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Concept: Annual plant


A hydrophobic cuticle consisting of waxes and the polyester cutin covers the aerial epidermis of all land plants, providing essential protection from desiccation and other stresses. We have determined the enzymatic basis of cutin polymerization through characterization of a tomato extracellular acyltransferase, CD1, and its substrate, 2-mono(10,16-dihydroxyhexadecanoyl)glycerol. CD1 has in vitro polyester synthesis activity and is required for cutin accumulation in vivo, indicating that it is a cutin synthase.

Concepts: Plant, In vivo, In vitro, Annual plant, Epidermis, Bryophyte, Moss, Plant cuticle


In complex and ever-changing environments, resources such as food are often scarce and unevenly distributed in space and time. Therefore, utilizing external cues to locate and remember high-quality sources allows more efficient foraging, thus increasing chances for survival. Associations between environmental cues and food are readily formed because of the tangible benefits they confer. While examples of the key role they play in shaping foraging behaviours are widespread in the animal world, the possibility that plants are also able to acquire learned associations to guide their foraging behaviour has never been demonstrated. Here we show that this type of learning occurs in the garden pea, Pisum sativum. By using a Y-maze task, we show that the position of a neutral cue, predicting the location of a light source, affected the direction of plant growth. This learned behaviour prevailed over innate phototropism. Notably, learning was successful only when it occurred during the subjective day, suggesting that behavioural performance is regulated by metabolic demands. Our results show that associative learning is an essential component of plant behaviour. We conclude that associative learning represents a universal adaptive mechanism shared by both animals and plants.

Concepts: Psychology, Plant, Animal, Pea, Fabaceae, Annual plant, Fruit, Legume


Apolygus lucorum (Meyer-Dür) (Hemiptera: Miridae) is one of the most important herbivores in a broad range of cultivated plants, including cotton, cereals, vegetables, and fruit crops in China. In this manuscript, we report on a 6-year long study in which (adult) A. lucorum abundance was recorded on 174 plant species from 39 families from early July to mid-September. Through the study period per year, the proportion of flowering plants exploited by adult A. lucorum was significantly greater than that of non-flowering plants. For a given plant species, A. lucorum adults reached peak abundance at the flowering stage, when the plant had the greatest attraction to the adults. More specifically, mean adult abundance on 26 species of major host plants and their relative standard attraction were 10.3-28.9 times and 9.3-19.5 times higher at flowering stage than during non-flowering periods, respectively. Among all the tested species, A. lucorum adults switched food plants according to the succession of flowering plant species. In early July, A. lucorum adults preferred some plant species in bloom, such as Vigna radiata, Gossypium hirsutum, Helianthus annuus and Chrysanthemum coronarium; since late July, adults dispersed into other flowering hosts (e.g. Ricinus communis, Impatiens balsamina, Humulus scandens, Ocimum basilicum, Agastache rugosus and Coriandrum sativum); in early September, they largely migrated to flowering Artemisia spp. (e.g. A. argyi, A. lavandulaefolia, A. annua and A. scoparia). Our findings underscore the important role of flowering plays in the population dynamics and inter-plant migration of this mirid bug. Also, our work helps understand evolutionary aspects of host plant use in polyphagous insects such as A. lucorum, and provides baseline information for the development of sustainable management strategies of this key agricultural pest.

Concepts: Plant, Annual plant, Fern, Euphorbiaceae, Flowering plant, Flower, Oak, Heteroptera


The outgrowth of axillary buds into branches is regulated systemically via plant hormones and the demand of growing shoot tips for sugars. The plant hormone auxin is thought to act via two mechanisms. One mechanism involves auxin regulation of systemic signals, cytokinins and strigolactones, which can move into axillary buds. The other involves suppression of auxin transport/canalization from axillary buds into the main stem and is enhanced by a low sink for auxin in the stem. In this theory, the relative ability of buds and stem to transport auxin controls bud outgrowth. Here we evaluate whether auxin transport is required or regulated during bud outgrowth in pea (Pisum sativum). The profound, systemic and long-term effects of the auxin transport inhibitor N-1-naphthylphthalamic acid had very little inhibitory effect on bud outgrowth in strigolactone deficient mutants. Strigolactones can also inhibit bud outgrowth in N-1-naphthylphthalamic acid-treated shoots that have greatly diminished auxin transport. Moreover strigolactones can inhibit bud outgrowth despite a much diminished auxin supply in in vitro or decapitated plants. These findings demonstrate that auxin sink strength in the stem is not important for bud outgrowth in pea. Consistent with alternative mechanisms of auxin-regulation of systemic signals, enhanced auxin biosynthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana can suppress branching in yuc1D plants compared to wild-type plants, but has no effect on bud outgrowth in a strigolactone-deficient mutant background.

Concepts: Bud, Annual plant, Plant physiology, Plant hormone, Plant stem, Shoot, Auxin, Polar auxin transport


Pesticides that persist in soils may be taken up by the roots of plants. One way to assess plant uptake is to theoretically predict the extent of plant uptake using a mathematical model. In this study, a model was developed to predict plant uptake of pesticide residues in soils using various parameters, such as pesticide mobility within soil, plant transpiration stream, root-soil transfer rate, plant growth, and pesticide dissipation in either soils or plants. The accuracy of the model was evaluated by comparing the modeled concentrations with measured uptake concentrations of chlorpyrifos (CP) in lettuce, grown on treated soils with concentrations of approximately 10 and 20 mg kg-1 CP. Measured concentrations of CP in lettuce at 21, 30, and 40 d after planting were between the 5th and 95th percentiles of model variation. A high correlation coefficient of > 0.97 between modeled and measured concentrations was found. Coefficients of variation of mean factors to residual errors were between 25.3 and 48.2%. Overall, modeling results matched the experimental results well. Therefore, this plant uptake model could be used as an assessment tool to predict the extent of plant uptake of pesticide residues in soils.

Concepts: Mathematics, Plant, Water, Soil, Pesticide, Annual plant, Transpiration, Phytoremediation


Ralstonia solanacearum, the causative agent of bacterial wilt, is a devastating bacterial plant pathogen with a wide range of hosts. We report here the first draft genome sequences for three strains of Ralstonia solanacearum isolated from infected potato, tomato, and pepper plants in Georgia.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Bacteria, Organism, Eukaryote, Cell wall, Annual plant, Fruit, Ralstonia solanacearum


Plant volatiles play important roles in attraction of certain pollinators and in host location by herbivorous insects. Virus infection induces changes in plant volatile emission profiles, and this can make plants more attractive to insect herbivores, such as aphids, that act as viral vectors. However, it is unknown if virus-induced alterations in volatile production affect plant-pollinator interactions. We found that volatiles emitted by cucumber mosaic virus (CMV)-infected tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and Arabidopsis thaliana plants altered the foraging behaviour of bumblebees (Bombus terrestris). Virus-induced quantitative and qualitative changes in blends of volatile organic compounds emitted by tomato plants were identified by gas chromatography-coupled mass spectrometry. Experiments with a CMV mutant unable to express the 2b RNA silencing suppressor protein and with Arabidopsis silencing mutants implicate microRNAs in regulating emission of pollinator-perceivable volatiles. In tomato, CMV infection made plants emit volatiles attractive to bumblebees. Bumblebees pollinate tomato by ‘buzzing’ (sonicating) the flowers, which releases pollen and enhances self-fertilization and seed production as well as pollen export. Without buzz-pollination, CMV infection decreased seed yield, but when flowers of mock-inoculated and CMV-infected plants were buzz-pollinated, the increased seed yield for CMV-infected plants was similar to that for mock-inoculated plants. Increased pollinator preference can potentially increase plant reproductive success in two ways: i) as female parents, by increasing the probability that ovules are fertilized; ii) as male parents, by increasing pollen export. Mathematical modeling suggested that over a wide range of conditions in the wild, these increases to the number of offspring of infected susceptible plants resulting from increased pollinator preference could outweigh underlying strong selection pressures favoring pathogen resistance, allowing genes for disease susceptibility to persist in plant populations. We speculate that enhanced pollinator service for infected individuals in wild plant populations might provide mutual benefits to the virus and its susceptible hosts.

Concepts: Plant, Annual plant, Fruit, Tomato, Pollination, Flowering plant, Bumblebee, Pollinator


Agriculture is being challenged to provide food, and increasingly fuel, for an expanding global population. Producing bioenergy crops on marginal lands-farmland suboptimal for food crops-could help meet energy goals while minimizing competition with food production. However, the ecological costs and benefits of growing bioenergy feedstocks-primarily annual grain crops-on marginal lands have been questioned. Here we show that perennial bioenergy crops provide an alternative to annual grains that increases biodiversity of multiple taxa and sustain a variety of ecosystem functions, promoting the creation of multifunctional agricultural landscapes. We found that switchgrass and prairie plantings harbored significantly greater plant, methanotrophic bacteria, arthropod, and bird diversity than maize. Although biomass production was greater in maize, all other ecosystem services, including methane consumption, pest suppression, pollination, and conservation of grassland birds, were higher in perennial grasslands. Moreover, we found that the linkage between biodiversity and ecosystem services is dependent not only on the choice of bioenergy crop but also on its location relative to other habitats, with local landscape context as important as crop choice in determining provision of some services. Our study suggests that bioenergy policy that supports coordinated land use can diversify agricultural landscapes and sustain multiple critical ecosystem services.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Conservation biology, Agriculture, Ecology, Ecosystem, Annual plant, Food security, Ecological economics


Human pharmaceuticals have been detected in the terrestrial environment at µg to mgkg(-1) concentrations. Repeated application of sewage sludge (biosolids) and increasing reclaimed wastewater use for irrigation could lead to accumulation of these novel contaminants in soil systems. Despite this, potential phytotoxicological effects on higher plants have rarely been evaluated. These studies aimed to test effects upon germination, development, growth and physiology of two crop plants, namely radish (Raphanus sativus Spakler 3) and lettuce (Lactuca sativa All Year Around), after exposure to different, but structurally related non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) at environmentally relevant concentrations. A range of biological endpoints comprising biomass, length, water content, specific root and shoot length, root to shoot ratio, daily progress of stages of cell elongation and organ emergence (primary root, hypocotyl elongation, cotyledon emergence, cotyledon opening, and no change), as well as photosynthetic measurements were evaluated. Compounds from the fenamic acid class were found to affect R. sativus root endpoints (root length and water content), while ibuprofen affected early root development of L. sativa. In general, phytotoxicological effects on root endpoints demonstrated that impacts upon higher plants are not only compound specific, but also differ between plant species. It was found that the usage of a wide range of biological endpoints (all simple, cost-effective and ecologically relevant) were beneficial in detecting differences in plant responses to NSAID exposure. Due to paucity and discrepancy within the few previously available phytotoxicological studies with pharmaceuticals, it is now essential to allocate time and resources to consider development of suitable chronic toxicity tests, and some suggestions regarding this are presented.

Concepts: Plant, Water, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Annual plant, Wastewater, Lettuce


Numerous aromatic plant species produce high levels of monoterpenols, using geranyl diphosphate (GPP) as a precursor. Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) geraniol synthase (GES) was used to evaluate the monoterpenol profiles arising from heterologous expressions in various plant models. Grapevine (Vitis vinifera) calli were transformed using Agrobacterium tumefasciens and the plants were regenerated. Thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) was transformed using the floral dip method. Tobacco (Nicotiana benthamiana) leaves were agro-infiltrated for transient expression. Although, as expected, geraniol was the main product detected in the leaves, different minor products were observed in these plants (V. vinifera: citronellol and nerol; N. benthamiana: linalool and nerol; A. thaliana: none). O. basilicum GES expression was also carried out with microbial system yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and Escherichia coli. These results suggest that the functional properties of a monoterpenol synthase depend not only on the enzyme’s amino-acidic sequence, but also on the cellular background. They also suggest that some plant species or microbial expression systems could induce the simultaneous formation of several carbocations, and could thus have a natural tendency to produce a wider spectrum of monoterpenols.

Concepts: Genome, Fungus, Model organism, Arabidopsis thaliana, Arabidopsis, Annual plant, Basil, Ocimum basilicum