Background Morphogenesis depends on the concerted modulation of cell proliferation and differentiation. Such modulation is dynamically adjusted in response to various external and internal signals via complex transcriptional regulatory networks that mediate between such signals and regulation of cell-cycle and cellular responses (proliferation, growth, differentiation). In plants, which are sessile, the proliferation/differentiation balance is plastically adjusted during their life cycle and transcriptional networks are important in this process. MADS-box genes are key developmental regulators in eukaryotes, but their role in cell proliferation and differentiation modulation in plants remains poorly studied.
Methods We characterize the XAL1 loss-of-function xal1-2 allele and overexpression lines using quantitative cellular and cytometry analyses to explore its role in cell cycle, proliferation, stem-cell patterning and transition to differentiation. We used quantitative PCR and cellular markers to explore if XAL1 regulates cell-cycle components and PLETHORA1 (PLT1) gene expression, as well as confocal microscopy to analyse stem-cell niche organization.
Key Results We previously showed that XAANTAL1 (XAL1/AGL12) is necessary for Arabidopsis root development as a promoter of cell proliferation in the root apical meristem. Here, we demonstrate that XAL1 positively regulates the expression of PLT1 and important components of the cell cycle: CYCD3;1, CYCA2;3, CYCB1;1, CDKB1;1 and CDT1a. In addition, we show that xal1-2 mutant plants have a premature transition to differentiation with root hairs appearing closer to the root tip, while endoreplication in these plants is partially compromised. Coincidently, the final size of cortex cells in the mutant is shorter than wild-type cells. Finally, XAL1 overexpression-lines corroborate that this transcription factor is able to promote cell proliferation at the stem-cell niche.
Conclusion XAL1 seems to be an important component of the networks that modulate cell proliferation/differentiation transition and stem-cell proliferation during Arabidopsis root development; it also regulates several cell-cycle components.
GRAS domain genes are a group of important plant-specific transcription factors that have been reported to be involved in plant development. In order to know the roles of GRAS genes in grapevine, a widely cultivated fruit crop, the study on grapevine GRAS (VvGRAS) was carried out, and from which, 43 were identified from 12× assemble grapevine genomic sequences. Further, the genomic structures, synteny, phylogeny, expression profiles in different tissues of these genes, and their roles in response to stress were investigated. Among the genes, two potential target genes (VvSCL15 and VvSCL22) for VvmiR171 were experimentally verified by PPM-RACE and RLM-RACE, in that not only the cleavage sites of miR171 on the target mRNA were mapped but also the cleaved fragments and their expressing patterns were detected. Transgenic Arabidopsis plants over expression VvSCL15 showed lower tolerance to drought and salt treatments.
Long distance transport in plants occurs in sieve tubes of the phloem. The pressure flow hypothesis introduced by Ernst Münch in 1930 describes a mechanism of osmotically generated pressure differentials that are supposed to drive the movement of sugars and other solutes in the phloem, but this hypothesis has long faced major challenges. The key issue is whether the conductance of sieve tubes, including sieve plate pores, is sufficient to allow pressure flow. We show that with increasing distance between source and sink, sieve tube conductivity and turgor increases dramatically in Ipomoea nil. Our results provide strong support for the Münch hypothesis, while providing new tools for the investigation of one of the least understood plant tissues.
Transcriptome data sets from thousands of samples of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana have been collectively generated by multiple individual labs. Although integration and meta-analysis of these samples has become routine in the plant research community, it is often hampered by a lack of metadata or differences in annotation styles of different labs. In this study, we carefully selected and integrated 6057 Arabidopsis microarray expression samples from 304 experiments deposited to the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Metadata such as tissue type, growth conditions and developmental stage were manually curated for each sample. We then studied the global expression landscape of the integrated data set and found that samples of the same tissue tend to be more similar to each other than to samples of other tissues, even in different growth conditions or developmental stages. Root has the most distinct transcriptome, compared with aerial tissues, but the transcriptome of cultured root is more similar to the transcriptome of aerial tissues, as the cultured root samples lost their cellular identity. Using a simple computational classification method, we showed that the tissue type of a sample can be successfully predicted based on its expression profile, opening the door for automatic metadata extraction and facilitating the re-use of plant transcriptome data. As a proof of principle, we applied our automated annotation pipeline to 708 RNA-seq samples from public repositories and verified the accuracy of our predictions with sample metadata provided by the authors.
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) can transfer nitrogen (N) to host plants, but the ecological relevance is debated, as total plant N and biomass do not generally increase. The extent to which the symbiosis is mutually beneficial is thought to rely on the stoichiometry of N, phosphorus (P) and carbon (C) availability. While inorganic N fertilization has been shown to elicit strong mutualism, characterized by improved plant and fungal growth and mineral nutrition, similar responses following organic N addition are lacking. Using a compartmented microcosm experiment, we determined the significance to a mycorrhizal plant of placing a 15N-labelled, nitrogen-rich patch of organic matter in a compartment to which only AMF hyphae had access. Control microcosms denied AMF hyphal access to the patch compartment. When permitted access to the patch compartment, the fungus proliferated extensively in the patch and transferred substantial quantities of N to the plant. Moreover, our data demonstrate that allowing hyphal access to an organic matter patch enhanced total plant N and P contents, with a simultaneous and substantial increase in plant biomass. Furthermore, we demonstrate that organic matter fertilization of arbuscular mycorrhizal plants can foster a mutually beneficial symbiosis based on nitrogen transfer, a phenomenon previously thought irrelevant.
Salinity is a severe abiotic stress that affects irrigated croplands. Jasmonate (JA) is an essential hormone involved in plant defense against herbivory and in responses to abiotic stress. However, the relationship between the salt stress response and the JA pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana is not well understood at molecular and cellular levels. In this work we investigated the activation of JA signaling by NaCl and its effect on primary root growth. We found that JA-responsive JAZ genes were up-regulated by salt stress in a COI1-dependent manner in the roots. Using a JA-Ile sensor we demonstrated that activation of JA signaling by salt stress occurs in the meristematic zone and stele of the differentiation zone and that this activation was dependent on JAR1 and proteasome functions. Another finding is that the elongation zone (EZ) and its cortical cells were significantly longer in JA-related mutants (AOS, COI1, JAZ3 and MYC2/3/4 genes) compared with wild-type plants under salt stress, revealing the participation of the canonical JA signaling pathway. Noteworthy, osmotic stress – a component of salt stress – inhibited cell elongation in the EZ in a COI1-dependent manner. We propose that salt stress triggers activation of the JA signaling pathway followed by inhibition of cell elongation in the EZ. We have shown that salt-inhibited root growth partially involves the jasmonate signaling pathway in Arabidopsis.
Rice (Oryza sativa L.), a major staple crop worldwide, has limited levels of the essential amino acid lysine. We previously produced engineered rice with increased lysine content by expressing bacterial aspartate kinase and dihydrodipicolinate synthase and inhibiting rice lysine ketoglutarate reductase/saccharopine dehydrogenase activity. However, the grain quality, field performance, and integration patterns of the transgenes in these lysine-enriched lines remain unclear. In the present study, we selected several elite transgenic lines with endosperm-specific or constitutive regulation of the above key enzymes but lacking the selectable marker gene. All target transgenes were integrated into the intragenic region in the rice genome. Two pyramid transgenic lines (High Free Lysine; HFL1 and HFL2) with free lysine levels in seeds up to 25-fold that of wild type were obtained via a combination of the above two transgenic events. We observed a dramatic increase in total free amino acids and a slight increase in total protein content in both pyramid lines. Moreover, the general physicochemical properties were improved in pyramid transgenic rice, but the starch composition was not affected. Field trials indicated that the growth of HFL transgenic rice was normal, except for a slight difference in plant height and grain colour. Taken together, these findings will be useful for the potential commercialization of high-lysine transgenic rice.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp, 2n = 8x = 64), belonging to the Brassicaceae family, is an economic plant cultivated in the central Andes sierra in Peru (4000–4500 m). Considering that the rapid uplift of the central Andes occurred 5–10 million years ago (Ma), an evolutionary question arises regarding how plants such as maca acquire high-altitude adaptation within a short geological period. Here, we report the high-quality genome assembly of maca, in which two closely spaced maca-specific whole-genome duplications (WGDs; ∼6.7 Ma) were identified. Comparative genomic analysis between maca and closely related Brassicaceae species revealed expansions of maca genes and gene families involved in abiotic stress response, hormone signaling pathway, and secondary metabolite biosynthesis via WGDs. The retention and subsequent functional divergence of many duplicated genes may account for the morphological and physiological changes (i.e., small leaf shape and self-fertility) in maca in a high-altitude environment. In addition, some duplicated maca genes were identified with functions in morphological adaptation (i.e., LEAF CURLING RESPONSIVENESS) and abiotic stress response (i.e., GLYCINE-RICH RNA-BINDING PROTEINS and DNA-DAMAGE-REPAIR/TOLERATION 2) under positive selection. Collectively, the maca genome provides useful information to understand the important roles of WGDs in the high-altitude adaptation of plants in the Andes.
Plants depend on their root systems to acquire the water and nutrients necessary for their survival in nature, and for their yield and nutritional quality in agriculture. Root systems are complex and a variety of root phenes have been identified as contributors to adaptation to soils with low fertility and aluminium (Al) toxicity. Phenotypic characterization of root adaptations to infertile soils is enabling plant breeders to develop improved cultivars that not only yield more, but also contribute to yield stability and nutritional security in the face of climate variability.
In this review the adaptive responses of root systems to soils with low fertility and Al toxicity are described. After a brief introduction, the purpose and focus of the review are outlined. This is followed by a description of the adaptive responses of roots to low supply of mineral nutrients [with an emphasis on low availability of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) and on toxic levels of Al]. We describe progress in developing germplasm adapted to soils with low fertility or Al toxicity using selected examples from ongoing breeding programmes on food (maize, common bean) and forage/feed (Brachiaria spp.) crops. A number of root architectural, morphological, anatomical and metabolic phenes contribute to the superior performance and yield on soils with low fertility and Al toxicity. Major advances have been made in identifying root phenes in improving adaptation to low N (maize), low P (common bean) or high Al [maize, common bean, species and hybrids of brachiariagrass, bulbous canarygrass (Phalaris aquatica) and lucerne (Medicago sativa)].
Advanced root phenotyping tools will allow dissection of root responses into specific root phenes that will aid both conventional and molecular breeders to develop superior cultivars. These new cultivars will play a key role in sustainable intensification of crop–livestock systems, particularly in smallholder systems of the tropics. Development of these new cultivars adapted to soils with low fertility and Al toxicity is needed to improve global food and nutritional security and environmental sustainability.
Research into the origins of food plants has led to the recognition that specific geographical regions around the world have been of particular importance to the development of agricultural crops. Yet the relative contributions of these different regions in the context of current food systems have not been quantified. Here we determine the origins (‘primary regions of diversity’) of the crops comprising the food supplies and agricultural production of countries worldwide. We estimate the degree to which countries use crops from regions of diversity other than their own (‘foreign crops’), and quantify changes in this usage over the past 50 years. Countries are highly interconnected with regard to primary regions of diversity of the crops they cultivate and/or consume. Foreign crops are extensively used in food supplies (68.7% of national food supplies as a global mean are derived from foreign crops) and production systems (69.3% of crops grown are foreign). Foreign crop usage has increased significantly over the past 50 years, including in countries with high indigenous crop diversity. The results provide a novel perspective on the ongoing globalization of food systems worldwide, and bolster evidence for the importance of international collaboration on genetic resource conservation and exchange.
Highlights • Functionality of the agaricoid fruit body design and its adaptive potential. • Ecological functions of morphological and physiological fruit body traits. • Trade-offs among protecting and attracting traits. • Fruit body development and phenology.
Abstract Mushroom-forming fungi exhibit a tremendous variety of morphological, physiological and behavioural traits. Though science had taken up the challenge to relate these traits to functions in the 20th century, such deliberations became much rarer in recent decades. In the review presented here we aim at reviving this research area, particularly in regard to ecological implications. We have therefore compiled fruit body traits with their evidenced or suggested functions. Some traits have no immediate functional meaning, but many are suggestive of some ecological importance. Many traits serve more than one function, and traits interact in the sense of trade-offs, patterns that reflect the economy of fungal design. In conclusion, the review comes up with well and little-known mushroom properties, and the numerous gaps in attributing traits to functions.
In wine grape production, management practices have been adopted to optimize grape and wine quality attributes by producing, or screening for, berries of smaller size. Fruit size and composition are influenced by numerous factors that include both internal (e.g. berry hormone metabolism) and external (e.g. environment and cultural practices) factors. Combined physiological, biochemical, and transcriptome analyses were performed to improve our current understanding of metabolic and transcriptional pathways related to berry ripening and composition in berries of different sizes.
The comparison of berry physiology between small and large berries throughout development (from 31 to 121 days after anthesis, DAA) revealed significant differences in firmness, the rate of softening, and sugar accumulation at specific developmental stages. Small berries had significantly higher skin to berry weight ratio, lower number of seeds per berry, and higher anthocyanin concentration compared to large berries. RNA-sequencing analyses of berry skins at 47, 74, 103, and 121 DAA revealed a total of 3482 differentially expressed genes between small and large berries. Abscisic acid, auxin, and ethylene hormone pathway genes were differentially modulated between berry sizes. Fatty acid degradation and stilbenoid pathway genes were upregulated at 47 DAA while cell wall degrading and modification genes were downregulated at 74 DAA in small compared to large berries. In the late ripening stage, concerted upregulation of the general phenylpropanoid and stilbenoid pathway genes and downregulation of flavonoid pathway genes were observed in skins of small compared to large berries. Cis-regulatory element analysis of differentially expressed hormone, fruit texture, flavor, and aroma genes revealed an enrichment of specific regulatory motifs related to bZIP, bHLH, AP2/ERF, NAC, MYB, and MADS-box transcription factors.
The study demonstrates that physiological and compositional differences between berries of different sizes parallel transcriptome changes that involve fruit texture, flavor, and aroma pathways. These results suggest that, in addition to direct effects brought about by differences in size, key aspects involved in the regulation of ripening likely contribute to different quality profiles between small and large berries.
Despite often being conceptualized as a thin layer of soil around roots, the rhizosphere is actually a dynamic system of interacting processes. Hiltner originally defined the rhizosphere as the soil influenced by plant roots. However, soil physicists, chemists, microbiologists, and plant physiologists have studied the rhizosphere independently, and therefore conceptualized the rhizosphere in different ways and using contrasting terminology. Rather than research-specific conceptions of the rhizosphere, the authors propose a holistic rhizosphere encapsulating the following components: microbial community gradients, macroorganisms, mucigel, volumes of soil structure modification, and depletion or accumulation zones of nutrients, water, root exudates, volatiles, and gases. These rhizosphere components are the result of dynamic processes and understanding the integration of these processes will be necessary for future contributions to rhizosphere science based upon interdisciplinary collaborations. In this review, current knowledge of the rhizosphere is synthesized using this holistic perspective with a focus on integrating traditionally separated rhizosphere studies. The temporal dynamics of rhizosphere activities will also be considered, from annual fine root turnover to diurnal fluctuations of water and nutrient uptake. The latest empirical and computational methods are discussed in the context of rhizosphere integration. Clarification of rhizosphere semantics, a holistic model of the rhizosphere, examples of integration of rhizosphere studies across disciplines, and review of the latest rhizosphere methods will empower rhizosphere scientists from different disciplines to engage in the interdisciplinary collaborations needed to break new ground in truly understanding the rhizosphere and to apply this knowledge for practical guidance.
Phytohormone ethylene has previously been known to play an important role in mediating root hair development induced by phosphate starvation; however, the underlying molecular mechanism is not understood. Using combined molecular, genetic, and genomic approaches, we identify a group of genes that affect root hair development by regulating cell wall modifications. Pi starvation increase the stability of EIN3 protein, a key component in the ethylene signaling pathway. The expression of the identified root hair-related genes is enhanced in the EIN3-overexpressing line, but suppressed in the ein3 mutant. Furthermore, EIN3 protein directly binds to the promoter of these genes which are also targeted by a key transcription factor that regulates root hair development. This work not only explains how ethylene mediates root hair responses to phosphate starvation, but may provide a general mechanism for how ethylene regulates root hair development under both stress and non-stress conditions.
Sensitivity to variability in resources has been documented in humans, primates, birds, and social insects, but the fit between empirical results and the predictions of risk sensitivity theory (RST), which aims to explain this sensitivity in adaptive terms, is weak . RST predicts that agents should switch between risk proneness and risk aversion depending on state and circumstances, especially according to the richness of the least variable option . Unrealistic assumptions about agents’ information processing mechanisms and poor knowledge of the extent to which variability imposes specific selection in nature are strong candidates to explain the gap between theory and data. RST’s rationale also applies to plants, where it has not hitherto been tested. Given the differences between animals’ and plants’ information processing mechanisms, such tests should help unravel the conflicts between theory and data. Measuring root growth allocation by split-root pea plants, we show that they favor variability when mean nutrient levels are low and the opposite when they are high, supporting the most widespread RST prediction. However, the combination of non-linear effects of nitrogen availability at local and systemic levels may explain some of these effects as a consequence of mechanisms not necessarily evolved to cope with variance [3 and 4]. This resembles animal examples in which properties of perception and learning cause risk sensitivity even though they are not risk adaptations .
Trichomes are widely distributed on surfaces of different organs in the grape genus Vitis and are of taxonomic utility. To explore the morphology, structure and ontogeny of Vitis trichomes, we investigated the diversity and distribution of trichomes in 34 species of Vitis. Two main types of trichomes in Vitis are documented: non-glandular and glandular. Within non-glandular trichomes, ribbon and simple trichomes are found on different vegetative plant organs. The morphology and ontogeny of these types of trichomes are further examined with light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. The ultrastructure of the glandular trichomes is explored with transmission electron microscopy. The ribbon trichomes are twisted, greatly elongated and unicellular, and this trichome type may be a morphological synapomorphy of Vitis and its closest tropical relative Ampelocissus and Pterisanthes in Vitaceae. The simple trichomes are documented in most species sampled in the genus. The glandular trichomes are multicellular, non-vascularized and composed of both epidermis and subjacent layers. We show that prickles occurring along the stems and petioles of Vitis davidii are modified glandular trichomes. We observed that glandular trichomes of V. romanetii secrete mucilage and volatile substances which trap insectes on the glands. Transmission electron microscopy indicates that metabolic products accumulate in vacuoles, the cytoplasm and intercellular spaces. We infer that glandular trichomes and young prickles are involved in the secretion of these metabolic products and the intercellular spaces may be the places of temporary storage of these secretions.
Plant natural products are of great value for agriculture, medicine and a wide range of other industrial applications. The discovery of new plant natural product pathways is currently being revolutionized by two key developments. First, breakthroughs in sequencing technology and reduced cost of sequencing are accelerating the ability to find enzymes and pathways for the biosynthesis of new natural products by identifying the underlying genes. Second, there are now multiple examples in which the genes encoding certain natural product pathways have been found to be grouped together in biosynthetic gene clusters within plant genomes. These advances are now making it possible to develop strategies for systematically mining multiple plant genomes for the discovery of new enzymes, pathways and chemistries. Increased knowledge of the features of plant metabolic gene clusters – architecture, regulation and assembly – will be instrumental in expediting natural product discovery. This review summarizes progress in this area.
In this opinion article we examine the relationship between penetrometer resistance and soil depth in the field. Assuming that root growth is inhibited at penetrometer resistances > 2.5 MPa, we conclude that in most circumstances the increases in penetrometer resistance with depth are sufficiently great to confine most deep roots to elongating in existing structural pores. We suggest that deep rooting is more likely related to the interaction between root architecture and soil structure than it is to the ability of a root to deform strong soil. Although the ability of roots to deform strong soil is an important trait, we propose it is more closely related to root exploration of surface layers than deep rooting.
The directional transport of auxin, known as polar auxin transport (PAT), allows asymmetric distribution of this hormone in different cells and tissues. This system creates local auxin maxima, minima, and gradients that are instrumental in both organ initiation and shape determination. As such, PAT is crucial for all aspects of plant development but also for environmental interaction, notably in shaping plant architecture to its environment. Cell to cell auxin transport is mediated by a network of auxin carriers that are regulated at the transcriptional and post-translational levels. Here we review our current knowledge on some aspects of the ‘non-genomic’ regulation of auxin transport, placing an emphasis on how phosphorylation by protein and lipid kinases controls the polarity, intracellular trafficking, stability, and activity of auxin carriers. We describe the role of several AGC kinases, including PINOID, D6PK, and the blue light photoreceptor phot1, in phosphorylating auxin carriers from the PIN and ABCB families. We also highlight the function of some receptor-like kinases (RLKs) and two-component histidine kinase receptors in PAT, noting that there are probably RLKs involved in co-ordinating auxin distribution yet to be discovered. In addition, we describe the emerging role of phospholipid phosphorylation in polarity establishment and intracellular trafficking of PIN proteins. We outline these various phosphorylation mechanisms in the context of primary and lateral root development, leaf cell shape acquisition, as well as root gravitropism and shoot phototropism.
Background The Mediterranean olive tree (Olea europaea subsp. europaea) was one of the first trees to be domesticated and is currently of major agricultural importance in the Mediterranean region as the source of olive oil. The molecular bases underlying the phenotypic differences among domesticated cultivars, or between domesticated olive trees and their wild relatives, remain poorly understood. Both wild and cultivated olive trees have 46 chromosomes (2n).
Findings A total of 543 Gb of raw DNA sequence from whole genome shotgun sequencing, and a fosmid library containing 155,000 clones from a 1,000+ year-old olive tree (cv. Farga) were generated by Illumina sequencing using different combinations of mate-pair and pair-end libraries. Assembly gave a final genome with a scaffold N50 of 443 kb, and a total length of 1.31 Gb, which represents 95 % of the estimated genome length (1.38 Gb). In addition, the associated fungus Aureobasidium pullulans was partially sequenced. Genome annotation, assisted by RNA sequencing from leaf, root, and fruit tissues at various stages, resulted in 56,349 unique protein coding genes, suggesting recent genomic expansion. Genome completeness, as estimated using the CEGMA pipeline, reached 98.79 %.
Conclusions The assembled draft genome of O. europaea will provide a valuable resource for the study of the evolution and domestication processes of this important tree, and allow determination of the genetic bases of key phenotypic traits. Moreover, it will enhance breeding programs and the formation of new varieties.
The significance and often centrality of reactive oxygen species (ROS)- and redox-related signaling are now established for most processes in plant development and acclimation. Each cell possesses a redox regulatory network whose state is adjusted by ROS and virtually controls all processes such as gene expression and translation, metabolism, and turnover. Recent years have witnessed significant advancements in understanding the cross talk between organelles in orchestrating the cellular redox state temporally and spatially. ROS function as oxidants of proteins altering their function and of lipids releasing signal-active compounds. This Focus Issue combines 18 publications that either summarize recent advances in the format of topical Focus Reviews or provide novel insight into ROS-associated processes. Our most detailed knowledge of ROS functions still comes from work with photosynthesizing leaves; therefore, the majority of reports in this special issue focus on leaf processes.
Regionally distinct wine characteristics (terroir) are an important aspect of wine production and consumer appreciation. Microbial activity is an integral part of wine production, and grape and wine microbiota present regionally defined patterns associated with vineyard and climatic conditions, but the degree to which these microbial patterns associate with the chemical composition of wine is unclear. Through a longitudinal survey of over 200 commercial wine fermentations, we demonstrate that both grape microbiota and wine metabolite profiles distinguish viticultural area designations and individual vineyards within Napa and Sonoma Counties, California. Associations among wine microbiota and fermentation characteristics suggest new links between microbiota, fermentation performance, and wine properties. The bacterial and fungal consortia of wine fermentations, composed from vineyard and winery sources, correlate with the chemical composition of the finished wines and predict metabolite abundances in finished wines using machine learning models. The use of postharvest microbiota as an early predictor of wine chemical composition is unprecedented and potentially poses a new paradigm for quality control of agricultural products. These findings add further evidence that microbial activity is associated with wine terroir.
Variation in xylem vessel diameter is one of the most important parameters when evaluating plant water relations. This review provides a synthesis of the ecophysiological implications of variation in lumen diameter together with a summary of our current understanding of vessel development and its endogenous regulation. We analyzed inter-specific variation of the mean hydraulic vessel diameter (Dv) across biomes, intra-specific variation of Dv under natural and controlled conditions, and intra-plant variation. We found that the Dv measured in young branches tends to stay below 30 µm in regions experiencing winter frost, whereas it is highly variable in the tropical rainforest. Within a plant, the widest vessels are often found in the trunk and in large roots; smaller diameters have been reported for leaves and small lateral roots. Dv varies in response to environmental factors and is not only a function of plant size. Despite the wealth of data on vessel diameter variation, the regulation of diameter is poorly understood. Polar auxin transport through the vascular cambium is a key regulator linking foliar and xylem development. Limited evidence suggests that auxin transport is also a determinant of vessel diameter. The role of auxin in cell expansion and in establishing longitudinal continuity during secondary growth deserve further study.
Roots and shoots of plant bodies develop from meristems—cell populations that self-renew and produce cells that undergo differentiation—located at the apices of axes .The oldest preserved root apices in which cellular anatomy can be imaged are found in nodules of permineralized fossil soils called coal balls , which formed in the Carboniferous coal swamp forests over 300 million years ago [3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9]. However, no fossil root apices described to date were actively growing at the time of preservation [3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10]. Because the cellular organization of meristems changes when root growth stops, it has been impossible to compare cellular dynamics as stem cells transition to differentiated cells in extinct and extant taxa . We predicted that meristems of actively growing roots would be preserved in coal balls. Here we report the discovery of the first fossilized remains of an actively growing root meristem from permineralized Carboniferous soil with detail of the stem cells and differentiating cells preserved. The cellular organization of the meristem is unique. The position of the Körper-Kappe boundary, discrete root cap, and presence of many anticlinal cell divisions within a broad promeristem distinguish it from all other known root meristems. This discovery is important because it demonstrates that the same general cellular dynamics are conserved between the oldest extinct and extant root meristems. However, its unique cellular organization demonstrates that extant root meristem organization and development represents only a subset of the diversity that has existed since roots first evolved.
Ionomics is a high-throughput elemental profiling approach to study the molecular mechanistic basis underlying mineral nutrient and trace element composition (also known as the ionome) of living organisms. Since the concept of ionomics was first introduced more than 10 years ago, significant progress has been made in the identification of genes and gene networks that control the ionome. In this update, we summarize the progress made in using the ionomics approach over the last decade, including the identification of genes by forward genetics and the study of natural ionomic variation. We further discuss the potential application of ionomics to the investigation of the ecological functions of ionomic alleles in adaptation to the environment.
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