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1.  Construction of two genetic linkage maps in cultivated tetraploid alfalfa (Medicago sativa) using microsatellite and AFLP markers 
BMC Plant Biology  2003;3:9.
Background
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is a major forage crop. The genetic progress is slow in this legume species because of its autotetraploidy and allogamy. The genetic structure of this species makes the construction of genetic maps difficult. To reach this objective, and to be able to detect QTLs in segregating populations, we used the available codominant microsatellite markers (SSRs), most of them identified in the model legume Medicago truncatula from EST database. A genetic map was constructed with AFLP and SSR markers using specific mapping procedures for autotetraploids. The tetrasomic inheritance was analysed in an alfalfa mapping population.
Results
We have demonstrated that 80% of primer pairs defined on each side of SSR motifs in M. truncatula EST database amplify with the alfalfa DNA. Using a F1 mapping population of 168 individuals produced from the cross of 2 heterozygous parental plants from Magali and Mercedes cultivars, we obtained 599 AFLP markers and 107 SSR loci. All but 3 SSR loci showed a clear tetrasomic inheritance. For most of the SSR loci, the double-reduction was not significant. For the other loci no specific genotypes were produced, so the significant double-reduction could arise from segregation distortion. For each parent, the genetic map contained 8 groups of four homologous chromosomes. The lengths of the maps were 2649 and 3045 cM, with an average distance of 7.6 and 9.0 cM between markers, for Magali and Mercedes parents, respectively. Using only the SSR markers, we built a composite map covering 709 cM.
Conclusions
Compared to diploid alfalfa genetic maps, our maps cover about 88–100% of the genome and are close to saturation. The inheritance of the codominant markers (SSR) and the pattern of linkage repulsions between markers within each homology group are consistent with the hypothesis of a tetrasomic meiosis in alfalfa. Except for 2 out of 107 SSR markers, we found a similar order of markers on the chromosomes between the tetraploid alfalfa and M. truncatula genomes indicating a high level of colinearity between these two species. These maps will be a valuable tool for alfalfa breeding and are being used to locate QTLs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-3-9
PMCID: PMC324403  PMID: 14683527
2.  Sub-cellular trafficking of phytochemicals explored using auto-fluorescent compounds in maize cells 
BMC Plant Biology  2003;3:10.
Background
Little is known regarding the trafficking mechanisms of small molecules within plant cells. It remains to be established whether phytochemicals are transported by pathways similar to those used by proteins, or whether the expansion of metabolic pathways in plants was associated with the evolution of novel trafficking pathways. In this paper, we exploited the induction of green and yellow auto-fluorescent compounds in maize cultured cells by the P1 transcription factor to investigate their targeting to the cell wall and vacuole, respectively.
Results
We investigated the accumulation and sub-cellular localization of the green and yellow auto-fluorescent compounds in maize BMS cells expressing the P1 transcription factor from an estradiol inducible promoter. We established that the yellow fluorescent compounds accumulate inside the vacuole in YFBs that resemble AVIs. The green fluorescent compounds accumulate initially in the cytoplasm in large spherical GFBs. Cells accumulating GFBs also contain electron-dense structures that accumulate initially in the ER and which later appear to fuse with the plasma membrane. Structures resembling the GFBs were also observed in the periplasmic space of plasmolized cells. Ultimately, the green fluorescence accumulates in the cell wall, in a process that is insensitive to the Golgi-disturbing agents BFA and monensin.
Conclusions
Our results suggest the presence of at least two distinct trafficking pathways, one to the cell wall and the other to the vacuole, for different auto-fluorescent compounds induced by the same transcription factor in maize BMS cells. These compartments represent two of the major sites of accumulation of phenolic compounds characteristic of maize cells. The secretion of the green auto-fluorescent compounds occurs by a pathway that does not involve the TGN, suggesting that it is different from the secretion of most proteins, polysaccharides or epicuticular waxes. The yellow auto-fluorescent compounds accumulate in a vacuolar compartment, in structures that resemble the AVIs present in many cells accumulating anthocyanins. Together, our studies suggest that the accumulation of auto-fluorescent compounds can provide a powerful tool to dissect the trafficking of phytochemicals, knowledge necessary for the efficient engineering of plant metabolism.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-3-10
PMCID: PMC324402  PMID: 14687417
3.  Fusion to GFP blocks intercellular trafficking of the sucrose transporter SUT1 leading to accumulation in companion cells 
BMC Plant Biology  2003;3:8.
Background
Plant phloem consists of an interdependent cell pair, the sieve element / companion cell complex. Sucrose transporters are localized to enucleate sieve elements (SE), despite being transcribed in companion cells (CC). Due to the high turnover of SUT1, sucrose transporter mRNA or protein must traffic from CC to SE via the plasmodesmata. Localization of SUT mRNA at plasmodesmatal orifices connecting CC and SE suggests RNA transport, potentially mediated by RNA binding proteins. In many organisms, polar RNA transport is mediated through RNA binding proteins interacting with the 3'-UTR and controlling localized protein synthesis. To study mechanisms for trafficking of SUT1, GFP-fusions with and without 3'-UTR were expressed in transgenic plants.
Results
In contrast to plants expressing GFP from the strong SUC2 promoter, in RolC-controlled expression GFP is retained in companion cells. The 3'-UTR of SUT1 affected intracellular distribution of GFP but was insufficient for trafficking of SUT1, GFP or their fusions to SEs. Fusion of GFP to SUT1 did however lead to accumulation of SUT1-GFP in the CC, indicating that trafficking was blocked while translational inhibition of SUT1 mRNA was released in CCs.
Conclusion
A fusion with GFP prevents targeting of the sucrose transporter SUT1 to the SE while leading to accumulation in the CC. The 3'-UTR of SUT1 is insufficient for mobilization of either the fusion or GFP alone. It is conceivable that SUT1-GFP protein transport through PD to SE was blocked due to the presence of GFP, resulting in retention in CC particles. Alternatively, SUT1 mRNA transport through the PD could have been blocked due to insertion of GFP between the SUT1 coding sequence and 3'-UTR.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-3-8
PMCID: PMC319702  PMID: 14667250
4.  Synthesis of L-ascorbic acid in the phloem 
BMC Plant Biology  2003;3:7.
Background
Although plants are the main source of vitamin C in the human diet, we still have a limited understanding of how plants synthesise L-ascorbic acid (AsA) and what regulates its concentration in different plant tissues. In particular, the enormous variability in the vitamin C content of storage organs from different plants remains unexplained. Possible sources of AsA in plant storage organs include in situ synthesis and long-distance transport of AsA synthesised in other tissues via the phloem. In this paper we examine a third possibility, that of synthesis within the phloem.
Results
We provide evidence for the presence of AsA in the phloem sap of a wide range of crop species using aphid stylectomy and histochemical approaches. The activity of almost all the enzymes of the primary AsA biosynthetic pathway were detected in phloem-rich vascular exudates from Cucurbita pepo fruits and AsA biosynthesis was demonstrated in isolated phloem strands from Apium graveolens petioles incubated with a range of precursors (D-glucose, D-mannose, L-galactose and L-galactono-1,4-lactone). Phloem uptake of D-[U-14C]mannose and L-[1-14C]galactose (intermediates of the AsA biosynthetic pathway) as well as L-[1-14C]AsA and L-[1-14C]DHA, was observed in Nicotiana benthamiana leaf discs.
Conclusions
We present the novel finding that active AsA biosynthesis occurs in the phloem. This process must now be considered in the context of mechanisms implicated in whole plant AsA distribution. This work should provoke studies aimed at elucidation of the in vivo substrates for phloem AsA biosynthesis and its contribution to AsA accumulation in plant storage organs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-3-7
PMCID: PMC317296  PMID: 14633288
5.  Ds tagging of BRANCHED FLORETLESS 1 (BFL1) that mediates the transition from spikelet to floret meristem in rice (Oryza sativa L) 
BMC Plant Biology  2003;3:6.
Background
The genetics of spikelet formation, a feature unique to grasses such as rice and maize, is yet to be fully understood, although a number of meristem and organ identity mutants have been isolated and investigated in Arabidopsis and maize. Using a two-element Ac/Ds transposon tagging system we have isolated a rice mutant, designated branched floretless 1 (bfl1) which is defective in the transition from spikelet meristem to floret meristem.
Results
The bfl1 mutant shows normal differentiation of the primary rachis-branches leading to initial spikelet meristem (bract-like structure equivalent to rudimentary glumes) formation but fails to develop empty glumes and florets. Instead, axillary meristems in the bract-like structure produce sequential alternate branching, thus resulting in a coral shaped morphology of the branches in the developing panicle. The bfl1 mutant harbours a single Ds insertion in the upstream region of the BFL1 gene on chromosome 7 corresponding to PAC clone P0625E02 (GenBank Acc No. message URL http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=nucleotide&list_uids=34395191&dopt=GenBank&term=ap004570AP004570). RT-PCR analyses revealed a drastic reduction of BFL1 transcript levels in the bfl1 mutant compared to that in the wild-type. In each of the normal panicle-bearing progeny plants, from occasional revertant seeds of the vegetatively-propagated mutant plant, Ds was shown to be excised from the bfl1 locus. BFL1 contains an EREBP/AP2 domain and is most likely an ortholog of the maize transcription factor gene BRANCHED SILKLESS1 (BD1).
Conclusions
bfl1 is a Ds-tagged rice mutant defective in the transition from spikelet meristem (SM) to floret meristem (FM). BFL1 is most probably a rice ortholog of the maize ERF (EREBP/AP2) transcription factor gene BD1. Based on the similarities in mutant phenotypes bfl1 is likely to be an allele of the previously reported frizzy panicle locus.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-3-6
PMCID: PMC270090  PMID: 14503923
6.  Genetic transformation of Indian bread (T. aestivum) and pasta (T. durum) wheat by particle bombardment of mature embryo-derived calli 
BMC Plant Biology  2003;3:5.
Background
Particle bombardment has been successfully employed for obtaining transgenics in cereals in general and wheat in particular. Most of these procedures employ immature embryos which are not available throughout the year. The present investigation utilizes mature seeds as the starting material and the calli raised from the hexaploid Triticum aestivum and tetraploid Triticum durum display a high regeneration response and were therefore used as the target tissue for genetic transformation by the biolistic approach.
Results
Mature embryo-derived calli of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum, cv. CPAN1676) and durum wheat (T. durum, cv. PDW215) were double bombarded with 1.1 gold microprojectiles coated with pDM302 and pAct1-F at a target distance of 6 cm. Southern analysis using the bar gene as a probe revealed the integration of transgenes in the T0 transformants. The bar gene was active in both T0 and T1 generations as evidenced by phosphinothricin leaf paint assay. Approximately 30% and 33% primary transformants of T. aestivum and T. durum, respectively, were fertile. The transmission of bar gene to T1 progeny was demonstrated by PCR analysis of germinated seedlings with primers specific to the bar gene.
Conclusions
The transformation frequency obtained was 8.56% with T. aestivum and 10% with T. durum. The optimized protocol was subsequently used for the introduction of the barley gene encoding a late embryogenesis abundant protein (HVA1) in T. aestivum and T. durum. The presence of the HVA1 transgene was confirmed by Southern analysis in the T0 generation in case of Triticum aestivum, and T0 and T1 generation in Triticum durum.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-3-5
PMCID: PMC212488  PMID: 12952555
7.  Developmental gene regulation during tomato fruit ripening and in-vitro sepal morphogenesis 
BMC Plant Biology  2003;3:4.
Background
Red ripe tomatoes are the result of numerous physiological changes controlled by hormonal and developmental signals, causing maturation or differentiation of various fruit tissues simultaneously. These physiological changes affect visual, textural, flavor, and aroma characteristics, making the fruit more appealing to potential consumers for seed dispersal. Developmental regulation of tomato fruit ripening has, until recently, been lacking in rigorous investigation. We previously indicated the presence of up-regulated transcription factors in ripening tomato fruit by data mining in TIGR Tomato Gene Index. In our in-vitro system, green tomato sepals cultured at 16 to 22°C turn red and swell like ripening tomato fruit while those at 28°C remain green.
Results
Here, we have further examined regulation of putative developmental genes possibly involved in tomato fruit ripening and development. Using molecular biological methods, we have determined the relative abundance of various transcripts of genes during in vitro sepal ripening and in tomato fruit pericarp at three stages of development. A number of transcripts show similar expression in fruits to RIN and PSY1, ripening-associated genes, and others show quite different expression.
Conclusions
Our investigation has resulted in confirmation of some of our previous database mining results and has revealed differences in gene expression that may be important for tomato cultivar variation. We present new and intriguing information on genes that should now be studied in a more focused fashion.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-3-4
PMCID: PMC194401  PMID: 12906715
8.  Microsatellites as DNA markers in cultivated peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2003;3:3.
Background
Genomic research of cultivated peanut has lagged behind other crop species because of the paucity of polymorphic DNA markers found in this crop. It is necessary to identify additional DNA markers for further genetic research in peanut.
Results
Microsatellite markers in cultivated peanut were developed using the SSR enrichment procedure. The results showed that the GA/CT repeat was the most frequently dispersed microsatellite in peanut. The primer pairs were designed for fifty-six different microsatellites, 19 of which showed a polymorphism among the genotypes studied. The average number of alleles per locus was 4.25, and up to 14 alleles were found at one locus. This suggests that microsatellite DNA markers produce a higher level of DNA polymorphism than other DNA markers in cultivated peanut.
Conclusions
It is desirable to isolate and characterize more DNA markers in cultivated peanut for more productive genomic studies, such as genetic mapping, marker-assisted selection, and gene discovery. The development of microsatellite markers holds a promise for such studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-3-3
PMCID: PMC155651  PMID: 12713672
9.  A novel high efficiency, low maintenance, hydroponic system for synchronous growth and flowering of Arabidopsis thaliana 
BMC Plant Biology  2003;3:2.
Background
Arabidopsis thaliana is now the model organism for genetic and molecular plant studies, but growing conditions may still impair the significance and reproducibility of the experimental strategies developed. Besides the use of phytotronic cabinets, controlling plant nutrition may be critical and could be achieved in hydroponics. The availability of such a system would also greatly facilitate studies dealing with root development. However, because of its small size and rosette growth habit, Arabidopsis is hardly grown in standard hydroponic devices and the systems described in the last years are still difficult to transpose at a large scale. Our aim was to design and optimize an up-scalable device that would be adaptable to any experimental conditions.
Results
An hydroponic system was designed for Arabidopsis, which is based on two units: a seed-holder and a 1-L tank with its cover. The original agar-containing seed-holder allows the plants to grow from sowing to seed set, without transplanting step and with minimal waste. The optimum nitrate supply was determined for vegetative growth, and the flowering response to photoperiod and vernalization was characterized to show the feasibility and reproducibility of experiments extending over the whole life cycle. How this equipment allowed to overcome experimental problems is illustrated by the analysis of developmental effects of nitrate reductase deficiency in nia1nia2 mutants.
Conclusion
The hydroponic device described in this paper allows to drive small and large scale cultures of homogeneously growing Arabidopsis plants. Its major advantages are its flexibility, easy handling, fast maintenance and low cost. It should be suitable for many experimental purposes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-3-2
PMCID: PMC150571  PMID: 12556248
10.  Expression pattern of a nuclear encoded mitochondrial arginine-ornithine translocator gene from Arabidopsis 
BMC Plant Biology  2003;3:1.
Background
Arginine and citrulline serve as nitrogen storage forms, but are also involved in biosynthetic and catabolic pathways. Metabolism of arginine, citrulline and ornithine is distributed between mitochondria and cytosol. For the shuttle of intermediates between cytosol and mitochondria transporters present on the inner mitochondrial membrane are required. Yeast contains a mitochondrial translocator for ornithine and arginine, Ort1p/Arg11p. Ort1p/Arg11p is a member of the mitochondrial carrier family (MCF) essential for ornithine export from mitochondria. The yeast arg11 mutant, which is deficient in Ort1p/Arg11p grows poorly on media lacking arginine.
Results
High-level expression of a nuclear encoded Arabidopsis thaliana homolog (AtmBAC2) of Ort1p/Arg11p was able to suppress the growth deficiency of arg11. RT-PCR analysis demonstrated expression of AtmBAC2 in all tissues with highest levels in flowers. Promoter-GUS fusions showed preferential expression in flowers, i.e. pollen, in the vasculature of siliques and in aborted seeds. Variable expression was observed in leaf vasculature. Induction of the promoter was not observed during the first two weeks in seedlings grown on media containing NH4NO3, arginine or ornithine as sole nitrogen sources.
Conclusion
AtmBAC2 was isolated as a mitochondrial transporter for arginine in Arabidopsis. The absence of expression in developing seeds and in cotyledons of seedlings indicates that other transporters are responsible for storage and mobilization of arginine in seeds.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-3-1
PMCID: PMC150012  PMID: 12517306

Results 1-10 (10)