Alpine cushion plants have fascinated botanists since the nineteenth century. As a result, positive associations between macrofauna and alpine cushion plants have been extensively studied. However, close attention has not been paid to the positive associations between alpine cushion plants and microfauna. In this issue, Shuai Chang et al. assess seasonal variations in the bacterial communities and soil properties of the rhizospheres of two alpine cushion plants. This study adds to our understanding of positive associations between alpine cushion plants and other species.
Positive associations between alpine cushion plants and other species have been extensively studied. However, almost all studies have focused on the associations between macrofauna. Studies that have investigated positive associations between alpine cushion plants and rhizospheric microbes have been limited to the vegetation growing season. Here, we asked whether the positive effects that alpine cushion plants confer on rhizospheric microbe communities vary with seasons. We assessed seasonal variations in the bacterial diversity and composition in rhizosphere of two alpine cushion plants and surrounding bare ground by employing a high throughput sequencing method targeting the V3 region of bacterial 16S rRNA genes. Soil properties of the rhizosphere and the bare ground were also examined. We found that cushion rhizospheres harbored significantly more C, N, S, ammonia nitrogen, and soil moisture than the bare ground. Soil properties in cushion rhizospheres were not notably different, except for soil pH. Bacterial diversities within the same microhabitats did not vary significantly with seasons. We concluded that alpine cushion plants had positive effects on the rhizospheric bacterial communities, even though the strength of the effect varied in different cushion species. Cushion species and the soil sulfur content were probably the major factors driving the spatial distribution and structure of soil bacterial communities in the alpine communities dominated by cushion plants.
Plants are important components of any rangeland. However, the importance of desert rangeland plant diversity has often been underestimated. It has been argued that desert rangelands of Tunisia in good ecological condition provide more services than those in poor ecological condition. This is because rangelands in good condition support a more diverse mixture of vegetation with many benefits, such as forage for livestock and medicinal plants.
Nearly one-quarter of Tunisia, covering about 5.5 million hectares, are rangelands, of which 87% are located in the arid and desert areas (45% and 42%, respectively). Here, we provide a brief review of the floristic richness of desert rangelands of Tunisia. Approximately 135 species are specific to desert rangelands. The predominant families are Asteraceae, Poaceae, Brassicaceae, Chenopodiaceae, and Fabaceae. These represent approximately 50% of Tunisian desert flora.
Haustorium formation is the characteristic feature of all parasitic plants and a vital process for successful parasitism. Previous investigations on haustorium initiation and development are constricted to induced processes by host-derived signals or synthetic analogs. Spontaneous haustorium formation in the absence of host signals, a process representing an early stage in the evolution of parasitic plants, remains largely unexplored. Lack of fast and frequent formation of spontaneous haustoria greatly hinders full understanding of haustorium formation in root hemiparasites. In this study, seedlings of Pedicularis kansuensis Maxim., a facultative root hemiparasitic species in Orobanchaceae observed to produce many spontaneous haustoria, were grown in autoclaved water agar in the absence of any known haustoriuminducing stimulants. We aimed to test the temporal and developmental pattern of spontaneous haustorium formation. Also, effects of sucrose supply and root contact on spontaneous haustorium formation were tested. Spontaneous haustoria were observed starting from six days after germination, much earlier than previously reported root hemiparasites. A majority of the spontaneous haustoria formed on lateral roots. Percentage of seedlings with spontaneous haustoria was 28.8% when grown on water agar plates, with a mean of four haustoria per seedling two weeks after germination. Haustorium formation by seedlings grown in water agar amended with 2% sucrose was more than twice of those without sucrose amendment. Singly grown seedlings were able to develop spontaneous haustoria at similar levels as those grown with another conspecific seedling. In view of the fast and abundant formation of spontaneous haustoria, P. kansuensis may be developed as an excellent experimental system in future investigations for unraveling endogenous regulation of haustorium initiation and development in root hemiparasitic plants.
Burmanniaceae is one major group within the monocot order Dioscoreales that has not had its plastome sequenced. Members of Burmanniaceae are mostly achlorophyllous, although the genus Burmannia also includes autotrophs. Here, we report sequencing and analysis of the first Burmanniaceae plastid genome from Burmannia disticha L.. This plastome is 157,480 bp and was assembled as a circular sequence with the typical quadripartite structure of plant plastid genomes. This plastome has a regular number of potentially functional genes with a total of 111, including 78 protein coding genes, 4 ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes, and 29 tRNA genes. The ratio of the total length of genic:intergenic DNA is 1.58:1, and the mean length of intergenic regions is 398 bp, the longest being 1918 bp. The overall GC content of the B. disticha plastome is 34.90%, and the IR regions in B. disticha are more GC rich (39.50%) than the LSC (32.30%) and SSC (28.80%) regions. Phylogenetic analysis of protein-coding sequences from plastomes of related species in the order Dioscoreales support a clade comprising Burmanniaceae and Dioscoreaceae. This phylogenetic placement is congruent with previous findings based on nuclear and mitochondrial evidence.
Plant height is an important trait related to yield potential and plant architecture. A suitable plant height plays a crucial role in improvement of rice yield and lodging resistance. In this study, we found that the traditional upland landrace ‘Kaowenghan’ (KWH) showed a special semi-dwarf phenotype. To identify the semi-dwarf gene from KWH, we raised BC2F4 semi-dwarf introgression lines (IL) by hybridization of the japonica rice cultivar ‘Dianjingyou1’ (DJY1) and KWH in a DJY1 background. The plant height of the homozygous semi-dwarf IL (IL-87) was significantly reduced compared with that of DJY1. The phenotype of the F1 progeny of the semi-dwarf IL-87 and DJY1 showed that the semi-dwarf phenotype was semidominant. QTL mapping indicated that the semi-dwarf phenotype was controlled by a major QTL qDH1 and was localized between the markers RM6696 and RM12047 on chromosome 1. We also developed near-isogenic lines (NIL) from the BC3F3 population, and found that the yield of homozygous NIL (NIL-2) was not significantly different compared to DJY1. Breeding value evaluation through investigation of the plant height of the progeny of NIL (NIL-2) and cultivars from different genetic background indicate that the novel semi-dwarf gene shows potential as a genetic resource for rice breeding.
A normalized full-length cDNA library was constructed from the coralloid roots of Cycas debaoensis by the DSN (duplex-specific nuclease) normalization method combined with the SMART (Switching Mechanism At 5' end of the RNA Transcript) technique. The titer of the original cDNA library was about 1.5×106 cfu·mL-1 and the average insertion size was about 1 kb with a high recombination rate (97%). The 5011 high-quality expressed sequence tags (ESTs) were obtained from 5393 randomly picked cDNA clones. Clustering and assembly of ESTs resulted in 2984 unique sequences, consisting of 618 contigs and 2366 singlets. EST sequence annotation revealed that 2333 and 1901 unigenes were functionally annotated in the NCBI non-redundant database and Swiss-Prot protein database, respectively. Functional analysis demonstrated that 1495 (50.1%) unigenes were associated with 4082 Gene Ontology (GO) terms. A total of 847 unigenes were grouped into 22 Cluster of Orthologous Groups (COG) functional categories. Based on the EST dataset, 22 ESTs that encoded putative receptor-like protein kinase (RLK) genes were screened. Furthermore, a total of 94 simple sequence repeats (SSRs) were discovered, of which 20 loci were successfully amplified in C. debaoensis. This study is the first EST analysis for the coralloid roots of C. debaoensis and provides a valuable genomic resource for novel gene discovery, gene expression and comparative genomics, conservation and management studies as well as applications in C. debaoensis and related cycad species.