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Astronomia Astrofizyka

Sztuka dawna i współczesna, muzea i kolekcje

Metodologia nauk, Matematyka, Filozofia, Miary i wagi, Pomiary

Substancje, reakcje, energia
Fizyka, chemia i inżynieria materiałowa

Antropologia kulturowa Socjologia Psychologia Zdrowie i medycyna

Przewidywania Kosmologia Religie Ideologia Polityka

Geologia, geofizyka, geochemia, środowisko przyrodnicze

Biologia, biologia molekularna i genetyka

Technologia cyberprzestrzeni, cyberkultura, media i komunikacja

Wiadomości | Gospodarka, biznes, zarządzanie, ekonomia

Budownictwo, energetyka, transport, wytwarzanie, technologie informacyjne


Oxford Univ. Press. Czasopismo online, Open Access.

Halophytes, salt-tolerant plants, are a source of valuable secondary metabolites with potential economic value. The steady-state pools of many stress-related metabolites are already enhanced in halophytes when compared with glycophytes, but growth under conditions away from the optimum can induce stress and consequently result in changes to secondary metabolites such as antioxidants. However, direct evidence for increasing the concentration of valuable secondary metabolites as a consequence of altering the salinity of the growing environment still remains equivocal. To address this, we analysed a range of metabolites with antioxidant capacity (including total phenols, flavonoids, ascorbate, reduced/oxidized glutathione and reactive oxygen species scavenging enzymes) in seedlings and plants from different families (Amaranthaceae, Brassicaceae, Plantaginaceae and Rhizophoraceae) and habitats grown under different salt concentrations. We show that it is possible to manipulate the antioxidant capacity of plants and seedlings by altering the saline growing environment, the length of time under saline cultivation and the developmental stage. Among the species studied, the halophytes Tripolium pannonicum, Plantago coronopus, Lepidium latifolium and Salicornia europaea demonstrated the most potential as functional foods or nutraceuticals. 2014/09/27 - 19:01

Phytic acid is the major storage compound for phosphorus (P) in plants. While accounting for up to 90 % in many seeds, usually only <10 % of total P is found in phytic acid in green leaves. This study follows up on the findings of a recent review of the occurrence of phytic acid in green leaves which revealed that (i) the current knowledge of phytic acid in leaves is mostly based on data from (fertilized) crop plants and (ii) the proportion of total P in phytic acid seems to decrease with improved P status in leaves in contrast to an increase in seeds and fruit. We studied five species of wild herbaceous plants in the field and under controlled conditions. Foliar P concentrations were much lower than those of the crops of earlier studies, but the proportion of P in phytic acid was similar, with little variation during the observation period. Both the field data and the experimental data showed a statistically indistinguishable negative correlation of phytic acid-P/total P and total P. In contrast to our expectation, this negative relationship was not related to differences in relative growth rates. We conclude that (i) our data of phytic acid concentrations in leaves of wild plants are in line with earlier observations on crops, and (ii) the trend towards lower proportions of phytic acid-P with increasing P status is probably a general phenomenon. Currently lacking a convincing explanation for the second observation, the role of phytic acid in foliar P metabolism is still unclear. 2014/09/27 - 19:01

It is always difficult to construct coherent classification systems for plant lineages having diverse morphological characters. The genus Dendrobium, one of the largest genera in the Orchidaceae, includes ~1100 species, and enormous morphological diversification has hindered the establishment of consistent classification systems covering all major groups of this genus. Given the particular importance of species in Dendrobium section Dendrobium and allied groups as floriculture and crude drug genetic resources, there is an urgent need to establish a stable classification system. To clarify phylogenetic relationships in Dendrobium section Dendrobium and allied groups, we analysed the macromolecular characters of the group. Phylogenetic analyses of 210 taxa of Dendrobium were conducted on DNA sequences of internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions of 18S–26S nuclear ribosomal DNA and the maturase-coding gene (matK) located in an intron of the plastid gene trnK using maximum parsimony and Bayesian methods. The parsimony and Bayesian analyses revealed 13 distinct clades in the group comprising section Dendrobium and its allied groups. Results also showed paraphyly or polyphyly of sections Amblyanthus, Aporum, Breviflores, Calcarifera, Crumenata, Dendrobium, Densiflora, Distichophyllae, Dolichocentrum, Holochrysa, Oxyglossum and Pedilonum. On the other hand, the monophyly of section Stachyobium was well supported. It was found that many of the morphological characters that have been believed to reflect phylogenetic relationships are, in fact, the result of convergence. As such, many of the sections that have been recognized up to this point were found to not be monophyletic, so recircumscription of sections is required. 2014/09/24 - 22:49

Neighbouring plants are known to vary from having similar to dissimilar arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal (AMF) communities. One possibility is that closely related plants have more similar AMF communities than more distantly related plants, an indication of phylogenetic host specificity. Here, we investigated the structure of AMF communities among dominant grassland plants at three sites in the Northern Great Plains to test whether the pairwise phylogenetic distance among plant species was correlated with pairwise AMF community dissimilarity. For eight dominant and co-occurring grassland plant species, we reconstructed a phylogeny based on DNA data and characterized the AMF communities of their roots at each site. Community analyses revealed that AMF communities varied among sites and among plant species. Contrary to expectations for phylogenetic host specificity, we found that within a site more closely related plants had more distinct AMF communities despite their having similar phenologies. Associations with unique AMF communities may enhance the functional complementarity of related species and promote their coexistence. 2014/09/24 - 22:49

The fresh water shortage in agriculture is an increasing problem worldwide, therefore the possibility of cultivating crops under saline conditions is of high importance. Crithmum maritimum, a halophytic plant naturally found on the rocky coastlines of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, has a long history of human consumption and was recently suggested as a cash crop for biosaline agriculture. In the present study, we compared the responses of different genotypes originating from France, Portugal and Israel to moderate saline irrigation (up to 100 mM NaCl). The genotypes varied greatly in the onset of flowering, their leaf appearance, growth habits and leaf metabolite content. Both Atlantic genotypes (from France and Portugal) flowered earlier than those from the Mediterranean, but the number of inflorescences decreased with salinity. Irrigation with 50 and 100 mM NaCl led to a reduction in biomass production in both the Israeli and the Portuguese genotypes, while the French genotype was found to produce maximum leaf yield at 50 mM NaCl. With increasing salinity, salt was accumulated by the plants, as indicated by increasing electrical conductivities of the leaf extracts. Concomitantly, antioxidant compounds (such as ascorbic acid), total polyphenols and ureides responded to salinity in a genotype-dependent manner; either they increased, decreased or were unaffected. Notably, the total fatty acid concentration increased with salinity in both Mediterranean genotypes, reaching 2.7 and 2.4 % total fatty acids (on a dry weight basis) at 100 mM NaCl. Moreover, the proportion assigned to omega-3 fatty acids in these genotypes was higher than in their Atlantic counterparts at the highest salinity tested. Our results highlight the variations existing among C. maritimum genotypes from different origins regarding salt-induced changes in plant growth, flowering behaviour and leaf metabolites with nutritional value. Thus, genotypic characteristics should be taken into account when evaluating a wild plant species for future crop cultivation. 2014/09/24 - 22:49

Plant DNA barcoding currently relies on the application of a two-locus combination, matK + rbcL. Despite the universality of these two gene regions across plants, it is suspected that this combination might not have sufficient variation to discriminate closely related species. In this study, we tested the performance of this two-locus plant barcode along with the additional plastid regions trnH-psbA, rpoC1 and rpoB and the nuclear region internal transcribed spacer (nrITS) in a group of 38 species of Lotus from the Macaronesian region. The group has radiated into the five archipelagos within this region from mid-Miocene to early Pleistocene, and thus provides both early divergent and recent radiations that pose a particularly difficult challenge for barcoding. The group also has 10 species considered under different levels of conservation concern. We found different levels of species discrimination depending on the age of the lineages. We obtained 100 % of the species identification from mainland Africa and Cape Verde when all six regions were combined. These lineages radiated >4.5 Mya; however, in the most recent radiations from the end of the Pliocene to the mid-Pleistocene (3.5–1.5 Mya), only 30 % of the species were identified. Of the regions examined, the intergenic region trnH-psbA was the most variable and had the greatest discriminatory power (18 %) of the plastid regions when analysed alone. The nrITS region was the best region when analysed alone with a discriminatory power of 26 % of the species. Overall, we identified 52 % of the species and 30 % of the endangered or threatened species within this group when all six regions were combined. Our results are consistent with those of other studies that indicate that additional approaches to barcoding will be needed in recently evolved groups, such as the inclusion of faster evolving regions from the nuclear genome. 2014/09/23 - 06:04

Salinization is increasing on a global scale, decreasing average yields for most major crop plants. Investigations into salt resistance have, unfortunately, mainly been focused on conventional crops, with few studies screening the potential of available halophytes as new crops. This study has been carried out to investigate the mechanisms used by quinoa, a facultative halophytic species, in order to cope with high salt levels at various stages of its development. Quinoa is regarded as one of the crops that might sustain food security in this century, grown primarily for its edible seeds with their high protein content and unique amino acid composition. Although the species has been described as a facultative halophyte, and its tolerance to salt stress has been investigated, its physiological and molecular responses to seawater (SW) and other salts have not been studied. We evaluated the effects of SW and different salts on seed germination, seedling emergence and the antioxidative pathway of quinoa. Seeds were germinated in Petri dishes and seedlings grown in pots with SW solutions (25, 50, 75 and 100 %) and NaCl, CaCl2, KCl and MgCl2 individually, at the concentrations in which they are present in SW. Our results demonstrated that all salts, at lower concentrations, increased the germination rate but not the germination percentages, compared with control (pure water). Conversely, seedlings were differently affected by treatments in respect to salt type and concentration. Growth parameters affected were root and shoot length, root morphology, fresh and dry weight, and water content. An efficient antioxidant mechanism was present in quinoa, activated by salts during germination and early seedling growth, as shown by the activities of antioxidant enzymes. Total antioxidant capacity was always higher under salt stress than in water. Moreover, osmotic and ionic stress factors had different degrees of influence on germination and development. 2014/09/19 - 23:56

In their natural habitats, different mechanisms may contribute to the tolerance of halophytes to high soil salinity and other abiotic stresses, but their relative contribution and ecological relevance, for a given species, remain largely unknown. We studied the responses to changing environmental conditions of five halophytes (Sarcocornia fruticosa, Inula crithmoides, Plantago crassifolia, Juncus maritimus and J. acutus) in a Mediterranean salt marsh, from summer 2009 to autumn 2010. A principal component analysis was used to correlate soil and climatic data with changes in the plants' contents of chemical markers associated with stress responses: ions, osmolytes, malondialdehyde (MDA, a marker of oxidative stress) and antioxidant systems. Stress tolerance in S. fruticosa, I. crithmoides and P. crassifolia (all succulent dicots) seemed to depend mostly on the transport of ions to aerial parts and the biosynthesis of specific osmolytes, whereas both Juncus species (monocots) were able to avoid accumulation of toxic ions, maintaining relatively high K+/Na+ ratios. For the most salt-tolerant taxa (S. fruticosa and I. crithmoides), seasonal variations of Na+, Cl–, K+ and glycine betaine, their major osmolyte, did not correlate with environmental parameters associated with salt or water stress, suggesting that their tolerance mechanisms are constitutive and relatively independent of external conditions, although they could be mediated by changes in the subcellular compartmentalization of ions and compatible osmolytes. Proline levels were too low in all the species to possibly have any effect on osmotic adjustment. However—except for P. crassifolia—proline may play a role in stress tolerance based on its ‘osmoprotectant’ functions. No correlation was observed between the degree of environmental stress and the levels of MDA or enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants, indicating that the investigated halophytes are not subjected to oxidative stress under natural conditions and do not, therefore, need to activate antioxidant defence mechanisms. 2014/09/14 - 21:50

While short-term plant responses to global change are driven by physiological mechanisms, which are represented relatively well by models, long-term ecosystem responses to global change may be determined by shifts in plant community structure resulting from other ecological phenomena such as interspecific interactions, which are represented poorly by models. In single-factor scenarios, plant communities often adjust to increase ecosystem response to that factor. For instance, some early global change experiments showed that elevated CO2 favours plants that respond strongly to elevated CO2, generally amplifying the response of ecosystem productivity to elevated CO2, a positive community feedback. However, most ecosystems are subject to multiple drivers of change, which can complicate the community feedback effect in ways that are more difficult to generalize. Recent studies have shown that (i) shifts in plant community structure cannot be reliably predicted from short-term plant physiological response to global change and (ii) that the ecosystem response to multi-factored change is commonly less than the sum of its parts. Here, we survey results from long-term field manipulations to examine the role community shifts may play in explaining these common findings. We use a simple model to examine the potential importance of community shifts in governing ecosystem response. Empirical evidence and the model demonstrate that with multi-factored change, the ecosystem response depends on community feedbacks, and that the magnitude of ecosystem response will depend on the relationship between plant response to one factor and plant response to another factor. Tradeoffs in the ability of plants to respond positively to, or to tolerate, different global change drivers may underlie generalizable patterns of covariance in responses to different drivers of change across plant taxa. Mechanistic understanding of these patterns will help predict the community feedbacks that determine long-term ecosystem responses. 2014/09/11 - 07:21

Evolutionary chromosome change involves significant variation in DNA amount in diploids and genome downsizing in polyploids. Genome size and karyotype parameters of Hippeastrum species with different ploidy level were analysed. In Hippeastrum, polyploid species show less DNA content per basic genome than diploid species. The rate of variation is lower at higher ploidy levels. All the species have a basic number x = 11 and bimodal karyotypes. The basic karyotypes consist of four short metacentric chromosomes and seven large chromosomes (submetacentric and subtelocentric). The bimodal karyotype is preserved maintaining the relative proportions of members of the haploid chromosome set, even in the presence of genome downsizing. The constancy of the karyotype is maintained because changes in DNA amount are proportional to the length of the whole-chromosome complement and vary independently in the long and short sets of chromosomes. This karyotype constancy in taxa of Hippeastrum with different genome size and ploidy level indicates that the distribution of extra DNA within the complement is not at random and suggests the presence of mechanisms selecting for constancy, or against changes, in karyotype morphology. 2014/09/06 - 12:26

Salt stress conditions lead to increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in plant cells. Halophytes have the ability to reduce these toxic ROS by means of a powerful antioxidant system that includes enzymatic and non-enzymatic components. In this research, we used the halophytic shrub Prosopis strombulifera to investigate whether the ability of this species to grow under increasing salt concentrations and mixtures was related to the synthesis of polyphenolic compounds and to the maintenance of leaf pigment contents for an adequate photosynthetic activity. Seedlings of P. strombulifera were grown hydroponically in Hoagland's solution, gradually adding Na2SO4 and NaCl separately or in mixtures until reaching final osmotic potentials of –1, –1.9 and –2.6 MPa. Control plants were allowed to develop in Hoagland's solution without salt. Oxidative damage in tissues was determined by H2O2 and malondialdehyde content. Leaf pigment analysis was performed by high-performance liquid chromatography with ultraviolet, and total phenols, total flavonoids, total flavan-3-ols, condensed tannins, tartaric acid esters and flavonols were spectrophotometrically assayed. Treatment with Na2SO4 increased H2O2 production and lipid peroxidation in tissues and induced a sharp increase in flavonoid compounds (mainly flavan-3-ols) and consequently in the antioxidant activity. Also, Na2SO4 treatment induced an increased carotenoid/chlorophyll ratio, which may represent a strategy to protect photosystems against photooxidation. NaCl treatment, however, did not affect H2O2 content, lipid peroxidation, pigments or polyphenols synthesis. The significant accumulation of flavonoids in tissues under Na2SO4 treatment and their powerful antioxidant activity indicates a role for these compounds in counteracting the oxidative damage induced by severe salt stress, particularly, ionic stress. We demonstrate that ionic interactions between different salts in salinized soils modify the biochemical and morpho-physiological responses of P. strombulifera plants to salinity. 2014/09/06 - 12:26

Controlled ice nucleation is an important mechanism in cold-hardy plant tissues for avoiding excessive supercooling of the protoplasm, for inducing extracellular freezing and/or for accommodating ice crystals in specific tissues. To understand its nature, it is necessary to characterize the ice nucleation activity (INA), defined as the ability of a tissue to induce heterogeneous ice nucleation. Few studies have addressed the precise localization of INA in wintering plant tissues in respect of its function. For this purpose, we recently revised a test tube INA assay and examined INA in various tissues of over 600 species. Extremely high levels of INA (–1 to –4 °C) in two wintering blueberry cultivars of contrasting freezing tolerance were found. Their INA was much greater than in other cold-hardy species and was found to be evenly distributed along the stems of the current year's growth. Concentrations of active ice nuclei in the stem were estimated from quantitative analyses. Stem INA was localized mainly in the bark while the xylem and pith had much lower INA. Bark INA was located mostly in the cell wall fraction (cell walls and intercellular structural components). Intracellular fractions had much less INA. Some cultivar differences were identified. The results corresponded closely with the intrinsic freezing behaviour (extracellular freezing) of the bark, icicle accumulation in the bark and initial ice nucleation in the stem under dry surface conditions. Stem INA was resistant to various antimicrobial treatments. These properties and specific localization imply that high INA in blueberry stems is of intrinsic origin and contributes to the spontaneous initiation of freezing in extracellular spaces of the bark by acting as a subfreezing temperature sensor. 2014/09/06 - 12:26

Understanding the mechanisms used by halophytic members of the Poaceae to cope with salt stress will contribute to the knowledge necessary to genetically engineer salt-tolerant crops. In this study, we identified a genotype of Sporobolus virginicus, a halophytic turf grass collected in Japan, and investigated its growth rate, ion concentration and secretion, and proline concentration in comparison with the reported properties of genotypes collected from the USA, South Africa and Egypt. Surprisingly, the Japanese genotype showed a salinity tolerance up to 1.5 M NaCl, a 3-fold higher concentration than seawater salinity. Shoot growth was stimulated by 100 mM NaCl and root growth was stimulated at salinities of up to 1 M NaCl. Accumulation of Na+ and CI– in shoots and roots was rapidly elevated by salinity stress but did not exceed the levels required for osmotic adjustment, due in part to ion secretion by salt glands, which are present in genotypes of S. virginicus. However, the Japanese genotypes accumulated K+ to a higher level than other genotypes, resulting in a relatively high K+/Na+ ratio even under salinity stress. An increase in proline concentration was observed that was proportional to the NaCl concentration in the culture solution and might partially account for osmotic adjustment in the shoots. We also generated and characterized cultured cells of S. virginicus. In 500 mM NaCl, the cultured cells showed an enhanced growth compared with cultured cells of rice. The concentration of Na+ and CI– in the cultured cells in 300–500 mM NaCl was lower than in 100 mM NaCl. Cultured cells of S. virginicus accumulated proline to higher levels than rice cells cultured under salinity stress. The active regulation of Na+, Cl– and K+ influx/efflux and proline accumulation might be involved in salt tolerance mechanisms at the cellular level as well as in planta. 2014/08/22 - 11:12

Although the extent of aerenchyma (interconnected gas-filled space) formed in the cortex of the roots of some species can be promoted by submergence and ethylene, such roots also form a somewhat less extensive aerenchyma under well-aerated conditions. It has been unclear whether or not ethylene is also involved in promoting this constitutive aerenchyma. To confirm the potential of ethylene to stimulate aerenchyma development and test the possibility that gas regulates constitutive aerenchyma, a novel sandwich method was employed in rice roots. This involved germinating japonica rice (Oryza sativa) caryopses sandwiched between two agar slabs with or without 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) at 1 µM. The roots were then grown for 4 days in the dark in the presence or absence of gaseous 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), an inhibitor of ethylene action. Examination of aerenchyma development by light microscopy demonstrated a more extensive aerenchyma in cross-section on the ACC-treated side that also commenced closer to the root tip. In the presence of 1-MCP at 0.1 or 1 ppm, aerenchyma formation was inhibited in the presence or absence of ACC. 1-Methylcyclopropene also overcame ACC-inhibited root elongation. The results indicate that ethylene signalling is involved in aerenchyma development in primary roots of rice and that this may include the regulation of constitutive aerenchyma. In addition, root elongation was slowed in control roots in the presence of 1 ppm 1-MCP, supporting previous studies demonstrating that endogenous levels of ethylene stimulate root elongation. 2014/08/22 - 11:12

Invasive species' success may depend on ecophysiological attributes present in their native area or those derived from changes that took place in the invaded environment. We studied the growth and photosynthetic capacity of Berberis darwinii shrubs growing under different light conditions (gap, forest edge and below the canopy) in their native area of Patagonia, Argentina. Leaf photosynthesis results determined in the native area were discussed in relation to information provided by studies carried out under the same light conditions in an invaded area in New Zealand. Shoot elongation, leaf production, stem and leaf biomass per shoot, and specific leaf area (SLA, cm2 g–1) were determined in five adult plants, randomly selected in each of the three light conditions at two forest sites. Net photosynthesis as a function of PPFD (photosynthetic photon flux density), stomatal conductance (gs), maximum light-saturated photosynthesis rate (Pmax), Pmass (on mass bases) and water-use efficiency (WUEi) were determined in plants of one site. We predicted that functional traits would differ between populations of native and invasive ranges. In their native area, plants growing under the canopy produced the longest shoots and had the lowest values for shoot emergence and foliar biomass per shoot, while their SLA was higher than gap and forest edge plants. Leaf number and stem biomass per shoot were independent of light differences. Leaves of gap plants showed higher Pmax, Pmass and gs but lower WUEi than plants growing at the forest edge. In its native range B. darwinii grows under different light conditions by adjusting shoot and leaf morphology and physiology. Plants of B. darwinii growing under the same light conditions show similar physiology in native and invasive ranges. This means that for B. darwinii, intra-specific variation of the functional traits studied here does not condition successful spread in new areas. 2014/08/15 - 06:32

In general, the quality of fruits depends on local conditions experienced by the fruit during its development. In cotton, fruit quality, and more specifically the quality of the fibre in the fruit, depends on interactions between fruit position in the plant architecture, temperature and agronomic practices, such as sowing time, mulching with plastic film and topping of the plant's main stem and branches. To quantify this response of cotton fibre quality to environment and management, we developed a simulation model of cotton growth and development, CottonXL. Simulation of cotton fibre quality (strength, length and micronaire) was implemented at the level of each individual fruit, in relation to thermal time (represented by physiological age of the fruit) and prevailing temperature during development of each fruit. Field experiments were conducted in China in 2007 to determine model parameters, and independent data on cotton fibre quality in three cotton producing regions in China were used for model validation. Simulated values for fibre quality closely corresponded to experimental data. Scenario studies simulating a range of management practices predicted that delaying topping times can significantly decrease fibre quality, while sowing date and film mulching had no significant effect. We conclude that CottonXL may be used to explore options for optimizing cotton fibre quality by matching cotton management to the environment, taking into account responses at the level of individual fruits. The model may be used at plant, crop and regional levels to address climate and land-use change scenarios. 2014/08/15 - 06:32

Knowledge of the levels and distribution of genetic diversity is important for designing conservation strategies for threatened and endangered species so as to guarantee sustainable survival of populations and to preserve their evolutionary potential. Picconia azorica is a valuable Azorean endemic species recently classified as endangered. To contribute with information useful for the establishment of conservation programmes, the genetic variability and differentiation among 230 samples from 11 populations collected in three Azorean islands was accessed with eight inter-simple sequence repeat markers. A total of 64 polymorphic loci were detected. The majority of genetic variability was found within populations and no genetic structure was detected between populations and between islands. Also the coefficient of genetic differentiation and the level of gene flow indicate that geographical distances do not act as barriers for gene flow. In order to ensure the survival of populations in situ and ex situ management practices should be considered, including artificial propagation through the use of plant tissue culture techniques, not only for the restoration of habitat but also for the sustainable use of its valuable wood. 2014/08/08 - 18:33

Serpentine soils are edaphically stressful environments that host many endemic plant species. In particular, serpentine soils are high in several heavy metals (e.g. nickel, cobalt and chromium) and these high heavy metal concentrations are thought, in part, to lead to varying levels of plant adaptation and soil affinities (i.e. endemic vs. non-endemic plant species). It is unclear, however, whether serpentine endemics vs. non-endemics differ with respect to heavy metal uptake into either vegetative or reproductive organs. Here, we use nickel as a model to determine whether plant heavy metal uptake varies with the level of endemism in several non-hyperaccumulating species. Under controlled greenhouse conditions, we grew seven plant species from the Brassicaceae family that vary in their degrees of affinity to serpentine soil from low (indifferent) to medium (indicator) and high (endemic) in soil that was nickel supplemented or not. We quantified nickel concentrations in leaves, pistils, anthers, pollen and nectar. While nickel concentrations did not vary across organs or affinities when grown in control soils, under conditions of nickel supplementation endemic species had the lowest tissue concentrations of nickel, particularly when considering leaves and pistils, compared with indifferent/indicator species. Species indifferent to serpentines incorporated higher concentrations of nickel into reproductive organs relative to leaves, but this was not the case for indicator species and endemics where nickel concentration was similar in these organs. Our findings suggest that endemic species possess the ability to limit nickel uptake into above-ground tissues, particularly in reproductive organs where it may interfere with survival and reproduction. Indifferent species accumulated significantly more nickel into reproductive organs compared with leaves, which may limit their reproductive potential relative to endemic species when growing on serpentine soils. Additional work determining the fitness consequences of these differences will further our understanding of edaphic endemism. 2014/08/08 - 18:33

In order to feed an ever-increasing world population, there is an urgent need to improve the production of staple food and fruit crops. The productivity of important food and fruit crops is constrained by numerous biotic and abiotic factors. The cultivation of banana, which is an important fruit crop, is severely threatened by Fusarium wilt disease caused by infestation by an ascomycetes fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc). Since there are no established edible cultivars of banana resistant to all the pathogenic races of Foc, genetic engineering is the only option for the generation of resistant cultivars. Since Foc is a hemibiotrophic fungus, investigations into the roles played by different cell-death-related genes in the progression of Foc infection on host banana plants are important. Towards this goal, three such genes namely MusaDAD1, MusaBAG1 and MusaBI1 were identified in banana. The study of their expression pattern in banana cells in response to Foc inoculation (using Foc cultures or fungal toxins like fusaric acid and beauvericin) indicated that they were indeed differentially regulated by fungal inoculation. Among the three genes studied, MusaBAG1 showed the highest up-regulation upon Foc inoculation. Further, in order to characterize these genes in the context of Foc infection in banana, we generated transgenic banana plants constitutively overexpressing the three genes that were later subjected to Foc bioassays in a contained greenhouse. Among the three groups of transgenics tested, transformed banana plants overexpressing MusaBAG1 demonstrated the best resistance towards Foc infection. Further, these plants also showed the highest relative overexpression of the transgene (MusaBAG1) among the three groups of transformed plants generated. Our study showed for the first time that native genes like MusaBAG1 can be used to develop transgenic banana plants with efficient resistance towards pathogens like Foc. 2014/08/08 - 18:33

The combination of traits that makes a plant successful under saline conditions varies with the type of plant and its interaction with the environmental conditions. Knowledge about the contribution of these traits towards salt resistance in grasses has great potential for improving the salt resistance of conventional crops. We attempted to identify differential adaptive response patterns of salt-excreting versus non-excreting grasses. More specifically, we studied the growth, osmotic, ionic and nutrient (carbon/nitrogen) relations of two salt-excreting (Aeluropus lagopoides and Sporobolus tremulus) and two non-excreting (Paspalum paspalodes and Paspalidium geminatum) perennial C4 grasses under non-saline and saline (0, 200 and 400 mM NaCl) conditions. Growth and relative growth rate decreased under saline conditions in the order P. geminatum > S. tremulus = A. lagopoides > P. paspalodes. The root-to-shoot biomass allocation was unaffected in salt-excreting grasses, increased in P. paspalodes but decreased in P. geminatum. Salt-excreting grasses had a higher shoot/root Na+ ratio than non-excreting grasses. K+, Ca2+ and Mg2+ homoeostasis remained undisturbed among test grasses possibly through improved ion selectivity with rising substrate salinity. Salt-excreting grasses increased leaf succulence, decreased s and xylem pressure potential, and accumulated proline and glycinebetaine with increasing salinity. Higher salt resistance of P. paspalodes could be attributed to lower Na+ uptake, higher nitrogen-use efficiency and higher water-use efficiency among the test species. However, P. geminatum was unable to cope with salt-induced physiological drought. More information is required to adequately document the differential strategies of salt resistance in salt-excreting and non-excreting grasses. 2014/08/08 - 18:33

One of the major abiotic stresses affecting agriculture is soil salinity, which reduces crop yield and, consequently, revenue for farmers. Although tomato is an important agricultural species, elite varieties are poor at withstanding salinity stress. Thus, a feasible way of improving yield under conditions of salinity stress is to breed for improved salt tolerance. In this study, we analysed the physiological and genetic parameters of 23 tomato accessions in order to identify possible traits to be used by plant breeders to develop more tolerant tomato varieties. Although we observed a wide range of Na+ concentrations within the leaves, stems and roots, the maintenance of growth in the presence of 100 mM NaCl did not correlate with the exclusion or accumulation of Na+. Nor could we correlate the growth with accumulation of sugars and proline or with the expression of any gene involved in the homoeostasis of Na+ in the plant. However, several significant correlations between gene expression and Na+ accumulation were observed. For instance, Na+ concentrations both in the leaves and stems were positively correlated with HKT1;2 expression in the roots, and Na+ concentration measured in the roots was positively correlated with HKT1;1 expression also in the roots. Higher and lower Na+ accumulation in the roots and leaves were significantly correlated with higher NHX3 and NHX1 expression in the roots, respectively. These results suggest that, in tomato, for a particular level of tolerance to salinity, a complex relationship between Na+ concentration in the cells and tissue tolerance defines the salinity tolerance of individual tomato accessions. In tomato it is likely that tissue and salinity tolerance work independently, making tolerance to salinity depend on their relative effects rather than on one of these mechanisms alone. 2014/08/08 - 18:33

Coastal areas and other saline environments are major contributors to regional and global biodiversity patterns. In these environments, rapidly changing gradients require highly specialized plants like halophytes. In European coastal cliff-tops, rocky and sandy seashores, and saltmarshes, typical halophytes from the genus Limonium are commonly found. Among them, the aneuploid tetraploid (2n = 4x = 35, 36, 37) Limonium multiflorum, endemic to the west coast of Portugal, is an interesting case study for investigating the ecology and conservation of a halophyte agamospermic species. Although it is listed in the IUCN red list of threatened species, information on its population size or rarity, as well as its ecology, in some respects is still unknown. Field surveys in the largest known population were performed (Raso cape, Portugal) in order to determine habitat requirements and conservation status. A total of 88 quadrats were monitored, 43 of which contained at least one L. multiflorum individual. For each sampled quadrat, four abiotic and four biotic variables as well as two spatially derived variables were recorded. Principal component analysis and cluster analysis showed narrow habitat specificity for this species which appeared to be intolerant to competition with invasive alien plants. We conclude that in situ conservation in a local ‘hotspot’ of this rare and vulnerable species emerges as a priority in order to ensure that biodiversity is not lost. 2014/07/23 - 14:51

For many species of conservation significance, multiple factors limit reproduction. This research examines the contributions of plant height, number of flowers, number of stems, pollen limitation and seed predation to female reproductive success in the deceit-pollinated orchid, Cypripedium candidum. The deceptive pollination strategy employed by many orchids often results in high levels of pollen limitation. While increased floral display size may attract pollinators, C. candidum's multiple, synchronously flowering stems could promote selfing and also increase attack by weevil seed predators. To understand the joint impacts of mutualists and antagonists, we examined pollen limitation, seed predation and the effects of pollen source over two flowering seasons (2009 and 2011) in Ohio. In 2009, 36 pairs of plants size-matched by flower number, receiving either supplemental hand or open pollination, were scored for fruit maturation, mass of seeds and seed predation. Pollen supplementation increased proportion of flowers maturing into fruit, with 87 % fruit set when hand pollinated compared with 46 % for naturally pollinated flowers. Inflorescence height had a strong effect, as taller inflorescences had higher initial fruit set, while shorter stems had higher predation. Seed predation was seen in 73 % of all fruits. A parallel 2011 experiment that included a self-pollination treatment and excluded seed predators found initial and final fruit set were higher in the self and outcross pollination treatments than in the open-pollinated treatment. However, seed mass was higher in both open pollinated and outcross pollination treatments compared with hand self-pollinated. We found greater female reproductive success for taller flowering stems that simultaneously benefited from increased pollination and reduced seed predation. These studies suggest that this species is under strong reinforcing selection to increase allocation to flowering stem height. Our results may help explain the factors limiting seed production in other Cypripedium and further emphasize the importance of management in orchid conservation. 2014/07/13 - 13:07

For many species of conservation significance, multiple factors limit reproduction. This research examines the contributions of plant height, number of flowers, number of stems, pollen limitation and seed predation to female reproductive success in the deceit-pollinated orchid, Cypripedium candidum. The deceptive pollination strategy employed by many orchids often results in high levels of pollen limitation. While increased floral display size may attract pollinators, C. candidum's multiple, synchronously flowering stems could promote selfing and also increase attack by weevil seed predators. To understand the joint impacts of mutualists and antagonists, we examined pollen limitation, seed predation and the effects of pollen source over two flowering seasons (2009 and 2011) in Ohio. In 2009, 36 pairs of plants size-matched by flower number, receiving either supplemental hand or open pollination, were scored for fruit maturation, mass of seeds and seed predation. Pollen supplementation increased proportion of flowers maturing into fruit, with 87 % fruit set when hand pollinated compared with 46 % for naturally pollinated flowers. Inflorescence height had a strong effect, as taller inflorescences had higher initial fruit set, while shorter stems had higher predation. Seed predation was seen in 73 % of all fruits. A parallel 2011 experiment that included a self-pollination treatment and excluded seed predators found initial and final fruit set were higher in the self and outcross pollination treatments than in the open-pollinated treatment. However, seed mass was higher in both open pollinated and outcross pollination treatments compared with hand self-pollinated. We found greater female reproductive success for taller flowering stems that simultaneously benefited from increased pollination and reduced seed predation. These studies suggest that this species is under strong reinforcing selection to increase allocation to flowering stem height. Our results may help explain the factors limiting seed production in other Cypripedium and further emphasize the importance of management in orchid conservation. 2014/07/13 - 13:07

Invasive species cause ecological, economic and social impacts and are key drivers of global change. This is the case for the genus Prosopis (mesquite; Fabaceae) where several taxa are among the world's most damaging invasive species. Many contentious issues (‘conflicts of interest’) surround these taxa, and management interventions have not yet sustainably reduced the negative impacts. There is an urgent need to better understand the factors that drive invasions and shape management actions, and to compare the effectiveness of different management approaches. This paper presents a global review of Prosopis, focusing on its distribution, impacts, benefits and approaches to management. Prosopis was found to occur in a 129 countries globally and many more countries are climatically suitable. All areas with naturalized or invasive Prosopis species at present are suitable for more taxa and many Asian and Mediterranean countries with no records of Prosopis are bioclimatically suitable. Several Prosopis species have substantial impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem services, and local and regional economies in their native and even more so in their invasive ranges; others provide multiple benefits to local communities. Management efforts are underway in only a small part of the invaded range. Countries where more research has been done are more likely to implement formal management than those where little published research is available. Management strategies differ among countries; developed nations use mainly mechanical and chemical control whereas developing nations tend to apply control through utilization approaches. A range of countries are also using biological control. Key gaps in knowledge and promising options for management are highlighted. 2014/07/10 - 20:43

Gibberellin (GA) is a plant hormone that has important roles in numerous plant developmental phases. Rice plants known as deepwater rice respond to flooding by elongating their internodes to avoid anoxia. Previous studies reported that GA is essential for internode elongation in deepwater rice. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) analyses identified QTLs regulating internode elongation in response to deepwater conditions. However, the interaction between internode elongation and regulators of GA sensitivity in deepwater rice is unknown. In this study, we applied GA to recombinant inbred lines of T65 (non-deepwater rice) and Bhadua (deepwater rice), and performed a QTL analysis of internode elongation in response to GA. GA-induced internode elongation was detected only in deepwater rice. Our QTL analysis revealed two major QTLs on chromosomes 3 and 9 regulating total internode length, lowest elongated internode and number of elongated internodes. Furthermore, the QTL on chromosome 3 acted as an enhancer of other QTLs (e.g. the QTL on chromosome 12). Nearly isogenic lines of deepwater rice carrying the QTL regions from chromosomes 3 and 12 of the deepwater rice C9285 showed internode elongation in response to GA. Thus, these QTLs may regulate GA responsiveness in deepwater rice. This study furthers our understanding of the mechanism of internode elongation in rice. 2014/07/05 - 12:14

Polyploidization and subsequent changes in genome size are fundamental processes in evolution and diversification. Little is currently known about the extent of genome size variation within taxa and the evolutionary forces acting on this variation. Arabidopsis kamchatica has been reported to contain both diploid and tetraploid individuals. The aim of this study was to determine the genome size of A. kamchatica, whether there is variation in ploidy and/or genome size in A. kamchatica and to study how genome size has evolved. We used propidium iodide flow cytometry to measure 2C DNA content of 73 plants from 25 geographically diverse populations of the putative allotetraploid A. kamchatica and its parents, Arabidopsis lyrata and Arabidopsis halleri. All A. kamchatica plants appear to be tetraploids. The mean 2C DNA content of A. kamchatica was 1.034 pg (1011 Mbp), which is slightly smaller than the sum of its diploid parents (A. lyrata: 0.502 pg; A. halleri: 0.571 pg). Arabidopsis kamchatica appears to have lost ~37.594 Mbp (3.6 %) of DNA from its 2C genome. Tetraploid A. lyrata from Germany and Austria appears to have lost ~70.366 Mbp (7.2 %) of DNA from the 2C genome, possibly due to hybridization with A. arenosa, which has a smaller genome than A. lyrata. We did find genome size differences among A. kamchatica populations, which varied up to 7 %. Arabidopsis kamchatica ssp. kawasakiana from Japan appears to have a slightly larger genome than A. kamchatica ssp. kamchatica from North America, perhaps due to multiple allopolyploid origins or hybridization with A. halleri. However, the among-population coefficient of variation in 2C DNA content is lower in A. kamchatica than in other Arabidopsis taxa. Due to its close relationship to A. thaliana, A. kamchatica has the potential to be very useful in the study of polyploidy and genome evolution. 2014/07/02 - 11:33

The ability of rice to germinate under anoxia by extending the coleoptile is a highly unusual characteristic and a key feature underpinning the ability of rice seeds to establish in such a stressful environment. The process has been a focal point for research for many years. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the anoxic growth of the coleoptile still remain largely unknown. To unravel the key regulatory mechanisms of rice germination under anoxic stress, we combined in silico modelling with gene expression data analysis. Our initial modelling analysis via random flux sampling revealed numerous changes in rice primary metabolism in the absence of oxygen. In particular, several reactions associated with sucrose metabolism and fermentation showed a significant increase in flux levels, whereas reaction fluxes across oxidative phosphorylation, the tricarboxylic acid cycle and the pentose phosphate pathway were down-regulated. The subsequent comparative analysis of the differences in calculated fluxes with previously published gene expression data under air and anoxia identified at least 37 reactions from rice central metabolism that are transcriptionally regulated. Additionally, cis-regulatory content analyses of these transcriptionally controlled enzymes indicate a regulatory role for transcription factors such as MYB, bZIP, ERF and ZnF in transcriptional control of genes that are up-regulated during rice germination and coleoptile elongation under anoxia. 2014/07/02 - 11:33

Community assembly entails a filtering process, where species found in a local community are those that can pass through environmental (abiotic) and biotic filters and successfully compete. Previous research has demonstrated the ability of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to reduce species diversity and favour browse-tolerant plant communities. In this study, we expand on our previous work by investigating deer as a possible biotic filter altering local plant community assembly. We used replicated 23-year-old deer exclosures to experimentally assess the effects of deer on species diversity (H'), richness (SR), phylogenetic community structure and phylogenetic diversity in paired browsed (control) and unbrowsed (exclosed) plots. Additionally, we developed a deer-browsing susceptibility index (DBSI) to assess the vulnerability of local species to deer. Deer browsing caused a 12 % reduction in H' and 17 % reduction in SR, consistent with previous studies. Furthermore, browsing reduced phylogenetic diversity by 63 %, causing significant phylogenetic clustering. Overall, graminoids were the least vulnerable to deer browsing based on DBSI calculations. These findings demonstrate that deer are a significant driver of plant community assembly due to their role as a selective browser, or more generally, as a biotic filter. This study highlights the importance of knowledge about the plant tree of life in assessing the effects of biotic filters on plant communities. Application of such knowledge has considerable potential to advance our understanding of plant community assembly. 2014/07/02 - 11:33

The tonoplast Na+/H+ antiporter and tonoplast H+ pumps are essential components of salt tolerance in plants. The objective of this study was to investigate the transport activity of the tonoplast Na+/H+ antiporter and the tonoplast V-H+-ATPase and V-H+-PPase in a highly tolerant salt-accumulating halophyte, Salicornia dolichostachya, and to compare these transport activities with activities in the related glycophyte Spinacia oleracea. Vacuolar membrane vesicles were isolated by density gradient centrifugation, and the proton transport and hydrolytic activity of both H+ pumps were studied. Furthermore, the Na+/H+-exchange capacity of the vesicles was investigated by 9-amino-6-chloro-2-methoxyacridine fluorescence. Salt treatment induced V-H+-ATPase and V-H+-PPase activity in vesicles derived from S. oleracea, whereas V-H+-ATPase and V-H+-PPase activity in S. dolichostachya was not affected by salt treatment. Na+/H+-exchange capacity followed the same pattern, i.e. induced in response to salt treatment (0 and 200 mM NaCl) in S. oleracea and not influenced by salt treatment (10 and 200 mM NaCl) in S. dolichostachya. Our results suggest that S. dolichostachya already generates a high tonoplast H+ gradient at low external salinities, which is likely to contribute to the high cellular salt accumulation of this species at low external salinities. At high external salinities, S. dolichostachya showed improved growth compared with S. oleracea, but V-H+-ATPase, V-H+-PPase and Na+/H+-exchange activities were comparable between the species, which might imply that S. dolichostachya more efficiently retains Na+ in the vacuole. 2014/06/21 - 08:31

Clonal plants, which reproduce by means of stolons and rhizomes, are common in frequently flooded habitats. Resilience to disturbance is an important trait enabling plants to survive in such highly disturbed habitats. Resource storage is thought to enable clonal plants to resume growth after clonal fragmentation caused by disturbance. Here we investigated if submergence prior to disturbance reduces survival and regrowth of clonal fragments and whether or not genotypes originating from highly disturbed riverine habitats are more resistant to mechanical disturbance than genotypes from less disturbed coastal dune slack habitats. We further tested if variation in survival and regrowth was affected by internode size. Clones from contrasting habitats of two closely related Trifolium species were first genotypically characterized by amplification fragment length polymorphism and then subjected to soil flooding and subsequent clonal fragmentation. These species differ with respect to their abundance in riverine and dune slack habitats, with Trifolium repens mainly occurring in riverine grasslands and Trifolium fragiferum in coastal dune slacks. Soil flooding decreased survival and regrowth by up to 80 %. Plants originating from riverine grasslands were less negatively affected by fragmentation than plants from dune slack habitats. Surprisingly, ramets did not always benefit from being attached to a larger internode, as internode size was often negatively correlated with survival after fragmentation. Regrowth, on the other hand, was generally positively correlated with internode size. These unexpected results indicate that there may be contrasting selection pressures on internode size in stoloniferous species growing in severely disturbed habitats. 2014/06/21 - 08:31

The energetic cost of plant organ construction is a functional trait that is useful for understanding carbon investment during growth (e.g. the resource acquisition vs. tissue longevity tradeoff), as well as in response to global change factors like elevated CO2 and N. Despite the enormous importance of roots and rhizomes in acquiring soil resources and responding to global change, construction costs have been studied almost exclusively in leaves. We sought to determine how construction costs of aboveground and belowground organs differed between native and introduced lineages of a geographically widely dispersed wetland plant species (Phragmites australis) under varying levels of CO2 and N. We grew plants under ambient and elevated atmospheric CO2, as well as under two levels of soil nitrogen. We determined construction costs for leaves, stems, rhizomes and roots, as well as for whole plants. Across all treatment conditions, the introduced lineage of Phragmites had a 4.3 % lower mean rhizome construction cost than the native. Whole-plant construction costs were also smaller for the introduced lineage, with the largest difference in sample means (3.3 %) occurring under ambient conditions. In having lower rhizome and plant-scale construction costs, the introduced lineage can recoup its investment in tissue construction more quickly, enabling it to generate additional biomass with the same energetic investment. Our results suggest that introduced Phragmites has had an advantageous tissue investment strategy under historic CO2 and N levels, which has facilitated key rhizome processes, such as clonal spread. We recommend that construction costs for multiple organ types be included in future studies of plant carbon economy, especially those investigating global change. 2014/06/19 - 19:24

Gametes have the unique potential to enter the sporophytic pathway, called androgenesis. The plants produced are usually haploid and recombinant due to the preceding meiosis and they can double their chromosome number to form doubled haploids, which are completely homozygous. Availability of the doubled haploids facilitates mapping the genes of agronomically important traits, shortening the time of the breeding process required to produce new hybrids and homozygous varieties, and saving the time and cost for inbreeding. This study aimed to test the feasibility of using isolated and in vitro cultured immature cassava (Manihot esculenta) microspores to reprogramme and initiate sporophytic development. Different culture media and different concentrations of two ion components (Cu2+ and Fe2+) were tested in two genotypes of cassava. External structural changes, nuclear divisions and cellular changes during reprogramming were analysed by scanning electron microscopy, by staining with 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole, and through classical histology and transmission electron microscopy. In two cassava genotypes, different developmental stages of microspores were found to initiate sporophytic cell divisions, that is, with tetrads of TMS 60444 and with mid or late uni-nucleate microspores of SM 1219-9. In the modified NLN medium (NLNS), microspore enlargements were observed. The medium supplemented with either sodium ferrous ethylene-diamine-tetraacetic acid (NaFeEDTA) or CuSO4·5H2O induced sporophytic cell division in both genotypes. A low frequency of the reprogramming and the presence of non-responsive microspores among the responsive ones in tetrads were found to be related to the viability and exine formation of the microspores. The present study clearly demonstrated that reprogramming occurs much faster in isolated microspore culture than in anther culture. This paves the way for the development of an efficient technique for the production of homozygous lines in cassava. This is the first ever detailed report of microspore reprogramming at the tetrad stage and the first report of microspore embryogenesis induction in cassava with detailed evidence. 2014/06/19 - 19:24

An increase in average air temperature and frequency of rain events is predicted for higher latitudes by the end of the 21st century, accompanied by a probable rise in air humidity. We currently lack knowledge on how forest trees acclimate to rising air humidity in temperate climates. We analysed the leaf gas exchange, sap flow and growth characteristics of hybrid aspen (Populus tremula x P. tremuloides) trees growing at ambient and artificially elevated air humidity in an experimental forest plantation situated in the hemiboreal vegetation zone. Humidification manipulation did not affect the photosynthetic capacity of plants, but did affect stomatal responses: trees growing at elevated air humidity had higher stomatal conductance at saturating photosynthetically active radiation (gs sat) and lower intrinsic water-use efficiency (IWUE). Reduced stomatal limitation of photosynthesis in trees grown at elevated air humidity allowed slightly higher net photosynthesis and relative current-year height increments than in trees at ambient air humidity. Tree responses suggest a mitigating effect of higher air humidity on trees under mild water stress. At the same time, trees at higher air humidity demonstrated a reduced sensitivity of IWUE to factors inducing stomatal closure and a steeper decline in canopy conductance in response to water deficit, implying higher dehydration risk. Despite the mitigating impact of increased air humidity under moderate drought, a future rise in atmospheric humidity at high latitudes may be disadvantageous for trees during weather extremes and represents a potential threat in hemiboreal forest ecosystems. 2014/06/12 - 23:15

Most investigations of plant responses to changes in temperature have focused on a constant increase in mean day/night temperature without considering how differences in temperature cycles can affect physiological processes and growth. To test the effects of changes in growth temperature on foliar carbon balance and plant growth, we repeatedly exposed poplar saplings (Populus deltoides x nigra) to temperature cycles consisting of 5 days of a moderate (M, +5 °C) or extreme (E, +10 °C) increase in temperature followed by 5 days of a moderate (M, –5 °C) or extreme (E, –10 °C) decrease in temperature, with respect to a control treatment (C, 23.4 °C). The temperature treatments had the same mean temperature over each warm and cool cycle and over the entire study. Our goal was to examine the influence of recurring temperature shifts on growth. Net photosynthesis (A) was relatively insensitive to changes in growth temperature (from 20 to 35 °C), suggesting a broad range of optimum temperature for photosynthesis. Leaf respiration (R) exhibited substantial acclimation to temperature, having nearly the same rate at 13 °C as at 33 °C. There was no evidence that preconditioning through temperature cycles affected the response of A or R to treatment temperature fluctuations. Averaged across the complete warm/cool temperature cycle, the A : R ratio did not differ among the temperature treatments. While foliar carbon balance was not affected, the temperature treatments significantly affected growth. Whole-plant biomass was 1.5 times greater in the M treatment relative to the C treatment. Carbon allocation was also affected with shoot volume and biomass greater in the M and E treatments than in the C treatment. Our findings indicate that temperature fluctuations can have important effects on growth, though there were few effects on leaf gas exchange, and can help explain differences in growth that are not correlated with mean growth temperature. 2014/05/21 - 13:17

The skin of developing soft and fleshy fruit is subjected to considerable growth stress, and failure of the skin is associated with impaired barrier properties in water transport and pathogen defence. The objectives were to establish a standardized, biaxial tensile test of the skin of soft and fleshy fruit and to use it to characterize and quantify mechanical properties of the sweet cherry (Prunus avium) fruit skin as a model. A segment of the exocarp (ES) comprising cuticle, epidermis, hypodermis and adhering flesh was mounted in the elastometer such that the in vivo strain was maintained. The ES was pressurized from the inner surface and the pressure and extent of associated bulging were recorded. Pressure : strain responses were almost linear up to the point of fracture, indicating that the modulus of elasticity was nearly constant. Abrading the cuticle decreased the fracture strain but had no effect on the fracture pressure. When pressure was held constant, bulging of the ES continued to increase. Strain relaxation upon releasing the pressure was complete and depended on time. Strains in longitudinal and latitudinal directions on the bulging ES did not differ significantly. Exocarp segments that released their in vivo strain before the test had higher fracture strains and lower moduli of elasticity. The results demonstrate that the cherry skin is isotropic in the tangential plane and exhibits elastic and viscoelastic behaviour. The epidermis and hypodermis, but not the cuticle, represent the structural ‘backbone’ in a cherry skin. This test is useful in quantifying the mechanical properties of soft and fleshy fruit of a range of species under standardized conditions. 2014/05/16 - 16:38

Waterlogging is one of the major factors limiting the productivity of pastures in the humid tropics. Brachiaria humidicola is a forage grass commonly used in zones prone to temporary waterlogging. Brachiaria humidicola accessions adapt to waterlogging by increasing aerenchyma in nodal roots above constitutive levels to improve oxygenation of root tissues. In some accessions, waterlogging reduces the number of lateral roots developed from main root axes. Waterlogging-induced reduction of lateral roots could be of adaptive value as lateral roots consume oxygen supplied from above ground via their parent root. However, a reduction in lateral root development could also be detrimental by decreasing the surface area for nutrient and water absorption. To examine the impact of waterlogging on lateral root development, an outdoor study was conducted to test differences in vertical root distribution (in terms of dry mass and length) and the proportion of lateral roots to the total root system (sum of nodal and lateral roots) down the soil profile under drained or waterlogged soil conditions. Plant material consisted of 12 B. humidicola accessions from the gene bank of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, Colombia. Rooting depth was restricted by 21 days of waterlogging and confined to the first 30 cm below the soil surface. Although waterlogging reduced the overall proportion of lateral roots, its proportion significantly increased in the top 10 cm of the soil. This suggests that soil flooding increases lateral root proliferation of B. humidicola in the upper soil layers. This may compensate for the reduction of root surface area brought about by the restriction of root growth at depths below 30 cm. Further work is needed to test the relative efficiency of nodal and lateral roots for nutrient and water uptake under waterlogged soil conditions. 2014/05/11 - 15:40

In recent years, research in invasion biology has focused increasing attention on understanding the role of phenology in shaping plant invasions. Multiple studies have found non-native species that tend to flower distinctly early or late in the growing season, advance more with warming or have shifted earlier with climate change compared with native species. This growing body of literature has focused on patterns of phenological differences, but there is a need now for mechanistic studies of how phenology contributes to invasions. To do this, however, requires understanding how phenology fits within complex functional trait relationships. Towards this goal, we review recent literature linking phenology with other functional traits, and discuss the role of phenology in mediating how plants experience disturbance and stress—via climate, herbivory and competition—across the growing season. Because climate change may alter the timing and severity of stress and disturbance in many systems, it could provide novel opportunities for invasion—depending upon the dominant climate controller of the system, the projected climate change, and the traits of native and non-native species. Based on our current understanding of plant phenological and growth strategies—especially rapid growing, early-flowering species versus later-flowering species that make slower-return investments in growth—we project optimal periods for invasions across three distinct systems under current climate change scenarios. Research on plant invasions and phenology within this predictive framework would provide a more rigorous test of what drives invader success, while at the same time testing basic plant ecological theory. Additionally, extensions could provide the basis to model how ecosystem processes may shift in the future with continued climate change. 2014/05/09 - 23:10

Bulk modulus of elasticity (), depicting the flexibility of plant tissues, is recognized as an important component in maintaining internal water balance. Elevated and comparatively low osmotic potential () may work in concert to effectively maintain vital cellular water content. This concept, termed the ‘cell water conservation hypothesis’, may foster tolerance for lower soil-water potentials in plants while minimizing cell dehydration and shrinkage. Therefore, the accumulation of solutes in marine plants, causing decreases in , play an important role in plant–water relations and likely works with higher to achieve favourable cell volumes. While it is generally held that plants residing in marine systems have higher leaf tissue , to our knowledge no study has specifically addressed this notion in aquatic and wetland plants residing in marine and freshwater systems. Therefore, we compared and in leaf tissues of 38 freshwater, coastal and marine plant species using data collected in our laboratory, with additional values from the literature. Overall, 8 of the 10 highest values were observed in marine plants, and 20 of the lowest 25 values were recorded in freshwater plants. As expected, marine plants often had lower , wherein the majority of marine plants were below –1.0 MPa and the majority of freshwater plants were above –1.0 MPa. While there were no differences among habitat type and symplastic water content (sym), we did observe higher sym in shrubs when compared with graminoids, and believe that the comparatively low sym observed in aquatic grasses may be attributed to their tendency to develop aerenchyma that hold apoplastic water. These results, with few exceptions, support the premise that leaf tissues of plants acclimated to marine environments tend to have higher and lower , and agree with the general tenets of the cell water conservation hypothesis. 2014/05/09 - 23:10

Floral organs that take on the characteristics of petals can occur in all whorls of the monocot order Zingiberales. In Canna indica, the most ornamental or ‘petaloid’ parts of the flowers are of androecial origin and are considered staminodes. However, the precise nature of these petaloid organs is yet to be determined. In order to gain a better understanding of the genetic basis of androecial identity, a molecular investigation of B- and C-class genes was carried out. Two MADS-box genes GLOBOSA (GLO) and AGAMOUS (AG) were isolated from young inflorescences of C. indica by 3' rapid amplification of cDNA ends polymerase chain reaction (3'-RACE PCR). Sequence characterization and phylogenetic analyses show that CiGLO and CiAG belong to the B- and C-class MADS-box gene family, respectively. CiAG is expressed in petaloid staminodes, the labellum, the fertile stamen and carpels. CiGLO is expressed in petals, petaloid staminodes, the labellum, the fertile stamen and carpels. Expression patterns in mature tissues of CiGLO and CiAG suggest that petaloid staminodes and the labellum are of androecial identity, in agreement with their position within the flower and with described Arabidopsis thaliana expression patterns. Although B- and C-class genes are important components of androecial determination, their expression patterns are not sufficient to explain the distinct morphology observed in staminodes and the fertile stamen in C. indica. 2014/05/07 - 23:02