SummaryPre-harvest sprouting (PHS) or vivipary in cereals is an important agronomic trait that results in significant economic loss. A considerable number of mutations that cause PHS have been identified in several species. However, relatively few viviparous mutants in rice (Oryza sativa L.) have been reported. To explore the mechanism of PHS in rice, we carried out an extensive genetic screening and identified 12 PHS mutants (phs). Based on their phenotypes, these phs mutants were classified into three groups. Here we characterize in detail one of these groups, which contains mutations in genes encoding major enzymes of the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway, including phytoene desaturase (OsPDS), f-carotene desaturase (OsZDS), carotenoid isomerase (OsCRTISO) and lycopene b-cyclase (b-OsLCY), which are essential for the biosynthesis of carotenoid precursors of ABA. As expected, the amount of ABA was reduced in all four phs mutants compared with that in the wild type. Chlorophyll fluorescence analysis revealed the occurrence of photoinhibition in the photosystem and decreased capacity for eliminating excess energy by thermal dissipation. The greatly increased activities of reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging enzymes, and reduced photosystem (PS) II core proteins CP43, CP47 and D1 in leaves of the Oscrtiso/phs3-1mutant and OsLCY RNAi transgenic rice indicated that photo-oxidative damage occurred in PS II, consistent with the accumulation of ROS in these plants. These results suggest that the impairment of carotenoid biosynthesis causes photo-oxidation and ABA-deficiency phenotypes, of which the latter is a major factor controlling the PHS trait in rice.
Evidence shows that many tree species can take up organic nitrogen (N) in the form of free amino acids from soils, but few studies have been conducted to compare organic and inorganic N uptake patterns in temperate and tropical tree species in relation to mycorrhizal status and successional state. We labeled intact tree roots by brief 15N exposures using field hydroponic experiments in a temperate forest and a tropical forest in China. A total of 21 dominant tree species were investigated, 8 in the temperate forest and 13 in the tropical forest. All investigated tree species showed highest uptake rates for NH4+ (ammonium), followed by glycine and NO3- (nitrate). Uptake of NH4+ by temperate trees averaged 12.8 μg N g-1 dry weight (d.w.) root h-1, while those by tropical trees averaged 6.8 μg N g-1 d.w. root h-1. Glycine uptake rates averaged 3.1 μg N g-1 d.w. root h-1 for temperate trees and 2.4 μg N g-1 d.w. root h-1 for tropical trees. NO3- uptake was the lowest (averaging 0.8 μg N g-1 d.w. root h-1 for temperate trees and 1.2 μg N g-1 d.w. root h-1 for tropical trees). Uptake of NH4+ accounted for 76% of the total uptake of all three N forms in the temperate forest and 64% in the tropical forest. Temperate tree species had similar glycine uptake rates as tropical trees, with the contribution being slightly lower (20% in the temperate forest and 23% in the tropical forest). All tree species investigated in the temperate forest were ectomycorrhizal and all species but one in the tropical forest were arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM). Ectomycorrhizal trees showed significantly higher NH4+ and lower NO3- uptake rates than AM trees. Mycorrhizal colonization rates significantly affected uptake rates and contributions of NO3- or NH4+, but depended on forest types. We conclude that tree species in both temperate and tropical forests preferred to take up NH4+, with organic N as the second most important N source. These findings suggest that temperate and tropical forests demonstrate similar N uptake patterns although they differ in physiology of trees and soil biogeochemical processes.
"zebra" mutants have alternating green and chlorotic crossbands on leaf blades and are widely distributed in monocotyledonous crops. Most recently, we cloned the first responsible gene from rice, ZEBRA2, which also leads to the phenotype of rice preharvest sprouting. ZEBRA2, a single-copy gene in the rice genome, encodes a carotenoid isomerase (CRTISO), the key enzyme catalyzing the conversion of cis-lycopene to all-trans lycopene. ZEBRA2 shares high identity with known CRTISOs from other species. Expression analysis via both RT-PCR and ZEBRA2-promoter-β-glucuronidase (GUS) transgenic rice indicates that ZEBRA2 is predominantly expressed in mesophyll cells of mature leaves where active photosynthesis occurs. Consistent with the alteration in agronomic traits, the zebra2 mutant exhibits decreased photosynthetic rate and chlorophyll content. Mutation of the ZEBRA2 gene results in the accumulation of all-trans-lycopene precursor, prolycopene (7Z,9Z,7'Z,9'Z tetra cis-lycopene), in dark-grown zebra2 tissues. Light-grown zebra2 mutant exhibits the characteristic "zebra" phenotype and decreased level of lutein, the xanthophyll that is essential for efficient chl triplet quenching. More severe phenotype of the zebra2 mutant under high light intensity indicates that "zebra" phenotype might be caused by photooxidative damages. We conclude that ZEBRA2 is involved in photoprotection in rice.
The tea plant (Camellia sinensis L.) is an important commercial crop with remarkably high catechin concentrations. Tea is popular worldwide given the plant's health benefits. Catechins are the main astringent substance in tea and are synthesized mainly via the phenylpropanoid pathway. In this study, eight cultivars of tea plants harvested both in spring and autumn were used to investigate differences in catechin concentrations by using high-performance liquid chromatography. The expression levels of genes associated with catechin biosynthesis were investigated using reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The results indicated that the total catechin (TC) concentrations were significantly higher in tea plants harvested in autumn than in those harvested in spring, based on higher concentrations of epigallocatechin (EGC) in autumn tea (P<0.01). The expression of the genes phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL), flavanone 3-hydroxylase (F3H), flavonoid 3′,5′-hydroxylase (F3′5′H), dihydroflavonol 4-reductase (DFR), and anthocyanidin synthase (ANS) is closely related to the TC content of tea plants in both spring and autumn. Positive correlations between PAL, cinnamate 4-hydroxylase (C4H), F3H, and DFR expression and EGC accumulation in autumn tea were identified, with correlation coefficients of 0.710, 0.763, 0.884, and 0.707, respectively. A negative correlation between ANS expression level and EGC concentrations in tea plants harvested in spring was noted (r=−0.732). Additionally, negative correlations between F3H and ANS expression levels and the catechin content were identified in spring tea, whereas the correlations were positive in autumn tea. Significant differences in the F3H and ANS expression levels between spring and autumn tea indicate that F3H and ANS are potentially key genes affecting catechin accumulation in tea plants.
Varying patterns of plant community diversity along geographical gradients are a significant topic in biodiversity research. Here, to explore the integrated effects of latitude and altitude on the plant community diversity in a mountainous ecosystem, we set Guancen Mountain in the northern section, Guandi Mountain in the middle section, and Wulu Mountain in the southern section of the Lvliang Mountains as study areas, and the plant community diversity (basal diameter and height of tree and species diversity indices of shrub and herb) was measured horizontally at different latitude gradients and vertically at different altitude gradients in late July 2015. The results showed that (1) the trees were taller and wider at the middle latitude and higher altitude with a stronger spatial heterogeneity in the structures along the latitudinal and altitudinal gradients. The evergreen tree growth preceded that of the deciduous trees in the higher latitude and lower altitude regions, whereas the deciduous tree growth preceded that of the evergreen trees in the middle latitude and higher altitude regions. (2) Shrubs and herbs tended to grow well in the lower latitude and middle-lower altitude regions. The shrubs had a larger species diversity at lower latitude and lower altitude, but the species diversity of the herbs was not sensitive to the influences of the latitudinal and altitudinal gradients. With the latitude and altitude increasing, perennial herbs tended to grow well at higher latitude and higher altitude, while annual herbs tended to thrive at the middle latitude and lower altitude. In conclusion, environmental deviations caused by latitudinal and altitudinal gradients had great influences on the spatial distributions of the plant community diversity in the Lvliang Mountains.
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