The growing human population and a changing environment have raised significant concern for global food security, with the current improvement rate of several important crops inadequate to meet future demand . This slow improvement rate is attributed partly to the long generation times of crop plants. Here, we present a method called 'speed breeding', which greatly shortens generation time and accelerates breeding and research programmes. Speed breeding can be used to achieve up to 6 generations per year for spring wheat (Triticum aestivum), durum wheat (T. durum), barley (Hordeum vulgare), chickpea (Cicer arietinum) and pea (Pisum sativum), and 4 generations for canola (Brassica napus), instead of 2-3 under normal glasshouse conditions. We demonstrate that speed breeding in fully enclosed, controlled-environment growth chambers can accelerate plant development for research purposes, including phenotyping of adult plant traits, mutant studies and transformation. The use of supplemental lighting in a glasshouse environment allows rapid generation cycling through single seed descent (SSD) and potential for adaptation to larger-scale crop improvement programs. Cost saving through light-emitting diode (LED) supplemental lighting is also outlined. We envisage great potential for integrating speed breeding with other modern crop breeding technologies, including high-throughput genotyping, genome editing and genomic selection, accelerating the rate of crop improvement.
The transcriptional activity of c-Jun is augmented through phosphorylation at two sites by a c-Jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK). All cells express two distinct JNK activities, 46 and 55 kD in size. It is not clear which of them is the more important c-Jun kinase and how they specifically recognize c-Jun. The 46-kD form of JNK was identified as a new member of the MAP kinase group of signal-transducing enzymes, JNK1. Here, we report the molecular cloning of the 55-kD form of JNK, JNK2, which exhibits 83% identity and similar regulation to JNK1. Despite this close similarity, the two JNKs differ greatly in their ability to interact with c-Jun. JNK2 binds e-Jun -25 times more efficiently than JNK1, and as a result has a lower K m toward c-Jun than JNK1. The structural basis for this difference was investigated and traced to a small [;-strand-like region near the catalytic pocket of the enzyme. Modeling suggests that this region is solvent exposed and therefore is likely to serve as a docking site that increases the effective concentration of c-Jun near JNK2. These results explain how two closely related MAP kinases can differ in their ability to recognize specific substrates and thereby elicit different biological responses.
The foundation of western civilization owes much to the high fertility of bread wheat, which results from the stability of its polyploid genome. Despite possessing multiple sets of related chromosomes, hexaploid (bread) and tetraploid (pasta) wheat both behave as diploids at meiosis. Correct pairing of homologous chromosomes is controlled by the Ph1 locus. In wheat hybrids, Ph1 prevents pairing between related chromosomes. Lack of Ph1 activity in diploid relatives of wheat suggests that Ph1 arose on polyploidization. Absence of phenotypic variation, apart from dosage effects, and the failure of ethylmethane sulphonate treatment to yield mutants, indicates that Ph1 has a complex structure. Here we have localized Ph1 to a 2.5-megabase interstitial region of wheat chromosome 5B containing a structure consisting of a segment of subtelomeric heterochromatin that inserted into a cluster of cdc2-related genes after polyploidization. The correlation of the presence of this structure with Ph1 activity in related species, and the involvement of heterochromatin with Ph1 (ref. 6) and cdc2 genes with meiosis, makes the structure a good candidate for the Ph1 locus.
Precise chromosome segregation is vital for polyploid speciation. Here, we highlight recent findings that revitalize the old question of the genetic control of diploid-like meiosis behaviour in polyploid species. We first review new information on the genetic control of autopolyploid and allopolyploid cytological diploidization, notably in wheat and Brassica. These major advances provide new opportunities for speculating about the adaptation of meiosis during polyploid evolution. Some of these advances are discussed, and it is suggested that research on polyploidy and on meiosis should no longer be unlinked.
The correct pairing and segregation of chromosomes during meiosis is essential for genetic stability and subsequent fertility. This is more difficult to achieve in polyploid species, such as wheat, because they possess more than one diploid set of similar chromosomes. In wheat, the Ph1 locus ensures correct homologue pairing and recombination. Although clustering of telomeres into a bouquet early in meiosis has been suggested to facilitate homologue pairing, centromeres associate in pairs in polyploid cereals early during floral development. We can now extend this observation to root development. Here we show that the Ph1 locus acts both meiotically and somatically by reducing non-homologous centromere associations. This has the effect of promoting true homologous association when centromeres are induced to associate. In fact, non-homologously associated centromeres separate at the beginning of meiosis in the presence, but not the absence, of Ph1. This permits the correction of homologue association during the telomere-bouquet stage in meiosis. We conclude that the Ph1 locus is not responsible for the induction of centromere association, but rather for its specificity.
At the onset of meiosis, chromosomes undergo conformational changes 2,3 , which, however, have yet to be correlated directly with homologue recognition. In hexaploid wheat (AABBDD, 2n = 6x = 42) the Ph1 locus ensures that pairing and recombination are restricted to true homologues rather than homoeologues (equivalent chromosomes from the other genomes) 4 . A line has been generated in which a rye segment covering
During meiosis, homologous chromosomes synapse and recombine at sites marked by the binding of the mismatch repair protein MLH1. In hexaploid wheat, the Ph1 locus has a major effect on whether crossover occurs between homologues or between related homoeologues. Here we report that—in wheat–rye hybrids where homologues are absent—Ph1 affects neither the level of synapsis nor the number of MLH1. Thus in the case of wheat–wild relative hybrids, Ph1 must affect whether MLH1 sites are able to progress to crossover. The observed level of synapsis implies that Ph1 functions to promote homologue pairing rather than suppress homoeologue pairing in wheat. Therefore, Ph1 stabilises polyploidy in wheat by both promoting homologue pairing and preventing MLH1 sites from becoming crossovers on paired homoeologues during meiosis.
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