Geoffrey B. Fincher

University of Adelaide, Tarndarnya, South Australia, Australia

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Publications (230)982.87 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Within the cereal grain, the endosperm and its nutrient reserves are critical for successful germination and in the context of grain utilization. The identification of molecular determinants of early endosperm development, particularly regulators of cell division and cell wall deposition, would allow precise tailoring of grain for defined end-use properties such as yield, quality and nutritional value. Custom microarray data have been generated using RNA isolated from developing barley grain endosperm three to eight days after pollination (DAP). Comparisons of transcript abundance over time revealed 47 'gene expression modules' that can be clustered into 10 broad groups. Superimposing these modules upon cytological data allowed patterns of transcript abundance to be linked with key stages of early grain development. Here, attention was focused on how the microarray datasets could be mined to explore and define the processes of cell wall biosynthesis, remodelling and degradation. Using a combination of spatial molecular network and gene ontology enrichment analyses, it is shown that genes involved in cell wall metabolism are found in multiple modules, but cluster into two main groups that exhibit peak expression at 3-4 DAP and 5-8 DAP. The presence of transcription factor genes in these modules allowed candidate genes for the control of wall metabolism during early barley grain development to be identified. The data are publicly available through a dedicated web interface (https://ics.hutton.ac.uk/barseed/), where they can be used to interrogate co- and differential-expression for any other genes, groups of genes or transcription factors expressed during early endosperm development.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Plant physiology
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    ABSTRACT: Four members of the UDP-Ara mutase (UAM) gene family from barley have been isolated and characterized, and their map positions on chromosomes 2H, 3H and 4H have been defined. When the genes are expressed in Escherichia coli the corresponding HvUAM1, HvUAM2 and HvUAM3 proteins exhibit UAM activity and the kinetic properties of the enzymes have been determined, including Km, Kcat and catalytic efficiencies. However, the expressed HvUAM4 protein shows no mutase activity against UDP-Ara or against a broad range of other nucleotide-sugars and related molecules. The enzymic data indicate therefore that the HvUAM4 protein may not be a mutase. However, the HvUAM4 gene is transcribed at high levels in all the barley tissues examined and its transcript abundance is correlated with transcript levels for other genes involved in cell wall biosynthesis. The UDP-L-Arap → UDP-L-Araf reaction, which is essential for the generation of the UDP-Araf substrate for arabinoxylan, arabinogalactan-protein and pectic polysaccharide biosynthesis, is thermodynamically unfavorable and has an equilibrium constant of 0.02. Nevertheless, the incorporation of Araf residues into nascent polysaccharides clearly occurs at biologically appropriate rates. The characterization of the HvUAM genes opens the way for the manipulation of both the amounts and fine structures of heteroxylans in cereals, grasses and other crop plants, with a view to enhancing their value in human health and nutrition, and in renewable biofuel production.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Biochemistry
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Setaria viridis has emerged as a model species for the larger C4 grasses. Here the cellulose synthase (CesA) superfamily has been defined, with an emphasis on the amounts and distribution of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan, a cell wall polysaccharide that is characteristic of the grasses and is of considerable value for human health. Methods: Orthologous relationship of the CesA and Poales-specific cellulose synthase-like (Csl) genes among Setaria italica (Si), Sorghum bicolor (Sb), Oryza sativa (Os), Brachypodium distachyon (Bradi) and Hordeum vulgare (Hv) were compared using bioinformatics analysis. Transcription profiling of Csl gene families, which are involved in (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan synthesis, was performed using real-time quantitative PCR (Q-PCR). The amount of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan was measured using a modified Megazyme assay. The fine structures of the (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan, as denoted by the ratio of cellotriosyl to cellotetraosyl residues (DP3:DP4 ratio) was assessed by chromatography (HPLC and HPAEC-PAD). The distribution and deposition of the MLG was examined using the specific antibody BG-1 and captured using fluorescence and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Results: The cellulose synthase gene superfamily contains 13 CesA and 35 Csl genes in Setaria. Transcript profiling of CslF, CslH and CslJ gene families across a vegetative tissue series indicated that SvCslF6 transcripts were the most abundant relative to all other Csl transcripts. The amounts of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan in Setaria vegetative tissues ranged from 0.2% to 2.9% w/w with much smaller amounts in developing grain (0.003% to 0.013% w/w). In general, the amount of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan was greater in younger than in older tissues. The DP3:DP4 ratios varied between tissue types and across developmental stages, and ranged from 2.4 to 3.0:1. The DP3:DP4 ratios in developing grain ranged from 2.5 to 2.8:1. Micrographs revealing the distribution of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan in walls of different cell types and the data were consistent with the quantitative (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan assays. Conclusion: The characteristics of the cellulose synthase gene superfamily and the accumulation and distribution of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucans in Setaria are similar to those in other C4 grasses, including sorghum. This suggests that Setaria is a suitable model plant for cell wall polysaccharide biology in C4 grasses.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2015 · BMC Plant Biology
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    ABSTRACT: The ability to increase cellulose content and improve the stem strength of cereals could have beneficial applications in stem lodging and producing crops with higher cellulose content for biofuel feedstocks. Here, such potential is explored in the commercially important crop barley through the manipulation of cellulose synthase genes (CesA). Barley plants transformed with primary cell wall (PCW) and secondary cell wall (SCW) barley cellulose synthase (HvCesA) cDNAs driven by the CaMV 35S promoter, were analysed for growth and morphology, transcript levels, cellulose content, stem strength, tissue morphology and crystalline cellulose distribution. Transcript levels of the PCW HvCesA transgenes were much lower than expected and silencing of both the endogenous CesA genes and introduced transgenes was often observed. These plants showed no aberrant phenotypes. Although attempts to over-express the SCW HvCesA genes also resulted in silencing of the transgenes and endogenous SCW HvCesA genes, aberrant phenotypes were sometimes observed. These included brittle nodes and, with the 35S:HvCesA4 construct, a more severe dwarfing phenotype, where xylem cells were irregular in shape and partially collapsed. Reductions in cellulose content were also observed in the dwarf plants and transmission electron microscopy showed a significant decrease in cell wall thickness. However, there were no increases in overall crystalline cellulose content or stem strength in the CesA over-expression transgenic plants, despite the use of a powerful constitutive promoter. The results indicate that the cellulose biosynthetic pathway is tightly regulated, that individual CesA proteins may play different roles in the synthase complex, and that the sensitivity to CesA gene manipulation observed here suggests that in planta engineering of cellulose levels is likely to require more sophisticated strategies.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · BMC Plant Biology
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    ABSTRACT: Plant biomass from different species is heterogeneous, and this diversity in composition can be mined to identify materials of value to fuel and chemical industries. Agave produces high yields of energy-rich biomass, and the sugar-rich stem tissue has traditionally been used to make alcoholic beverages. Here, the compositions of Agave americana and Agave tequilana leaves are determined, particularly in the context of bioethanol production. Agave leaf cell wall polysaccharide content was characterized by linkage analysis, non-cellulosic polysaccharides such as pectins were observed by immuno-microscopy, and leaf juice composition was determined by liquid chromatography. Agave leaves are fruit-like-rich in moisture, soluble sugars and pectin. The dry leaf fiber was composed of crystalline cellulose (47-50% w/w) and non-cellulosic polysaccharides (16-22% w/w), and whole leaves were low in lignin (9-13% w/w). Of the dry mass of whole Agave leaves, 85-95% consisted of soluble sugars, cellulose, non-cellulosic polysaccharides, lignin, acetate, protein and minerals. Juice pressed from the Agave leaves accounted for 69% of the fresh weight and was rich in glucose and fructose. Hydrolysis of the fructan oligosaccharides doubled the amount of fermentable fructose in A. tequilana leaf juice samples and the concentration of fermentable hexose sugars was 41-48 g/L. In agricultural production systems such as the tequila making, Agave leaves are discarded as waste. Theoretically, up to 4000 L/ha/yr of bioethanol could be produced from juice extracted from waste Agave leaves. Using standard Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains to ferment Agave juice, we observed ethanol yields that were 66% of the theoretical yields. These data indicate that Agave could rival currently used bioethanol feedstocks, particularly if the fermentation organisms and conditions were adapted to suit Agave leaf composition.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: Water uptake by mature barley grains initiates germination and is the first stage in the malting process. Here we have investigated the effects of starchy endosperm cell wall thickness on water uptake, together with the effects of varying amounts of the wall polysaccharide, (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan. In the latter case, we examined mutant barley lines from a mutant library and transgenic barley lines in which the (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan synthase gene, HvCslF6, was down-regulated by RNA interference. Neither cell wall thickness nor the levels of grain (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan were significantly correlated with water uptake but are likely to influence modification during malting. However, when a barley mapping population was phenotyped for rate of water uptake into grain, quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis identified specific regions of chromosomes 4H, 5H and 7H that accounted for approximately 17%, 18% and 11%, respectively, of the phenotypic variation. These data indicate that variation in water uptake rates by elite malting cultivars of barley is genetically controlled and a number of candidate genes that might control the trait were identified under the QTL. The genomics data raise the possibility that the genetic variation in water uptake rates might be exploited by breeders for the benefit of the malting and brewing industries.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Plant Science
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    ABSTRACT: About 12,000 years ago in the Near East, humans began the transition from hunter-gathering to agriculture-based societies. Barley was a founder crop in this process, and the most important steps in its domestication were mutations in two adjacent, dominant, and complementary genes, through which grains were retained on the inflorescence at maturity, enabling effective harvesting. Independent recessive mutations in each of these genes caused cell wall thickening in a highly specific grain "disarticulation zone," converting the brittle floral axis (the rachis) of the wild-type into a tough, non-brittle form that promoted grain retention. By tracing the evolutionary history of allelic variation in both genes, we conclude that spatially and temporally independent selections of germplasm with a non-brittle rachis were made during the domestication of barley by farmers in the southern and northern regions of the Levant, actions that made a major contribution to the emergence of early agrarian societies. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Cell
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    ABSTRACT: About 12,000 years ago in the Near East, humans began the transition from hunter-gathering to agriculture-based societies. Barley was a founder crop in this process, and the most important steps in its domestication were mutations in two adjacent, dominant, and complementary genes, through which grains were retained on the inflorescence at maturity, enabling effective harvesting. Independent recessive mutations in each of these genes caused cell wall thickening in a highly specific grain “disarticulation zone,” converting the brittle floral axis (the rachis) of the wild-type into a tough, non-brittle form that promoted grain retention. By tracing the evolutionary history of allelic variation in both genes, we conclude that spatially and temporally independent selections of germplasm with a non-brittle rachis were made during the domestication of barley by farmers in the southern and northern regions of the Levant, actions that made a major contribution to the emergence of early agrarian societies.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Cell
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Arabinoxylans (AXs) are major components of plant cell walls in bread wheat and are important in bread-making and starch extraction. Furthermore, arabinoxylans are components of soluble dietary fibre that has potential health-promoting effects in human nutrition. Despite their high value for human health, few studies have been carried out on the genetics of AX content in durum wheat. Results: The genetic variability of AX content was investigated in a set of 104 tetraploid wheat genotypes and regions attributable to AX content were identified through a genome wide association study (GWAS). The amount of arabinoxylan, expressed as percentage (w/w) of the dry weight of the kernel, ranged from 1.8% to 5.5% with a mean value of 4.0%. The GWAS revealed a total of 37 significant marker-trait associations (MTA), identifying 19 quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with AX content. The highest number of MTAs was identified on chromosome 5A (seven), where three QTL regions were associated with AX content, while the lowest number of MTAs was detected on chromosomes 2B and 4B, where only one MTA identified a single locus. Conservation of synteny between SNP marker sequences and the annotated genes and proteins in Brachypodium distachyon, Oryza sativa and Sorghum bicolor allowed the identification of nine QTL coincident with candidate genes. These included a glycosyl hydrolase GH35, which encodes Gal7 and a glucosyltransferase GT31 on chromosome 1A; a cluster of GT1 genes on chromosome 2B that includes TaUGT1 and cisZog1; a glycosyl hydrolase that encodes a CelC gene on chromosome 3A; Ugt12887 and TaUGT1genes on chromosome 5A; a (1,3)-β-D-glucan synthase (Gsl12 gene) and a glucosyl hydrolase (Cel8 gene) on chromosome 7A. Conclusions: This study identifies significant MTAs for the AX content in the grain of tetraploid wheat genotypes. We propose that these may be used for molecular breeding of durum wheat varieties with higher soluble fibre content.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: Cellulose is a fundamentally important component of cell walls of higher plants. It provides a scaffold that allows the development and growth of the plant to occur in an ordered fashion. Cellulose also provides mechanical strength, which is crucial for both normal development and to enable the plant to withstand both abiotic and biotic stresses. We quantified the cellulose concentration in the culm of 288 two – rowed and 288 six – rowed spring type barley accessions that were part of the USDA funded barley Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) program in the USA. When the population structure of these accessions was analysed we identified six distinct populations, four of which we considered to be comprised of a sufficient number of accessions to be suitable for genome-wide association studies (GWAS). These lines had been genotyped with 3072 SNPs so we combined the trait and genetic data to carry out GWAS. The analysis allowed us to identify regions of the genome containing significant associations between molecular markers and cellulose concentration data, including one region cross-validated in multiple populations. To identify candidate genes we assembled the gene content of these regions and used these to query a comprehensive RNA-seq based gene expression atlas. This provided us with gene annotations and associated expression data across multiple tissues, which allowed us to formulate a supported list of candidate genes that regulate cellulose biosynthesis. Several regions identified by our analysis contain genes that are co-expressed with CELLULOSE SYNTHASE A (HvCesA) across a range of tissues and developmental stages. These genes are involved in both primary and secondary cell wall development. In addition, genes that have been previously linked with cellulose synthesis by biochemical methods, such as HvCOBRA, a gene of unknown function, were also associated with cellulose levels in the association panel. Our analyses provide new insights into the genes that contribute to cellulose content in cereal culms and to a greater understanding of the interactions between them.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: Global grape production could generate up to 13Mt/yr of wasted biomass. The compositions of Cabernet Sauvignon (red marc) and Sauvignon Blanc (white marc) were analyzed with a view to using marc as raw material for biofuel production. On a dry weight basis, 31-54% w/w of the grape marc consisted of carbohydrate, of which 47-80% was soluble in aqueous media. Ethanol insoluble residues consisted mainly of polyphenols, pectic polysaccharides, heteroxylans and cellulose. Acid and thermal pre-treatments were investigated for their effects on subsequent cellulose saccharification. A 0.5M sulfuric acid pre-treatment yielded a 10% increase in the amount of liberated glucose after enzymatic saccharification. The theoretical amount of bioethanol that could be produced by fermentation of grape marc was up to 400L/t. However, bioethanol from only soluble carbohydrates could yield 270L/t, leaving a polyphenol enriched fraction that may be used in animal feed or as fertilizer. Crown Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · Bioresource Technology
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    ABSTRACT: Phylogenetic analyses of cellulose synthase (CesA) and cellulose synthase-like (Csl) families from the cellulose synthase gene superfamily were used to reconstruct their evolutionary origins and selection histories. Counterintuitively, genes encoding primary cell wall CesAs have undergone extensive expansion and diversification following an ancestral duplication from a secondary cell wall-associated CesA. Selection pressure across entire CesA and Csl clades appears to be low, but this conceals considerable variation within individual clades. Genes in the CslF clade are of particular interest because some mediate the synthesis of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan, a polysaccharide characteristic of the evolutionarily successful grasses that is not widely distributed elsewhere in the plant kingdom. The phylogeny suggests that duplication of either CslF6 and/or CslF7 produced the ancestor of a highly conserved cluster of CslF genes that remain located in syntenic regions of all grass genomes examined. A CslF6-specific insert encoding approximately 55 amino acid residues has subsequently been incorporated into the gene, or possibly lost from other CslFs, and the CslF7 clade has undergone a significant long term shift in selection pressure. Homology modeling and molecular dynamics of the CslF6 protein were used to define the three-dimensional dispositions of individual amino acids that are subject to strong ongoing selection, together with the position of the conserved 55 amino acid insert that is known to influence the amounts and fine structures of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucans synthesized. These wall polysaccharides are attracting renewed interest because of their central roles as sources of dietary fibre in human health and for generation of renewable liquid biofuels. Copyright © 2015, Plant Physiology.
    No preview · Article · May 2015 · Plant physiology
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to investigate how a moderate increase in dietary meat content combined (or not) with soluble fibre would influence protein digestion as well as digesta characteristics and flow. Four groups of pigs were fed Western-style diets (high-protein/high-fat) containing two types of barbecued red meat, one with and one without a wheat arabinoxylan-rich fraction. After 4 wk, digesta samples were collected from small and large intestinal sites and analyzed for protein, amino acids, dry matter, and acid-insoluble ash. Tissue samples were also collected from each site. Arabinoxylan consumption led to somewhat lower apparent protein digestibility within the small and large intestines as well as shorter mean retention times. This suggests that the lowered protein digestibility is due, at least partly, to shorter access time to digestive proteases and absorptive surfaces. Additionally, digesta mass was higher in pigs fed arabinoxylan while dry matter (%) was lower, indicating an increased digesta water-holding capacity due to the presence of a soluble dietary fiber. Data showed that solubilized wheat arabinoxylan provides potential health benefits through decreased protein digestibility, increased digesta mass, and reduced mean retention time, even for diets with a moderately higher protein content. These factors are associated with efficiency of digestion and satiety, both of which have implications for prevention of obesity and other health disorders. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Nutrition
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    ABSTRACT: Heterodera avenae (cereal cyst nematode, CCN) infects the roots of barley (Hordeum vulgare) forming syncytial feeding sites. In resistant host plants, relatively few females develop to maturity. Little is known about the physiological and biochemical changes induced during CCN infection. Responses to CCN infection were investigated in resistant (Rha2) and susceptible barley cultivars through histological, compositional and transcriptional analysis. Two phases were identified that influence CCN viability, including feeding site establishment and subsequent cyst maturation. Syncytial development progressed faster in the resistant cultivar Chebec than in the susceptible cultivar Skiff, and was accompanied by changes in cell wall polysaccharide abundance, particularly (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan. Transcriptional profiling identified several glycosyl transferase genes, including CELLULOSE SYNTHASE-LIKE F10 (HvCslF10), which may contribute to differences in polysaccharide abundance between resistant and susceptible cultivars. In barley, Rha2-mediated CCN resistance drives rapid deterioration of CCN feeding sites, specific changes in cell wall-related transcript abundance and changes in cell wall composition. During H. avenae infection, (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan may influence CCN feeding site development by limiting solute flow, similar to (1,3)-β-glucan during dicot cyst nematode infections. Dynamic transcriptional changes in uncharacterized HvCslF genes, possibly involved in (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan synthesis, suggest a role for these genes in the CCN infection process. © 2015 The University of Adelaide. New Phytologist © 2015 New Phytologist Trust.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · New Phytologist
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    ABSTRACT: In cereals, the presence of soluble polysaccharides including (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan has downstream implications for human health, animal feed and biofuel applications. Sorghum bicolor (L.)Moench is a versatile crop, but there are limited reports regarding the content of such soluble polysaccharides. Here, the amount of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan present in sorghum tissues was measured using a Megazyme assay. Very low amounts were present in the grain, ranging from 0.16%-0.27% (w/w), while there was a greater quantity in vegetative tissues at 0.12-1.71% (w/w). The fine structure of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan, as denoted by the ratio of cellotriosyl and cellotetraosyl residues, was assessed by HPLC and ranged from 2.6-3:1 in the grain, whilst ratios in vegetative tissues were lower at 2.1-2.6:1. The distribution of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan was examined using a specific antibody and observed with fluorescence and transmission electron microscopy. Micrographs showed a variable distribution of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan influenced by temporal and spatial factors. The sorghum orthologues of genes implicated in the synthesis of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan in other cereals, such as the Cellulose synthase-like (Csl) F and H gene families were defined. Transcript profiling of these genes across sorghum tissues was carried out using real-time quantitative PCR, indicating that, as in other cereals, CslF6 transcripts dominated. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2015 · Journal of Integrative Plant Biology
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    ABSTRACT: The cellulose synthase-like gene HvCslF6, which is essential for (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan biosynthesis in barley, collocates with quantitative trait loci (QTL) for grain (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan concentration in several populations, including CDC Bold × TR251. Here, an alanine-to-threonine substitution (caused by the only non-synonymous difference between the CDC Bold and TR251 HvCslF6 alleles) was mapped to a position within HvCSLF6 that seems unlikely to affect enzyme stability or function. Consistent with this, transient expression of full-length HvCslF6 cDNAs from CDC Bold and TR251 in Nicotianabenthamiana led to accumulation of similar amounts of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan accumulation. Monitoring of HvCslF6 transcripts throughout grain development revealed a significant difference late in grain development (more than 30 days after pollination), with TR251 [the parent with higher grain (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan] exhibiting higher transcript levels than CDC Bold. A similar difference was observed between Beka and Logan, the parents of another population in which a QTL had been mapped in the HvCslF6 region. Sequencing of a putative promoter region of HvCslF6 revealed numerous polymorphisms between CDC Bold and TR251, but none between Beka and Logan. While the results of this work indicate that naturally occurring quantitative differences in (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan accumulation may be due to cis-regulated differences in HvCslF6 expression, these could not be attributed to any specific DNA sequence polymorphism. Nevertheless, information on HvCslF6 sequence polymorphism was used to develop molecular markers that could be used in barley breeding to select for the desired [low or high (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan] allele of the QTL. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11032-015-0208-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Molecular Breeding
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    ABSTRACT: (1,3;1,4)-β-Glucan is an important component of the cell walls of barley grain as it affects processability during the production of alcoholic beverages and has significant human health benefits when consumed above recommended threshold levels. This leads to diametrically opposed quality requirements for different applications as low levels of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan are required for brewing and distilling and high levels for positive impacts on human health. We quantified grain (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan content in a collection of 399 2-row Spring-type, and 204 2-row Winter-type elite barley cultivars originating mainly from north western Europe. We combined these data with genotypic information derived using a 9 K Illumina iSelect SNP platform and subsequently carried out a Genome Wide Association Scan (GWAS). Statistical analysis accounting for residual genetic structure within the germplasm collection allowed us to identify significant associations between molecular markers and the phenotypic data. By anchoring the regions that contain these associations to the barley genome assembly we catalogued genes underlying the associations. Based on gene annotations and transcript abundance data we identified candidate genes. We show that a region of the genome on chromosome 2 containing a cluster of CELLULOSE SYNTHASE-LIKE (Csl) genes, including CslF3, CslF4, CslF8, CslF10, CslF12 and CslH, as well as a region on chromosome 1H containing CslF9, are associated with the phenotype in this germplasm. We also observed that several regions identified by GWAS contain glycoside hydrolases that are possibly involved in (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan breakdown, together with other genes that might participate in (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan synthesis, re-modelling or regulation. This analysis provides new opportunities for understanding the genes related to the regulation of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan content in cereal grains.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · BMC Genomics
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    Rachel A Burton · Geoffrey B Fincher
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    ABSTRACT: The composition of cell walls in cereal grains and other grass species differs markedly from walls in seeds of other plants. In the maternal tissues that surround the embryo and endosperm of the grain, walls contain higher levels of cellulose and in many cases are heavily lignified. In walls of the endosperm, heteroxylans and (1,3;1,4)-β-glucans are the major non-cellulosic components, with lower levels of glucomannans and pectic polysaccharides. The amount of cellulose is relatively low, and the endosperm walls are generally not lignified. The low cellulose and lignin contents are possible because the walls of the endosperm perform no load-bearing function in the mature grain and indeed the low levels of these relatively intractable wall components are necessary because they allow rapid degradation of the walls following germination of the grain. The ‘core’ non-cellulosic wall polysaccharides in grain of the cereals and other grasses are the heteroxylans and, more specifically, arabinoxylans. The (1,3;1,4)-β-glucans appear in the endosperm of some grass species but are essentially absent from others; they may constitute from zero to more than 45% of the cell walls of the endosperm, depending on the species. It is clear that in some cases these (1,3;1,4)-β-glucans function as a major store of metabolizable glucose in the grain. Cereal grains and their constituent cell wall polysaccharides are centrally important as a source of dietary fibre in human societies and breeders have started to select for high levels of non-cellulosic wall polysaccharides in grain. To meet end-user requirements, it is important that we understand cell wall biology in the grain both during development and following germination.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Frontiers in Plant Science
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    ABSTRACT: In plants, cell walls are one of the first lines of defence for protecting cells from successful invasion by fungal pathogens and are a major factor in basal host resistance. For the plant cell to block penetration attempts, it must adapt its cell wall to withstand the physical and chemical forces applied by the fungus.Papillae that have been effective in preventing penetration by pathogens are traditionally believed to contain callose as the main polysaccharide component. Here, we have re-examined the composition of papillae of barley (Hordeum vulgare) attacked by the powdery mildew fungus Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordei (Bgh) using a range of antibodies and carbohydrate-binding modules that are targeted to cell wall polysaccharides.The data show that barley papillae induced during infection with Bgh contain, in addition to callose, significant concentrations of cellulose and arabinoxylan. Higher concentrations of callose, arabinoxylan and cellulose are found in effective papillae, compared with ineffective papillae. The papillae have a layered structure, with the inner core consisting of callose and arabinoxylan and the outer layer containing arabinoxylan and cellulose.The association of arabinoxylan and cellulose with penetration resistance suggests new targets for the improvement of papilla composition and enhanced disease resistance.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · New Phytologist
  • Rachel A Burton · Geoffrey B Fincher
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    ABSTRACT: Plant cell walls consist largely of cellulose, non-cellulosic polysaccharides and lignin. Concerted attempts are underway to convert wall polysaccharides from crop plant residues into renewable transport fuels and other valuable products, and to exploit the dietary benefits of cereal grain wall polysaccharides in human health. Attempts to improve plant performance for these applications have involved the manipulation of the levels and structures of wall components. Some successes in altering non-cellulosic polysaccharides has been achieved, but it would appear that drastic changes in cellulose are more difficult to engineer. Nevertheless, future prospects for both genetically modified (GM) and non-GM technologies to modify plant cell wall composition and structure remain bright, and will undoubtedly find applications beyond the current focus on human health and biofuel production.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2014 · Current Opinion in Biotechnology

Publication Stats

9k Citations
982.87 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1994-2015
    • University of Adelaide
      • • ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls
      • • School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
      • • Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics
      Tarndarnya, South Australia, Australia
  • 2010
    • Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG)
      Tarndarnya, South Australia, Australia
  • 2009
    • French National Centre for Scientific Research
      • Centre de Recherches sur les Macromolécules Végétales
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France
  • 1974-2003
    • University of Melbourne
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 2002
    • John Innes Centre
      Norwich, England, United Kingdom
  • 1986-1993
    • University of Vic
      Vic, Catalonia, Spain
  • 1981-1993
    • La Trobe University
      • Department of Biochemistry
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 1984
    • Washington University in St. Louis
      • Department of Biology
      Saint Louis, MO, United States
  • 1976-1978
    • McGill University
      • Department of Biology
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada