Rafflesia is a biologically enigmatic species that is very rare in occurrence and possesses an extraordinary morphology. This parasitic plant produces a gigantic flower up to one metre in diameter with no leaves, stem or roots. However, little is known about the floral biology of this species especially at the molecular level. In an effort to address this issue, we have generated and characterised the transcriptome of the Rafflesia cantleyi flower, and performed a comparison with the transcriptome of its floral bud to predict genes that are expressed and regulated during flower development. Approximately 40 million sequencing reads were generated and assembled de novo into 18,053 transcripts with an average length of 641 bp. Of these, more than 79% of the transcripts had significant matches to annotated sequences in the public protein database. A total of 11,756 and 7,891 transcripts were assigned to Gene Ontology categories and clusters of orthologous groups respectively. In addition, 6,019 transcripts could be mapped to 129 pathways in Kyoto Encyclopaedia of Genes and Genomes Pathway database. Digital abundance analysis identified 52 transcripts with very high expression in the flower transcriptome of R. cantleyi. Subsequently, analysis of differential expression between developing flower and the floral bud revealed a set of 105 transcripts with potential role in flower development. Our work presents a deep transcriptome resource analysis for the developing flower of R. cantleyi. Genes potentially involved in the growth and development of the R. cantleyi flower were identified and provide insights into biological processes that occur during flower development.
Control analysis is a powerful method to quantify the regulation of metabolic pathways. We have applied it to lipid biosynthesis for the first time by using model tissue culture systems from the important oil crops, olive ( Olea europaea L.) and oil palm ( Elaeis guineensis Jacq.). By the use of top-down control analysis, fatty acid biosynthesis has been shown to exert more control than lipid assembly under different experimental conditions. However, both parts of the lipid biosynthetic pathway are important, so that attempts to alter oil yield by manipulating the activity of a single enzyme step are very unlikely to produce significant increases.
Plants maintain extensive growth flexibility under different environmental conditions, allowing them to continuously and rapidly adapt to alterations in their environment. A large portion of many plant genomes consists of transposable elements (TEs) that create new genetic variations within plant species. Different types of mutations may be created by TEs in plants. Many TEs can avoid the host's defense mechanisms and survive alterations in transposition activity, internal sequence and target site. Thus, plant genomes are expected to utilize a variety of mechanisms to tolerate TEs that are near or within genes. TEs affect the expression of not only nearby genes but also unlinked inserted genes. TEs can create new promoters, leading to novel expression patterns or alternative coding regions to generate alternate transcripts in plant species. TEs can also provide novel cis-acting regulatory elements that act as enhancers or inserts within original enhancers that are required for transcription. Thus, the regulation of plant gene expression is strongly managed by the insertion of TEs into nearby genes. TEs can also lead to chromatin modifications and thereby affect gene expression in plants. TEs are able to generate new genes and modify existing gene structures by duplicating, mobilizing and recombining gene fragments. They can also facilitate cellular functions by sharing their transposase-coding regions. Hence, TE insertions can not only act as simple mutagens but can also alter the elementary functions of the plant genome. Here, we review recent discoveries concerning the contribution of TEs to gene expression in plant genomes and discuss the different mechanisms by which TEs can affect plant gene expression and reduce host defense mechanisms.
Drought tolerance is an important quantitative trait with multipart phenotypes that are often further complicated by plant phenology. Different types of environmental stresses, such as high irradiance, high temperatures, nutrient deficiencies, and toxicities, may challenge crops simultaneously; therefore, breeding for drought tolerance is very complicated. Interdisciplinary researchers have been attempting to dissect and comprehend the mechanisms of plant tolerance to drought stress using various methods; however, the limited success of molecular breeding and physiological approaches suggests that we rethink our strategies. Recent genetic techniques and genomics tools coupled with advances in breeding methodologies and precise phenotyping will likely reveal candidate genes and metabolic pathways underlying drought tolerance in crops. The WRKY transcription factors are involved in different biological processes in plant development. This zinc (Zn) finger protein family, particularly members that respond to and mediate stress responses, is exclusively found in plants. A total of 89 WRKY genes in japonica and 97 WRKY genes in O. nivara (OnWRKY) have been identified and mapped onto individual chromosomes. To increase the drought tolerance of rice (Oryza sativa L.), research programs should address the problem using a multidisciplinary strategy, including the interaction of plant phenology and multiple stresses, and the combination of drought tolerance traits with different genetic and genomics approaches, such as microarrays, quantitative trait loci (QTLs), WRKY gene family members with roles in drought tolerance, and transgenic crops. This review discusses the newest advances in plant physiology for the exact phenotyping of plant responses to drought to update methods of analysing drought tolerance in rice. Finally, based on the physiological/morphological and molecular mechanisms found in resistant parent lines, a strategy is suggested to select a particular environment and adapt suitable germplasm to that environment.
The widely held explanation for photoperiod-controlled flowering in long-day plants is largely embodied in the External Coincidence Hypothesis which posits that flowering is induced when activity of a rhythmic gene that regulates it (a putative "flowering gene") occurs in the presence of light. Nevertheless, re-examination of the Arabidopsis flowering data from non 24-hour cycles of Roden et al. suggests that External Coincidence is not tenable if the circadian rhythm of the "flowering gene" were entrained to sunrise as commonly accepted. On the other hand, the hypothesis is supported if circadian cycling of the gene conforms to a solar rhythm, and its entrainment is to midnight on the solar clock. Data available point to flowering being induced by the gene which peaks in its expression between 16 to 19 h after midnight. In the normal 24 h cycle, that would be between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., regardless of the photoperiod. Such timing of the "flowering gene" expression allows for variable coincidence between gene activity and light, depending on the photoperiod and cycle period. A correlation is found between earliness of flowering and the degree of coincidence of "flowering gene" expression with light (r = 0.88, p<0.01).
A high leaf vein density is both an essential feature of C4 photosynthesis and a foundation trait to C4 evolution, ensuring the optimal proportion and proximity of mesophyll and bundle sheath cells for permitting the rapid exchange of photosynthates. Two rice mutant populations, a deletion mutant library with a cv. IR64 background (12,470 lines) and a T-DNA insertion mutant library with a cv. Tainung 67 background (10,830 lines), were screened for increases in vein density. A high throughput method with handheld microscopes was developed and its accuracy was supported by more rigorous microscopy analysis. Eight lines with significantly increased leaf vein densities were identified to be used as genetic stock for the global C4 Rice Consortium. The candidate population was shown to include both shared and independent mutations and so more than one gene controlled the high vein density phenotype. The high vein density trait was found to be linked to a narrow leaf width trait but the linkage was incomplete. The more genetically robust narrow leaf width trait was proposed to be used as a reliable phenotypic marker for finding high vein density variants in rice in future screens.
Heavy ion beam, which has emerged as a new mutagen in the mutation breeding of crops and ornamental plants, is expected to result in the induction of novel mutations. This study investigates the morphological and biochemical responses of Oryza sativa toward different doses of carbon ion beam irradiation.
The oil biosynthesis pathway must be tightly controlled to maximize oil yield. Oil palm accumulates exceptionally high oil content in its mesocarp, suggesting the existence of a unique fruit-specific fatty acid metabolism transcriptional network. We report the complex fruit-specific network of transcription factors responsible for modulation of oil biosynthesis genes in oil palm mesocarp. Transcriptional activation of EgWRI1-1 encoding a key master regulator that activates expression of oil biosynthesis genes, is activated by three ABA-responsive transcription factors, EgNF-YA3, EgNF-YC2 and EgABI5. Overexpression of EgWRI1-1 and its activators in Arabidopsis accelerated flowering, increased seed size and oil content, and altered expression levels of oil biosynthesis genes. Protein-protein interaction experiments demonstrated that EgNF-YA3 interacts directly with EgWRI1-1, forming a transcription complex with EgNF-YC2 and EgABI5 to modulate transcription of oil biosynthesis pathway genes. Furthermore, EgABI5 acts downstream of EgWRKY40, a repressor that interacts with EgWRKY2 to inhibit the transcription of oil biosynthesis genes. We showed that expression of these activators and repressors in oil biosynthesis can be induced by phytohormones coordinating fruit development in oil palm. We propose a model highlighting a hormone signaling network coordinating fruit development and fatty acid biosynthesis.
KEY MESSAGE: TAAAAT and a novel motif, GCTTCA found in the oil palm stearoyl-ACP desaturase (SAD1) promoter are involved in regulating mesocarp-specific expression. Two key fatty acid biosynthetic genes, stearoyl-ACP desaturase (SAD1), and acyl-carrier protein (ACP3) in Elaeis guineensis (oil palm) showed high level of expression during the period of oil synthesis in the mesocarp [12-19 weeks after anthesis (w.a.a.)] and kernel (12-15 w.a.a.). Both genes are expressed in spear leaves at much lower levels and the expression increased by 1.5-fold to 2.5-fold following treatments with ethylene and abscisic acid (ABA). Both SAD1 and ACP3 promoters contain phytohormone-responsive, light-responsive, abiotic factors/wounding-responsive, endosperm specificity and fruit maturation/ripening regulatory motifs. The activities of the full length and six 5' deletion fragments of the SAD1 promoter were analyzed in transiently transformed oil palm tissues by quantitative β-glucuronidase (GUS) fluorometric assay. The highest SAD1 promoter activity was observed in the mesocarp followed by kernel and the least in the leaves. GUS activity in the D3 deletion construct (- 486 to + 108) was the highest, while the D2 (- 535 to + 108) gave the lowest suggesting the presence of negative cis-acting regulatory element(s) in the deleted - 535 to - 486 (49 bp). It was found that the 49-bp region binds to the nuclear protein extract from mesocarp but not from leaves in electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). Further fine-tuned analysis of this 49-bp region using truncated DNA led to the identification of GCTTCA as a novel motif in the SAD1 promoter. Interestingly, another known fruit ripening-related motif, LECPLEACS2 (TAAAAT) was found to be required for effective binding of the novel motif to the mesocarp nuclear protein extract.
Plant cells contain a diverse repertoire of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) that coordinate a network of post-transcriptional regulation. RBPs govern diverse developmental processes by modulating the gene expression of specific transcripts. Recent gene annotation and RNA sequencing clearly showed that heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP)-like proteins which form a family of RBPs, are also expressed in higher plants and serve specific plant functions. In addition to their involvement in post-transcriptional regulation from mRNA capping to translation, they are also involved in telomere regulation, gene silencing and regulation in chloroplast. Here, we review the involvement of plant hnRNP-like proteins in post-transcription regulation of RNA processes and their functional roles in control of plant developmental processes especially plant-specific functions including flowering, chloroplastic-specific mRNA regulation, long-distance phloem transportation and plant responses to environmental stresses.
Tubers of safed musli (Chlorophytum borivilianum) were immersed in three different concentrations of gibberellic acid (GA3) or humic acid (HA) prior to planting. The highest concentration of GA3 (20 mg L(-1)) and all concentrations of HA (5, 10, and 15%) appeared to hasten tuber sprouting and promote uniform sprouting pattern. The use of 20 mg L(-1) GA3 or 15% HA successfully improved sprouting and mean sprouting time. Safed musli growth and development was improved through the increase in the number of leaves, total leaf area, leaf area index, and total fibrous root length. This directly influenced the number of new tubers formed. The use of 20 mg L(-1) GA3 or 15% HA gave similar response with nonsignificant difference among them. However, due to the cost of production, the result from this study suggests that 15% HA should be used to obtain improved sprouting percentage, homogeneous stand establishment, efficient plant growth and development, and increased yield of safed musli.
The mantled floral phenotype of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) affects somatic embryogenesis-derived individuals and is morphologically similar to mutants defective in the B-class MADS-box genes. This somaclonal variation has been previously demonstrated to be associated to a significant deficit in genome-wide DNA methylation. In order to elucidate the possible role of DNA methylation in the transcriptional regulation of EgDEF1, the APETALA3 ortholog of oil palm, we studied this epigenetic mark within the gene in parallel with transcript accumulation in both normal and mantled developing inflorescences. We also examined the methylation and expression of two neighboring retrotransposons that might interfere with EgDEF1 regulation. We show that the EgDEF1 gene is essentially unmethylated and that its methylation pattern does not change with the floral phenotype whereas expression is dramatically different, ruling out a direct implication of DNA methylation in the regulation of this gene. Also, we find that both the gypsy element inserted within an intron of the EgDEF1 gene and the copia element located upstream from the promoter are heavily methylated and show little or no expression. Interestingly, we identify a shorter, alternative transcript produced by EgDEF1 and characterize its accumulation with respect to its full-length counterpart. We demonstrate that, depending on the floral phenotype, the respective proportions of these two transcripts change differently during inflorescence development. We discuss the possible phenotypical consequences of this alternative splicing and the new questions it raises in the search for the molecular mechanisms underlying the mantled phenotype in the oil palm.
Drought is one of the most important phenomena which limit crops' production and yield. Crops demonstrate various morphological, physiological, biochemical, and molecular responses to tackle drought stress. Plants' vegetative and reproductive stages are intensively influenced by drought stress. Drought tolerance is a complicated trait which is controlled by polygenes and their expressions are influenced by various environmental elements. This means that breeding for this trait is so difficult and new molecular methods such as molecular markers, quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping strategies, and expression patterns of genes should be applied to produce drought tolerant genotypes. In wheat, there are several genes which are responsible for drought stress tolerance and produce different types of enzymes and proteins for instance, late embryogenesis abundant (lea), responsive to abscisic acid (Rab), rubisco, helicase, proline, glutathione-S-transferase (GST), and carbohydrates during drought stress. This review paper has concentrated on the study of water limitation and its effects on morphological, physiological, biochemical, and molecular responses of wheat with the possible losses caused by drought stress.
The rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae is a serious pathogen that jeopardises the world's most important food-security crop. Ten common Malaysian rice varieties were examined for their morphological, physiological and genomic responses to this rice blast pathogen. qPCR quantification was used to assess the growth of the pathogen population in resistant and susceptible rice varieties. The chlorophyll content and photosynthesis were also measured to further understand the disruptive effects that M. oryzae has on infected plants of these varieties. Real-time PCR was used to explore the differential expression of eight blast resistance genes among the ten local varieties. Blast disease has destructive effects on the growth of rice, and the findings of our study provide evidence that the Pikh, Pi9, Pi21, and Osw45 genes are involved in defence responses in the leaves of Malaysian rice at 31 h after inoculation with M. oryzae pathotype P7.2. Both the chlorophyll content and photosynthesis were reduced, but the levels of Pikh gene expression remained constant in susceptible varieties, with a developed pathogen population and mild or severe symptoms. The Pi9, Pi21, and Osw45 genes, however, were simultaneously upregulated in infected rice plants. Therefore, the presence of the Pikh, Pi9, Pi21, and Osw45 genes in the germplasm is useful for improving the resistance of rice varieties.
The cell wall determines morphology and the environmental responses of plant cells. The primary cell wall (PCW) is produced during cell division and expansion, determining the cell shape and volume. After cell expansion, specific types of plant cells produce a lignified wall, known as a secondary cell wall (SCW). We functionally analyzed Group IIId Arabidopsis AP2/EREBP genes, namely ERF34, ERF35, ERF38, and ERF39, which are homologs of a rice ERF gene previously proposed to be related to SCW biosynthesis. Expression analysis revealed that these four genes are expressed in regions related to cell division and/or cell differentiation in seedlings (i.e., shoot apical meristems, the primordia of leaves and lateral roots, trichomes, and central cylinder of primary roots) and flowers (i.e., vascular tissues of floral organs and replums and/or valve margins of pistils). Overexpression of ERF genes significantly upregulated PCW-type, but not SCW-type, CESA genes encoding cellulose synthase catalytic subunits in Arabidopsis seedlings. Transient co-expression reporter analysis indicated that ERF35, ERF38, and ERF39 possess transcriptional activator activity, and that ERF34, ERF35, ERF38, and ERF39 upregulated the promoter activity of CESA1, a PCW-type CESA gene, through the DRECRTCOREAT elements, the core cis-acting elements known to be recognized by AP2/ERF proteins. Together, our findings show that Group IIId ERF genes are positive transcriptional regulators of PCW-type CESA genes in Arabidopsis and are possibly involved in modulating cellulose biosynthesis in response to developmental requirements and environmental stimuli.
KEY MESSAGE: Transcriptomes generated by laser capture microdissected abnormal staminodes revealed adoption of carpel programming during organ initiation with decreased expression of numerousHSPs,EgDEF1, EgGLO1but increasedLEAFYexpression. The abnormal mantled phenotype in oil palm involves a feminization of the male staminodes into pseudocarpels in pistillate inflorescences. Previous studies on oil palm flowering utilized entire inflorescences or spikelets, which comprised not only the male and female floral organs, but the surrounding tissues as well. Laser capture microdissection coupled with RNA sequencing was conducted to investigate the specific transcriptomes of male and female floral organs from normal and mantled female inflorescences. A higher number of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified in abnormal versus normal male organs compared with abnormal versus normal female organs. In addition, the abnormal male organ transcriptome closely mimics the transcriptome of abnormal female organ. While the transcriptome of abnormal female organ was relatively similar to the normal female organ, a substantial amount of female DEGs encode HEAT SHOCK PROTEIN genes (HSPs). A similar high amount (20%) of male DEGs encode HSPs as well. As these genes exhibited decreased expression in abnormal floral organs, mantled floral organ development may be associated with lower stress indicators. Stamen identity genes EgDEF1 and EgGLO1 were the main floral regulatory genes with decreased expression in abnormal male organs or pseudocarpel initials. Expression of several floral transcription factors was elevated in pseudocarpel initials, notably LEAFY, FIL and DL orthologs, substantiating the carpel specification programming of abnormal staminodes. Specific transcriptomes thus obtained through this approach revealed a host of differentially regulated genes in pseudocarpel initials compared to normal male staminodes.
The small genome size of rice relative to wheat and barley, together with its salt sensitivity, make it an ideal candidate for studies of salt stress response. Transcriptomics has emerged as a powerful technique to study salinity responses in many crop species. By identifying a large number of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) simultaneously after the stress induction, it can provide crucial insight into the immediate responses towards the stressor. In this study, a Malaysian salt-tolerant indigenous rice variety named Bajong and one commercial rice variety named MR219 were investigated for their performance in plant growth and ion accumulation properties after salt stress treatment. Bajong was further investigated for the changes in leaf's transcriptome after 6 h of stress treatment using 100 mM NaCl. Based on the results obtained, Bajong is found to be significantly more salt tolerant than MR219, showing better growth and a lower sodium ion accumulation after the stress treatment. Additionally, Bajong was analysed by transcriptomic sequencing, generating a total of 130 millions reads. The reads were assembled into de novo transcriptome and each transcript was annotated using several pre-existing databases. The transcriptomes of control and salt-stressed samples were then compared, leading to the discovery of 4096 DEGs. Based on the functional annotation results obtained, the enrichment factor of each functional group in DEGs was calculated in relation to the total reads obtained. It was found that the group with the highest gene modulation was involved in the secondary metabolite biosynthesis of plants, with approximately 2.5% increase in relation to the total reads obtained. This suggests an extensive transcriptional reprogramming of the secondary metabolic pathways after stress induction, which could be directly responsible for the salt tolerance capability of Bajong.
Casuarina equisetifolia L. is an important multi-purpose, fast growing and widely planted tree species native to tropical and subtropical coastlines of Australia, Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Melanesia, Polynesia and New Caledonia. It is a nitrogen-fixing tree mainly used for charcoal making, construction poles, landscaping, timber, pulp, firewood, windbreaks, shelterbelts, soil erosion and sand dune stabilization. Casuarina wood is presently used for paper and pulp production. Raw material with reduced lignin is highly preferred to increase the pulp yield. Hence, understanding the molecular regulation of wood formation in this tree species is vital for selecting industrially suitable phenotypes for breeding programs. The lignin biosynthetic pathway has been extensively studied in tree species like Eucalypts, poplars, pines, Picea, Betula and Acacia sp. However, studies on wood formation at molecular level is presently lacking in casuarinas. Hence, in the present study, the transcriptome of the developing secondary tissues of 15 years old Casuarina equiseitfolia subsp. equisetifolia was sequenced, de novo assembled, annotated and mapped to functional pathways. Transcriptome sequencing generated a total of 26,985 transcripts mapped to 31 pathways. Mining of the annotated data identified nine genes involved in lignin biosynthesis pathway and relative expression of the transcripts in four tissues including scale-like leaves, needle-like brachlets, wood and root were documented. The expression of CeCCR1 and CeF5H were found to be significantly high in wood tissues, while maximum expression of CeHCT was documented in stem. Additionally, CeTUBA and CeH2A were identified as the most stable reference transcript for normalization of qRT-PCR data in C. equisetifolia. The present study is the first wood genomic resource in C. equisetifolia, which will be valuable for functional genomics research in this genus.
Atmospheric CO2 level is one of the most important factors which affect plant growth and crop production. Although many crucial genes and pathways have been identified in response to atmospheric CO2 changes, the integrated and precise mechanisms of plant CO2 response are not well understood. Alternative splicing (AS) is an important gene regulation process that affects many biological processes in plants. However, the AS pattern changes in plants in response to elevated CO2 levels have not yet been investigated. Here, we used RNA-Seq data of Arabidopsis thaliana grown under different CO2 concentration to analyze the global changes in AS. We found that AS increased with the rise in CO2 concentration. Additionally, we identified 345 differentially expressed (DE) genes and 251 differentially alternative splicing (DAS) genes under the elevated CO2 condition. Moreover, the results showed that the expression of most of the DAS genes did not change significantly, indicating that AS can serve as an independent mechanism for gene regulation in response to elevated CO2. Furthermore, our analysis of function categories revealed that the DAS genes were associated mainly with the stimulus response. Overall, this the first study to explore the changes of AS in plants in response to elevated CO2.
The 1,053-bp promoter of the oil palm metallothionein gene (so-called MSP1) and its 5' deletions were fused to the GUS reporter gene, and analysed in transiently transformed oil palm tissues. The full length promoter showed sevenfold higher activity in the mesocarp than in leaves and 1.5-fold more activity than the CaMV35S promoter in the mesocarp. The 1,053-bp region containing the 5' untranslated region (UTR) gave the highest activity in the mesocarp, while the 148-bp region was required for minimal promoter activity. Two positive regulatory regions were identified at nucleotides (nt) -953 to -619 and -420 to -256 regions. Fine-tune deletion of the -619 to -420 nt region led to the identification of a 21-bp negative regulatory sequence in the -598 to -577 nt region, which is involved in mesocarp-specific expression. Gel mobility shift assay revealed a strong interaction of the leaf nuclear extract with the 21-bp region. An AGTTAGG core-sequence within this region was identified as a novel negative regulatory element controlling fruit-specificity of the MSP1 promoter. Abscisic acid (ABA) and copper (Cu(2+)) induced the activity of the promoter and its 5' deletions more effectively than methyl jasmonate (MeJa) and ethylene. In the mesocarp, the full length promoter showed stronger inducibility in response to ABA and Cu(2+) than its 5' deletions, while in leaves, the -420 nt fragment was the most inducible by ABA and Cu(2+). These results suggest that the MSP1 promoter and its regulatory regions are potentially useful for engineering fruit-specific and inducible gene expression in oil palm.