The sap-sucking insects (order Hemiptera), including aphids, planthoppers, whiteflies and stink bugs, present one of the greatest challenges for pest management in global agriculture. Insect neurotoxins offer an alternative to chemical insecticides for controlling these pests, but require delivery into the insect hemocoel. Here we use the coat protein of a luteovirus, an aphid-vectored plant virus, to deliver a spider-derived, insect-specific toxin that acts within the hemocoel. The luteovirid coat protein is sufficient for delivery of fused proteins into the hemocoel of pea aphids,Acyrthosiphon pisum, without virion assembly. We show that when four aphid pest species—A. pisum, Rhopalosiphum padi, Aphis glycines and Myzus persicae—feed on a recombinant coat protein–toxin fusion, either in an experimental membrane sachet or in transgenic Arabidopsisplants, they experience significant mortality. Aphids fed on these fusion proteins showed signs of neurotoxin-induced paralysis. Luteovirid coat protein–insect neurotoxin fusions represent a promising strategy for transgenic control of aphids and potentially other hemipteran pests.
Physcomitrella patens is a model bryophyte representing an early land plant in the green plant lineage. This organism possesses many advantages as a model organism. Its genome has been sequenced, its predominant life cycle stage is the haploid gametophyte, it is readily transformable and it can integrate transformed DNA into its genome by homologous recombination. One limitation for the use of P. patens in photosynthesis research is its reported inability to grow photoheterotrophically, in the presence of sucrose and the Photosystem II inhibitor 3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea, which prevents linear photosynthetic electron transport. In this communication we describe the facile isolation of a P. patens strain which can grow photoheterotrophically. Additionally, we have examined a number of photosynthetic parameters for this strain grown under photoautotrophic, mixotrophic (in the presence of sucrose) and photoheterotrophic conditions, as well as the 3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea-inhibited state. The ability to grow P. patens photoheterotrophically should significantly facilitate its use in photosynthetic studies.
Plants develop unorganized cell masses like callus and tumors in response to various biotic and abiotic stimuli. Since the historical discovery that the combination of two growth-promoting hormones, auxin and cytokinin, induces callus from plant explants in vitro, this experimental system has been used extensively in both basic research and horticultural applications. The molecular basis of callus formation has long been obscure, but we are finally beginning to understand how unscheduled cell proliferation is suppressed during normal plant development and how genetic and environmental cues override these repressions to induce callus formation. In this review, we will first provide a brief overview of callus development in nature and in vitro and then describe our current knowledge of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms underlying callus formation.
Stem cells self-renew and produce cells that differentiate to become the source of the plant body. The moss Physcomitrella patens forms eight types of stem cells during its life cycle and serves as a useful model in which to explore the evolution of such cells. The common ancestor of land plants is inferred to have been haplontic and to have formed stem cells only in the gametophyte generation. A single stem cell would have been maintained in the ancestral gametophyte meristem, as occurs in extant basal land plants. During land plant evolution, stem cells diverged in the gametophyte generation to form different types of body parts, including the protonema and rhizoid filaments, leafy-shoot and thalloid gametophores, and gametangia formed in moss. A simplex meristem with a single stem cell was acquired in the sporophyte generation early in land plant evolution. Subsequently, sporophyte stem cells became multiple in the meristem and were elaborated further in seed plant lineages, although the evolutionary origin of niche cells, which maintain stem cells is unknown. Comparisons of gene regulatory networks are expected to give insights into the general mechanisms of stem cell formation and maintenance in land plants and provide information about their evolution. P. patens develops at least seven types of simplex meristem in the gametophyte and at least one type in the sporophyte generation and is a good material for regulatory network comparisons. In this review, we summarize recently revealed molecular mechanisms of stem cell initiation and maintenance in the moss.
Domestication is a good model for the study of evolutionary processes because of the recent evolution of crop species (<12,000 years ago), the key role of selection in their origins, and good archaeological and historical data on their spread and diversification. Recent studies, such as quantitative trait locus mapping, genome-wide association studies and whole-genome resequencing studies, have identified genes that are associated with the initial domestication and subsequent diversification of crops. Together, these studies reveal the functions of genes that are involved in the evolution of crops that are under domestication, the types of mutations that occur during this process and the parallelism of mutations that occur in the same pathways and proteins, as well as the selective forces that are acting on these mutations and that are associated with geographical adaptation of crop species.
Remember that paper from last year that implied that miRNAs from plant food accumulated and were active in the mice that ate the food? Here's a study that is unable to replicate those findings, and an editorial that explains why a "replication" study is suitable for publication in a top tier journal (Nature Biotech).
A comprehensive nonenzymatic oxidation mechanism in betanin plant pigment as well as its derivatives, 2-decarboxybetanin, 17-decarboxybetanin, 2,17-bidecarboxybetanin, and neobetanin, in the presence of ABTS cation radicals was investigated by LC-DAD-ESI-MS/MS. The main compounds formed during the first step of betanin and 2-decarboxybetanin oxidation are 2-decarboxy-2,3-dehydrobetanin and 2-decarboxyneobetanin, respectively. In contrast to betanin, the reaction mechanism for 2-decarboxybetanin includes more oxidation pathways. Parallel transformation of 2-decarboxybetanin quinone methide produces neoderivatives according to an alternative reaction that omits the presumably more stabile intermediate 2-decarboxy-2,3-dehydrobetanin. The main oxidation product after the first reaction step for both 17-decarboxybetanin and 2,17-bidecarboxybetanin is 2,17-decarboxy-2,3-dehydrobetanin. This product is formed through irreversible decarboxylation of the 17-decarboxybetanin quinone methide or by oxidation of 2,17-bidecarboxybetanin. Oxidation of neobetanin results primarily in a formation of 2-decarboxy-2,3-dehydroneobetanin by a decarboxylative transformation of the formed neobetanin quinone methide. The elucidated reaction scheme will be useful in interpretation of redox activities of betalains in biological tissues and food preparations.
A 2-yr field experiment was conducted to determine the effects on Diabrotica spp. (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) of an insecticidal seed treatment (Poncho 1250, (AI)/clothianidin) and a granular insecticide (Aztec 2.1G, (AI)/tebupirimphos and cyfluthrin) alone and in combination with maize producing the insectidical toxin Cry3Bb1 derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Yields for Bt maize plots were significantly greater than for non-Bt maize; however, insecticides did not significantly affect yield. Insecticides significantly decreased root injury in non-Bt maize plots, but there were no significant differences in root injury between Bt maize with or without either insecticide. Maize producing the Bt toxin Cry3Bb1 and the soil-applied insecticide Aztec significantly decreased survival of western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte), while only Bt maize significantly decreased survival of the northern corn rootworm (Diabrotica barberi Smith & Lawrence). For both species, Bt maize and each of the insecticides delayed emergence. In the absence of density-dependent mortality, Bt maize imposed 71 and 80% reduction in survival on the western corn rootworm and the northern corn rootworm, respectively. The data from this study do not support combining insecticide with Bt maize because the addition of insecticide did not increase yield or reduce root injury for Bt maize, and the level of rootworm mortality achieved with conventional insecticide was likely too low to delay the evolution of Bt resistance. In addition, delays in emergence from Bt maize combined with insecticides could promote assortative mating among Bt-selected individuals, which may hasten resistance evolution.
Betalains are one of the major plant pigment groups found in some higher plants and higher fungi. They are not produced naturally in any plant species outside of the order Caryophyllales, nor are they produced by anthocyanin-accumulating Caryophyllales. Here, we attempted to reconstruct the betalain biosynthetic pathway as a self-contained system in an anthocyanin-producing plant species. The combined expressions of a tyrosinase gene from shiitake mushroom and a DOPA 4,5-dioxygenase gene from the four-o'clock plant resulted in successful betalain production in cultured cells of tobacco BY2 and Arabidopsis T87. Transgenic tobacco BY2 cells were bright yellow because of the accumulation of betaxanthins. LC-TOF-MS analyses showed that proline-betaxanthin (Pro-Bx) accumulated as the major betaxanthin in these transgenic BY2 cells. Transgenic Arabidopsis T87 cells also produced betaxanthins, but produced lower levels than transgenic BY2 cells. These results illustrate the success of a novel genetic engineering strategy for betalain biosynthesis.
Farmers can now produce more crops in an environmentally sustainable way at a lower cost thanks to the efforts of hundreds of scientists over the past half-century. Seeds are developed in a laboratory and then field tested to enhance nutritional value or resistance to drought, disease and herbicides. Genetically modified crops are now planted on nearly a quarter of the world's farm land by some 17.3 million farmers. More than 90% of those farmers are smallholders who harvest a few acres in developing countries.
Society, the economy and the environment have benefited enormously from GM crops. India has flipped from cotton importer to exporter because of insect-resistant cotton. Herbicide-tolerant GM crops have stimulated no-tillage farming, reducing soil erosion and greenhouse gas emissions. Insect-resistant GM crops have cut insecticide sprayings by more than 25%—and as much as sevenfold in some parts of India. In developing countries, GM crops have helped ensure food security and bolster incomes for farmers, allowing parents to focus more resources on other priorities, such as educating their children.
Such remarkable achievements are only the beginning. Dozens of better GM crops are in the pipeline from companies, universities and public agencies around the world. Crops in development include virus-resistant cassava, a starchy root otherwise known as tapioca; nutritionally enriched rice that can help prevent blindness and early death among children; nitrogen-efficient crops that reduce fertilizer runoff; and many more...
These advancements are particularly timely given the environmental and demographic state of the 21st century. Between now and 2050, global population will rise by about one-third, to 9.6 billion from 7.2 billion, reducing arable land per capita... during a period of greater climate volatility, which may place dramatic new stresses on agriculture. The question of how to nourish two billion more people in a changing climate will prove one of the greatest challenges in human history. To meet it, we should embrace an agricultural approach that combines the best features of traditional farming with the latest technology.
Biotechnology offers an unparalleled safety record and demonstrated commercial success. Remarkably, however, biotechnology might not reach its full potential. In part, that's because outspoken opponents of GM crops in the U.S. ... In much of Europe, farmers are barred from growing genetically modified crops. Even in Africa, anti-biotechnology sentiment has blocked its application...
Opponents of GM crops have been extremely effective at spreading misinformation. GM crops don't... cause cancer or other diseases. GM cotton isn't responsible for suicides among Indian farmers... In fact, people have consumed billions of meals containing GM foods in the 17 years since they were first commercialized, and not one problem has been documented... Every respected scientific organization... has found GM crops... safe...
Nearly everything humans have eaten though the millennia has been genetically altered by human intervention. Mankind has been breeding crops—and thereby genetically altering them—since the dawn of agriculture... Resistance to biotechnology seems all the more unbelievable considering that much of it comes from the same thoughtful people who tend to dismiss climate-change skeptics as "anti-science."
It seems to me that much of the resistance to GM foods isn't based on science, but may be ideological and political, based on fears of "corporate profiteering" and "Western colonialism." To note one irony: The extreme opposition to genetic modification has led to hyper-regulation of GM crops, which has raised the cost of bringing them to market. Now only multinational companies and large research entities can afford to comply with the rules. Smaller enterprises in developing countries are ultimately hurt much more than large conglomerates.
Anyone who cares about alleviating hunger and protecting the environment should work quickly to remove the bias against GM crops... These innovations have too much potential... to be thwarted by falsehoods and fear-mongering.
Gaz de schiste, OGM, nucléaire... La gauche en France, globalement, est contre. L’opinion n’est pas pour. Comme ce sont des sujets sur lesquels je n’ai aucune compétence particulière, je me garderai bien de trancher. Au reste, les experts eux-mêmes, sur ces questions, divergent. Mais ce qui me frappe, c’est ce tir nourri contre des ressources, énergétiques ou agricoles, qui résultent d’abord de considérables progrès scientifiques ou techniques. Cela ne prouve évidemment pas qu’il faille les utiliser (un progrès scientifique peut déboucher, socialement, sur une régression), mais devrait amener à les considérer, jusqu’à plus ample informé, avec bienveillance.
TT51 is a transgenic Bt rice created by fusion a synthetic CryAb/CryAc gene into rice MingHui63. A significant number of animal feeding studies with transgenic crops have been carried out with the rapid development of transgenic crops. However, the evidence is far from identifying whether certain novel transgenic crops possess potential danger for human or animal health after long-term consumption. Rice-based diets, containing 60% ordinary grocery rice, MingHui63 rice or TT51 rice by weight, were fed to two generations of male and female rats in order to determine the potential reproductive effects of TT51.
In this study, both clinical performance variables and histopathological responses were examined and compared between groups. There were no significant differences between groups on body weights, food consumption, reproductive data and relative organ/body weights. There were some statistically significant differences in hematology and serum chemistry parameters, but no histological abnormalities were seen in the brain, heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach, small intestine, thymus, ovaries, uterus, testes and epididymides. Based on the results, under the circumstance of this study TT51 show no significant differences on reproduction performance of rats compared with MingHui63 and the control.
Studies on extracellular proteins (ECPs) contribute to understanding of the multifunctional nature of apoplast. Unlike vascular plants (tracheophytes), little information about ECPs is available from nonvascular plants, such as mosses (bryophytes). In this study, moss plants (Physcomitrella patens) were grown in liquid culture and treated with chitosan, a water-soluble form of chitin that occurs in cell walls of fungi and insects and elicits pathogen defense in plants. ECPs released to the culture medium were compared between chitosan-treated and nontreated control cultures using quantitative mass spectrometry (Orbitrap) and 2-DE-LC-MS/MS. Over 400 secreted proteins were detected, of which 70% were homologous to ECPs reported in tracheophyte secretomes. Bioinformatics analyses using SignalP and SecretomeP predicted classical signal peptides for secretion (37%) or leaderless secretion (27%) for most ECPs of P. patens, but secretion of the remaining proteins (36%) could not be predicted using bioinformatics. Cultures treated with chitosan contained 72 proteins not found in untreated controls, whereas 27 proteins found in controls were not detected in chitosan-treated cultures. Pathogen defense-related proteins dominated in the secretome of P. patens, as reported in tracheophytes. These results advance knowledge on protein secretomes of plants by providing a comprehensive account of ECPs of a bryophyte.
The plant cuticle is thought to be a critical evolutionary adaptation that allowed the first plants to colonize land, because of its key roles in regulating plant water status and providing protection from biotic and abiotic stresses. Much has been learned about cuticle composition and structure through genetic and biochemical studies of angiosperms, as well as underlying genetic pathways, but little is known about the cuticles of early diverging plant lineages. Here, we demonstrate that the moss Physcomitrella patens, an extant relative of the earliest terrestrial plants, has a cuticle that is analogous in both structure and chemical composition to those of angiosperms. To test whether the underlying cuticle biosynthetic pathways were also shared among distant plant lineages, we generated a genetic knockout of the moss ATP binding cassette subfamily G (ABCG) transporter Pp-ABCG7, a putative ortholog of Arabidopsis thaliana ABCG transporters involved in cuticle precursor trafficking. We show that this mutant is severely deficient in cuticular wax accumulation and has a reduced tolerance of desiccation stress compared with the wild type. This work provides evidence that the cuticle was an adaptive feature present in the first terrestrial plants and that the genes involved in their formation have been functionally conserved for over 450 million years.
Plant breeding can be broadly defined as alterations caused in plants as a result of their use by humans, ranging from unintentional changes resulting from the advent of agriculture to the application of molecular tools for precision breeding. The vast diversity of breeding methods can be simplified into three categories: (i) plant breeding based on observed variation by selection of plants based on natural variants appearing in nature or within traditional varieties; (ii) plant breeding based on controlled mating by selection of plants presenting recombination of desirable genes from different parents; and (iii) plant breeding based on monitored recombination by selection of specific genes or marker profiles, using molecular tools for tracking within-genome variation. The continuous application of traditional breeding methods in a given species could lead to the narrowing of the gene pool from which cultivars are drawn, rendering crops vulnerable to biotic and abiotic stresses and hampering future progress. Several methods have been devised for introducing exotic variation into elite germplasm without undesirable effects. Cases in rice are given to illustrate the potential and limitations of different breeding approaches.
The phragmoplast, a plant-specific apparatus that mediates cytokinesis, mainly consists of microtubules (MTs) arranged in a bipolar fashion, such that their plus ends interdigitate at the equator. Membrane vesicles are thought to move along the MTs toward the equator and fuse to form the cell plate. Although several genes required for phragmoplast MT organization have been identified, the mechanisms that maintain the bipolarity of phragmoplasts remain poorly understood. Here, we show that engaging phragmoplast MTs in a bipolar fashion in protonemal cells of the moss Physcomitrella patens requires the conserved MT cross-linking protein MICROTUBULE-ASSOCIATED PROTEIN65 (MAP65). Simultaneous knockdown of the three MAP65s expressed in those cells severely compromised MT interdigitation at the phragmoplast equator after anaphase onset, resulting in the collapse of the phragmoplast in telophase. Cytokinetic vesicles initially localized to the anaphase midzone as normal but failed to further accumulate in the next several minutes, although the bipolarity of the MT array was preserved. Our data indicate that the presence of bipolar MT arrays is insufficient for vesicle accumulation at the equator and further suggest that MAP65-mediated MT interdigitation is a prerequisite for maintenance of bipolarity of the phragmoplast and accumulation and/or fusion of cell plate–destined vesicles at the equatorial plane.
Several weeds worldwide have evolved resistance in response to intense herbicide use.
Single-locus mutations and complex multigenic stress responses underlie resistance.
Large population sizes and standing genetic variation likely cause rapid evolution.
Future research should integrate genomic data, evolutionary ecology, and modeling.
Resistance to herbicides in arable weeds is increasing rapidly worldwide and threatening global food security. Resistance has now been reported to all major herbicide modes of action despite the development of resistance management strategies in the 1990s. We review here recent advances in understanding the genetic bases and evolutionary drivers of herbicide resistance that highlight the complex nature of selection for this adaptive trait. Whereas early studied cases of resistance were highly herbicide-specific and largely under monogenic control, cases of greatest concern today generally involve resistance to multiple modes of action, are under polygenic control, and are derived from pre-existing stress response pathways. Although ‘omics’ approaches should enable unraveling the genetic bases of complex resistances, the appearance, selection, and spread of herbicide resistance in weed populations can only be fully elucidated by focusing on evolutionary dynamics and implementing integrative modeling efforts.
Predicting climate change impact on ecosystem structure and services is one of the most important challenges in ecology. Until now, plant species response to climate change has been described at the level of fixed plant functional types, an approach limited by its inflexibility as there is much interspecific functional variation within plant functional types. Considering a plant species as a set of functional traits greatly increases our possibilities for analysis of ecosystem functioning and carbon and nutrient fluxes associated therewith. Moreover, recently assembled large-scale databases hold comprehensive per-species data on plant functional traits, allowing a detailed functional description of many plant communities on Earth. Here, we show that plant functional traits can be used as predictors of vegetation response to climate warming, accounting in our test ecosystem (the species-rich alpine belt of Caucasus mountains, Russia) for 59% of variability in the per-species abundance relation to temperature. In this mountain belt, traits that promote conservative leaf water economy (higher leaf mass per area, thicker leaves) and large investments in belowground reserves to support next year’s shoot buds (root carbon content) were the best predictors of the species increase in abundance along with temperature increase. This finding demonstrates that plant functional traits constitute a highly useful concept for forecasting changes in plant communities, and their associated ecosystem services, in response to climate change.
Betacyanins are the major pigments present in Amaranthus tricolor, a leafy vegetable consumed globally. The terminal glycosyltaion of the aglycone betanidin is an important step in the biosynthesis of this natural red antioxidant pigment. A betanidin 5-O-glucosyltransferase (BGT) was fully purified to 134 folds (specific activity, 265.2 nkat mg−1) from the red amaranth by ammonium sulfate precipitation followed by hydrophobic interaction, anion exchange and size exclusion chromatography. Homogeneity of the purified protein was confirmed by 2-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (2D PAGE). The molecular weight of the enzyme determined by liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC–MS) was found to be 62.8 kDa. Furthermore, the enzyme glycosylated flavonoids (kaempferol and quercetin) but not anthocyanidins, presence of which is mutually exclusive to betacyanin accumulating plants. The apparent Km (344 ± 2.34 μM) and Vmax (17.24 μM min−1) of the enzyme were determined by LC–MS/MS. Peptide mass fingerprinting of the purified protein showed 38.4% coverage of peptide masses with anthocyanidin 3-O-glucosyltransferase from Zea mays. Study on this purified enzyme, for the first time, revealed its role of glycosylation in biosynthesis of betacyanin in A. tricolor and indicates promiscuous substrate-specificity
Plant pigments are of interest for research into questions of basic biology as well as for purposes of applied biology. Red colors in flowers are mainly produced by two types of pigments: anthocyanins and betacyanins. Though anthocyanins are broadly distributed among plants, betacyanins have replaced anthocyanins in the Caryophyllales. Red plant pigments are good indicator metabolites for evolutionary studies of plant diversity as well as for metabolic studies of plant cell growth and differentiation. In this review, we focus on the biosynthesis of anthocyanins and betacyanins and the possible mechanisms underlying the mutual exclusion of betalains and anthocyanins based on the regulation of the biosynthesis of these red pigments.
Rotavirus-induced diarrhea is a life-threatening disease in immunocompromised individuals and in children in developing countries. We have developed a system for prophylaxis and therapy against rotavirus disease using transgenic rice expressing the neutralizing variable domain of a rotavirus-specific llama heavy-chain antibody fragment (MucoRice-ARP1). MucoRice-ARP1 was produced at high levels in rice seeds using an overexpression system and RNAi technology to suppress the production of major rice endogenous storage proteins. Orally administered MucoRice-ARP1 markedly decreased the viral load in immunocompetent and immunodeficient mice. The antibody retained in vitro neutralizing activity after long-term storage (>1 yr) and boiling and conferred protection in mice even after heat treatment at 94°C for 30 minutes. High-yield, water-soluble, and purification-free MucoRice-ARP1 thus forms the basis for orally administered prophylaxis and therapy against rotavirus infections.