particular, candidate genes involved in biosynthesis of sesame oils and lignans. These EST sequences enriched with full length will contribute to comparative genomic studies on sesame and other oilseed plants and serve as an abundant information platform for functional marker development and functional gene study.
PMCID: PMC3311628  PMID: 22195973
2.  Multiallelic epistatic model for an out-bred cross and mapping algorithm of interactive quantitative trait loci 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:148.
Genetic mapping has proven to be powerful for studying the genetic architecture of complex traits by characterizing a network of the underlying interacting quantitative trait loci (QTLs). Current statistical models for genetic mapping were mostly founded on the biallelic epistasis of QTLs, incapable of analyzing multiallelic QTLs and their interactions that are widespread in an outcrossing population.
Here we have formulated a general framework to model and define the epistasis between multiallelic QTLs. Based on this framework, we have derived a statistical algorithm for the estimation and test of multiallelic epistasis between different QTLs in a full-sib family of outcrossing species. We used this algorithm to genomewide scan for the distribution of mul-tiallelic epistasis for a rooting ability trait in an outbred cross derived from two heterozygous poplar trees. The results from simulation studies indicate that the positions and effects of multiallelic QTLs can well be estimated with a modest sample and heritability.
The model and algorithm developed provide a useful tool for better characterizing the genetic control of complex traits in a heterozygous family derived from outcrossing species, such as forest trees, and thus fill a gap that occurs in genetic mapping of this group of important but underrepresented species.
PMCID: PMC3377927  PMID: 22039993
3.  Conservation of ciliary proteins in plants with no cilia 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:185.
Eukaryotic cilia are complex, highly conserved microtubule-based organelles with a broad phylogenetic distribution. Cilia were present in the last eukaryotic common ancestor and many proteins involved in cilia function have been conserved through eukaryotic diversification. However, cilia have also been lost multiple times in different lineages, with at least two losses occurring within the land plants. Whereas all non-seed plants produce cilia for motility of male gametes, some gymnosperms and all angiosperms lack cilia. During these evolutionary losses, proteins with ancestral ciliary functions may be lost or co-opted into different functions.
Here we identify a core set of proteins with an inferred ciliary function that are conserved in ciliated eukaryotic species. We interrogate this genomic dataset to identify proteins with a predicted ancestral ciliary role that have been maintained in non-ciliated land plants. In support of our prediction, we demonstrate that several of these proteins have a flagellar localisation in protozoan trypanosomes. The phylogenetic distribution of these genes within the land plants indicates evolutionary scenarios of either sub- or neo-functionalisation and expression data analysis shows that these genes are highly expressed in Arabidopsis thaliana pollen cells.
A large number of proteins possess a phylogenetic ciliary profile indicative of ciliary function. Remarkably, many genes with an ancestral ciliary role are maintained in non-ciliated land plants. These proteins have been co-opted to perform novel functions, most likely before the loss of cilia, some of which appear related to the formation of the male gametes.
PMCID: PMC3268115  PMID: 22208660
Evolution; Cilia; Flagella; Basal Body; Centriole; Land Plants
4.  Fruit development of the diploid kiwifruit, Actinidia chinensis 'Hort16A' 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:182.
With the advent of high throughput genomic tools, it is now possible to undertake detailed molecular studies of individual species outside traditional model organisms. Combined with a good understanding of physiological processes, these tools allow researchers to explore natural diversity, giving a better understanding of biological mechanisms. Here a detailed study of fruit development from anthesis through to fruit senescence is presented for a non-model organism, kiwifruit, Actinidia chinensis ('Hort16A').
Consistent with previous studies, it was found that many aspects of fruit morphology, growth and development are similar to those of the model fruit tomato, except for a striking difference in fruit ripening progression. The early stages of fruit ripening occur as the fruit is still growing, and many ripening events are not associated with autocatalytic ethylene production (historically associated with respiratory climacteric). Autocatalytic ethylene is produced late in the ripening process as the fruit begins to senesce.
By aligning A. chinensis fruit development to a phenological scale, this study provides a reference framework for subsequent physiological and genomic studies, and will allow cross comparison across fruit species, leading to a greater understanding of the diversity of fruits found across the plant kingdom.
PMCID: PMC3261216  PMID: 22204446
5.  Concentration-dependent effects of narciclasine on cell cycle progression in Arabidopsis root tips 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:184.
Narciclasine (NCS) is an Amaryllidaceae alkaloid isolated from Narcissus tazetta bulbs. NCS has inhibitory effects on a broad range of biological activities and thus has various potential practical applications. Here we examine how NCS represses plant root growth.
Results showed that the inhibition of NCS on cell division in Arabidopsis root tips and its effects on cell differentiation are concentration-dependent; at low concentrations (0.5 and 1.0 μM) NCS preferentially targets mitotic cell cycle specific/cyclin complexes, whereas at high concentration (5.0 μM) the NCS-stimulated accumulation of Kip-related proteins (KRP1 and RP2) affects the CDK complexes with a role at both G1/S and G2/M phases.
Our findings suggest that NCS modulates the coordination between cell division and differentiation in Arabidopsis root tips and hence affects the postembryonic development of Arabidopsis seedlings.
PMCID: PMC3282671  PMID: 22204558
6.  Association study between the gibberellic acid insensitive gene and leaf length in a Lolium perenne L. synthetic variety 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:183.
Association studies are of great interest to identify genes explaining trait variation since they deal with more than just a few alleles like classical QTL analyses. They are usually performed using collections representing a wide range of variability but which could present a genetic substructure. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that association studies can be performed using synthetic varieties obtained after several panmictic generations. This demonstration is based on an example of association between the gibberellic acid insensitive gene (GAI) polymorphism and leaf length polymorphism in 'Herbie', a synthetic variety of perennial ryegrass.
Leaf growth parameters, consisted of leaf length, maximum leaf elongation rate (LERmax) and leaf elongation duration (LED), were evaluated in spring and autumn on 216 plants of Herbie with three replicates. For each plant, a sequence of 370 bp in GAI was analysed for polymorphism.
Genetic effect was highly significant for all traits. Broad sense heritabilities were higher for leaf length and LERmax with about 0.7 in each period and 0.5 considering both periods than for LED with about 0.4 in each period and 0.3 considering both periods. GAI was highly polymorphic with an average of 12 bp between two consecutive SNPs and 39 haplotypes in which 9 were more frequent. Linkage disequilibrium declined rapidly with distance with r 2 values lower than 0.2 beyond 150 bp. Sequence polymorphism of GAI explained 8-14% of leaf growth parameter variation. A single SNP explained 4% of the phenotypic variance of leaf length in both periods which represents a difference of 33 mm on an average of 300 mm.
Synthetic varieties in which linkage disequilibrium declines rapidly with distance are suitable for association studies using the "candidate gene" approach. GAI polymorphism was found to be associated with leaf length polymorphism which was more correlated to LERmax than to LED in Herbie. It is a good candidate to explain leaf length variation in other plant material.
PMCID: PMC3292539  PMID: 22204490
7.  Activation of violaxanthin cycle in darkness is a common response to different abiotic stresses: a case study in Pelvetia canaliculata 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:181.
In the violaxanthin (V) cycle, V is de-epoxidized to zeaxanthin (Z) when strong light or light combined with other stressors lead to an overexcitation of photosystems. However, plants can also suffer stress in darkness and recent reports have shown that dehydration triggers V-de-epoxidation in the absence of light. In this study, we used the highly stress-tolerant brown alga Pelvetia canaliculata as a model organism, due to its lack of lutein and its non-photochemical quenching independent of the transthylakoidal-ΔpH, to study the triggering of the V-cycle in darkness induced by abiotic stressors.
We have shown that besides desiccation, other factors such as immersion, anoxia and high temperature also induced V-de-epoxidation in darkness. This process was reversible once the treatments had ceased (with the exception of heat, which caused lethal damage). Irrespective of the stressor applied, the resulting de-epoxidised xanthophylls correlated with a decrease in Fv/Fm, suggesting a common function in the down-regulation of photosynthetical efficiency. The implication of the redox-state of the plastoquinone-pool and of the differential activity of V-cycle enzymes on V-de-epoxidation in darkness was also examined. Current results suggest that both violaxanthin de-epoxidase (VDE) and zeaxanthin-epoxidase (ZE) have a basal constitutive activity even in darkness, being ZE inhibited under stress. This inhibition leads to Z accumulation.
This study demonstrates that V-cycle activity is triggered by several abiotic stressors even when they occur in an absolute absence of light, leading to a decrease in Fv/Fm. This finding provides new insights into an understanding of the regulation mechanism of the V-cycle and of its ecophysiological roles.
PMCID: PMC3264673  PMID: 22269024
8.  Genome-wide transcriptome analysis of gametophyte development in Physcomitrella patens 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:177.
Regulation of gene expression plays a pivotal role in controlling the development of multicellular plants. To explore the molecular mechanism of plant developmental-stage transition and cell-fate determination, a genome-wide analysis was undertaken of sequential developmental time-points and individual tissue types in the model moss Physcomitrella patens because of the short life cycle and relative structural simplicity of this plant.
Gene expression was analyzed by digital gene expression tag profiling of samples taken from P. patens protonema at 3, 14 and 24 days, and from leafy shoot tissues at 30 days, after protoplast isolation, and from 14-day-old caulonemal and chloronemal tissues. In total, 4333 genes were identified as differentially displayed. Among these genes, 4129 were developmental-stage specific and 423 were preferentially expressed in either chloronemal or caulonemal tissues. Most of the differentially displayed genes were assigned to functions in organic substance and energy metabolism or macromolecule biosynthetic and catabolic processes based on gene ontology descriptions. In addition, some regulatory genes identified as candidates might be involved in controlling the developmental-stage transition and cell differentiation, namely MYB-like, HB-8, AL3, zinc finger family proteins, bHLH superfamily, GATA superfamily, GATA and bZIP transcription factors, protein kinases, genes related to protein/amino acid methylation, and auxin, ethylene, and cytokinin signaling pathways.
These genes that show highly dynamic changes in expression during development in P. patens are potential targets for further functional characterization and evolutionary developmental biology studies.
PMCID: PMC3264550  PMID: 22168156
9.  Functional characterization of TRICHOMELESS2, a new single-repeat R3 MYB transcription factor in the regulation of trichome patterning in Arabidopsis 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:176.
Single-repeat R3 MYB transcription factors (single-repeat MYBs) play important roles in controlling trichome patterning in Arabidopsis. It was proposed that single-repeat MYBs negatively regulate trichome formation by competing with GLABRA1 (GL1) for binding GLABRA3/ENHANCER OF GLABRA3 (GL3/EGL3), thus inhibiting the formation of activator complex TTG1(TRANSPARENT TESTA GLABRA1)-GL3/EGL3-GL1 that is required for the activation of GLABRA2 (GL2), whose product is a positive regulator of trichome formation. Previously we identified a novel single-repeat MYB transcription factor, TRICHOMELESS1 (TCL1), which negatively regulates trichome formation on the inflorescence stems and pedicels by directly suppressing the expression of GL1.
We analyzed here the role of TRICHOMELESS2 (TCL2), a previously-uncharacterized single-repeat MYB transcription factor in trichome patterning in Arabidopsis. We showed that TCL2 is closely related to TCL1, and like TCL1 and other single-repeat MYBs, TCL2 interacts with GL3. Overexpression of TCL2 conferred glabrous phenotype while knockdown of TCL2 via RNAi induced ectopic trichome formation on the inflorescence stems and pedicels, a phenotype that was previously observed in tcl1 mutants. These results suggested that TCL2 may have overlapping function with TCL1 in controlling trichome formation on inflorescences. On the other hand, although the transcription of TCL2, like TCL1, is not controlled by the activator complex formed by GL1 and GL3, and TCL2 and TCL1 proteins are more than 80% identical at the amino acid level, the expression of TCL2 under the control of TCL1 promoter only partially recovered the mutant phenotype of tcl1, implying that TCL2 and TCL1 are not fully functional equivalent.
TCL2 function redundantly with TCL1 in controlling trichome formation on inflorescences, but they are not fully functional equivalent. Transcription of TCL2 is not controlled by activator complex formed by GL1 and GL3, but MIR156 controlled SQUAMOSA PROMOTER BINDING PROTEIN LIKE (SPL) transcription factors. However, SPLs might require co-activators to regulate the expression of their target genes, including TCL1, TRY and possibly, TCL2.
PMCID: PMC3264604  PMID: 22168948
10.  Genetic mechanisms underlying the methylation level of anthocyanins in grape (Vitis vinifera L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:179.
Plant color variation is due not only to the global pigment concentration but also to the proportion of different types of pigment. Variation in the color spectrum may arise from secondary modifications, such as hydroxylation and methylation, affecting the chromatic properties of pigments. In grapes (Vitis vinifera L.), the level of methylation modifies the stability and reactivity of anthocyanin, which directly influence the color of the berry. Anthocyanin methylation, as a complex trait, is controlled by multiple molecular factors likely to involve multiple regulatory steps.
In a Syrah × Grenache progeny, two QTLs were detected for variation in level of anthocyanin methylation. The first one, explaining up to 27% of variance, colocalized with a cluster of Myb-type transcription factor genes. The second one, explaining up to 20% of variance, colocalized with a cluster of O-methyltransferase coding genes (AOMT). In a collection of 32 unrelated cultivars, MybA and AOMT expression profiles correlated with the level of methylated anthocyanin. In addition, the newly characterized AOMT2 gene presented two SNPs associated with methylation level. These mutations, probably leading to a structural change of the AOMT2 protein significantly affected the enzyme specific catalytic efficiency for the 3'-O-methylation of delphinidin 3-glucoside.
We demonstrated that variation in methylated anthocyanin accumulation is susceptible to involve both transcriptional regulation and structural variation. We report here the identification of novel AOMT variants likely to cause methylated anthocyanin variation. The integration of QTL mapping and molecular approaches enabled a better understanding of how variation in gene expression and catalytic efficiency of the resulting enzyme may influence the grape anthocyanin profile.
PMCID: PMC3264682  PMID: 22171701
11.  GmPHD5 acts as an important regulator for crosstalk between histone H3K4 di-methylation and H3K14 acetylation in response to salinity stress in soybean 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:178.
Accumulated evidence suggest that specific patterns of histone posttranslational modifications (PTMs) and their crosstalks may determine transcriptional outcomes. However, the regulatory mechanisms of these "histone codes" in plants remain largely unknown.
In this study, we demonstrate for the first time that a salinity stress inducible PHD (plant homeodomain) finger domain containing protein GmPHD5 can read the "histone code" underlying the methylated H3K4. GmPHD5 interacts with other DNA binding proteins, including GmGNAT1 (an acetyl transferase), GmElongin A (a transcription elongation factor) and GmISWI (a chromatin remodeling protein). Our results suggest that GmPHD5 can recognize specific histone methylated H3K4, with preference to di-methylated H3K4. Here, we illustrate that the interaction between GmPHD5 and GmGNAT1 is regulated by the self-acetylation of GmGNAT1, which can also acetylate histone H3. GmGNAT1 exhibits a preference toward acetylated histone H3K14. These results suggest a histone crosstalk between methylated H3K4 and acetylated H3K14. Consistent to its putative roles in gene regulation under salinity stress, we showed that GmPHD5 can bind to the promoters of some confirmed salinity inducible genes in soybean.
Here, we propose a model suggesting that the nuclear protein GmPHD5 is capable of regulating the crosstalk between histone methylation and histone acetylation of different lysine residues. Nevertheless, GmPHD5 could also recruit chromatin remodeling factors and transcription factors of salt stress inducible genes to regulate their expression in response to salinity stress.
PMCID: PMC3288756  PMID: 22168212
12.  Phylogenetic analysis and classification of the Brassica rapa SET-domain protein family 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:175.
The SET (Su(var)3-9, Enhancer-of-zeste, Trithorax) domain is an evolutionarily conserved sequence of approximately 130-150 amino acids, and constitutes the catalytic site of lysine methyltransferases (KMTs). KMTs perform many crucial biological functions via histone methylation of chromatin. Histone methylation marks are interpreted differently depending on the histone type (i.e. H3 or H4), the lysine position (e.g. H3K4, H3K9, H3K27, H3K36 or H4K20) and the number of added methyl groups (i.e. me1, me2 or me3). For example, H3K4me3 and H3K36me3 are associated with transcriptional activation, but H3K9me2 and H3K27me3 are associated with gene silencing. The substrate specificity and activity of KMTs are determined by sequences within the SET domain and other regions of the protein.
Here we identified 49 SET-domain proteins from the recently sequenced Brassica rapa genome. We performed sequence similarity and protein domain organization analysis of these proteins, along with the SET-domain proteins from the dicot Arabidopsis thaliana, the monocots Oryza sativa and Brachypodium distachyon, and the green alga Ostreococcus tauri. We showed that plant SET-domain proteins can be grouped into 6 distinct classes, namely KMT1, KMT2, KMT3, KMT6, KMT7 and S-ET. Apart from the S-ET class, which has an interrupted SET domain and may be involved in methylation of nonhistone proteins, the other classes have characteristics of histone methyltransferases exhibiting different substrate specificities: KMT1 for H3K9, KMT2 for H3K4, KMT3 for H3K36, KMT6 for H3K27 and KMT7 also for H3K4. We also propose a coherent and rational nomenclature for plant SET-domain proteins. Comparisons of sequence similarity and synteny of B. rapa and A. thaliana SET-domain proteins revealed recent gene duplication events for some KMTs.
This study provides the first characterization of the SET-domain KMT proteins of B. rapa. Phylogenetic analysis data allowed the development of a coherent and rational nomenclature of this important family of proteins in plants, as in animals. The results obtained in this study will provide a base for nomenclature of KMTs in other plant species and facilitate the functional characterization of these important epigenetic regulatory genes in Brassica crops.
PMCID: PMC3264562  PMID: 22168908
Chromatin; Histone; Lysine methylation; SET domain; Gene duplication; Nomenclature
13.  Comparative analysis of root transcriptome profiles of two pairs of drought-tolerant and susceptible rice near-isogenic lines under different drought stress 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:174.
Plant roots are important organs to uptake soil water and nutrients, perceiving and transducing of soil water deficit signals to shoot. The current knowledge of drought stress transcriptomes in rice are mostly relying on comparative studies of diverse genetic background under drought. A more reliable approach is to use near-isogenic lines (NILs) with a common genetic background but contrasting levels of resistance to drought stress under initial exposure to water deficit. Here, we examined two pairs of NILs in IR64 background with contrasting drought tolerance. We obtained gene expression profile in roots of rice NILs under different levels of drought stress help to identify genes and mechanisms involved in drought stress.
Global gene expression analysis showed that about 55% of genes differentially expressed in roots of rice in response to drought stress treatments. The number of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) increased in NILs as the level of water deficits, increased from mild to severe condition, suggesting that more genes were affected by increasing drought stress. Gene onthology (GO) test and biological pathway analysis indicated that activated genes in the drought tolerant NILs IR77298-14-1-2-B-10 and IR77298-5-6-B-18 were mostly involved in secondary metabolism, amino acid metabolism, response to stimulus, defence response, transcription and signal transduction, and down-regulated genes were involved in photosynthesis and cell wall growth. We also observed gibberellic acid (GA) and auxin crosstalk modulating lateral root formation in the tolerant NILs.
Transcriptome analysis on two pairs of NILs with a common genetic background (~97%) showed distinctive differences in gene expression profiles and could be effective to unravel genes involved in drought tolerance. In comparison with the moderately tolerant NIL IR77298-5-6-B-18 and other susceptible NILs, the tolerant NIL IR77298-14-1-2-B-10 showed a greater number of DEGs for cell growth, hormone biosynthesis, cellular transports, amino acid metabolism, signalling, transcription factors and carbohydrate metabolism in response to drought stress treatments. Thus, different mechanisms are achieving tolerance in the two tolerant lines.
PMCID: PMC3268746  PMID: 22136218
14.  SND2, a NAC transcription factor gene, regulates genes involved in secondary cell wall development in Arabidopsis fibres and increases fibre cell area in Eucalyptus 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:173.
NAC domain transcription factors initiate secondary cell wall biosynthesis in Arabidopsis fibres and vessels by activating numerous transcriptional regulators and biosynthetic genes. NAC family member SND2 is an indirect target of a principal regulator of fibre secondary cell wall formation, SND1. A previous study showed that overexpression of SND2 produced a fibre cell-specific increase in secondary cell wall thickness in Arabidopsis stems, and that the protein was able to transactivate the cellulose synthase8 (CesA8) promoter. However, the full repertoire of genes regulated by SND2 is unknown, and the effect of its overexpression on cell wall chemistry remains unexplored.
We overexpressed SND2 in Arabidopsis and analyzed homozygous lines with regards to stem chemistry, biomass and fibre secondary cell wall thickness. A line showing upregulation of CesA8 was selected for transcriptome-wide gene expression profiling. We found evidence for upregulation of biosynthetic genes associated with cellulose, xylan, mannan and lignin polymerization in this line, in agreement with significant co-expression of these genes with native SND2 transcripts according to public microarray repositories. Only minor alterations in cell wall chemistry were detected. Transcription factor MYB103, in addition to SND1, was upregulated in SND2-overexpressing plants, and we detected upregulation of genes encoding components of a signal transduction machinery recently proposed to initiate secondary cell wall formation. Several homozygous T4 and hemizygous T1 transgenic lines with pronounced SND2 overexpression levels revealed a negative impact on fibre wall deposition, which may be indirectly attributable to excessive overexpression rather than co-suppression. Conversely, overexpression of SND2 in Eucalyptus stems led to increased fibre cross-sectional cell area.
This study supports a function for SND2 in the regulation of cellulose and hemicellulose biosynthetic genes in addition of those involved in lignin polymerization and signalling. SND2 seems to occupy a subordinate but central tier in the secondary cell wall transcriptional network. Our results reveal phenotypic differences in the effect of SND2 overexpression between woody and herbaceous stems and emphasize the importance of expression thresholds in transcription factor studies.
PMCID: PMC3289092  PMID: 22133261
15.  Real-time imaging and analysis of differences in cadmium dynamics in rice cultivars (Oryza sativa) using positron-emitting107Cd tracer 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:172.
Rice is a major source of dietary intake of cadmium (Cd) for populations that consume rice as a staple food. Understanding how Cd is transported into grains through the whole plant body is necessary for reducing rice Cd concentrations to the lowest levels possible, to reduce the associated health risks. In this study, we have visualized and quantitatively analysed the real-time Cd dynamics from roots to grains in typical rice cultivars that differed in grain Cd concentrations. We used positron-emitting107Cd tracer and an innovative imaging technique, the positron-emitting tracer imaging system (PETIS). In particular, a new method for direct and real-time visualization of the Cd uptake by the roots in the culture was first realized in this work.
Imaging and quantitative analyses revealed the different patterns in time-varying curves of Cd amounts in the roots of rice cultivars tested. Three low-Cd accumulating cultivars (japonica type) showed rapid saturation curves, whereas three high-Cd accumulating cultivars (indica type) were characterized by curves with a peak within 30 min after107Cd supplementation, and a subsequent steep decrease resulting in maintenance of lower Cd concentrations in their roots. This difference in Cd dynamics may be attributable to OsHMA3 transporter protein, which was recently shown to be involved in Cd storage in root vacuoles and not functional in the high-Cd accumulating cultivars. Moreover, the PETIS analyses revealed that the high-Cd accumulating cultivars were characterized by rapid and abundant Cd transfer to the shoots from the roots, a faster transport velocity of Cd to the panicles, and Cd accumulation at high levels in their panicles, passing through the nodal portions of the stems where the highest Cd intensities were observed.
This is the first successful visualization and quantification of the differences in whole-body Cd transport from the roots to the grains of intact plants within rice cultivars that differ in grain Cd concentrations, by using PETIS, a real-time imaging method.
PMCID: PMC3247196  PMID: 22123026
16.  Construction and EST sequencing of full-length, drought stress cDNA libraries for common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:171.
Common bean is an important legume crop with only a moderate number of short expressed sequence tags (ESTs) made with traditional methods. The goal of this research was to use full-length cDNA technology to develop ESTs that would overlap with the beginning of open reading frames and therefore be useful for gene annotation of genomic sequences. The library was also constructed to represent genes expressed under drought, low soil phosphorus and high soil aluminum toxicity. We also undertook comparisons of the full-length cDNA library to two previous non-full clone EST sets for common bean.
Two full-length cDNA libraries were constructed: one for the drought tolerant Mesoamerican genotype BAT477 and the other one for the acid-soil tolerant Andean genotype G19833 which has been selected for genome sequencing. Plants were grown in three soil types using deep rooting cylinders subjected to drought and non-drought stress and tissues were collected from both roots and above ground parts. A total of 20,000 clones were selected robotically, half from each library. Then, nearly 10,000 clones from the G19833 library were sequenced with an average read length of 850 nucleotides. A total of 4,219 unigenes were identified consisting of 2,981 contigs and 1,238 singletons. These were functionally annotated with gene ontology terms and placed into KEGG pathways. Compared to other EST sequencing efforts in common bean, about half of the sequences were novel or represented the 5' ends of known genes.
The present full-length cDNA libraries add to the technological toolbox available for common bean and our sequencing of these clones substantially increases the number of unique EST sequences available for the common bean genome. All of this should be useful for both functional gene annotation, analysis of splice site variants and intron/exon boundary determination by comparison to soybean genes or with common bean whole-genome sequences. In addition the library has a large number of transcription factors and will be interesting for discovery and validation of drought or abiotic stress related genes in common bean.
PMCID: PMC3240127  PMID: 22118559
17.  EST sequencing and gene expression profiling of defence-related genes from Persea americana infected with Phytophthora cinnamomi 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:167.
Avocado (Persea americana) belongs to the Lauraceae family and is an important commercial fruit crop in over 50 countries. The most serious pathogen affecting avocado production is Phytophthora cinnamomi which causes Phytophthora root rot (PRR). Root pathogens such as P. cinnamomi and their interactions with hosts are poorly understood and despite the importance of both the avocado crop and the effect Phytophthora has on its cultivation, there is a lack of molecular knowledge underpinning our understanding of defence strategies against the pathogen. In order to initiate a better understanding of host-specific defence we have generated EST data using 454 pyrosequencing and profiled nine defence-related genes from Pc-infected avocado roots.
2.0 Mb of data was generated consisting of ~10,000 reads on a single lane of the GS FLX platform. Using the Newbler assembler 371 contigs were assembled, of which 367 are novel for Persea americana. Genes were classified according to Gene Ontology terms. In addition to identifying root-specific ESTs we were also able to identify and quantify the expression of nine defence-related genes that were differentially regulated in response to P. cinnamomi. Genes such as metallothionein, thaumatin and the pathogenesis related PsemI, mlo and profilin were found to be differentially regulated.
This is the first study in elucidating the avocado root transcriptome as well as identifying defence responses of avocado roots to the root pathogen P. cinnamomi. Our data is currently the only EST data that has been generated for avocado rootstocks, and the ESTs identified in this study have already been useful in identifying defence-related genes as well as providing gene information for other studies looking at processes such as ROS regulation as well as hypoxia in avocado roots. Our EST data will aid in the elucidation of the avocado transcriptome and identification of markers for improved rootstock breeding and screening. The characterization of the avocado transcriptome will furthermore form a basis for functional genomics of basal angiosperms.
PMCID: PMC3233532  PMID: 22108245
18.  Characterization of Sucrose transporter alleles and their association with seed yield-related traits in Brassica napus L 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:168.
Sucrose is the primary photosynthesis product and the principal translocating form within higher plants. Sucrose transporters (SUC/SUT) play a critical role in phloem loading and unloading. Photoassimilate transport is a major limiting factor for seed yield. Our previous research demonstrated that SUT co-localizes with yield-related quantitative trait loci. This paper reports the isolation of BnA7.SUT1 alleles and their promoters and their association with yield-related traits.
Two novel BnA7.SUT1 genes were isolated from B. napus lines 'Eagle' and 'S-1300' and designated as BnA7.SUT1.a and BnA7.SUT1.b, respectively. The BnA7.SUT1 protein exhibited typical SUT features and showed high amino acid homology with related species. Promoters of BnA7.SUT1.a and BnA7.SUT1.b were also isolated and classified as pBnA7.SUT1.a and pBnA7.SUT1.b, respectively. Four dominant sequence-characterized amplified region markers were developed to distinguish BnA7.SUT1.a and BnA7.SUT1.b. The two genes were estimated as alleles with two segregating populations (F2 and BC1) obtained by crossing '3715'×'3769'. BnA7.SUT1 was mapped to the A7 linkage group of the TN doubled haploid population. In silico analysis of 55 segmental BnA7.SUT1 alleles resulted three BnA7.SUT1 clusters: pBnA7.SUT1.a- BnA7.SUT1.a (type I), pBnA7.SUT1.b- BnA7.SUT1.a (type II), and pBnA7.SUT1.b- BnA7.SUT1.b (type III). Association analysis with a diverse panel of 55 rapeseed lines identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in promoter and coding domain sequences of BnA7.SUT1 that were significantly associated with one of three yield-related traits: number of effective first branches (EFB), siliques per plant (SP), and seed weight (n = 1000) (TSW) across all four environments examined. SNPs at other BnA7.SUT1 sites were also significantly associated with at least one of six yield-related traits: EFB, SP, number of seeds per silique, seed yield per plant, block yield, and TSW. Expression levels varied over various tissue/organs at the seed-filling stage, and BnA7.SUT1 expression positively correlated with EFB and TSW.
Sequence, mapping, association, and expression analyses collectively showed significant diversity between the two BnA7.SUT1 alleles, which control some of the phenotypic variation for branch number and seed weight in B. napus consistent with expression levels. The associations between allelic variation and yield-related traits may facilitate selection of better genotypes in breeding.
PMCID: PMC3248380  PMID: 22112023
19.  Characterization of the stress associated microRNAs in Glycine max by deep sequencing 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:170.
Plants involved in highly complex and well-coordinated systems have evolved a considerable degree of developmental plasticity, thus minimizing the damage caused by stress. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have recently emerged as key regulators in gene regulation, developmental processes and stress tolerance in plants.
In this study, soybean miRNAs associated with stress responses (drought, salinity, and alkalinity) have been identified and analyzed in combination with deep sequencing technology and in-depth bioinformatics analysis. One hundred and thirty three conserved miRNAs representing 95 miRNA families were expressed in soybeans under three treatments. In addition, 71, 50, and 45 miRNAs are either uniquely or differently expressed under drought, salinity, and alkalinity, respectively, suggesting that many miRNAs are inducible and are differentially expressed in response to certain stress.
Our study has important implications for further identification of gene regulation under abiotic stresses and significantly contributes a complete profile of miRNAs in Glycine max.
PMCID: PMC3267681  PMID: 22112171
20.  Transcriptome analysis of ectopic chloroplast development in green curd cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L. var. botrytis) 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:169.
Chloroplasts are the green plastids where photosynthesis takes place. The biogenesis of chloroplasts requires the coordinate expression of both nuclear and chloroplast genes and is regulated by developmental and environmental signals. Despite extensive studies of this process, the genetic basis and the regulatory control of chloroplast biogenesis and development remain to be elucidated.
Green cauliflower mutant causes ectopic development of chloroplasts in the curd tissue of the plant, turning the otherwise white curd green. To investigate the transcriptional control of chloroplast development, we compared gene expression between green and white curds using the RNA-seq approach. Deep sequencing produced over 15 million reads with lengths of 86 base pairs from each cDNA library. A total of 7,155 genes were found to exhibit at least 3-fold changes in expression between green and white curds. These included light-regulated genes, genes encoding chloroplast constituents, and genes involved in chlorophyll biosynthesis. Moreover, we discovered that the cauliflower ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL5 (BoHY5) was expressed higher in green curds than white curds and that 2616 HY5-targeted genes, including 1600 up-regulated genes and 1016 down-regulated genes, were differently expressed in green in comparison to white curd tissue. All these 1600 up-regulated genes were HY5-targeted genes in the light.
The genome-wide profiling of gene expression by RNA-seq in green curds led to the identification of large numbers of genes associated with chloroplast development, and suggested the role of regulatory genes in the high hierarchy of light signaling pathways in mediating the ectopic chloroplast development in the green curd cauliflower mutant.
PMCID: PMC3289093  PMID: 22112144
21.  Adaptation of barley to mild winters: A role for PPDH2 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:164.
Understanding the adaptation of cereals to environmental conditions is one of the key areas in which plant science can contribute to tackling challenges presented by climate change. Temperature and day length are the main environmental regulators of flowering and drivers of adaptation in temperate cereals. The major genes that control flowering time in barley in response to environmental cues are VRNH1, VRNH2, VRNH3, PPDH1, and PPDH2 (candidate gene HvFT3). These genes from the vernalization and photoperiod pathways show complex interactions to promote flowering that are still not understood fully. In particular, PPDH2 function is assumed to be limited to the ability of a short photoperiod to promote flowering. Evidence from the fields of biodiversity, ecogeography, agronomy, and molecular genetics was combined to obtain a more complete overview of the potential role of PPDH2 in environmental adaptation in barley.
The dominant PPDH2 allele is represented widely in spring barley cultivars but is found only occasionally in modern winter cultivars that have strong vernalization requirements. However, old landraces from the Iberian Peninsula, which also have a vernalization requirement, possess this allele at a much higher frequency than modern winter barley cultivars. Under field conditions in which the vernalization requirement of winter cultivars is not satisfied, the dominant PPDH2 allele promotes flowering, even under increasing photoperiods above 12 h. This hypothesis was supported by expression analysis of vernalization-responsive genotypes. When the dominant allele of PPDH2 was expressed, this was associated with enhanced levels of VRNH1 and VRNH3 expression. Expression of these two genes is needed for the induction of flowering. Therefore, both in the field and under controlled conditions, PPDH2 has an effect of promotion of flowering.
The dominant, ancestral, allele of PPDH2 is prevalent in southern European barley germplasm. The presence of the dominant allele is associated with early expression of VRNH1 and early flowering. We propose that PPDH2 promotes flowering of winter cultivars under all non-inductive conditions, i.e. under short days or long days in plants that have not satisfied their vernalization requirement. This mechanism is indicated to be a component of an adaptation syndrome of barley to Mediterranean conditions.
PMCID: PMC3226555  PMID: 22098798
22.  Transcriptional analysis of late ripening stages of grapevine berry 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:165.
The composition of grapevine berry at harvest is a major determinant of wine quality. Optimal oenological maturity of berries is characterized by a high sugar/acidity ratio, high anthocyanin content in the skin, and low astringency. However, harvest time is still mostly determined empirically, based on crude biochemical composition and berry tasting. In this context, it is interesting to identify genes that are expressed/repressed specifically at the late stages of ripening and which may be used as indicators of maturity.
Whole bunches and berries sorted by density were collected in vineyard on Chardonnay (white cultivar) grapevines for two consecutive years at three stages of ripening (7-days before harvest (TH-7), harvest (TH), and 10-days after harvest (TH+10)). Microvinification and sensory analysis indicate that the quality of the wines made from the whole bunches collected at TH-7, TH and TH+10 differed, TH providing the highest quality wines.
In parallel, gene expression was studied with Qiagen/Operon microarrays using two types of samples, i.e. whole bunches and berries sorted by density. Only 12 genes were consistently up- or down-regulated in whole bunches and density sorted berries for the two years studied in Chardonnay. 52 genes were differentially expressed between the TH-7 and TH samples. In order to determine whether these genes followed a similar pattern of expression during the late stages of berry ripening in a red cultivar, nine genes were selected for RT-PCR analysis with Cabernet Sauvignon grown under two different temperature regimes affecting the precocity of ripening. The expression profiles and their relationship to ripening were confirmed in Cabernet Sauvignon for seven genes, encoding a carotenoid cleavage dioxygenase, a galactinol synthase, a late embryogenesis abundant protein, a dirigent-like protein, a histidine kinase receptor, a valencene synthase and a putative S-adenosyl-L-methionine:salicylic acid carboxyl methyltransferase.
This set of up- and down-regulated genes characterize the late stages of berry ripening in the two cultivars studied, and are indirectly linked to wine quality. They might be used directly or indirectly to design immunological, biochemical or molecular tools aimed at the determination of optimal ripening in these cultivars.
PMCID: PMC3233516  PMID: 22098939
23.  Differential expression of cysteine desulfurases in soybean 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:166.
Iron-sulfur [Fe-S] clusters are prosthetic groups required to sustain fundamental life processes including electron transfer, metabolic reactions, sensing, signaling, gene regulation and stabilization of protein structures. In plants, the biogenesis of Fe-S protein is compartmentalized and adapted to specific needs of the cell. Many environmental factors affect plant development and limit productivity and geographical distribution. The impact of these limiting factors is particularly relevant for major crops, such as soybean, which has worldwide economic importance.
Here we analyze the transcriptional profile of the soybean cysteine desulfurases NFS1, NFS2 and ISD11 genes, involved in the biogenesis of [Fe-S] clusters, by quantitative RT-PCR. NFS1, ISD11 and NFS2 encoding two mitochondrial and one plastid located proteins, respectively, are duplicated and showed distinct transcript levels considering tissue and stress response. NFS1 and ISD11 are highly expressed in roots, whereas NFS2 showed no differential expression in tissues. Cold-treated plants showed a decrease in NFS2 and ISD11 transcript levels in roots, and an increased expression of NFS1 and ISD11 genes in leaves. Plants treated with salicylic acid exhibited increased NFS1 transcript levels in roots but lower levels in leaves. In silico analysis of promoter regions indicated the presence of different cis-elements in cysteine desulfurase genes, in good agreement with differential expression of each locus. Our data also showed that increasing of transcript levels of mitochondrial genes, NFS1/ISD11, are associated with higher activities of aldehyde oxidase and xanthine dehydrogenase, two cytosolic Fe-S proteins.
Our results suggest a relationship between gene expression pattern, biochemical effects, and transcription factor binding sites in promoter regions of cysteine desulfurase genes. Moreover, data show proportionality between NFS1 and ISD11 genes expression.
PMCID: PMC3233524  PMID: 22099069
24.  Effects of abiotic stress on plants: a systems biology perspective 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:163.
The natural environment for plants is composed of a complex set of abiotic stresses and biotic stresses. Plant responses to these stresses are equally complex. Systems biology approaches facilitate a multi-targeted approach by allowing one to identify regulatory hubs in complex networks. Systems biology takes the molecular parts (transcripts, proteins and metabolites) of an organism and attempts to fit them into functional networks or models designed to describe and predict the dynamic activities of that organism in different environments. In this review, research progress in plant responses to abiotic stresses is summarized from the physiological level to the molecular level. New insights obtained from the integration of omics datasets are highlighted. Gaps in our knowledge are identified, providing additional focus areas for crop improvement research in the future.
PMCID: PMC3252258  PMID: 22094046
25.  DOF-binding sites additively contribute to guard cell-specificity of AtMYB60 promoter 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:162.
We previously demonstrated that the Arabidopsis thaliana AtMYB60 protein is an R2R3MYB transcription factor required for stomatal opening. AtMYB60 is specifically expressed in guard cells and down-regulated at the transcriptional levels by the phytohormone ABA.
To investigate the molecular mechanisms governing AtMYB60 expression, its promoter was dissected through deletion and mutagenesis analyses. By studying different versions of AtMYB60 promoter::GUS reporter fusions in transgenic plants we were able to demonstrate a modular organization for the AtMYB60 promoter. Particularly we defined: a minimal promoter sufficient to confer guard cell-specific activity to the reporter gene; the distinct roles of different DOF-binding sites organised in a cluster in the minimal promoter in determining guard cell-specific expression; the promoter regions responsible for the enhancement of activity in guard cells; a promoter region responsible for the negative transcriptional regulation by ABA. Moreover from the analysis of single and multiple mutants we could rule out the involvement of a group of DOF proteins, known as CDFs, already characterised for their involvement in flowering time, in the regulation of AtMYB60 expression.
These findings shed light on the regulation of gene expression in guard cells and provide new promoter modules as useful tools for manipulating gene expression in guard cells, both for physiological studies and future biotechnological applications.
PMCID: PMC3248575  PMID: 22088138

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