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Journal: Annals of botany


Background and AimsIntraspecific reproductive differentiation into sexual and apomictic cytotypes of differing ploidy is a common phenomenon. However, mechanisms enabling the maintenance of both reproductive modes and integrity of cytotypes in sympatry are as yet poorly understood. This study examined the association of sexual and apomictic seed formation with ploidy as well as gene flow towards sexuals within populations of purely polyploid Potentilla puberula.MethodsThe study is based on 22 populations representing various combinations of five polyploid cytotypes (tetraploid-octoploid) from East Tyrol, Austria. Embryo ploidy and the endosperm/embryo ploidy ratio obtained by a flow cytometric seed screen were used to infer reproductive modes of seed formation and to calculate the male and female genomic contributions to the embryo and endosperm. Self-incompatibility (SI) patterns were assessed and a new indirect approach was used to test for the occurrence of intercytotype matings based on the variation in the male genomic contribution to sexually derived embryos on the level of developed seed.Key ResultsTetraploids formed seeds almost exclusively via sexual reproduction, whereas penta- to octoploids were preferentially apomictic. Non-random distribution of reproductive modes within maternal plants further revealed a tendency to separate the sexual from the apomictic mode among individuals. Self-incompatibility of sexuals indicated functionality of the gametophytic SI system despite tetraploidy of the nuclear genome. We found no indication for significant cross-fertilization of tetraploids by the high polyploids.ConclusionsThe study revealed a rare example of intraspecific differentiation into sexual and apomictic cytotypes at the polyploid level. The integrity of the sexual tetraploids was maintained due to reproductive isolation from the apomictic higher polyploids. Functionality of the gametophytic SI system suggested that the tetraploids are functional diploids.

Concepts: Genetics, Reproduction, Genome, Seed, Asexual reproduction, Rosaceae, Plant reproduction, Parthenogenesis


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


BackgroundAs proposed by Darwin, climbers have been assumed to allocate a smaller fraction of biomass to support organs in comparison with self-supporting plants. They have also been hypothesized to possess a set of traits associated with fast growth, resource uptake and high productivity.ScopeIn this review, these hypotheses are evaluated by assembling and synthesizing published and unpublished data sets from across the globe concerning resource allocation, growth rates and traits of leaves, stems and roots of climbers and self-supporting species.ConclusionsThe majority of studies offer little support for the smaller allocation of biomass to stems or greater relative growth rates in climbers; however, these results are based on small sized (<1 kg) plants. Simulations based on allometric biomass equations demonstrate, however, that larger lianas allocate a greater fraction of above-ground biomass to leaves (and therefore less biomass to stems) compared with similar sized trees. A survey of leaf traits of lianas revealed their lower average leaf mass per area (LMA), higher N and P concentration and a slightly higher mass-based photosynthetic rate, as well as a lower concentration of phenolic-based compounds than in woody self-supporting species, consistent with the specialization of lianas towards the fast metabolism/rapid turnover end of the global trait spectra. Liana stems have an efficient hydraulic design and unique mechanical features, while roots appear to penetrate deeper soil levels than in trees and are often able to generate hydraulic pressure. Much remains to be learned, however, about these and other functional specializations of their axial organs and the associated trade-offs. Developmental switches between self-supporting, searcher and climbing shoots within the same individual are a promising field of comparative studies on trait association in lianas. Finally, some of the vast trait variability within lianas may be reduced when species with different climbing mechanisms are considered separately, and when phylogenetic conservatism is accounted for.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Leaf, Plant morphology, Resource allocation, Climbing


Anaesthesia for medical purposes was introduced in the 19th century. However, the physiological mode of anaesthetic drug actions on the nervous system remains unclear. One of the remaining questions is how these different compounds, with no structural similarities and even chemically inert elements such as the noble gas xenon, act as anaesthetic agents inducing loss of consciousness. The main goal here was to determine if anaesthetics affect the same or similar processes in plants as in animals and humans.

Concepts: Nervous system, Cell, Plant, Animal, Anesthesia, Periodic table, Noble gas, Argon


Background and AimsA positive correlation between tissue thickness and crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) expression has been frequently suggested. Therefore, this study addressed the question of whether water availability modulates photosynthetic plasticity in different organs of two epiphytic orchids with distinct leaf thickness.MethodsTissue morphology and photosynthetic mode (C3 and/or CAM) were examined in leaves, pseudobulbs and roots of a thick-leaved (Cattleya walkeriana) and a thin-leaved (Oncidium ‘Aloha’) epiphytic orchid. Morphological features were studied comparing the drought-induced physiological responses observed in each organ after 30 d of either drought or well-watered treatments.Key ResultsCattleya walkeriana, which is considered a constitutive CAM orchid, displayed a clear drought-induced up-regulation of CAM in its thick leaves but not in its non-leaf organs (pseudobulbs and roots). The set of morphological traits of Cattleya leaves suggested the drought-inducible CAM up-regulation as a possible mechanism of increasing water-use efficiency and carbon economy. Conversely, although belonging to an orchid genus classically considered as performing C3 photosynthesis, Oncidium ‘Aloha’ under drought seemed to express facultative CAM in its roots and pseudobulbs but not in its leaves, indicating that such photosynthetic responses might compensate for the lack of capacity to perform CAM in its thin leaves. Morphological features of Oncidium leaves also indicated lower efficiency in preventing water and CO2 losses, while aerenchyma ducts connecting pseudobulbs and leaves suggested a compartmentalized mechanism of nighttime carboxylation via phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) (pseudobulbs) and daytime carboxylation via Rubisco (leaves) in drought-exposed Oncidium plants.ConclusionsWater availability modulated CAM expression in an organ-compartmented manner in both orchids studied. As distinct regions of the same orchid could perform different photosynthetic pathways and variable degrees of CAM expression depending on the water availability, more attention should be addressed to this in future studies concerning the abundance of CAM plants.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Carbon dioxide, RuBisCO, C4 carbon fixation, C3 carbon fixation, Crassulacean acid metabolism, Orchidaceae, Carbon fixation


BackgroundJasmonates are important regulators in plant responses to biotic and abiotic stresses as well as in development. Synthesized from lipid-constituents, the initially formed jasmonic acid is converted to different metabolites including the conjugate with isoleucine. Important new components of jasmonate signalling including its receptor were identified, providing deeper insight into the role of jasmonate signalling pathways in stress responses and development.ScopeThe present review is an update of the review on jasmonates published in this journal in 2007. New data of the last five years are described with emphasis on metabolites of jasmonates, on jasmonate perception and signalling, on cross-talk to other plant hormones and on jasmonate signalling in response to herbivores and pathogens, in symbiotic interactions, in flower development, in root growth and in light perception.ConclusionsThe last few years have seen breakthroughs in the identification of JASMONATE ZIM DOMAIN (JAZ) proteins and their interactors such as transcription factors and co-repressors, and the crystallization of the jasmonate receptor as well as of the enzyme conjugating jasmonate to amino acids. Now, the complex nature of networks of jasmonate signalling in stress responses and development including hormone cross-talk can be addressed.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Signal transduction, Metabolism, Hormone, Receptor, Jasmonate, Jasmonic acid


Background and Aims The genus Arachis contains 80 described species. Section Arachis is of particular interest because it includes cultivated peanut, an allotetraploid, and closely related wild species, most of which are diploids. This study aimed to analyse the genetic relationships of multiple accessions of section Arachis species using two complementary methods. Microsatellites allowed the analysis of inter- and intraspecific variability. Intron sequences from single-copy genes allowed phylogenetic analysis including the separation of the allotetraploid genome components. Methods Intron sequences and microsatellite markers were used to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships in section Arachis through maximum parsimony and genetic distance analyses. Key Results Although high intraspecific variability was evident, there was good support for most species. However, some problems were revealed, notably a probable polyphyletic origin for A. kuhlmannii. The validity of the genome groups was well supported. The F, K and D genomes grouped close to the A genome group. The 2n = 18 species grouped closer to the B genome group. The phylogenetic tree based on the intron data strongly indicated that A. duranensis and A. ipaënsis are the ancestors of A. hypogaea and A. monticola. Intron nucleotide substitutions allowed the ages of divergences of the main genome groups to be estimated at a relatively recent 2·3-2·9 million years ago. This age and the number of species described indicate a much higher speciation rate for section Arachis than for legumes in general. Conclusions The analyses revealed relationships between the species and genome groups and showed a generally high level of intraspecific genetic diversity. The improved knowledge of species relationships should facilitate the utilization of wild species for peanut improvement. The estimates of speciation rates in section Arachis are high, but not unprecedented. We suggest these high rates may be linked to the peculiar reproductive biology of Arachis.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Evolution, Organism, Species, Phylogenetics, Peanut, Arachis


Background and AimsThere is a great need to search for natural compounds with superior prebiotic, antioxidant and immunostimulatory properties for use in (food) applications. Raffinose family oligosaccharides (RFOs) show such properties. Moreover, they contribute to stress tolerance in plants, acting as putative membrane stabilizers, antioxidants and signalling agents.MethodsA large-scale soluble carbohydrate screening was performed within the plant kingdom. An unknown compound accumulated to a high extent in early-spring red deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) but not in other RFO plants. The compound was purified and its structure was unravelled with NMR. Organs and organ parts of red deadnettle were carefully dissected and analysed for soluble sugars. Phloem sap content was analysed by a common EDTA-based method.Key ResultsEarly-spring red deadnettle stems and roots accumulate high concentrations of the reducing trisaccharide manninotriose (Galα1,6Galα1,6Glc), a derivative of the non-reducing RFO stachyose (Galα1,6Galα1,6Glcα1,2βFru). Detailed soluble carbohydrate analyses on dissected stem and leaf sections, together with phloem sap analyses, strongly suggest that stachyose is the main transport compound, but extensive hydrolysis of stachyose to manninotriose seems to occur along the transport path. Based on the specificities of the observed carbohydrate dynamics, the putative physiological roles of manninotriose in red deadnettle are discussed.ConclusionsIt is demonstrated for the first time that manninotriose is a novel and important player in the RFO metabolism of red dead deadnettle. It is proposed that manninotriose represents a temporary storage carbohydrate in early-spring deadnettle, at the same time perhaps functioning as a membrane protector and/or as an antioxidant in the vicinity of membranes, as recently suggested for other RFOs and fructans. This novel finding urges further research on this peculiar carbohydrate on a broader array of RFO accumulators.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Metabolism, Nutrition, Carbohydrate, Lamiaceae, Raffinose, Lamium, Lamium purpureum


Background and AimsThe most plausible explanation for treeline formation so far is provided by the growth limitation hypothesis (GLH), which proposes that carbon sinks are more restricted by low temperatures than by carbon sources. Evidence supporting the GLH has been strong in evergreen, but less and weaker in deciduous treeline species. Here a test is made of the GLH in deciduous-evergreen mixed species forests across elevational gradients, with the hypothesis that deciduous treeline species show a different carbon storage trend from that shown by evergreen species across elevations.MethodsTree growth and concentrations of non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs) in foliage, branch sapwood and stem sapwood tissues were measured at four elevations in six deciduous-evergreen treeline ecotones (including treeline) in the southern Andes of Chile (40°S, Nothofagus pumilio and Nothofagus betuloides; 46°S, Nothofagus pumilio and Pinus sylvestris) and in the Swiss Alps (46°N, Larix decidua and Pinus cembra).Key ResultsTree growth (basal area increment) decreased with elevation for all species. Regardless of foliar habit, NSCs did not deplete across elevations, indicating no shortage of carbon storage in any of the investigated tissues. Rather, NSCs increased significantly with elevation in leaves (P < 0·001) and branch sapwood (P = 0·012) tissues. Deciduous species showed significantly higher NSCs than evergreens for all tissues; on average, the former had 11 % (leaves), 158 % (branch) and 103 % (sapwood) significantly (P < 0·001) higher NSCs than the latter. Finally, deciduous species had higher NSC (particularly starch) increases with elevation than evergreens for stem sapwood, but the opposite was true for leaves and branch sapwood.ConclusionsConsidering the observed decrease in tree growth and increase in NSCs with elevation, it is concluded that both deciduous and evergreen treeline species are sink limited when faced with decreasing temperatures. Despite the overall higher requirements of deciduous tree species for carbon storage, no indication was found of carbon limitation in deciduous species in the alpine treeline ecotone.

Concepts: Botany, Tree, Leaf, Pine, Oak, Deciduous, Larch, Evergreen


Background and AimsIn bryophytes the sporophyte offspring are in contact with, nourished from, and partially surrounded by the maternal gametophyte throughout their lifespan. During early development, the moss sporophyte is covered by the calyptra, a cap of maternal gametophyte tissue that has a multilayered cuticle. In this study the effects on sporophyte offspring fitness of removing the maternal calyptra cuticle, in combination with dehydration stress, is experimentally determined.MethodsUsing the moss Funaria hygrometrica, calyptra cuticle waxes were removed by chemical extraction and individuals were exposed to a short-term dehydration event. Sporophytes were returned to high humidity to complete development and then aspects of sporophyte survival, development, functional morphology, and reproductive output were measured.Key ResultsIt was found that removal of calyptra cuticle under low humidity results in significant negative impacts to moss sporophyte fitness, resulting in decreased survival, increased tissue damage, incomplete sporophyte development, more peristome malformations, and decreased reproductive output.ConclusionsThis study represents the strongest evidence to date that the structure of the calyptra cuticle functions in dehydration protection of the immature moss sporophyte. The investment in a maternal calyptra with a multilayered cuticle increases offspring fitness and provides a functional explanation for calyptra retention across mosses. The moss calyptra may represent the earliest occurance of maternal protection via structural provisioning of a cuticle in green plants.

Concepts: Plant, Humidity, Gametophyte, Bryophyte, Moss, Marchantiophyta, Sporophyte, Mosses