Plants & Evolution
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Blumenols as shoot markers for root symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

High-through-put (HTP) screening for functional arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF)-associations is challenging because roots must be excavated and colonization evaluated by transcript analysis or microscopy. Here we show that specific leaf-metabolites provide broadly applicable accurate proxies of these associations, suitable for HTP-screens. With a combination of untargeted and targeted metabolomics, we show that shoot accumulations of hydroxy- and carboxyblumenol C-glucosides mirror root AMF-colonization in Nicotiana attenuata plants. Genetic/pharmacologic manipulations indicate that these AMF-indicative foliar blumenols are synthesized and transported from roots to shoots. These blumenol-derived foliar markers, found in many di- and monocotyledonous crop and model plants (Solanum lycopersicum, Solanum tuberosum, Hordeum vulgare, Triticum aestivum, Medicago truncatula and Brachypodium distachyon), are not restricted to particular plant-AMF interactions, and are shown to be applicable for field-based QTL mapping of AMF-related genes.
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Evolutionarily conserved partial gene duplication in the Triticeae tribe of grasses confers pathogen resistance 

The large and highly repetitive genomes of the cultivated species Hordeum vulgare (barley), Triticum aestivum (wheat), and Secale cereale (rye) belonging to the Triticeae tribe of grasses appear to be particularly rich in gene-like sequences including partial duplicates. Most of them have been classified as putative pseudogenes. In this study we employ transient and stable gene silencing- and over-expression systems in barley to study the function of HvARM1 (for H. vulgare Armadillo 1), a partial gene duplicate of the U-box/armadillo-repeat E3 ligase HvPUB15 (for H. vulgare Plant U-Box 15). The partial ARM1 gene is derived from a gene-duplication event in a common ancestor of the Triticeae and contributes to quantitative host as well as nonhost resistance to the biotrophic powdery mildew fungus Blumeria graminis. In barley, allelic variants of HvARM1 but not of HvPUB15 are significantly associated with levels of powdery mildew infection. Both HvPUB15 and HvARM1 proteins interact in yeast and plant cells with the susceptibility-related, plastid-localized barley homologs of THF1 (for Thylakoid formation 1) and of ClpS1 (for Clp-protease adaptor S1) of Arabidopsis thaliana. A genome-wide scan for partial gene duplicates reveals further events in barley resulting in stress-regulated, potentially neo-functionalized, genes. The results suggest neo-functionalization of the partial gene copy HvARM1 increases resistance against powdery mildew infection. It further links plastid function with susceptibility to biotrophic pathogen attack. These findings shed new light on a novel mechanism to employ partial duplication of protein-protein interaction domains to facilitate the expansion of immune signaling networks.
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Evolution and diversification of the plant gibberellin receptor GID1

Evolution and diversification of the plant gibberellin receptor GID1 | Plants & Evolution | Scoop.it
The plant gibberellin receptor GID1 shows sequence similarity to carboxylesterase, suggesting that it is derived from an enzyme. However, how GID1 evolved and was modified is unclear. We identified two amino acids that are essential for GID1 activity, and we found that adjustment of these residues caused GID1 to recognize novel GAs carrying 13-OH as active GAs and to strictly refuse inactive GAs. Phylogenetic analysis of 169 GID1s revealed seven subtypes, and the B-type in core eudicots showed unique characteristics. In fact, certain B-type GID1s showed a higher nonsynonymous-to-synonymous divergence ratio in the region determining GA affinity. Such B-type GID1s with higher affinity were preferentially expressed in the roots in some core eudicot plants and conferred adaptive growth under stress.

The plant gibberellin (GA) receptor GID1 shows sequence similarity to carboxylesterase (CXE). Here, we report the molecular evolution of GID1 from establishment to functionally diverse forms in eudicots. By introducing 18 mutagenized rice GID1s into a rice gid1 null mutant, we identified the amino acids crucial for GID1 activity in planta. We focused on two amino acids facing the C2/C3 positions of ent -gibberellane, not shared by lycophytes and euphyllophytes, and found that adjustment of these residues resulted in increased GID1 affinity toward GA4, new acceptance of GA1 and GA3 carrying C13-OH as bioactive ligands, and elimination of inactive GAs. These residues rendered the GA perception system more sophisticated. We conducted phylogenetic analysis of 169 GID1s from 66 plant species and found that, unlike other taxa, nearly all eudicots contain two types of GID1, named A- and B-type. Certain B-type GID1s showed a unique evolutionary characteristic of significantly higher nonsynonymous-to-synonymous divergence in the region determining GA4 affinity. Furthermore, these B-type GID1s were preferentially expressed in the roots of Arabidopsis , soybean, and lettuce and might be involved in root elongation without shoot elongation for adaptive growth under low-temperature stress. Based on these observations, we discuss the establishment and adaption of GID1s during plant evolution.
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Maize domestication and gene interaction

Domestication is a tractable system for following evolutionary change. Under domestication, wild populations respond to shifting selective pressures, resulting in adaptation to the new ecological niche of cultivation. Owing to the important role of domesticated crops in human nutrition and agriculture, the ancestry and selection pressures transforming a wild plant into a domesticate have been extensively studied. In Zea mays, morphological, genetic and genomic studies have elucidated how a wild plant, the teosinte Z. mays subsp. parviglumis, was transformed into the domesticate Z. mays subsp. mays. Five major morphological differences distinguish these two subspecies, and careful genetic dissection has pinpointed the molecular changes responsible for several of these traits. But maize domestication was a consequence of more than just five genes, and regions throughout the genome contribute. The impacts of these additional regions are contingent on genetic background, both the interactions between alleles of a single gene and among alleles of the multiple genes that modulate phenotypes. Key genetic interactions include dominance relationships, epistatic interactions and pleiotropic constraint, including how these variants are connected in gene networks. Here, we review the role of gene interactions in generating the dramatic phenotypic evolution seen in the transition from teosinte to maize.
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Accurate detection of convergent amino-acid evolution with PCOC 

In the history of life, some phenotypes have been acquired several times independently, through convergent evolution. Recently, lots of genome-scale studies have been devoted to identify nucleotides or amino acids that changed in a convergent manner when the convergent phenotypes evolved. These efforts have had mixed results, probably because of differences in the detection methods, and because of conceptual differences about the definition of a convergent substitution. Some methods contend that substitutions are convergent only if they occur on all branches where the phenotype changed towards the exact same state at a given nucleotide or amino acid position. Others are much looser in their requirements and define a convergent substitution as one that leads the site at which they occur to prefer a phylogeny in which species with the convergent phenotype group together. Here we suggest to look for convergent shifts in amino acid preferences instead of convergent substitutions to the exact same amino acid. We define as convergent shifts substitutions that occur on all branches where the phenotype changed and such that they correspond to a change in the type of amino acid preferred at this position. We implement the corresponding model into a method named PCOC. We show on simulations that PCOC better recovers convergent shifts than existing methods in terms of sensitivity and specificity. We test it on a plant protein alignment where convergent evolution has been studied in detail and find that our method recovers several previously identified convergent substitutions and proposes credible new candidates.

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LEAFY maintains apical stem cell activity during shoot development in the fern Ceratopteris richardii

During land plant evolution, determinate spore-bearing axes (retained in extant bryophytes such as mosses) were progressively transformed into indeterminate branching shoots with specialized reproductive axes that form flowers. The LEAFY transcription factor, which is required for the first zygotic cell division in mosses and primarily for floral meristem identity in flowering plants, may have facilitated developmental innovations during these transitions. Mapping the LEAFY evolutionary trajectory has been challenging, however, because there is no functional overlap between mosses and flowering plants, and no functional data from intervening lineages. Here, we report a transgenic analysis in the fern Ceratopteris richardii that reveals a role for LEAFY in maintaining cell divisions in the apical stem cells of both haploid and diploid phases of the lifecycle. These results support an evolutionary trajectory in which an ancestral LEAFY module that promotes cell proliferation was progressively co-opted, adapted and specialized as novel shoot developmental contexts emerged.

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Footprints of parasitism in the genome of the parasitic flowering plant Cuscuta campestris

Footprints of parasitism in the genome of the parasitic flowering plant Cuscuta campestris | Plants & Evolution | Scoop.it

A parasitic lifestyle, where plants procure some or all of their nutrients from other living plants, has evolved independently in many dicotyledonous plant families and is a major threat for agriculture globally. Nevertheless, no genome sequence of a parasitic plant has been reported to date. Here we describe the genome sequence of the parasitic field dodder, Cuscuta campestris. The genome contains signatures of a fairly recent whole-genome duplication and lacks genes for pathways superfluous to a parasitic lifestyle. Specifically, genes needed for high photosynthetic activity are lost, explaining the low photosynthesis rates displayed by the parasite. Moreover, several genes involved in nutrient uptake processes from the soil are lost. On the other hand, evidence for horizontal gene transfer by way of genomic DNA integration from the parasite’s hosts is found. We conclude that the parasitic lifestyle has left characteristic footprints in the C. campestris genome.

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Oak genome reveals facets of long lifespan

Oak genome reveals facets of long lifespan | Plants & Evolution | Scoop.it

Altmetric: 7More detail Letter | OPEN | Published: 18 June 2018 Oak genome reveals facets of long lifespan Christophe Plomion, Jean-Marc Aury, Joëlle Amselem, Thibault Leroy, Florent Murat, Sébastien Duplessis, Sébastien Faye, Nicolas Francillonne, Karine Labadie, Grégoire Le Provost, Isabelle Lesur, Jérôme Bartholomé, Patricia Faivre-Rampant, Annegret Kohler, Jean-Charles Leplé, Nathalie Chantret, Jun Chen, Anne Diévart, Tina Alaeitabar, Valérie Barbe, Caroline Belser, Hélène Bergès, Catherine Bodénès, Marie-Béatrice Bogeat-Triboulot, Marie-Lara Bouffaud, Benjamin Brachi, Emilie Chancerel, David Cohen, Arnaud Couloux, Corinne Da Silva, Carole Dossat, François Ehrenmann, Christine Gaspin, Jacqueline Grima-Pettenati, Erwan Guichoux, Arnaud Hecker, Sylvie Herrmann, Philippe Hugueney, Irène Hummel, Christophe Klopp, Céline Lalanne, Martin Lascoux, Eric Lasserre, Arnaud Lemainque, Marie-Laure Desprez-Loustau, Isabelle Luyten, Mohammed-Amin Madoui, Sophie Mangenot, Clémence Marchal, Florian Maumus, Jonathan Mercier, Célia Michotey, Olivier Panaud, Nathalie Picault, Nicolas Rouhier, Olivier Rué, Camille Rustenholz, Franck Salin, Marçal Soler, Mika Tarkka, Amandine Velt, Amy E. Zanne, Francis Martin, Patrick Wincker, Hadi Quesneville, Antoine Kremer & Jérôme Salse - Show fewer authors Nature Plants (2018) | Download Citation Abstract Oaks are an important part of our natural and cultural heritage. Not only are they ubiquitous in our most common landscapes1 but they have also supplied human societies with invaluable services, including food and shelter, since prehistoric times2. With 450 species spread throughout Asia, Europe and America3, oaks constitute a critical global renewable resource. The longevity of oaks (several hundred years) probably underlies their emblematic cultural and historical importance. Such long-lived sessile organisms must persist in the face of a wide range of abiotic and biotic threats over their lifespans. We investigated the genomic features associated with such a long lifespan by sequencing, assembling and annotating the oak genome. We then used the growing number of whole-genome sequences for plants (including tree and herbaceous species) to investigate the parallel evolution of genomic characteristics potentially underpinning tree longevity. A further consequence of the long lifespan of trees is their accumulation of somatic mutations during mitotic divisions of stem cells present in the shoot apical meristems. Empirical4 and modelling5 approaches have shown that intra-organismal genetic heterogeneity can be selected for6 and provides direct fitness benefits in the arms race with short-lived pests and pathogens through a patchwork of intra-organismal phenotypes7. However, there is no clear proof that large-statured trees consist of a genetic mosaic of clonally distinct cell lineages within and between branches. Through this case study of oak, we demonstrate the accumulation and transmission of somatic mutations and the expansion of disease-resistance gene families in trees.

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Parallels between experimental and natural evolution of legume symbionts

Parallels between experimental and natural evolution of legume symbionts | Plants & Evolution | Scoop.it

The emergence of symbiotic interactions has been studied using population genomics in nature and experimental evolution in the laboratory, but the parallels between these processes remain unknown. Here we compare the emergence of rhizobia after the horizontal transfer of a symbiotic plasmid in natural populations of Cupriavidus taiwanensis, over 10 MY ago, with the experimental evolution of symbiotic Ralstonia solanacearum for a few hundred generations. In spite of major differences in terms of time span, environment, genetic background, and phenotypic achievement, both processes resulted in rapid genetic diversification dominated by purifying selection. We observe no adaptation in the plasmid carrying the genes responsible for the ecological transition. Instead, adaptation was associated with positive selection in a set of genes that led to the co-option of the same quorum-sensing system in both processes. Our results provide evidence for similarities in experimental and natural evolutionary transitions and highlight the potential of comparisons between both processes to understand symbiogenesis.

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Gene networks and the evolution of plant morphology

Highlights 
• High-throughput methods are generating hypotheses on GRN organization. 
• Comparative gene network studies are helping understand evolution of diverse traits. 
• Transcription factor diversification drove both deep and shallow GRN evolution. 
• Orthologous transcription factors in crucifers share <20% conserved core targets. 

Elaboration of morphology depends on the precise orchestration of gene expression by key regulatory genes. The hierarchy and relationship among the participating genes is commonly known as gene regulatory network (GRN). Therefore, the evolution of morphology ultimately occurs by the rewiring of gene network structures or by the co-option of gene networks to novel domains. The availability of high-resolution expression data combined with powerful statistical tools have opened up new avenues to formulate and test hypotheses on how diverse gene networks influence trait development and diversity. Here we summarize recent studies based on both big-data and genetics approaches to understand the evolution of plant form and physiology. We also discuss recent genome-wide investigations on how studying open-chromatin regions may help study the evolution of gene expression patterns.
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Environment and host as large-scale controls of ectomycorrhizal fungi

Environment and host as large-scale controls of ectomycorrhizal fungi | Plants & Evolution | Scoop.it

Explaining the large-scale diversity of soil organisms that drive biogeochemical processes—and their responses to environmental change—is critical. However, identifying consistent drivers of belowground diversity and abundance for some soil organisms at large spatial scales remains problematic. Here we investigate a major guild, the ectomycorrhizal fungi, across European forests at a spatial scale and resolution that is—to our knowledge—unprecedented, to explore key biotic and abiotic predictors of ectomycorrhizal diversity and to identify dominant responses and thresholds for change across complex environmental gradients. We show the effect of 38 host, environment, climate and geographical variables on ectomycorrhizal diversity, and define thresholds of community change for key variables. We quantify host specificity and reveal plasticity in functional traits involved in soil foraging across gradients. We conclude that environmental and host factors explain most of the variation in ectomycorrhizal diversity, that the environmental thresholds used as major ecosystem assessment tools need adjustment and that the importance of belowground specificity and plasticity has previously been underappreciated.

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A shared cis-regulatory module activates transcription in the suspensor of plant embryos

A shared cis-regulatory module activates transcription in the suspensor of plant embryos | Plants & Evolution | Scoop.it

The mechanisms controlling the transcription of gene sets in specific regions of a plant embryo shortly after fertilization remain unknown. Previously, we showed that G564 mRNA, encoding a protein of unknown function, accumulates to high levels in the giant suspensor of both Scarlet Runner Bean (SRB) and Common Bean embryos, and a cis-regulatory module containing three unique DNA sequences, designated as the 10-bp, Region 2, and Fifth motifs, is required for G564 suspensor-specific transcription [Henry KF, et al. (2015) Plant Mol Biol 88:207–217; Kawashima T, et al. (2009) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 106:3627–3632]. We tested the hypothesis that these motifs are also required for transcription of the SRB GA 20-oxidase gene, which encodes a gibberellic acid hormone biosynthesis enzyme and is coexpressed with G564 at a high level in giant bean suspensors. We used deletion and gain-of-function experiments in transgenic tobacco embryos to show that two GA 20-oxidase DNA regions are required for suspensor-specific transcription, one in the 5′ UTR (+119 to +205) and another in the 5′ upstream region (−341 to −316). Mutagenesis of sequences in these two regions determined that the cis-regulatory motifs required for G564 suspensor transcription are also required for GA 20-oxidase transcription within the suspensor, although the motif arrangement differs. Our results demonstrate the flexibility of motif positioning within a cis-regulatory module that activates gene transcription within giant bean suspensors and suggest that G564 and GA 20-oxidase comprise part of a suspensor gene regulatory network.

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Phylogenomics reveals multiple losses of nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis

Phylogenomics reveals multiple losses of nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis | Plants & Evolution | Scoop.it
The root nodule symbiosis of plants with nitrogen-fixing bacteria impacts global nitrogen cycles and food production but is restricted to a subset of genera within a single clade of flowering plants. To explore the genetic basis for this scattered occurrence, we sequenced the genomes of ten plant species covering the diversity of nodule morphotypes, bacterial symbionts and infection strategies. In a genome-wide comparative analysis of a total of 37 plant species, we discovered signatures of multiple independent loss-of-function events in the indispensable symbiotic regulator NODULE INCEPTION ( NIN ) in ten out of 13 genomes of non-nodulating species within this clade. The discovery that multiple independent losses shaped the present day distribution of nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis in plants reveals a phylogenetically wider distribution in evolutionary history and a so far underestimated selection pressure against this symbiosis.
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Stepwise and independent origins of roots among land plants

Stepwise and independent origins of roots among land plants | Plants & Evolution | Scoop.it

Roots are one of the three fundamental organ systems of vascular plants1, and have roles in anchorage, symbiosis, and nutrient and water uptake2,3,4. However, the fragmentary nature of the fossil record obscures the origins of roots and makes it difficult to identify when the sole defining characteristic of extant roots—the presence of self-renewing structures called root meristems that are covered by a root cap at their apex1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9—evolved. Here we report the discovery of what are—to our knowledge—the oldest meristems of rooting axes, found in the earliest-preserved terrestrial ecosystem10 (the 407-million-year-old Rhynie chert). These meristems, which belonged to the lycopsid Asteroxylon mackiei11,12,13,14, lacked root caps and instead developed a continuous epidermis over the surface of the meristem. The rooting axes and meristems of A. mackiei are unique among vascular plants. These data support the hypothesis that roots, as defined in extant vascular plants by the presence of a root cap7, were a late innovation in the vascular lineage. Roots therefore acquired traits in a stepwise fashion. The relatively late origin in lycophytes of roots with caps is consistent with the hypothesis that roots evolved multiple times2 rather than having a single origin1, and the extensive similarities between lycophyte and euphyllophyte roots15,16,17,18 therefore represent examples of convergent evolution. The key phylogenetic position of A. mackiei—with its transitional rooting organ—between early diverging land plants that lacked roots and derived plants that developed roots demonstrates how roots were ‘assembled’ during the course of plant evolution.

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A western Sahara centre of domestication inferred from pearl millet genomes

There have been intense debates over the geographic origin of African crops and agriculture. Here, we used whole-genome sequencing data to infer the domestication origin of pearl millet (Cenchrus americanus). Our results supported an origin in western Sahara, and we dated the onset of cultivated pearl millet expansion in Africa to 4,900 years ago. We provided evidence that wild-to-crop gene flow increased cultivated genetic diversity leading to diversity hotspots in western and eastern Sahel and adaptive introgression of 15 genomic regions. Our study reconciled genetic and archaeological data for one of the oldest African crops.
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Extensive intraspecific gene order and gene structural variations between Mo17 and other maize genomes

Maize is an important crop with a high level of genome diversity and heterosis. The genome sequence of a typical female line, B73, was previously released. Here, we report a de novo genome assembly of a corresponding male representative line, Mo17. More than 96.4% of the 2,183 Mb assembled genome can be accounted for by 362 scaffolds in ten pseudochromosomes with 38,620 annotated protein-coding genes. Comparative analysis revealed large gene-order and gene structural variations: approximately 10% of the annotated genes were mutually nonsyntenic, and more than 20% of the predicted genes had either large-effect mutations or large structural variations, which might cause considerable protein divergence between the two inbred lines. Our study provides a high-quality reference-genome sequence of an important maize germplasm, and the intraspecific gene order and gene structural variations identified should have implications for heterosis and genome evolution.

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Large-scale gene losses underlie the genome evolution of parasitic plant Cuscuta australis

Large-scale gene losses underlie the genome evolution of parasitic plant Cuscuta australis | Plants & Evolution | Scoop.it

Dodders (Cuscuta spp., Convolvulaceae) are root- and leafless parasitic plants. The physiology, ecology, and evolution of these obligate parasites are poorly understood. A high-quality reference genome of Cuscuta australis was assembled. Our analyses reveal that Cuscuta experienced accelerated molecular evolution, and Cuscuta and the convolvulaceous morning glory (Ipomoea) shared a common whole-genome triplication event before their divergence. C. australis genome harbors 19,671 protein-coding genes, and importantly, 11.7% of the conserved orthologs in autotrophic plants are lost in C. australis. Many of these gene loss events likely result from its parasitic lifestyle and the massive changes of its body plan. Moreover, comparison of the gene expression patterns in Cuscuta prehaustoria/haustoria and various tissues of closely related autotrophic plants suggests that Cuscuta haustorium formation requires mostly genes normally involved in root development. The C. australis genome provides important resources for studying the evolution of parasitism, regressive evolution, and evo-devo in plant parasites.

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Transcriptomic analysis with the progress of symbiosis in 'crack-entry' legume Arachis hypogaea highlights its contrast with 'infection thread' adapted legumes

In root-nodule symbiosis, rhizobial invasion and nodule organogenesis is host controlled. In most legumes, rhizobia enter through infection-threads and nodule primordium in the cortex is induced from a distance. But in dalbergoid legumes like Arachis hypogaea, rhizobia directly invade cortical cells through epidermal cracks to generate the primordia. Herein we report the transcriptional dynamics with the progress of symbiosis in A. hypogaea at 1dpi: invasion; 4dpi: nodule primordia; 8dpi: spread of infection in nodule-like structure; 12dpi: immature nodules containing rod-shaped rhizobia; and 21dpi: mature nodules with spherical symbiosomes. Expression of putative orthologue of symbiotic genes in crack-entry legume A. hypogaea was compared with infection thread adapted model legumes. The contrasting features were (i) higher expression of receptors like LYR3, EPR3 as compared to canonical NFRs (ii) late induction of transcription factors like NIN, NSP2 and constitutive high expression of ERF1, EIN2, bHLH476 and (iii) induction of divergent pathogenesis responsive PR-1 genes. Additionally, symbiotic orthologues of SymCRK, FLOT4, ROP6, RR9, NOOT and SEN1 were not detectable and microsynteny analysis indicated the absence of RPG and DNF2 homologues in diploid parental genomes of A. hypogaea. The implications are discussed and a molecular framework that guide crack-entry symbiosis in A. hypogaea is proposed.
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Epidermal LysM receptor ensures robust symbiotic signalling in Lotus japonicus

Recognition of Nod factors by LysM receptors is crucial for nitrogen-fixing symbiosis in most legumes. The large families of LysM receptors in legumes suggest concerted functions, yet only NFR1 and NFR5 and their closest homologs are known to be required. Here we show that an epidermal LysM receptor (NFRe), ensures robust signalling in L. japonicus. Mutants of Nfre react to Nod factors with increased calcium spiking interval, reduced transcriptional response and fewer nodules in the presence of rhizobia. NFRe has an active kinase capable of phosphorylating NFR5, which in turn, controls NFRe downstream signalling. Our findings provide evidence for a more complex Nod factor signalling mechanism than previously anticipated. The spatio-temporal interplay between Nfre and Nfr1, and their divergent signalling through distinct kinases suggests the presence of an NFRe-mediated idling state keeping the epidermal cells of the expanding root system attuned to rhizobia.

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Transcriptomic atlas of mushroom development highlights an independent origin of complex multicellularity

We constructed a reference atlas of mushroom formation based on developmental transcriptome data of six species and comparisons of >200 whole genomes, to elucidate the core genetic program of complex multicellularity and fruiting body development in mushroom-forming fungi (Agaricomycetes). Nearly 300 conserved gene families and >70 functional groups contained developmentally regulated genes from five to six species, covering functions related to fungal cell wall (FCW) remodeling, targeted protein degradation, signal transduction, adhesion and small secreted proteins (including effector-like orphan genes). Several of these families, including F-box proteins, protein kinases and cadherin-like proteins, showed massive expansions in Agaricomycetes, with many convergently expanded in multicellular plants and/or animals too, reflecting broad genetic convergence among independently evolved complex multicellular lineages. This study provides a novel entry point to studying mushroom development and complex multicellularity in one of the largest clades of complex eukaryotic organisms.

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Diversification and independent domestication of Asian and European pears

Pear (Pyrus) is a globally grown fruit, with thousands of cultivars in five domesticated species and dozens of wild species. However, little is known about the evolutionary history of these pear species and what has contributed to the distinct phenotypic traits between Asian pears and European pears. We report the genome resequencing of 113 pear accessions from worldwide collections, representing both cultivated and wild pear species. Based on 18,302,883 identified SNPs, we conduct phylogenetics, population structure, gene flow, and selective sweep analyses. Furthermore, we propose a model for the divergence, dissemination, and independent domestication of Asian and European pears in which pear, after originating in southwest China and then being disseminated throughout central Asia, has eventually spread to western Asia, and then on to Europe. We find evidence for rapid evolution and balancing selection for S-RNase genes that have contributed to the maintenance of self-incompatibility, thus promoting outcrossing and accounting for pear genome diversity across the Eurasian continent. In addition, separate selective sweep signatures between Asian pears and European pears, combined with co-localized QTLs and differentially expressed genes, underline distinct phenotypic fruit traits, including flesh texture, sugar, acidity, aroma, and stone cells. This study provides further clarification of the evolutionary history of pear along with independent domestication of Asian and European pears. Furthermore, it provides substantive and valuable genomic resources that will significantly advance pear improvement and molecular breeding efforts.
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The road to 10,000 plant genomes

The road to 10,000 plant genomes | Plants & Evolution | Scoop.it

Diversity in plant genomes remains largely unexplored. The 10,000 Plant Genome Sequencing Project is a landmark effort to catalogue plant genomic variation, representing a major step in understanding the tree of life. The project offers new opportunities to study biological processes and address fundamental research questions.

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The causes and consequences of subgenome dominance in hybrids and recent polyploids

The merger of divergent genomes, via hybridization or allopolyploidization, frequently results in a ‘genomic shock’ that induces a series of rapid genetic and epigenetic modifications as a result of conflicts between parental genomes. This conflict among the subgenomes routinely leads one subgenome to become dominant over the other subgenome(s), resulting in subgenome biases in gene content and expression. Recent advances in methods to analyze hybrid and polyploid genomes with comparisons to extant parental progenitors have allowed for major strides in understanding the mechanistic basis for subgenome dominance. In particular, our understanding of the role that homoeologous exchange might play in subgenome dominance and genome evolution is quickly growing. Here we describe recent discoveries uncovering the underlying mechanisms and provide a framework to predict subgenome dominance in hybrids and allopolyploids with far‐reaching implications for agricultural, ecological, and evolutionary research.
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A major locus controls local adaptation and adaptive life history variation in a perennial plant 

A major locus controls local adaptation and adaptive life history variation in a perennial plant  | Plants & Evolution | Scoop.it
The initiation of growth cessation and dormancy represent critical life-history trade-offs between survival and growth and have important fitness effects in perennial plants. Such adaptive life-history traits often show strong local adaptation along environmental gradients but, despite their importance, the genetic architecture of these traits remains poorly understood. We integrate whole genome re-sequencing with environmental and phenotypic data from common garden experiments to investigate the genomic basis of local adaptation across a latitudinal gradient in European aspen (Populus tremula). A single genomic region containing the PtFT2 gene mediates local adaptation in the timing of bud set and explains 65% of the observed genetic variation in bud set. This locus is the likely target of a recent selective sweep that originated right before or during colonization of northern Scandinavia following the last glaciation. Field and greenhouse experiments confirm that variation in PtFT2 gene expression affects the phenotypic variation in bud set that we observe in wild natural populations. Our results reveal a major effect locus that determines the timing of bud set and that has facilitated rapid adaptation to shorter growing seasons and colder climates in European aspen. The discovery of a single locus explaining a substantial fraction of the variation in a key life-history trait is remarkable, given that such traits are generally considered to be highly polygenic. These findings provide a dramatic illustration of how loci of large-effect for adaptive traits can arise and be maintained over large geographical scales in natural populations.
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An epigenetic mechanism for cavefish eye degeneration

An epigenetic mechanism for cavefish eye degeneration | Plants & Evolution | Scoop.it

Coding and non-coding mutations in DNA contribute significantly to phenotypic variability during evolution. However, less is known about the role of epigenetics in this process. Although previous studies have identified eye development genes associated with the loss-of-eyes phenotype in the Pachón blind cave morph of the Mexican tetra Astyanax mexicanus, no inactivating mutations have been found in any of these genes. Here, we show that excess DNA methylation-based epigenetic silencing promotes eye degeneration in blind cave A. mexicanus. By performing parallel analyses in A. mexicanus cave and surface morphs, and in the zebrafish Danio rerio, we have discovered that DNA methylation mediates eye-specific gene repression and globally regulates early eye development. The most significantly hypermethylated and downregulated genes in the cave morph are also linked to human eye disorders, suggesting that the function of these genes is conserved across vertebrates. Our results show that changes in DNA methylation-based gene repression can serve as an important molecular mechanism generating phenotypic diversity during development and evolution.

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