Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research
Recent publications
Abstract Background and aims Pb and Sn concentration increase rapidly due to the industrial revolution and cause a significant reduction in wheat production and productivity. Understanding the genetic control of Pb and Sn tolerance is very important to produce wheat cultivars that are tolerant to such metals. Methods Extensive genetic analyses using genome-wide association study, functional annotation, and gene enrichment were investigated in a set of 103 highly diverse spring wheat genotypes. Kernel traits such as kernel length (KL), kernel diameter (KD), kernel width (KW), and 1000-kernel weight (TKW) were measured under each metal as well as under controlled conditions. Results The GWAS identified a total of 131, 126, and 115 markers that were associated with kernel traits under Ctrl, Pb, and Sn. Moreover, the stress tolerance index (STI) for Pb and Sn was calculated and GWAS revealed 153 and 105 significant markers, respectively. Remarkably, one SNP Ku_c269_2643 located within TraesCS2A02G080700 gene model was found to be associated with KL under the three conditions. The results of gene enrichment revealed three, three, and six gene networks that have an association with the processes involved in kernel formation. The target alleles of all significant markers detected by GWAS were investigated in the most tolerant wheat genotypes to truly select the candidate parents for crossing in future breeding programs. Conclusion This is the first study that unlocked the genetic control of kernel yield under controlled and heavy metals conditions. Understanding the genetic control of kernel traits under heavy metals will accelerate breeding programs to improve wheat tolerance to Pb and Sn.
Asexual reproduction results in offspring that are genetically identical to the mother. Among apomictic plants (reproducing asexually through seeds) many require paternal genetic contribution for proper endosperm development (pseudogamous endosperm). We examined phenotypic diversity in seed traits using a diverse panel of sexual and apomictic accessions from the genus Boechera. While genetic uniformity resulting from asexual reproduction is expected to reduce phenotypic diversity in seeds produced by apomictic individuals, pseudogamous endosperm, variable endosperm ploidy, and the deviations from 2:1 maternal:paternal genome ratio in endosperm can all contribute to increased phenotypic diversity among apomictic offspring. We characterized seed size variation in 64 diploid sexual and apomictic (diploid and triploid) Boechera lineages. In order to find out whether individual seed size was related to endosperm ploidy we performed individual seed measurements (projected area and mass) using the phenoSeeder robot system and flow cytometric seed screen. In order to test whether individual seed size had an effect on resulting fitness we performed a controlled growth experiment and recorded seedling life history traits (germination success, germination timing, and root growth rate). Seeds with triploid embryos were 33% larger than those with diploid embryos, but no average size difference was found between sexual and apomictic groups. We identified a maternal effect whereby chloroplast lineage 2 had 30% larger seeds than lineage 3, despite having broad and mostly overlapping geographic ranges. Apomictic seeds were not more uniform in size than sexual seeds, despite genetic uniformity of the maternal gametophyte in the former. Among specific embryo/endosperm ploidy combinations, seeds with tetraploid (automomous) endosperm were on average smaller, and the proportion of such seeds was highest in apomicts. Larger seeds germinated more quickly than small seeds, and lead to higher rates of root growth in young seedlings. Seed mass is under balancing selection in Boechera, and it is an important predictor of several traits, including germination probability and timing, root growth rates, and developmental abnormalities in apomictic accessions.
A new section of Astragalus from Mt. Alvand, W Iran, was recognized namely Astragalus sect. Elvendia Bagheri & Maassoumi, sect. nov., which is described here based on A. leucargyreus Bornm. A full description and diagnosis of the new section are given and taxonomic relationships of the section and its allied taxa are discussed. Molecular phylogenetic data obtained from the nuclear ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region as well as plastid ycf1 and matK genes strongly support that the species of the new section is separated from sections Hymenostegis and Adiaspastus, where A. leucargyreus was placed before, and forms a distinct clade. In addition, we discuss the floristic, endemism, and conservation status of the Mt. Alvand region (type locality of the new section). Supplemental data for this article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1080/11263504.2022.2036846 .
Histone chaperones and chromatin remodelers control nucleosome dynamics, which are essential for transcription, replication, and DNA repair. The histone chaperone Anti-Silencing Factor 1 (ASF1) plays a central role in facilitating CAF-1-mediated replication-dependent H3.1 deposition and HIRA-mediated replication-independent H3.3 deposition in yeast and metazoans. Whether ASF1 function is evolutionarily conserved in plants is unknown. Here, we show that Arabidopsis ASF1 proteins display a preference for the HIRA complex. Simultaneous mutation of both Arabidopsis ASF1 genes caused a decrease in chromatin density and ectopic H3.1 occupancy at loci typically enriched with H3.3. Genetic, transcriptomic, and proteomic data indicate that ASF1 proteins strongly prefers the HIRA complex over CAF-1. asf1 mutants also displayed an increase in spurious Pol II transcriptional initiation and showed defects in the maintenance of gene body CG DNA methylation and in the distribution of histone modifications. Furthermore, ectopic targeting of ASF1 caused excessive histone deposition, less accessible chromatin, and gene silencing. These findings reveal the importance of ASF1-mediated histone deposition for proper epigenetic regulation of the genome.
The end use and value of bread wheat grain is determined by its protein and gluten content. Therefore, stable manifestation of this trait in a cultivar is an important breeding goal. According to some reports, the tetraploid species T. timopheevii is characterized by high grain protein and gluten contents. However, there is no example of the transfer of genes for these traits from this species to common wheat. The aim of this study was to transfer chromosome 2A with an introgression from T. timopheevii from an experimental line (Line 821) to the bread wheat cultivar Saratovskaya 29 (S29) and to show its association with increased protein and gluten contents in grain. Chromosome 2A from Line 821 was transferred to cv. S29 by means of chromosome substitution, and its integrity was checked using 14 molecular markers. Substitution line S29(821 2A) was grown at 5 different locations: Novosibirsk, Omsk, Barnaul, Ussuriysk and Gatersleben, and in a greenhouse. The protein and gluten contents in the grain of S29(821 2A) produced under all conditions were significantly higher by 1–2% and 3–4%, respectively, than in the parental cultivar. In most cases, this introgression did not reduce grain yield and retained thousand grain weight. Substitution line S29(821 2A) had high rheological properties of dough comparable to the high-quality cv. S29. The new genetic factor might belong to the homoeoallelic series Gpc-2 for high grain protein content.
The Euro-Siberian steppe flora consists of warm- and cold-adapted species, which may have responded differently to Pleistocene glacials and interglacials. Genotyping-by-sequencing individuals from across the distribution range of the pheasant’s eye (Adonis vernalis), we aimed to gain insight into steppe florogenesis based on the species’ evolutionary history. Although the primary area of origin of the species group comprising A. vernalis, A. villosa and A. volgensis is in Asia, our results indicate that recent populations of A. vernalis are not of Asian origin but evolved in the southern part of Europe during the Pleistocene, with Spanish populations clearly genetically distinct from the Southeastern European populations. We inferred that A. vernalis migrated eastwards from the sub-Mediterranean forest-steppes of Southeastern Europe into the continental forest-steppe zone. Eastern European populations had the highest private allelic richness, indicating long-term large population sizes in this region. As a thermophilic species, A. vernalis seems unlikely to have survived in the cold deserts of the Last Glacial Maximum in Western Siberia, so this region was likely (re)colonized postglacially. Overall, our results reinforce the importance of identifying the area of origin and the corresponding ecological requirements of steppe plants in order to understand the composition of today’s steppe flora.
Brassica rapa (B. rapa) and its subspecies contain many bioactive metabolites that are important for plant defense and human health. This study aimed at investigating the metabolite composition and variation among a large collection of B. rapa genotypes, including subspecies and their accessions. Metabolite profiling of leaves of 102 B. rapa genotypes was performed using ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with a photodiode array detector and quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-PDA-QTOF-MS/MS). In total, 346 metabolites belonging to different chemical classes were tentatively identified; 36 out of them were assigned with high confidence using authentic standards and 184 were those reported in B. rapa leaves for the first time. The accumulation and variation of metabolites among genotypes were characterized and compared to their phylogenetic distance. We found 47 metabolites, mostly representing anthocyanins, flavonols, and hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives that displayed a significant correlation to the phylogenetic relatedness and determined four major phylometabolic branches; 1) Chinese cabbage, 2) yellow sarson and rapid cycling, 3) the mizuna-komatsuna-turnip-caitai; and 4) a mixed cluster. These metabolites denote the selective pressure on the metabolic network during B. rapa breeding. We present a unique study that combines metabolite profiling data with phylogenetic analysis in a large collection of B. rapa subspecies. We showed how selective breeding utilizes the biochemical potential of wild B. rapa leading to highly diverse metabolic phenotypes. Our work provides the basis for further studies on B. rapa metabolism and nutritional traits improvement.
AMMONIUM TRANSPORTER/METHYLAMMONIUM PERMEASE/RHESUS (AMT) family members transport ammonium across membranes in all life domains. Plant AMTs can be categorized into AMT1 and AMT2 subfamilies. Functional studies of AMTs, particularly AMT1-type, have been conducted using model plants but little is known about the function of AMTs from crops. Sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) is a major bioenergy crop that requires heavy nitrogen fertilization but depends on a low carbon-footprint for competitive sustainability. Here, we identified and functionally characterized sugarcane ScAMT2;1 by complementing ammonium uptake-defective mutants of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Arabidopsis thaliana. Reporter gene driven by the ScAMT2;1 promoter in A. thaliana revealed preferential expression in the shoot vasculature and root endodermis/pericycle according to nitrogen availability and source. Arabidopsis quadruple mutant plants expressing ScAMT2;1 driven by the CaMV35S promoter or by a sugarcane endogenous promoter produced significantly more biomass than mutant plants when grown in NH4 + and showed more 15N-ammonium uptake by roots and nitrogen translocation to shoots. In A. thaliana, ScAMT2;1 displayed a Km of 90.17 µM and Vmax of 338.99 µmoles h-1 g-1 root DW. Altogether, our results suggest that ScAMT2;1 is a functional high-affinity ammonium transporter that might contribute to ammonium uptake and presumably to root-to-shoot translocation under high NH4 + conditions.
Spikelet abortion is a phenomenon where apical spikelet primordia on an immature spike abort. Regardless of the row-type, both apical and basal spikelet abortion occurs, and their extent decides the number of grain-bearing spikelets retained on the spike—thus, affecting the yield potential of barley. Reducing spikelet abortion, therefore, represents an opportunity to increase barley yields. Here, we investigated the variation for apical spikelet abortion along with 16 major spike, shoot, and grain traits in a panel of 417 six-rowed spring barleys. Our analyses showed a significantly large genotypic variation resulting in high heritability estimates for all the traits. Spikelet abortion (SA) varies from 13 to 51% depending on the genotype and its geographical origin. Among the seven spike traits, SA was negatively correlated with final spikelet number, spike length and density, while positively with awn length. This positive correlation suggests a plausible role of the rapidly growing awns during the spikelet abortion process, especially after Waddington stage 5. In addition, SA also showed a moderate positive correlation with grain length, grain area and thousand-grain weight. Our hierarchical clustering revealed distinct genetic underpinning of grain traits from the spike and shoot traits. Trait associations showed a geographical bias whereby European accessions displayed higher SA and grain and shoot trait values, whereas the trend was opposite for the Asian accessions. To study the observed phenotypic variation of SA explained by 16 other individual traits, we applied linear, quadratic, and generalized additive regression models (GAM). Our analyses of SA revealed that the GAM generally performed superior in comparison to the other models. The genetic interactions among traits suggest novel breeding targets and easy-to-phenotype “proxy-traits” for high throughput on-field selection for grain yield, especially in early generations of barley breeding programs.
Phytohormones are supposed to contribute to the establishment of mutualistic Arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) symbioses. However, their role in the acclimation of micropropagated plantlet inoculated with AM is still unknown. To address this question, we performed a hormone profiling during the acclimation of Satureja khuzistanica plantlets inoculated with Rhizoglomus fasciculatum. The levels of indoleacetic acid (IAA), methyl indole acetic acid, cis-zeatin, cis zeatin ribose, jasmonate, jasmonoyl isoleucine, salicylic acid, abscisic acid (ABA) were analyzed. Further, the relative gene expression of AOS (Allene oxide synthase) as a key enzyme of jasmonate biosynthesis, in either inoculated or non-inoculated micropropagated plantlets was evaluated during acclimation period. The concentrations of IAA and cis-zeatin increased in the plantlets inoculated by AM whereas the concentration of ABA decreased upon 60 days acclimation in the whole shoot of plantlets of S. khuzistanica. The relative expression of AOS gene resulted in an increase of isoleucine jasmonate, the bioactive form of jasmonate. Based on our results, IAA and cis-zeatin probably contribute to maintaining growth, and AM reduces transition stress by modifying ABA and jasmonate concentrations.
Genetic diversity in wheat has been depleted due to domestication and modern breeding. Wild relatives are a valuable source for improving drought tolerance in domesticated wheat. A QTL region on chromosome 2BS of wild emmer wheat ( Triticum turgidum ssp. dicoccoides ) , conferring high grain yield under well-watered and water-limited conditions, was transferred to the elite durum wheat cultivar Uzan ( T. turgidum ssp. durum ) by a marker-assisted backcross breeding approach. The 2B introgression line turned out to be higher yielding but also exhibited negative traits that likely result from trans-, cis-, or linkage drag effects from the wild emmer parent. In this study, the respective 2BS QTL was subjected to fine-mapping, and a set of 17 homozygote recombinants were phenotyped at BC 4 F 5 generation under water-limited and well-watered conditions at an experimental farm in Israel and at a high-throughput phenotyping platform (LemnaTec-129) in Germany. In general, both experimental setups allowed the identification of sub-QTL intervals related to culm length, kernel number, thousand kernel weight, and harvest index. Sub-QTLs for kernel number and harvest index were detected specifically under either drought stress or well-watered conditions, while QTLs for culm length and thousand-kernel weight were detected in both conditions. Although no direct QTL for grain yield was identified, plants with the sub-QTL for kernel number showed a higher grain yield than the recurrent durum cultivar Uzan under well-watered and mild drought stress conditions. We, therefore, suggest that this sub-QTL might be of interest for future breeding purposes.
Drought events or the combination of drought and heat conditions are expected to become more frequent due to global warming, and wheat yields may fall below their long-term average. One way to increase climate-resilience of modern high-yielding varieties is by their genetic improvement with beneficial alleles from crop wild relatives. In the present study, the effect of two beneficial QTLs introgressed from wild emmer wheat and incorporated in the three wheat varieties BarNir, Zahir and Uzan was studied under well-watered conditions and under drought stress using non-destructive High-throughput Phenotyping (HTP) throughout the life cycle in a single pot-experiment. Plants were daily imaged with RGB top and side view cameras and watered automatically. Further, at two time points, the quantum yield of photosystem II was measured with a top view FluorCam. The QTL carrying near isogenic lines (NILs) were compared with their corresponding parents by t -test for all non-invasively obtained traits and for the manually determined agronomic and yield parameters. Data quality of phenotypic traits (repeatability) in the controlled HTP experiment was above 85% throughout the life cycle and at maturity. Drought stress had a strong effect on growth in all wheat genotypes causing biomass reduction from 2% up to 70% at early and late points in the drought period, respectively. At maturity, the drought caused 47–55% decreases in yield-related traits grain weight, straw weight and total biomass and reduced TKW by 10%, while water use efficiency (WUE) increased under drought by 29%. The yield-enhancing effect of the introgressed QTLs under drought conditions that were previously demonstrated under field/screenhouse conditions in Israel, could be mostly confirmed in a greenhouse pot experiment using HTP. Daily precision phenotyping enabled to decipher the mode of action of the QTLs in the different genetic backgrounds throughout the entire wheat life cycle. Daily phenotyping allowed a precise determination of the timing and size of the QTLs effect (s) and further yielded information about which image-derived traits are informative at which developmental stage of wheat during the entire life cycle. Maximum height and estimated biovolume were reached about a week after heading, so experiments that only aim at exploring these traits would not need a longer observation period. To obtain information on different onset and progress of senescence, the CVa curves represented best the ongoing senescence of plants. The QTL on 7A in the BarNir background was found to improve yield under drought by increased biomass growth, a higher photosynthetic performance, a higher WUE and a “stay green effect.”
In non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), the elimination of wheat results in a clear symptom improvement, but gluten has still not been proven as (the sole) trigger. Due to the increase in the prevalence of gluten-related diseases, the breeding of high-performance wheat cultivars is discussed as a trigger. To analyze the immune stimulation and signal pathways, the immune cells of healthy subjects and patients with NCGS were stimulated with gliadins from wheat, and the expression and secretion of interleukin 1ß (IL1ß) and interleukin 6 (IL6) were studied. To determine the impact of wheat breeding, the monocyte cell line THP1 and human immune cells were stimulated with gliadin, glutenin, and albumin/globulin fractions of ancient and modern cereals, and expression of inflammatory molecules was checked. Immune cells of patients with NCGS showed an increased expression of IL1ß and IL6 after stimulation with gliadins compared to immune cells of healthy controls. Gliadins caused a strong activation of P-STAT3 in immune cells of healthy controls, and inhibitors of JAK and NFκB pathways considerably reduced this response. In addition to gliadins, we further showed that glutenins and albumin/globulins from all wheat cultivars from the last century, and especially from einkorn and spelt, also markedly induced the expression of inflammatory genes in THP1 and human immune cells. There was no correlation between enhanced immune stimulation and ancient or modern cultivars. This does not support the hypothesis that modern wheat breeding is responsible for the increase in gluten-related diseases. An altered immune situation is suggested in patients with NCGS.
Long-term field experiments (LTFEs) can provide an extensive overview on the effectiveness of phosphorus (P) management. In order to have a detailed insight into the availability and distribution of the P in soil as affected by organic and inorganic fertilizers (no P, triple-superphosphate (TSP), compost and compost + TSP), soil samples collected at a LTFE established in 1998 in Northern Germany at different sampling dates and soil depths were subjected to P characterization including the double-lactate method (P-dl) as standard soil test, the degree of P sorption (DPS), the sequential P fractionation and isotopic exchange kinetics. While the type of fertilizer had rarely an effect on the soil P pools, higher amounts of P applied resulted in increased values of P-dl, labile P fractions and P that was isotopically exchangeable within 1 min (p < 0.05). The DPS values varied from on average 40.2% (no P) to 47.2% (compost + TSP) with small variations during the experimental time. In contrast, significant shifts from less available to readily available P pools were measured between the sampling in autumn 2017 and spring 2019. The differences in the P budgets between the treatments corresponded to the differences of the total P stocks in 0–90 cm, yet with an estimated upward or downward movement of P between the soil depths as consequences of long-term deficit or surplus of fertilizer P. The use of complementary methods in this study contributed to a better understanding of the potential availability of P in soil in a long term perspective.
The Potyviridae are the largest family of plant-pathogenic viruses. Members of this family are the soil-borne bymoviruses barley yellow mosaic virus (BaYMV) and barley mild mosaic virus (BaMMV) which, upon infection of young winter barley seedlings in autumn, can cause yield losses as high as 50%. Resistance breeding plays a major role in coping with these pathogens. However, some viral strains have overcome the most widely used resistance. Thus, there is a need for novel sources of resistance. In ancient landraces and wild relatives of cultivated barley, alleles of the susceptibility factor PROTEIN DISULFIDE-ISOMERASE-LIKE 5-1 (PDIL5-1) were identified to confer resistance to all known strains of BaYMV and BaMMV. Although the gene is highly conserved throughout all eukaryotes, barley is thus far the only species for which PDIL5-1-based virus resistance has been reported. Whereas introgression by crossing to the European winter barley breeding pool is tedious, time-consuming and additionally associated with unwanted linkage drag, the present study exemplifies an approach to targeted mutagenesis of two barley cultivars employing CRISPR-associated endonuclease technology to induce site-directed mutations similar to those described for PDIL5-1 alleles that render certain landraces resistant. Homozygous primary mutants were produced in winter barley, and transgene-free homozygous M2 mutants were produced in spring barley. A variety of mutants carrying novel PDIL5-1 alleles were mechanically inoculated with BaMMV, by which all frameshift mutations and certain in-frame mutations were demonstrated to confer resistance to this virus. Under greenhouse conditions, virus-resistant mutants showed no adverse effects in terms of growth and yield.
Usually, chromosome sets (karyotypes) and genome sizes are rather stable for distinct species and therefore of diagnostic value for taxonomy. In combination with (cyto)genomics, both features provide essential cues for genome evolution and phylogenetic relationship studies within and between taxa above the species level. We present for the first time a survey on chromosome counts and genome size measurement for one or more accessions from all 36 duckweed species and discuss the evolutionary impact and peculiarities of both parameters in duckweeds.
Doubled haploids (DHs) fix traits from hybrids in one generation. DH induction includes two changes in ploidy levels typically associated with variation in DNA methylation. However, DNA methylation patterns in DH plants and their biological significance are largely unknown. We generated three DH lines in Arabidopsis thaliana by crossing a haploid inducer to the accession Col-0, thus removing tissue culture and hybridization as a variable. DH induction produced thousands of differentially DNA methylated regions (DMRs), most of which were stochastic. Both haploidization and colchicine-induced genome duplication produced DMRs; the former mainly yielded DMRs at non-CG contexts, whereas the latter affected differential gene body methylation. Spontaneous genome doubling of haploid plants also induced DMRs in greater numbers than self-propagation. Our results provide the first evidence that haploid induction and genome doubling result in differential DNA methylation, offering a novel approach to induce epialleles.
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275 members
Zahra Nemati
  • Department Genebank
Inna Lermontova
  • Breeding Research
Andreas Houben
  • Department of Cytogenetics and Genome Analysis
Michael Melzer
  • Department of Physiology and Cell Biology
OT Gatersleben, Corrensstr. 3, 06466, Gatersleben, Germany