SciCombinator

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Concept: Poaceae

437

Despite the extensive cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) maize and considerable number of scientific reports on its agro-environmental impact, the risks and benefits of GE maize are still being debated and concerns about safety remain. This meta-analysis aimed at increasing knowledge on agronomic, environmental and toxicological traits of GE maize by analyzing the peer-reviewed literature (from 1996 to 2016) on yield, grain quality, non-target organisms (NTOs), target organisms (TOs) and soil biomass decomposition. Results provided strong evidence that GE maize performed better than its near isogenic line: grain yield was 5.6 to 24.5% higher with lower concentrations of mycotoxins (-28.8%), fumonisin (-30.6%) and thricotecens (-36.5%). The NTOs analyzed were not affected by GE maize, except for Braconidae, represented by a parasitoid of European corn borer, the target of Lepidoptera active Bt maize. Biogeochemical cycle parameters such as lignin content in stalks and leaves did not vary, whereas biomass decomposition was higher in GE maize. The results support the cultivation of GE maize, mainly due to enhanced grain quality and reduction of human exposure to mycotoxins. Furthermore, the reduction of the parasitoid of the target and the lack of consistent effects on other NTOs are confirmed.

Concepts: DNA, Scientific method, Ecology, Poaceae, Maize, James D. Watson, Genetically modified food, Transgenic maize

172

Miscanthus sacchariflorus is a fast-growing C(4) perennial grass that can naturally hybridize with M. sinensis to produce interspecific hybrids, such as the sterile triploid M.× giganteus. The creation of such hybrids is essential for the rapid domestication of this novel bioenergy crop. However, progress has been hindered by poor understanding of the environmental cues promoting floral transition in M. sacchariflorus, which flowers less readily than M. sinensis. The purpose of this work was to identify the flowering requirements of M. sacchariflorus genotypes in order to expedite the introduction of new germplasm optimized to different environments. Six M. sacchariflorus accessions collected from a range of latitudes were grown under controlled photoperiod and temperature conditions, and flowering, biomass, and morphological phenotypic data were captured. Results indicated that M. sacchariflorus, irrespective of origin, is a quantitative short-day plant. Flowering under static long days (15.3h daylength), compared with shorter photoperiods, was delayed by an average 61 d, with an average associated increase of 52% of above-ground biomass (DM plant(-1)). Timing of floral initiation occurred between photoperiods of 14.2h and 12.1h, and accumulated temperatures of 553-1157 °C above a base temperature of 10 °C. Miscanthus sacchariflorus flowering phenology closely resembles that of Sorghum and Saccharum, indicating potentially similar floral pathways and suggesting that determination of the underlying genetic mechanisms will be facilitated by the syntenic relationships existing between these important C(4) grasses.

Concepts: Evolution, Poaceae, Maize, Flower, Biofuel, Photoperiodism, Biomass, Miscanthus giganteus

171

Starch grain, phytolith and cereal bran fragments were analyzed in order to identify the food remains including cakes, dumplings, as well as porridge unearthed at the Astana Cemeteries in Turpan of Xinjiang, China. The results suggest that the cakes were made from Triticum aestivum while the dumplings were made from Triticum aestivum, along with Setaria italica. The ingredients of the porridge remains emanated from Panicum miliaceum. Moreover, direct macrobotantical evidence of the utilization of six cereal crops, such as Triticum aestivum, Hordeum vulgare var. coeleste, Panicum miliaceum, Setaria italica, Cannabis sativa, and Oryza sativa in the Turpan region during the Jin and Tang dynasties (about 3(rd) to 9(th) centuries) is also presented. All of these cereal crops not only provided food for the survival of the indigenous people, but also spiced up their daily life.

Concepts: Wheat, Poaceae, Cereal, Maize, Rice, Oat, Barley, Staple food

166

Agricultural sustainability may represent the greatest encumbrance to increasing food production. On the other hand, as a component of sustainability, replacement of chemical fertilizers by bio-fertilizers has the potential to lower costs for farmers, to increase yields, and to mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions and pollution of water and soil. Rhizobia and plant-growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) have been broadly used in agriculture, and advances in our understanding of plant-bacteria interactions have been achieved; however, the use of signaling molecules to enhance crop performance is still modest. In this study, we evaluated the effects of concentrated metabolites (CM) from two strains of rhizobia—Bradyrhizobium diazoefficiens USDA 110T (BD1) and Rhizobium tropici CIAT 899T (RT1)—at two concentrations of active compounds (10–8 and 10–9 M)—on the performances of two major plant-microbe interactions, of Bradyrhizobium spp.-soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) and Azospirillum brasilense-maize (Zea mays L.). For soybean, one greenhouse and two field experiments were performed and effects of addition of CM from the homologous and heterologous strains, and of the flavonoid genistein were investigated. For maize, three field experiments were performed to examine the effects of CM from RT1. For soybean, compared to the treatment inoculated exclusively with Bradyrhizobium, benefits were achieved with the addition of CM-BD1; at 10–9 M, grain yield was increased by an average of 4.8%. For maize, the best result was obtained with the addition of CM-RT1, also at 10–9 M, increasing grain yield by an average of 11.4%. These benefits might be related to a combination of effects attributed to secondary compounds produced by the rhizobial strains, including exopolysaccharides (EPSs), plant hormones and lipo-chitooligosaccharides (LCOs). The results emphasize the biotechnological potential of using secondary metabolites of rhizobia together with inoculants containing both rhizobia and PGPR to improve the growth and yield of grain crops.

Concepts: Agriculture, Wheat, Poaceae, Soybean, Cereal, Maize, Rice, Staple food

164

Background and AimsCold is a major constraint for cereal cultivation under temperate climates. Winter-hardy plants interpret seasonal changes and can acquire the ability to resist sub-zero temperatures. This cold acclimation process is associated with physiological, biochemical and molecular alterations in cereals. Brachypodium distachyon is considered a powerful model system to study the response of temperate cereals to adverse environmental conditions. To date, little is known about the cold acclimation and freezing tolerance capacities of Brachypodium. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the cold hardiness of seven diploid Brachypodium accessions.MethodsAn integrated approach, involving monitoring of phenological indicators along with expression profiling of the major vernalization regulator VRN1 orthologue, was followed. In parallel, soluble sugars and proline contents were determined along with expression profiles of two COR genes in plants exposed to low temperatures. Finally, whole-plant freezing tests were performed to evaluate the freezing tolerance capacity of Brachypodium.Key ResultsCold treatment accelerated the transition from the vegetative to the reproductive phase in all diploid Brachypodium accessions tested. In addition, low temperature exposure triggered the gradual accumulation of BradiVRN1 transcripts in all accessions tested. These accessions exhibited a clear cold acclimation response by progressively accumulating proline, sugars and COR gene transcripts. However, whole-plant freezing tests revealed that these seven diploid accessions only have a limited capacity to develop freezing tolerance when compared with winter varieties of temperate cereals such as wheat and barley. Furthermore, little difference in terms of survival was observed among the accessions tested despite their previous classification as either spring or winter genotypes.ConclusionsThis study is the first to characterize the freezing tolerance capacities of B. distachyon and provides strong evidence that some diploid accessions such as Bd21 have a facultative growth habit.

Concepts: Physiology, Climate, Temperature, Poaceae, Cereal, Season, Carbohydrate, Temperateness

153

Analysis of organic residues in pottery vessels has been successful in detecting a range of animal and plant products as indicators of food preparation and consumption in the past. However, the identification of plant remains, especially grain crops in pottery, has proved elusive. Extending the spectrum is highly desirable, not only to strengthen our understanding of the dispersal of crops from centres of domestication but also to determine modes of food processing, artefact function and the culinary significance of the crop. Here, we propose a new approach to identify millet in pottery vessels, a crop that spread throughout much of Eurasia during prehistory following its domestication, most likely in northern China. We report the successful identification of miliacin (olean-18-en-3β-ol methyl ether), a pentacyclic triterpene methyl ether that is enriched in grains of common/broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum), in Bronze Age pottery vessels from the Korean Peninsula and northern Europe. The presence of millet is supported by enriched carbon stable isotope values of bulk charred organic matter sampled from pottery vessel surfaces and extracted n-alkanoic acids, consistent with a C4 plant origin. These data represent the first identification of millet in archaeological ceramic vessels, providing a means to track the introduction, spread and consumption of this important crop.

Concepts: Poaceae, Cereal, Neolithic, Crops, Archaeology, Prehistory, Bronze Age, Millet

146

Foxtail millet (Setaria italica) belonging to the family Poaceae is an important millet that is widely cultivated in East Asia. Of the cultivated millets, the foxtail millet has the longest history and is one of the main food crops in South India and China. Moreover, foxtail millet is a model plant system for biofuel generation utilizing the C4 photosynthetic pathway. In this study, we carried out de novo transcriptome assembly for the foxtail millet variety Taejin collected from Korea using next-generation sequencing. We obtained a total of 8.676 GB raw data by paired-end sequencing. The raw data in this study can be available in NCBI SRA database with accession number of SRR3406552. The Trinity program was used to de novo assemble 145,332 transcripts. Using the TransDecoder program, we predicted 82,925 putative proteins. BLASTP was performed against the Swiss-Prot protein sequence database to annotate the functions of identified proteins, resulting in 20,555 potentially novel proteins. Taken together, this study provides transcriptome data for the foxtail millet variety Taejin by RNA-Seq.

Concepts: Protein, Agriculture, Poaceae, South Korea, Millet, Millets, Setaria, Foxtail millet

145

Finger millet is one of the small millets with high nutritive value. This crop is vulnerable to blast disease caused by Pyricularia grisea, which occurs annually during rainy and winter seasons. Leaf blast occurs at early crop stage and is highly damaging. Mapping of resistance genes and other quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for agronomic performance can be of great use for improving finger millet genotypes. Evaluation of one hundred and twenty-eight finger millet genotypes in natural field conditions revealed that leaf blast caused severe setback on agronomic performance for susceptible genotypes, most significant traits being plant height and root length. Plant height was reduced under disease severity while root length was increased. Among the genotypes, IE4795 showed superior response in terms of both disease resistance and better agronomic performance. A total of seven unambiguous QTLs were found to be associated with various agronomic traits including leaf blast resistance by association mapping analysis. The markers, UGEP101 and UGEP95, were strongly associated with blast resistance. UGEP98 was associated with tiller number and UGEP9 was associated with root length and seed yield. Cross species validation of markers revealed that 12 candidate genes were associated with 8 QTLs in the genomes of grass species such as rice, foxtail millet, maize, Brachypodium stacei, B. distachyon, Panicum hallii and switchgrass. Several candidate genes were found proximal to orthologous sequences of the identified QTLs such as 1,4-β-glucanase for leaf blast resistance, cytokinin dehydrogenase (CKX) for tiller production, calmodulin (CaM) binding protein for seed yield and pectin methylesterase inhibitor (PMEI) for root growth and development. Most of these QTLs and their putatively associated candidate genes are reported for first time in finger millet. On validation, these novel QTLs may be utilized in future for marker assisted breeding for the development of fungal resistant and high yielding varieties of finger millet.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Poaceae, Magnaporthe grisea, Millet, Underutilized crops, Millets, Finger millet

138

Atmospheric CO2 (ca) has increased since the last glacial period, increasing photosynthetic water use efficiency and improving plant productivity. Evolution of C4 photosynthesis at low ca led to decreased stomatal conductance (gs), which provided an advantage over C3 plants that may be reduced by rising ca. Using controlled environments, we determined how increasing ca affects C4 water use relative to C3 plants. Leaf gas exchange and mass per area (LMA) were measured for four C3 and four C4 annual, crop-related grasses at glacial (200), ambient (400), and super-ambient (640 µmol mol-1) ca. C4 plants had lower gs, which resulted in a water use efficiency advantage at all ca and was broadly consistent with slower stomatal responses to shade, indicating less pressure on leaf water status. At glacial ca, A and LMA were lower for C3 than C4 leaves, and C3 and C4 grasses decreased leaf hydraulic conductance (Kleaf) similarly, but only C4 leaves decreased osmotic potential at turgor-loss. Greater carbon availability in C4 leaves at glacial ca generated different hydraulic adjustment relative to C3 plants. At current and future ca, C4 grasses have advantages over C3 grasses due to lower gs, lower stomatal sensitivity, and higher absolute water use efficiency.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Carbon dioxide, Plant, Poaceae, Plant physiology, Leaf, Photorespiration, C4 carbon fixation

64

The domestication and transmission of cereals is one of the most fundamental components of early farming, but direct evidence of their use in early culinary practices and economies has remained frustratingly elusive. Using analysis of a well-preserved Early Bronze Age wooden container from Switzerland, we propose novel criteria for the identification of cereal residues. Using gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS), we identified compounds typically associated with plant products, including a series of phenolic lipids (alkylresorcinols) found only at appreciable concentration in wheat and rye bran. The value of these lipids as cereal grain biomarkers were independently corroborated by the presence of macrobotanical remains embedded in the deposit, and wheat and rye endosperm peptides extracted from residue. These findings demonstrate the utility of a lipid-based biomarker for wheat and rye bran and offer a methodological template for future investigations of wider range of archaeological contexts. Alkylresorcinols provide a new tool for residue analysis which can help explore the spread and exploitation of cereal grains, a fundamental component of the advent and spread of farming.

Concepts: Wheat, Poaceae, Cereal, Maize, Rye, Rice, Oat, Cereals