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1.  Epigenetic history of an Arabidopsis trans-silencer locus and a test for relay of trans-silencing activity 
BMC Plant Biology  2002;2:11.
Meiotically heritable epimutations affecting transgene expression are not well understood, even and in particular in the plant model species, Arabidopsis thaliana. The Arabidopsis trans-silencer locus, C73, which encodes a fusion protein between the repressor of photomorphogenesis, COP1, and green fluorescent protein (GFP-COP1), heritably modifies the expression pattern and cop1-like cosuppression phenotypes of multiple GFP-COP1 target loci by transcriptional gene silencing.
Here we describe three additional features of trans-silencing by the C73 locus. First, the silencing phenotype of C73 and of similar complex loci was acquired epigenetically over the course of no more than two plant generations via a stage resembling posttranscriptional silencing. Second, imprints imposed by the C73 locus were maintained heritably for at least five generations in the absence of the silencer with only sporadic spontaneous reversion. Third, the pairing of two other GFP-COP1 transgene loci, L91 and E82, showed an increased tendency for epigenetic modification when L91 carried an epigenetic imprint from C73, but not when E82 bore the imprint.
The latter data suggest a transfer of trans-silencing activity from one transgene locus, C73, to another, namely L91. These results extend our operational understanding of interactions among transgenes in Arabidopsis.
PMCID: PMC140034  PMID: 12477384
2.  Aberrant meiotic behavior in Agave tequilana Weber var. azul 
BMC Plant Biology  2002;2:10.
Agave tequilana Weber var. azul, is the only one variety permitted by federal law in México to be used for tequila production which is the most popular contemporary alcoholic beverage made from agave and recognized worldwide. Despite the economic, genetic, and ornamental value of the plant, it has not been subjected to detailed cytogenetic research, which could lead to a better understanding of its reproduction for future genetic improvement.
The objective of this work was to study the meiotic behavior in pollen mother cells and its implications on the pollen viability in Agave tequilana Weber var. azul.
The analysis of Pollen Mother Cells in anaphase I (A-I) showed 82.56% of cells with a normal anaphase and, 17.44% with an irregular anaphase. In which 5.28% corresponded to cells with side arm bridges (SAB); 3.68% cells with one bridge and one fragment; 2.58% of irregular anaphase showed cells with one or two lagging chromosomes and 2.95% showed one acentric fragment; cells with two bridges and cells with two bridges and one acentric fragment were observed in frequencies of 1.60% and 1.35% respectively. In anaphase II some cells showed bridges and fragments too. Aberrant A-I cells had many shrunken or empty pollen grains (42.00%) and 58.00 % viable pollen.
The observed meiotic irregularities suggest that structural chromosome aberrations have occurred, such as heterozygous inversions, sister chromatid exchanges, deletions and duplications which in turn are reflected in a low pollen viability.
PMCID: PMC134466  PMID: 12396234
3.  Two pathways act in an additive rather than obligatorily synergistic fashion to induce systemic acquired resistance and PR gene expression 
BMC Plant Biology  2002;2:9.
Local infection with necrotizing pathogens induces whole plant immunity to secondary challenge. Pathogenesis-related genes are induced in parallel with this systemic acquired resistance response and thought to be co-regulated. The hypothesis of co-regulation has been challenged by induction of Arabidopsis PR-1 but not systemic acquired resistance in npr1 mutant plants responding to Pseudomonas syringae carrying the avirulence gene avrRpt2. However, experiments with ndr1 mutant plants have revealed major differences between avirulence genes. The ndr1-1 mutation prevents hypersensitive cell death, systemic acquired resistance and PR-1 induction elicited by bacteria carrying avrRpt2. This mutation does not prevent these responses to bacteria carrying avrB.
Systemic acquired resistance, PR-1 induction and PR-5 induction were assessed in comparisons of npr1-2 and ndr1-1 mutant plants, double mutant plants, and wild-type plants. Systemic acquired resistance was displayed by all four plant lines in response to Pseudomonas syringae bacteria carrying avrB. PR-1 induction was partially impaired by either single mutation in response to either bacterial strain, but only fully impaired in the double mutant in response to avrRpt2. PR-5 induction was not fully impaired in any of the mutants in response to either avirulence gene.
Two pathways act additively, rather than in an obligatorily synergistic fashion, to induce systemic acquired resistance, PR-1 and PR-5. One of these pathways is NPR1-independent and depends on signals associated with hypersensitive cell death. The other pathway is dependent on salicylic acid accumulation and acts through NPR1. At least two other pathways also contribute additively to PR-5 induction.
PMCID: PMC130961  PMID: 12381270
4.  Plant water uptake by hard red winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) genotypes at 2°C and low light intensity 
BMC Plant Biology  2002;2:8.
Hard red winter wheat (HRWW; Triticum aestivm L.) plants from genotypes selected in the Northern Great Plains of the U.S. have less tissue water after exposure to cool autumn temperatures than plants from the Southern Great Plains. It is generally assumed that the reduced tissue water content of northern compared to southern cultivars is due to an impedance to water uptake by northern plants as a result of the low autumn temperatures. We hypothesize that if low temperature impedes water uptake then less soil water would be removed by northern than by southern-selected cultivars. This hypothesis was tested by comparing plant water uptake of a northern (FR) and a southern (FS) cultivar in relation to their foliage water content at 2°C.
At 2°C foliage water content of FR plants decreased more rapidly than that of FS plants, similar to field results in the fall. During 6 wk, foliage water content of FR plants decreased 20 to 25% of the pre-treatment value, compared to only 5 to 10% by FS plants. Plant water uptake was about 60 g H2O·g FDW-1 by FS plants, while FR plants maintained plant water uptake in excess of 100 g H2O·g FDW-1 during the 6 wk period at 2°C. When four other northern genotypes of equal freeze resistance were studied, foliage water content and plant water uptake change were similar to FR plants.
In these northern-selected HRWW cultivars foliage water content reduction resulting from cold acclimation is not due to impedance to plant water uptake.
PMCID: PMC130021  PMID: 12350232
5.  Conservation and diversity of gene families explored using the CODEHOP strategy in higher plants 
BMC Plant Biology  2002;2:7.
Availability of genomewide information on an increasing but still limited number of plants offers the possibility of identifying orthologues, or related genes, in species with major economical impact and complex genomes. In this paper we exploit the recently described CODEHOP primer design and PCR strategy for targeted isolation of homologues in large gene families.
The method was tested with two different objectives. The first was to analyze the evolution of the CYP98 family of cytochrome P450 genes involved in 3-hydroxylation of phenolic compounds and lignification in a broad range of plant species. The second was to isolate an orthologue of the sorghum glucosyl transferase UGT85B1 and to determine the complexity of the UGT85 family in wheat. P450s of the CYP98 family or closely related sequences were found in all vascular plants. No related sequence was found in moss. Neither extensive duplication of the CYP98 genes nor an orthologue of UGT85B1 were found in wheat. The UGT85A subfamily was however found to be highly variable in wheat.
Our data are in agreement with the implication of CYP98s in lignification and the evolution of 3-hydroxylation of lignin precursors with vascular plants. High conservation of the CYP98 family strongly argues in favour of an essential function in plant development. Conversely, high duplication and diversification of the UGT85A gene family in wheat suggests its involvement in adaptative response and provides a valuable pool of genes for biotechnological applications. This work demonstrates the high potential of the CODEHOP strategy for the exploration of large gene families in plants.
PMCID: PMC122057  PMID: 12153706
6.  High frequency of phenotypic deviations in Physcomitrella patens plants transformed with a gene-disruption library 
BMC Plant Biology  2002;2:6.
The moss Physcomitrella patens is an attractive model system for plant biology and functional genome analysis. It shares many biological features with higher plants but has the unique advantage of an efficient homologous recombination system for its nuclear DNA. This allows precise genetic manipulations and targeted knockouts to study gene function, an approach that due to the very low frequency of targeted recombination events is not routinely possible in any higher plant.
As an important prerequisite for a large-scale gene/function correlation study in this plant, we are establishing a collection of Physcomitrella patens transformants with insertion mutations in most expressed genes. A low-redundancy moss cDNA library was mutagenised in E. coli using a derivative of the transposon Tn1000. The resulting gene-disruption library was then used to transform Physcomitrella. Homologous recombination of the mutagenised cDNA with genomic coding sequences is expected to target insertion events preferentially to expressed genes. An immediate phenotypic analysis of transformants is made possible by the predominance of the haploid gametophytic state in the life cycle of the moss. Among the first 16,203 transformants analysed so far, we observed 2636 plants ( = 16.2%) that differed from the wild-type in a variety of developmental, morphological and physiological characteristics.
The high proportion of phenotypic deviations and the wide range of abnormalities observed among the transformants suggests that mutagenesis by gene-disruption library transformation is a useful strategy to establish a highly diverse population of Physcomitrella patens mutants for functional genome analysis.
PMCID: PMC117800  PMID: 12123528
7.  Accumulation of dehydrin-like proteins in the mitochondria of cereals in response to cold, freezing, drought and ABA treatment 
BMC Plant Biology  2002;2:5.
Dehydrins are known as Group II late embryogenesis abundant proteins. Their high hydrophilicity and thermostability suggest that they may be structure stabilizers with detergent and chaperone-like properties. They are localised in the nucleus, cytoplasm, and plasma membrane. We have recently found putative dehydrins in the mitochondria of some cereals in response to cold. It is not known whether dehydrin-like proteins accumulate in plant mitochondria in response to stimuli other than cold stress.
We have found five putative dehydrins in the mitochondria of winter wheat, rye and maize seedlings. Two of these polypeptides had the same molecular masses in all three species (63 and 52 kD) and were thermostable. Drought, freezing, cold, and exogenous ABA treatment led to higher accumulation of dehydrin-like protein (dlp) 63 kD in the rye and wheat mitochondria. Protein 52 kD was induced by cold adaptation and ABA. Some accumulation of these proteins in the maize mitochondria was found after cold exposition only. The other three proteins appeared to be heat-sensitive and were either slightly induced or not induced at all by all treatments used.
We have found that, not only cold, but also drought, freezing and exogenous ABA treatment result in accumulation of the thermostable dehydrins in plant mitochondria. Most cryotolerant species such as wheat and rye accumulate more heat-stable dehydrins than cryosensitive species such as maize. It has been supposed that their function is to stabilize proteins in the membrane or in the matrix. Heat-sensitive putative dehydrins probably are not involved in the stress reaction and adaptation of plants.
PMCID: PMC116594  PMID: 12057012
8.  Mobilization of seed storage lipid by Arabidopsis seedlings is retarded in the presence of exogenous sugars 
BMC Plant Biology  2002;2:4.
Soluble sugar levels must be closely regulated in germinating seeds to ensure an adequate supply of energy and building materials for the developing seedling. Studies on germinating cereal seeds indicate that production of sugars from starch is inhibited by increasing sugar levels. Although numerous studies have focused on the regulation of starch metabolism, very few studies have addressed the control of storage lipid metabolism by germinating oilseeds.
Mobilization of storage lipid by germinating seeds of the model oilseed plant Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. occurs at a greatly reduced rate in the presence of exogenous glucose or mannose, but not in the presence of equi-molar 3-O-methylglucose or sorbitol. The sugar-insensitive5-1/abscisic acid-insensitive4-101 (sis5-1/abi4-101) mutant is resistant to glucose inhibition of seed storage lipid mobilization. Wild-type seedlings become insensitive to glucose inhibition of storage lipid breakdown within 3 days of the start of imbibition.
Growth in the presence of exogenous glucose significantly retards mobilization of seed storage lipid in germinating seeds from wild-type Arabidopsis. This effect is not solely due to the osmotic potential of the media, as substantially higher concentrations of sorbitol than of glucose are required to exert significant effects on lipid breakdown. The inhibitory effect of glucose on lipid breakdown is limited to a narrow developmental window, suggesting that completion of some critical metabolic transition results in loss of sensitivity to the inhibitory effect of glucose on lipid breakdown.
PMCID: PMC113751  PMID: 11996676
9.  Multi site polyadenylation and transcriptional response to stress of a vacuolar type H+-ATPase subunit A gene in Arabidopsis thaliana 
BMC Plant Biology  2002;2:3.
Vacuolar type H+-ATPases play a critical role in the maintenance of vacuolar homeostasis in plant cells. V-ATPases are also involved in plants' defense against environmental stress. This research examined the expression and regulation of the catalytic subunit of the vacuolar type H+-ATPase in Arabidopsis thaliana and the effect of environmental stress on multiple transcripts generated by this gene.
Evidence suggests that subunit A of the vacuolar type H+-ATPase is encoded by a single gene in Arabidopsis thaliana. Genome blot analysis showed no indication of a second subunit A gene being present. The single gene identified was shown by whole RNA blot analysis to be transcribed in all organs of the plant. Subunit A was shown by sequencing the 3' end of multiple cDNA clones to exhibit multi site polyadenylation. Four different poly (A) tail attachment sites were revealed. Experiments were performed to determine the response of transcript levels for subunit A to environmental stress. A PCR based strategy was devised to amplify the four different transcripts from the subunit A gene.
Amplification of cDNA generated from seedlings exposed to cold, salt stress, and etiolation showed that transcript levels for subunit A of the vacuolar type H+-ATPase in Arabidopsis were responsive to stress conditions. Cold and salt stress resulted in a 2–4 fold increase in all four subunit A transcripts evaluated. Etiolation resulted in a slight increase in transcript levels. All four transcripts appeared to behave identically with respect to stress conditions tested with no significant differential regulation.
PMCID: PMC103671  PMID: 11985780
10.  High-susceptibility of photosynthesis to photoinhibition in the tropical plant Ficus microcarpa L. f. cv. Golden Leaves 
BMC Plant Biology  2002;2:2.
The tropical plant Ficus microcarpa L. f. cv. Golden Leaves (GL) is a high-light sensitive tropical fig tree in which sun-leaves are yellow and shade-leaves are green. We compared the response of photosynthetic activities to strong light between GL and its wild-type (WT, Ficus microcarpa L. f.).
Field measurements of maximum photosystem II (PSII) efficiency (Fv/Fm) of intact sun-leaves in GL showed that photo synthetic activity was severely photoinhibited during the daytime (Fv/Fm = 0.46) and subsequently recovered in the evening (Fv/Fm = 0.76). In contrast, WT did not show any substantial changes of Fv/Fm values throughout the day (between 0.82 and 0.78). Light dependency of the CO2 assimilation rate in detached shade-leaves of GL showed a response similar to that in WT, suggesting no substantial difference in photosynthetic performance between them. Several indicators of photoinhibition, including declines in PSII reaction center protein (D1) content, Fv/Fm value, and O2 evolution and CO2 assimilation rates, all indicated that GL is much more susceptible to photoinhibition than WT. Kinetics of PAM chlorophyll a fluorescence revealed that nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ) capacity of GL was lower than that of WT.
We conclude that the photosynthetic apparatus of GL is more highly susceptible to photoinhibition than that of WT.
PMCID: PMC102767  PMID: 11926968
11.  The molecular genetic linkage map of the model legume Medicago truncatula: an essential tool for comparative legume genomics and the isolation of agronomically important genes 
BMC Plant Biology  2002;2:1.
The legume Medicago truncatula has emerged as a model plant for the molecular and genetic dissection of various plant processes involved in rhizobial, mycorrhizal and pathogenic plant-microbe interactions. Aiming to develop essential tools for such genetic approaches, we have established the first genetic map of this species. Two parental homozygous lines were selected from the cultivar Jemalong and from the Algerian natural population (DZA315) on the basis of their molecular and phenotypic polymorphism.
An F2 segregating population of 124 individuals between these two lines was obtained using an efficient manual crossing technique established for M. truncatula and was used to construct a genetic map. This map spans 1225 cM (average 470 kb/cM) and comprises 289 markers including RAPD, AFLP, known genes and isoenzymes arranged in 8 linkage groups (2n = 16). Markers are uniformly distributed throughout the map and segregation distortion is limited to only 3 linkage groups. By mapping a number of common markers, the eight linkage groups are shown to be homologous to those of diploid alfalfa (M. sativa), implying a good level of macrosynteny between the two genomes. Using this M. truncatula map and the derived F3 populations, we were able to map the Mtsym6 symbiotic gene on linkage group 8 and the SPC gene, responsible for the direction of pod coiling, on linkage group 7.
These results demonstrate that Medicago truncatula is amenable to diploid genetic analysis and they open the way to map-based cloning of symbiotic or other agronomically-important genes using this model plant.
PMCID: PMC65051  PMID: 11825338

Results 1-11 (11)