Exposure to green space has been associated with better physical and mental health. Although this exposure could also influence cognitive development in children, available epidemiological evidence on such an impact is scarce. This study aimed to assess the association between exposure to green space and measures of cognitive development in primary schoolchildren. This study was based on 2,593 schoolchildren in the second to fourth grades (7–10 y) of 36 primary schools in Barcelona, Spain (2012–2013). Cognitive development was assessed as 12-mo change in developmental trajectory of working memory, superior working memory, and inattentiveness by using four repeated (every 3 mo) computerized cognitive tests for each outcome. We assessed exposure to green space by characterizing outdoor surrounding greenness at home and school and during commuting by using high-resolution (5 m × 5 m) satellite data on greenness (normalized difference vegetation index). Multilevel modeling was used to estimate the associations between green spaces and cognitive development. We observed an enhanced 12-mo progress in working memory and superior working memory and a greater 12-mo reduction in inattentiveness associated with greenness within and surrounding school boundaries and with total surrounding greenness index (including greenness surrounding home, commuting route, and school). Adding a traffic-related air pollutant (elemental carbon) to models explained 20–65% of our estimated associations between school greenness and 12-mo cognitive development. Our study showed a beneficial association between exposure to green space and cognitive development among schoolchildren that was partly mediated by reduction in exposure to air pollution
Existing agrochemicals can be endowed with new applications through protein engineering of plant receptors. A recent study shows an engineered PYR1 ABA receptor can be activated by mandipropamid. Plants engineered with such PYR1 variant are responsive to this agrochemical, which confers protection against drought through activation of ABA signaling.
Betalains, a small group of alkaloid pigments restricted to certain families of the Caryophyllales, have comparable optical properties and share similar histological locations in vegetative tissues with those of the more abundant anthocyanins. It has long been speculated that the two pigments are functional homologues in plant-environment interactions. Recent empirical evidence indicates that anthocyanins and betacyanins are both effective photoprotectants, are associated with increased tolerance to drought and salinity stress, and are efficient scavengers of reactive oxygen species in plants facing a variety of abiotic stressors. Nevertheless, the capacity of betalains to maintain a red colour irrespective of changes in vacuolar pH, their enhanced absorptivity of visible wavelengths, and their strong association with vacuolar ATPase activity, suggest that they may confer adaptive benefits not found in those species that produce anthocyanins. There remains much to be learned about the functional significance of betalains.
Many phylogenomic studies based on transcriptomes have been limited to “single-copy” genes due to methodological challenges in homology and orthology inferences. Only a relatively small number of studies have explored analyses beyond reconstructing species relationships. We sampled 69 transcriptomes in the hyperdiverse plant clade Caryophyllales and 27 outgroups from annotated genomes across eudicots. Using a combined similarity- and phylogenetic tree-based approach, we recovered 10,960 homolog groups, where each was represented by at least eight ingroup taxa. By decomposing these homolog trees, and taking gene duplications into account, we obtained 17,273 ortholog groups, where each was represented by at least ten ingroup taxa. We reconstructed the species phylogeny using a 1,122-gene data set with a gene occupancy of 92.1%. From the homolog trees, we found that both synonymous and nonsynonymous substitution rates in herbaceous lineages are up to three times as fast as in their woody relatives. This is the first time such a pattern has been shown across thousands of nuclear genes with dense taxon sampling. We also pinpointed regions of the Caryophyllales tree that were characterized by relatively high frequencies of gene duplication, including three previously unrecognized whole-genome duplications. By further combining information from homolog tree topology and synonymous distance between paralog pairs, phylogenetic locations for 13 putative genome duplication events were identified. Genes that experienced the greatest gene family expansion were concentrated among those involved in signal transduction and oxidoreduction, including a cytochrome P450 gene that encodes a key enzyme in the betalain synthesis pathway. Our approach demonstrates a new approach for functional phylogenomic analysis in nonmodel species that is based on homolog groups in addition to inferred ortholog groups.
•Organic farming suffers from lower productivity than conventional agriculture because the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers is restricted. •Rewilding furnishes crops with lost properties that their ancestors once had to tolerate adverse environmental conditions. •Rewilding is in accordance with the values of organic breeding and would contribute to closing the yield gap. •New breeding techniques that involve methods of genetic engineering allow for rewilding in a way that the final crop cannot be distinguished from a crop bred by traditional means.
Organic farming is based on the concept of working ‘with nature’ instead of against it; however, compared with conventional farming, organic farming reportedly has lower productivity. Ideally, the goal should be to narrow this yield gap. In this review, we specifically discuss the feasibility of new breeding techniques (NBTs) for rewilding, a process involving the reintroduction of properties from the wild relatives of crops, as a method to close the productivity gap. The most efficient methods of rewilding are based on modern biotechnology techniques, which have yet to be embraced by the organic farming movement. Thus, the question arises of whether the adoption of such methods is feasible, not only from a technological perspective, but also from conceptual, socioeconomic, ethical, and regulatory perspectives.
The potential impact of genetically modified (GM) plants on human health has attracted much attention worldwide, and the issue remains controversial. This is in sharp contrast to the broad acceptance of plants produced by breeding through Marker Assisted Backcrossing (MAB). Focusing on transcriptome variation and perturbation to signaling pathways, we assessed the molecular and biological aspects of substantial equivalence, a general principle for food safety endorsed by the Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization, between a transgenic crop and a plant from MAB breeding. We compared a transgenic rice line (DXT) and a MAB rice line (DXB), both of which contain the gene Xa21 providing resistance to bacterial leaf blight. By using Next-Generation sequencing data of DXT, DXB and their parental line (D62B), we compared the transcriptome variation of DXT and DXB. Remarkably, DXT had 43% fewer differentially expressed genes (DEGs) than DXB. The genes exclusively expressed in DXT and in DXB have pathogen and stress defense functions. Functional categories of DEGs in DXT were comparable to that in DXB, and seven of the eleven pathways significantly affected by transgenesis were also perturbed by MAB breeding. These results indicated that the transgenic rice and rice from MAB breeding are substantial equivalent at the transcriptome level, and paved a way for further study of transgenic rice, e.g., understanding the chemical and nutritional properties of the DEGs identified in the current study. Keywords: Transgenesis; Marker-assisted backcrossing; Substantial equivalence; Transcriptome profile; Xa21
Mapping agricultural crops is an important application of remote sensing. However, in many cases it is based either on hyperspectral imagery or on multitemporal coverage, both of which are difficult to scale up to large-scale deployment at high spatial resolution. In the present paper, we evaluate the possibility of crop classification based on single images from very high-resolution (VHR) satellite sensors. The main objective of this work is to expose performance difference between state-of-the-art parcel-based smoothing and purely data-driven conditional random field (CRF) smoothing, which is yet unknown. To fulfill this objective, we perform extensive tests with four different classification methods (Support Vector Machines, Random Forest, Gaussian Mixtures, and Maximum Likelihood) to compute the pixel-wise data term; and we also test two different definitions of the pairwise smoothness term. We have performed a detailed evaluation on different multispectral VHR images (Ikonos, QuickBird, Kompsat-2). The main finding of this study is that pairwise CRF smoothing comes close to the state-of-the-art parcel-based method that requires parcel boundaries (average difference ≈ 2.5%). Our results indicate that a single multispectral (R, G, B, NIR) image is enough to reach satisfactory classification accuracy for six crop classes (corn, pasture, rice, sugar beet, wheat, and tomato) in Mediterranean climate. Overall, it appears that crop mapping using only one-shot VHR imagery taken at the right time may be a viable alternative, especially since high-resolution multitemporal or hyperspectral coverage as well as parcel boundaries are in practice often not available.
Shoot phototropism enables plants to position their photosynthetic organs in favorable light conditions and thus benefits growth and metabolism in land plants. To understand the evolution of this response, we established an experimental system to study phototropism in gametophores of the moss Physcomitrella patens. The phototropic response of gametophores occurs slowly; a clear response takes place more than 24 hours after the onset of unilateral light irradiation, likely due to the slow growth rate of gametophores. We also found that red and far-red light can induce phototropism, with blue light being less effective. These results suggest that plants used a broad range of light wavelengths as phototropic signals during the early evolution of land plants.
Music performance by professional musicians involves a wide-spectrum of cognitive and multi-sensory motor skills, whose biological basis is unknown. Several neuroscientific studies have demonstrated that the brains of professional musicians and non-musicians differ structurally and functionally and that musical training enhances cognition. However, the molecules and molecular mechanisms involved in music performance remain largely unexplored. Here, we investigated the effect of music performance on the genome-wide peripheral blood transcriptome of professional musicians by analyzing the transcriptional responses after a 2-hr concert performance and after a /`music-free/' control session. The up-regulated genes were found to affect dopaminergic neurotransmission, motor behavior, neuronal plasticity, and neurocognitive functions including learning and memory. Particularly, candidate genes such as SNCA, FOS and DUSP1 that are involved in song perception and production in songbirds, were identified, suggesting an evolutionary conservation in biological processes related to sound perception/production. Additionally, modulation of genes related to calcium ion homeostasis, iron ion homeostasis, glutathione metabolism, and several neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases implied that music performance may affect the biological pathways that are otherwise essential for the proper maintenance of neuronal function and survival. For the first time, this study provides evidence for the candidate genes and molecular mechanisms underlying music performance.
Barley (Hordeum vulgare ssp. vulgare) is an excellent model for understanding agricultural responses to climate change. Its initial domestication over 10 millennia ago and subsequent wide migration provide striking evidence of adaptation to different environments, agro-ecologies and uses. A bottleneck in the selection of modern varieties has resulted in a reduction in total genetic diversity and a loss of specific alleles relevant to climate-smart agriculture. However, extensive and well-curated collections of landraces, wild barley accessions (H. vulgare ssp. spontaneum) and other Hordeum species exist and are important new allele sources. A wide range of genomic and analytical tools have entered the public domain for exploring and capturing this variation, and specialized populations, mutant stocks and transgenics facilitate the connection between genetic diversity and heritable phenotypes. These lay the biological, technological and informational foundations for developing climate-resilient crops tailored to specific environments that are supported by extensive environmental and geographical databases, new methods for climate modelling and trait/environment association analyses, and decentralized participatory improvement methods. Case studies of important climate-related traits and their constituent genes – including examples that are indicative of the complexities involved in designing appropriate responses – are presented, and key developments for the future highlighted.
There’s no doubt that the next generation of GM crops will look very little like the oft-maligned varieties available today. The possibilities are nearly limitless, as are the rewards. And with the world’s climate changing rapidly, there’s no doubt that agriculture will need to change with it, to keep pace with an unpredictable environment. The future of agriculture may very well depend on the ingenuity of geneticists and the GMOs they create. The real question is, will these new varieties be able to do what current ones cannot: win over the hearts and minds of the people they’re designed for.
While ongoing climate change can increase the number of days above freezing, changes in other climatic conditions will lead to fewer days when plants can grow, which in turn will affect biodiversity and people. See the Synopsis.
Over the past two decades, the moss Physcomitrella patens has been developed from scratch to a model species in basic research and in biotechnology. A fully sequenced genome, outstanding possibilities for precise genome-engineering via homologous recombination (knockout moss), a certified GMP production in moss bioreactors, successful upscaling to 500 L wave reactors, excellent homogeneity of protein glycosylation, remarkable batch-to-batch stability and a safe cryopreservation for master cell banking are some of the key features of the moss system. Several human proteins are being produced in this system as potential biopharmaceuticals. Among the products are tumour-directed monoclonal antibodies with enhanced antibody-dependent cytotoxicity (ADCC), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), complement factor H (FH), keratinocyte growth factor (FGF7/KGF), epidermal growth factor (EGF), hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), asialo-erythropoietin (asialo-EPO, AEPO), alpha-galactosidase (aGal) and beta-glucocerebrosidase (GBA). Further, an Env-derived multi-epitope HIV protein as a candidate vaccine was produced, and first steps for a metabolic engineering of P. patens have been made. Some of the recombinant biopharmaceuticals from moss bioreactors are not only similar to those produced in mammalian systems such as CHO cells, but are of superior quality (biobetters). The first moss-made pharmaceutical, aGal to treat Morbus Fabry, is in clinical trials.
The ability of scientific knowledge to contribute to public debate about societal risks depends on how the public assimilates information resulting from the scientific community. Bayesian decision theory assumes that people update a belief by allocating weights to a prior belief and new information to form a posterior belief. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of prior beliefs on assimilation of scientific information and test several hypotheses about the manner in which people process scientific information on genetically modified food and global warming. Results indicated that assimilation of information is dependent on prior beliefs and that the failure to converge a posterior belief to information is a result of several factors including: misinterpreting information, illusionary correlations, selectively scrutinizing information, information-processing problems, knowledge, political affiliation, and cognitive function.
Following the consensus view for unitary origin and conserved function of stomata across over 400 million years of land plant evolution, stomatal abundance has been widely used to reconstruct palaeo-atmospheric environments. However, the responsiveness of stomata in mosses and hornworts, the most basal stomate lineages of extant land plants, has received relatively little attention. This study aimed to redress this imbalance and provide the first direct evidence of bryophyte stomatal responsiveness to atmospheric CO2.
Betalain pigments are unique to the Caryophyllales and structurally and biosynthetically distinct from anthocyanins. Two key enzymes within the betalain synthesis pathway have been identified: 4,5-dioxygenase (DODA) that catalyzes the formation of betalamic acid and CYP76AD1, a cytochrome P450 gene that catalyzes the formation of cyclo-DOPA. We performed phylogenetic analyses to reveal the evolutionary history of the DODA and CYP76AD1 lineages and in the context of an ancestral reconstruction of pigment states we explored the evolution of these genes in relation to the complex evolution of pigments in Caryophylalles. Duplications within the CYP76AD1 and DODA lineages arose just before the origin of betalain pigmentation in the core Caryophyllales. The duplications gave rise to DODA-α and CYP76AD1-α isoforms that appear specific to betalain synthesis. Both betalain-specific isoforms were then lost or downregulated in the anthocyanic Molluginaceae and Caryophyllaceae. Our findings suggest a single origin of the betalain synthesis pathway, with neofunctionalization following gene duplications in the CYP76AD1 and DODA lineages. Loss of DODA-α and CYP76AD1-α in anthocyanic taxa suggests that betalain pigmentation has been lost twice in Caryophyllales, and exclusion of betalain pigments from anthocyanic taxa is mediated through gene loss or downregulation. [Correction added after online publication 13 May 2015: in the last two paragraphs of the Summary the gene name CYP761A was changed to CYP76AD1.]
Two methods were developed for the generation of cisgenic apples. Both have been successfully applied producing trees. The first method avoids the use of any foreign selectable marker genes; only the gene-of-interest is integrated between the T-DNA border sequences. The second method makes use of recombinase-based marker excision. For the first method we used the MdMYB10 gene from a red-fleshed apple coding for a transcription factor involved in regulating anthocyanin biosynthesis. Red plantlets were obtained and presence of the cisgene was confirmed. Plantlets were grafted and grown in a greenhouse. After 3 years, the first flowers appeared, showing red petals. Pollination led to production of red-fleshed cisgenic apples. The second method used the pM(arker)F(ree) vector system, introducing the scab resistance gene Rvi6, derived from apple. Agrobacterium-mediated transformation, followed by selection on kanamycin, produced genetically modified apple lines. Next, leaves from in vitro material were treated to activate the recombinase leading to excision of selection genes. Subsequently, the leaf explants were subjected to negative selection for marker-free plantlets by inducing regeneration on medium containing 5-fluorocytosine. After verification of the marker-free nature, the obtained plants were grafted onto rootstocks. Young trees from four cisgenic lines and one intragenic line, all containing Rvi6, were planted in an orchard. Appropriate controls were incorporated in this trial. We scored scab incidence for three consecutive years on leaves after inoculations with Rvi6-avirulent strains. One cisgenic line and the intragenic line performed as well as the resistant control. In 2014 trees started to overcome their juvenile character and formed flowers and fruits. The first results of scoring scab symptoms on apple fruits were obtained. Apple fruits from susceptible controls showed scab symptoms, while fruits from cisgenic and intragenic lines were free of scab.
Nature Plants, Published online: 5 May 2015; | doi:10.1038/nplants.2015.67 ............ Some researchers already consider Arabidopsis as too complex an organism to help inform us about the fundamentals of plant biology and evolution. Plants whose common ancestor with trees and grasses was much more ancient than that of Arabidopsis are becoming popular subjects of investigation. The moss Physcomitrella patens, whose standard laboratory strain was collected from a wood near Cambridge, UK, in 1962, was the subject of over 500 publications in the past five years, while the liverwort Marchantia polymorpha could be the model plant du jour with 126 publications over the same period.
Physcomitrella patens, a haploid dominant plant, is fast becoming a useful molecular genetics and bioinformatics tool due to its key phylogenetic position as a bryophyte in the post-genomic era. Genome sequences from select reference species were compared bioinformatically to Physcomitrella patens using reciprocal blasts with the InParanoid software package. A reference protein interaction database assembled using MySQL by compiling BioGrid, BIND, DIP, and Intact databases was queried for moss orthologs existing for both interacting partners. This method has been used to successfully predict interactions for a number of angiosperm plants.
Results show that moss cells contain extended peptide pools that are hydrolysis products of cell proteins. The peptide pool composition depends on the type of tissue yet always contains peptides derived from the major chloroplast proteins. We observe no correlation between protein abundance, its transcription level, and the amount of endogenous peptides. Active peptidogenesis in protoplasts is probably due to a range of mechanisms, with stress during isolation and immune reaction to Driselase treatment being the key ones. Eighty-nine peptides of protoplasts possess high antimicrobial potential. Genes involved in JA synthesis, as well as those associated with biotic stress, had increased transcription levels in protoplasts. Changes in the peptidome in protoplasts are accompanied by suppression of photosynthetic activity. In our future research, we aim to study which mechanisms of degradation are responsible for the formation of endogenous peptide pools in cells, evaluate biological activity of the peptides, and study the effects of hormones on peptidome formation.
GMO regulation is built on false premises in the EU and the Cartagena biosafety protocols. •
Molecular processes of transgenesis and natural mutation are similar. •
It is time to change GMO regulation toward a science based product oriented legislation. •
Some legislations like the one from Canada rely on Novel crops, conventional or GMOs.
The regulation of genetically engineered crops, in Europe and within the legislation of the Cartagena biosafety protocol is built on false premises: The claim was (and unfortunately still is) that there is a basic difference between conventional and transgenic crops, this despite the fact that this has been rejected on scientifically solid grounds since many years. This contribution collects some major arguments for a fresh look at regulation of transgenic crops, they are in their molecular processes of creation not basically different from conventional crops, which are based in their breeding methods on natural, sometimes enhanced mutation. But the fascination and euphoria of the discoveries in molecular biology and the new perspectives in plant breeding in the sixties and seventies led to the wrong focus on transgenic plants alone. In a collective framing process the initial biosafety debates focused on the novelty of the process of transgenesis. When early debates on the risk assessment merged into legislative decisions, this wrong focus on transgenesis alone seemed uncontested. The process-focused view was also fostered by a conglomerate of concerned scientists and biotechnology companies, both with a vested interest to at least tolerate the rise of the safety threshold to secure research money and to discourage competitors of all kinds. Policy minded people and opponent activists without deeper insight in the molecular science agreed to those efforts without much resistance. It is interesting to realize, that the focus on processes was uncontested by a majority of regulators, this despite of serious early warnings from important authorities in science, mainly of US origin. It is time to change the regulation of genetically modified (GM) crops toward a more science based process — agnostic legislation. Although this article concentrates on the critique of the process-oriented regulation, including some details about the history behind, there should be no misunderstanding that there are other important factors responsible for the failure of this kind of process-oriented regulation, most importantly: the predominance of politics in the decision making processes combined with the lack of serious scientific debates on regulatory matters within the European Union and also in the Cartagena system, the obscure and much too complex decision making structures within the EU, and the active, professional, negative and intimidating role of fundamental opposition against GM crops on all levels dealing with flawed science, often declared as better parallel science published by ‘independent’ scientists.
We communicate the rather remarkable observation that among 291 tested accessions of cultivated sweet potato, all contain one or more transfer DNA (T-DNA) sequences. These sequences, which are shown to be expressed in a cultivated sweet potato clone (“Huachano”) that was analyzed in detail, suggest that an Agrobacterium infection occurred in evolutionary times. One of the T-DNAs is apparently present in all cultivated sweet potato clones, but not in the crop’s closely related wild relatives, suggesting the T-DNA provided a trait or traits that were selected for during domestication. This finding draws attention to the importance of plant–microbe interactions, and given that this crop has been eaten for millennia, it may change the paradigm governing the “unnatural” status of transgenic crops.
•People tend to rely on intuitive reasoning to make a judgment on GMOs. •This intuitive reasoning includes folk biology, teleological and intentional intentions and disgust. •Anti-GMO activists have exploited intuitions successfully to promote their cause. •Intuitive judgments steer people away from sustainable solutions.
Public opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) remains strong. By contrast, studies demonstrate again and again that GM crops make a valuable contribution to the development of a sustainable type of agriculture. The discrepancy between public opinion and the scientific evidence requires an explanation. We argue that intuitive expectations about the world render the human mind vulnerable to particular misrepresentations of GMOs. We explain how the involvement of particular intuitions accounts for the popularity, persistence, and typical features of GM opposition and tackle possible objections to our approach. To conclude, we discuss the implications for science education, science communication, and the environmental movement.
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