The Plant Breeding and Genomics (PBG) News is the curation site of Community of Practice at eXtension.org. PBG at eXtension.org provides research-based educational materials for plant breeding professionals, students, and educators. Our goal is to efficiently share plant breeding and genomics knowledge. PBG tutorials detail basic plant breeding and genomics concepts as well as the application of genomic data to breeding programs. We strive to connect the plant breeding community to rapidly developing advances technologies and publically available genomic data. Many of our tutorials demonstrate computational tools using sample data, allowing learners to replicate the demonstration and gain proficiency.
The evolutionary significance of hybridization and subsequent introgression has long been appreciated, but evaluation of the genome-wide effects of these phenomena has only recently become possible. Crop-wild study systems represent ideal opportunities to examine evolution through hybridization. For example, maize and the conspecific wild teosinte Zea mays ssp.mexicana (hereafter, mexicana) are known to hybridize in the fields of highland Mexico. Despite widespread evidence of gene flow, maize and mexicana maintain distinct morphologies and have done so in sympatry for thousands of years. Neither the genomic extent nor the evolutionary importance of introgression between these taxa is understood. In this study we assessed patterns of genome-wide introgression based on 39,029 single nucleotide polymorphisms genotyped in 189 individuals from nine sympatric maize-mexicana populations and reference allopatric populations. While portions of the maize and mexicana genomes appeared resistant to introgression (notably near known cross-incompatibility and domestication loci), we detected widespread evidence for introgression in both directions of gene flow. Through further characterization of these genomic regions and preliminary growth chamber experiments, we found evidence suggestive of the incorporation of adaptive mexicana alleles into maize during its expansion to the highlands of central Mexico. In contrast, very little evidence was found for adaptive introgression from maize to mexicana. The methods we have applied here can be replicated widely, and such analyses have the potential to greatly inform our understanding of evolution through introgressive hybridization. Crop species, due to their exceptional genomic resources and frequent histories of spread into sympatry with relatives, should be particularly influential in these studies.
Over the years, natural products from plants and their non-natural derivatives have shown to be active against different types of chronic diseases. However, isolation of such natural products can be limited due to their low bioavailability, and environmental restrictions. To address these issues, in vivo and in vitroreconstruction of plant metabolic pathways and the metabolic engineering of microbes and plants have been used to generate libraries of compounds. Significant advances have been made through metabolic engineering of microbes and plant cells to generate a variety of compounds (e.g. isoprenoids, flavonoids, or stilbenes) using a diverse array of methods to optimize these processes (e.g. host selection, operational variables, precursor selection, gene modifications). These approaches have been used also to generate non-natural analogues with different bioactivity. In vitro biosynthesis allows the synthesis of intermediates as well as final products avoiding post-translational limitations. Moreover, this strategy allows the use of substrates and the production of metabolites that could be toxic for cells, or expand the biosynthesis into non-conventional media (e.g. organic solvents, supercritical fluids). A perspective is also provided on the challenges for generating novel chemical structures and the potential of combining metabolic engineering and in vitro biocatalysis to produce metabolites with more potent biological activities.
One of the major concerns of the general public about transgenic crops relates to the mixing of genetic materials between species that cannot hybridize by natural means. To meet this concern, the two transformation concepts cisgenesis and intragenesis were developed as alternatives to transgenesis. Both concepts imply that plants must only be transformed with genetic material derived from the species itself or from closely related species capable of sexual hybridization. Furthermore, foreign sequences such as selection genes and vector-backbone sequences should be absent. Intragenesis differs from cisgenesis by allowing use of new gene combinations created by in vitrorearrangements of functional genetic elements. Several surveys show higher public acceptance of intragenic/cisgenic crops compared to transgenic crops. Thus, although the intragenic and cisgenic concepts were introduced internationally only 9 and 7 years ago, several different traits in a variety of crops have currently been modified according to these concepts. Five of these crops are now in field trials and two have pending applications for deregulation. Currently, intragenic/cisgenic plants are regulated as transgenic plants worldwide. However, as the gene pool exploited by intragenesis and cisgenesis are identical to the gene pool available for conventional breeding, less comprehensive regulatory measures are expected. The regulation of intragenic/cisgenic crops is presently under evaluation in the EU and in the US regulators are considering if a subgroup of these crops should be exempted from regulation. It is accordingly possible that the intragenic/cisgenic route will be of major significance for future plant breeding.
Increased phenotyping accuracy and throughput are necessary to improve our understanding of quantitative variation and to be able to deconstruct complex traits such as those involved in growth responses to the environment. Still, only a few facilities are known to handle individual plants of small stature for non-destructive, real-time phenotype acquisition from plants grown in precisely adjusted and variable experimental conditions. Here, we describe Phenoscope, a high-throughput phenotyping platform that has the unique feature of continuously rotating 735 individual pots over a table. It automatically adjusts watering and is equipped with a zenithal imaging system to monitor rosette size and expansion rate during the vegetative stage, with automatic image analysis allowing manual correction. When applied to Arabidopsis thaliana, we show that rotating the pots strongly reduced micro-environmental disparity: heterogeneity in evaporation was cut by a factor of 2.5 and the number of replicates needed to detect a specific mild genotypic effect was reduced by a factor of 3. In addition, by controlling a large proportion of the micro-environmental variance, other tangible sources of variance become noticeable. Overall, Phenoscope makes it possible to perform large-scale experiments that would not be possible or reproducible by hand. When applied to a typical quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping experiment, we show that mapping power is more limited by genetic complexity than phenotyping accuracy. This will help to draw a more general picture as to how genetic diversity shapes phenotypic variation.
Interspecific hybrids are commonplace in agriculture and horticulture; bread wheat and grapefruit are but two examples. The benefits derived from interspecific hybridisation include the potential of generating advantageous transgressive phenotypes. This paper describes the generation of a new breed of wine yeast by interspecific hybridisation between a commercial Saccharomyces cerevisiae wine yeast strain and Saccharomyces mikatae, a species hitherto not associated with industrial fermentation environs. While commercially available wine yeast strains provide consistent and reliable fermentations, wines produced using single inocula are thought to lack the sensory complexity and rounded palate structure obtained from spontaneous fermentations. In contrast, interspecific yeast hybrids have the potential to deliver increased complexity to wine sensory properties and alternative wine styles through the formation of novel, and wider ranging, yeast volatile fermentation metabolite profiles, whilst maintaining the robustness of the wine yeast parent. Screening of newly generated hybrids from a cross between a S. cerevisiae wine yeast and S. mikatae (closely-related but ecologically distant members of the Saccharomyces sensu stricto clade), has identified progeny with robust fermentation properties and winemaking potential. Chemical analysis showed that, relative to the S. cerevisiae wine yeast parent, hybrids produced wines with different concentrations of volatile metabolites that are known to contribute to wine flavour and aroma, including flavour compounds associated with non-Saccharomycesspecies. The new S. cerevisiae x S. mikatae hybrids have the potential to produce complex wines akin to products of spontaneous fermentation while giving winemakers the safeguard of an inoculated ferment.
Variation in the expression of numerous genes is at the basis of plant response to environmental stresses. Non-target-site-based resistance to herbicides (NTSR), the major threat to grass weed chemical control, is governed by a subset of the genes involved in herbicide stress response. Quantitative PCR assays allowing reliable comparison of gene expression are thus key to identify genes governing NTSR. This work aimed at identifying a set of reference genes with a stable expression to be used as an internal standard for the normalisation of quantitative PCR data in studies investigating NTSR to herbicides inhibiting acetolactate synthase (ALS) in the major grass weed Lolium sp. Gene expression stability was assessed in plants resistant or sensitive to two ALS inhibitors, subjected or not to herbicide stress. Using three complementary approaches implemented in the programs BestKeeper, NormFinder and geNorm, cap-binding protein, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate-dehydrogenase and ubiquitin were identified as the most suitable reference genes. This reference gene set can probably be used to study herbicide response in other weed species. It was used to compare the expression of the genes encoding two herbicide target enzymes (ALS and acetyl-coenzyme A carboxylase) and five cytochromes P450 (CYP) with potential herbicide-degrading activity between plants resistant or sensitive to ALS inhibitors. Overall, herbicide application enhanced CYP gene expression. Constitutive up-regulation of all CYP genes observed in resistant plants compared to sensitive plants suggested enhanced secondary metabolism in the resistant plants. Comprehensive transcriptome studies associated to gene expression analyses using the reference gene set validated here are required to unravel NTSR genetic determinants.
Genomics-based breeding of economically important crops such as banana, coffee, cotton, potato, tobacco and wheat is often hampered by genome size, polyploidy and high repeat content. We adapted the sequence-based Whole Genome Profiling (WGP ) technology to gain insight into the polyploidy of the model plant Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco). N. tabacum is assumed to originate from a hybridization event between Nicotiana sylvestris and Nicotiana tomentosiformis about 200,000 years ago. This resulted in tobacco having a haploid genome size of 4,500 million base pairs, about four times larger than the related tomato and potato genomes. In this study a physical map containing 9,750 contigs of bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) was constructed. The average contig size was 462 kbp, and the calculated genome coverage equaled the estimated tobacco genome size. We used a method for determination of the ancestral origin of the genome by annotation of WGP sequence tags. This assignment agreed with the ancestral annotation available from the tobacco genetic map and may be used to investigate the evolution of homoeologous genome segments after polyploidization. The map generated will be an essential scaffold for the tobacco genome. We propose the combination of WGP physical mapping technology with tag profiling of ancestral lines as a generally applicable method to elucidate the ancestral origin of genome segments of polyploid species. The physical mapping of genes and their origins will enable application of biotechnology to polyploid plants aimed at accelerating and increasing the precision of breeding for abiotic and biotic stress resistance. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
SummaryOaks (Quercus spp.), which are major forest trees in the northern hemisphere, host many biotic interactions, but molecular investigation of these interactions is limited by fragmentary genome data. To date, only 75 oak expressed sequence tags (ESTs) have been characterized in ectomycorrhizal (EM) symbioses.We synthesized seven beneficial and detrimental biotic interactions between microorganisms and animals and a clone (DF159) of Quercus robur. Sixteen 454 and eight Illumina cDNA libraries from leaves and roots were prepared and merged to establish a reference for RNA-Seq transcriptomic analysis of oak EMs with Piloderma croceum.Using the Mimicking Intelligent Read Assembly (MIRA) and Trinity assembler, the OakContigDF159.1 hybrid assembly, containing 65 712 contigs with a mean length of 1003 bp, was constructed, giving broad coverage of metabolic pathways. This allowed us to identify 3018 oak contigs that were differentially expressed in EMs, with genes encoding proline-rich cell wall proteins and ethylene signalling-related transcription factors showing up-regulation while auxin and defence-related genes were down-regulated.In addition to the first report of remorin expression in EMs, the extensive coverage provided by the study permitted detection of differential regulation within large gene families (nitrogen, phosphorus and sugar transporters, aquaporins). This might indicate specific mechanisms of genome regulation in oak EMs compared with other trees.
To develop genetic improvement strategies to modulate raffinose family oligosaccharides (RFO) concentration in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) seeds, RFO and their precursor concentrations were analyzed in 171 chickpea genotypes from diverse geographical origins. The genotypes were grown in replicated trials over two years in the field (Patancheru, India) and in the greenhouse (Saskatoon, Canada). Analysis of variance revealed a significant impact of genotype, environment, and their interaction on RFO concentration in chickpea seeds. Total RFO concentration ranged from 1.58 to 5.31 mmol/100 g and from 2.11 to 5.83 mmol/100 g in desi and kabuli genotypes, respectively. Sucrose (0.60–3.59 g/100 g) and stachyose (0.18–2.38 g/100 g) were distinguished as the major soluble sugar and RFO, respectively. Correlation analysis revealed a significant positive correlation between substrate and product concentration in RFO biosynthesis. In chickpea seeds, raffinose, stachyose, and verbascose showed a moderate broad sense heritability (0.25–0.56), suggesting the use of a multilocation trials based approach in chickpea seed quality improvement programs.
This is a really exciting time for phytochemistry research. Plant scientists studying specialized plant metabolism (previously often known as ‘secondary metabolism’) can foresee tremendous advances in their understanding of the mechanisms underlying the production and function of an enormous variety of plant metabolites, and of their regulation and evolution. Such remarkable progress would never have been expected 10 years ago and has taken place in just the last few years (Yonekura-Sakakibara and Saito 2009).
Two technological breakthroughs seem to have been the key triggers for this unforeseen progress: metabolomics and mass DNA sequencing. Metabolomics is <15 years old, yet the concept was immediately applied to the plant field as scientists realized its tremendous potential for understanding the capacity of plants for making a huge array of compounds (Bino et al. 2004). Metabolomics now makes possible comprehensive profiling of nearly all the metabolites that accumulate in plant cells (Saito and Matsuda 2010). The second technological breakthrough was ultra-high-throughput DNA sequencing, with so-called ‘next-generation DNA sequencers’ (Wang et al. 2009, Ozsolak and Milos 2011). Until the realization of this technology, no one would have anticipated genomics-based studies of hundreds of medicinal or exotic plant species—genomics was only for model plants or major crops, whose genome sequences could only be revealed by large international research consortia (or by huge …
Proper preservation of transgenes and transgenic materials is important for wider use of transgenic technology in plants. Here, we report stable preservation and faithful expression of a transgene via artificial seed technology in alfalfa. DNA constructs containing the uid reporter gene coding for β-glucuronidase (GUS) driven by a 35S promoter or a tCUP promoter were introduced into alfalfa via Agrobacterium-mediated genetic transformation. Somatic embryos were subsequently induced from transgenic alfalfa plants via in vitro technology. These embryos were treated with abscisic acid to induce desiccation tolerance and were subjected to a water loss process. After the desiccation procedure, the water content in dried embryos, or called artificial seeds, was about 12–15% which was equivalent to that in true seeds. Upon water rehydration, the dried somatic embryos showed high degrees of viability and exhibited normal germination. Full plants were subsequently developed and recovered in a greenhouse. The progeny plants developed from artificial seeds showed GUS enzyme activity and the GUS expression level was comparable to that of plants developed from somatic embryos without the desiccation process. Polymerase chain reaction analysis indicated that the transgene was well retained in the plants and Southern blot analysis showed that the transgene was stably integrated in plant genome. The research showed that the transgene and the new trait can be well preserved in artificial seeds and the progeny developed. The research provides a new method for transgenic germplasm preservation in different plant species.
Cassava (Manihot esculenta), a major staple crop, is the main source of calories for 500 million people across the globe. No other continent depends on cassava to feed as many people as does Africa. Cassava is indispensable to food security in Africa. It is a widely preferred and consumed staple, as well as a hardy crop that can be stored in the ground as a fall-back source of food that can save lives in times of famine. Despite the importance of cassava for food security on the African continent, it has received relatively little research and development attention compared to other staples such as wheat, rice and maize. The key to unlocking the full potential of cassava lies largely in bringing cassava breeding into the 21st century.
Why genomic selection?
Genomic Selection is a new plant breeding method that uses statistical modeling to predict how a plant will perform, before it is field-tested. Novel statistical models and bioinformatics tools, combined with increasingly abundant genomic information, have enabled the deployment of prediction-based breeding methods such as Genomic Selection in crop breeding programs. Giving breeders the ability to select based on predictions rather than observations will result in much improved genetic gains and efficiency.
Access to data and tools for breeders and researchers, including genomic selection algorithms and analysis capacity, a cassava genome browser, cassava ontology tools, phenotyping tools, and social networking.
The PLAnt co-EXpression database (PLANEX) is a new internet-based database for plant gene analysis. PLANEX (http://planex.plantbioinformatics.org) contains publicly available GeneChip data obtained from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). PLANEX is a genome-wide co-expression database, which allows for the functional identification of genes from a wide variety of experimental designs. It can be used for the characterization of genes for functional identification and analysis of a gene's dependency among other genes. Gene co-expression databases have been developed for other species, but gene co-expression information for plants is currently limited.
Description: We constructed PLANEX as a list of co-expressed genes and functional annotations for Arabidopsis thaliana, Glycine max, Hordeum vulgare, Oryza sativa, Solanum lycopersicum, Triticum aestivum, Vitis vinifera and Zea mays. PLANEX reports Pearson's correlation coefficients (PCCs; r-values) that distribute from a gene of interest for a given microarray platform set corresponding to a particular organism. To support PCCs, PLANEX performs an enrichment test of Gene Ontology terms and Cohen's Kappa value to compare functional similarity for all genes in the co-expression database. PLANEX draws a cluster network with co-expressed genes, which is estimated using the k-mean method. To construct PLANEX, a variety of datasets were interpreted by the IBM supercomputer Advanced Interactive eXecutive (AIX) in a supercomputing center.
PLANEX provides a correlation database, a cluster network and an interpretation of enrichment test results for eight plant species. A typical co-expressed gene generates lists of co-expression data that contain hundreds of genes of interest for enrichment analysis. Also, co-expressed genes can be identified and cataloged in terms of comparative genomics by using the 'Co-expression gene compare' feature. This type of analysis will help interpret experimental data and determine whether there is a common term among genes of interest.
The use of crop wild relatives (CWRs) in breeding is likely to continue to intensify as utilization techniques improve and crop adaptation to climate change becomes more pressing. Significant gaps remain in the conservation of these genetic resources. As a first step toward a national strategy for the conservation of CWRs, we present an inventory of taxa occurring in the United States, with suggested prioritization of species based on potential value in crop improvement. We listed 4600 taxa from 985 genera and 194 plant families, including CWRs of potential value via breeding as well as wild species of direct use for food, forage, medicine, herb, ornamental, and/or environmental restoration purposes. United States CWRs are related to a broad range of important food, forage and feed, medicinal, ornamental, and industrial crops. Some potentially valuable species are threatened in the wild, including relatives of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.), walnut (Juglans regia L.), pepo squash (Cucurbita pepo L.), wild rice (Zizania L.), raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.), and plum (Prunus salicina Lindl.), and few accessions of such taxa are currently conserved ex situ. We prioritize 821 taxa from 69 genera primarily related to major food crops, particularly the approximately 285 native taxa from 30 genera that are most closely related to such crops. Both the urgent collection for ex situ conservation and the management of such taxa in protected areas are warranted, necessitating partnerships between concerned organizations, aligned with regional and global initiatives to conserve and provide access to CWR diversity.
Abstract: Taro leaf blight (caused by the Oomycete Phytophthora colocasiae) is a disease of major importance in many regions of the world where taro is grown. Serious outbreaks of taro leaf blight in Samoa in 1993 and in the last few years in Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria continue to demonstrate the devastating impact of this disease on the livelihoods and food security of small farmers and rural communities dependent on the crop. The spread of the disease to new geographical areas also poses a major threat to neighbouring countries and taro growing regions still free from the disease. Past research, particularly in the Pacific, has demonstrated that management measures such as chemical and cultural control are largely ineffective and that breeding for disease resistance is the most sustainable approach to manage the disease. Recently, the Pacific and South-east Asian regional taro networks have made excellent progress in developing cultivars resistant to taro leaf blight through enhanced utilization of taro genetic resources and close collaboration between farmers and researchers in breeding programs. These programs have secured vital taro genetic resources for future use. This paper provides an overview of the disease, its origin, distribution, biology, epidemiology, management and global impact. The paper will largely focus on breeding strategies to address the disease including challenges, opportunities and constraints. It also discusses how these breeding experiences and outputs can be scaled up to other geographical areas where the disease has been recently introduced or under threat of introduction.
Hop-derived aroma characteristics in beer are very important for the quality of beer. This study compared the differences of hop aroma characteristics and the compounds contained in beer by changing the variety of hops applying the idea of “food metabolomics” on the GC×GC/TOF-MS analysis data, to clarify which aroma compounds contribute to the differences of hop aroma profiles indicated by sensory descriptors. As a result, by focusing only on hop-derived compounds, 67 compounds were strongly correlated with one or more of the sensory descriptors. Furthermore, the odor descriptions of each key compound corresponded well to each sensory descriptor. Thus, these compounds are likely to be the key compounds explaining the differences of hop aroma characteristics in beer. This study led to the suggestion that understanding the relationship between the comprehensive nontarget analysis by GC×GC-TOF/MS and organoleptic evaluation using PCA is effective in estimating the key compounds.
Plant Breeding and Genomics on eXtension.org's insight:
The sequenced genomes of cucumber, melon and watermelon have relatively few R-genes, with 70, 75 and 55 copies only, respectively. The mechanism for low copy number of R-genes in Cucurbitaceae genomes remains unknown.
Manual annotation of R-genes in the sequenced genomes of Cucurbitaceae species showed that approximately half of them are pseudogenes. Comparative analysis of R-genes showed frequent loss of R-gene loci in different Cucurbitaceae species. Phylogenetic analysis, data mining and PCR cloning using degenerate primers indicated that Cucurbitaceae has limited number of R-gene lineages (subfamilies). Comparison between R-genes from Cucurbitaceae and those from poplar and soybean suggested frequent loss of R-gene lineages in Cucurbitaceae. Furthermore, the average number of R-genes per lineage in Cucurbitaceae species is approximately 1/3 that in soybean or poplar. Therefore, both loss of lineages and deficient duplications in extant lineages accounted for the low copy number of R-genes in Cucurbitaceae. No extensive chimeras of R-genes were found in any of the sequenced Cucurbitaceae genomes. Nevertheless, one lineage of R-genes from Trichosanthes kirilowii, a wild Cucurbitaceae species, exhibits chimeric structures caused by gene conversions, and may contain a large number of distinct R-genes in natural populations.
Cucurbitaceae species have limited number of R-gene lineages and each genome harbors relatively few R-genes. The scarcity of R-genes in Cucurbitaceae species was due to frequent loss of R-gene lineages and infrequent duplications in extant lineages. The evolutionary mechanisms for large variation of copy number of R-genes in different plant species were discussed.
Oryza, which includes rice and wild relatives, is a useful genus to study leaf properties in order to identify structural features that control CO2 access to chloroplasts, photosynthesis, water use efficiency and drought tolerance. Traits, 26 structural and 17 functional, associated with photosynthesis and transpiration were quantified on 24 accessions (representatives of 17 species and 8 genomes). Hypotheses of associations within, and between, structure, photosynthesis and transpiration were tested. Two main clusters of positively inter-related leaf traits were identified: in the first cluster were structural features, leaf thickness (Thickleaf), mesophyll (M) cell surface area exposed to intercellular air space per unit leaf surface area (Smes), and M cell size; a second group included functional traits, net photosynthetic rate (A), transpiration rate (E), M conductance to CO2 diffusion (gm), stomatal conductance to gas diffusion (gs) and the gm/gs ratio. While A was positively correlated with gm, neither was significantly linked with any individual structural traits. The results suggest changes in gm depend on covariations of multiple leaf (Smes) and M cell (including cell wall thickness) structural traits. There was an inverse relationship between Thickleaf and E, and a significant positive association between Thickleaf and leaf transpiration efficiency (expressed as A/gs_H2O or A/E). Interestingly, high gm together with high gm/gs and a low Smes/gm ratio (M resistance to CO2 diffusion per unit cell surface area exposed to IAS) appear to be ideal for supporting leaf photosynthesis while preserving water; in addition, thick mesophyll cell walls may be beneficial for plant drought tolerance.
To coincide with the 2nd International Fascination of Plants Day and contribute by getting as many people as possible around the world fascinated by plants,Taylor & Francis is offering you free access to a definitive list of key articles related to the event. Simply click on any of the articles below to claim your instant, free access.
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Terpenoids constitute a large and diverse class of natural products that serve many functions in nature. Most of the tens of thousands of the discovered terpenoids are synthesized by plants, where they function as primary metabolites involved in growth and development, or as secondary metabolites that optimize the interaction between the plant and its environment. Several plant terpenoids are economically important molecules that serve many applications as pharmaceuticals, pesticides, etc. Major challenges for the commercialization of plant-derived terpenoids include their low production levels in planta and the continuous demand of industry for novel molecules with new or superior biological activities. Here, we highlight several synthetic biology methods to enhance and diversify the production of plant terpenoids, with a foresight towards triterpenoid engineering, the least engineered class of bioactive terpenoids. Increased or cheaper production of valuable triterpenoids may be obtained by ‘classic’ metabolic engineering of plants or by heterologous production of the compounds in other plants or microbes. Novel triterpenoid structures can be generated through combinatorial biosynthesis or directed enzyme evolution approaches. In its ultimate form, synthetic biology may lead to the production of large amounts of plant triterpenoids in in vitro systems or custom-designed artificial biological systems.
Comparative stress resistance of 1-year-old white birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.), balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera L.), and trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) seedlings was evaluated after exposure to freezing or defoliation. Photosynthesis in leaves surviving freezing (−5 °C) declined immediately after treatment, but nearly fully recovered within 3 weeks. Defoliation did not significantly increase photosynthesis in the remaining leaves. Refoliation occurred after freezing that killed terminal shoots and released current buds from apical dominance, while new leaves of larger size were produced through continuous growth of terminal shoots in 50% or 100% defoliation. Freezing and complete defoliation significantly reduced diameter and height growth in all species, whereas 50% defoliation did not affect growth. These results indicate some of the physiological and morphological responses to foliage loss in broadleaved boreal species that can help to maintain growth and productivity under a warming climate, which may result in more frequent damaging spring frosts and insect defoliation.
Photosynthesis underpins the viability of most ecosystems, with C4 plants that exhibit 'Kranz' anatomy being the most efficient primary producers. Kranz anatomy is characterized by closely spaced veins that are encircled by two morphologically distinct photosynthetic cell-types. Although Kranz evolved multiple times, the underlying genetic mechanisms remain largely elusive, with only the maize scarecrow gene thus far implicated in Kranz patterning. To provide a broader oversight into the regulation of Kranz differentiation, we carried out a genome wide comparative analysis of developmental trajectories in Kranz (foliar leaf blade) and non-Kranz (husk leaf sheath) leaves of the C4 plant maize. Using profile classification of gene expression in early leaf primordia, we identified cohorts of genes associated with procambium initiation and vascular patterning. In addition, we used supervised classification criteria inferred from anatomical and developmental analyses of five developmental stages, to identify candidate regulators of cell-type specification. Our analysis supports the suggestion that Kranz anatomy is patterned, at least in part, by a SCARECROW/SHORTROOT regulatory network and elucidates likely components of that network. Furthermore, the data infer a role for additional pathways in the development of Kranz leaves. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.