Cavitation fatigue. Embolism and refilling cycles can weaken the cavitation resistance of xylem. (1/167)

Although cavitation and refilling cycles could be common in plants, it is unknown whether these cycles weaken the cavitation resistance of xylem. Stem or petiole segments were tested for cavitation resistance before and after a controlled cavitation-refilling cycle. Cavitation was induced by centrifugation, air drying of shoots, or soil drought. Except for droughted plants, material was not significantly water stressed prior to collection. Cavitation resistance was determined from "vulnerability curves" showing the percentage loss of conductivity versus xylem pressure. Two responses were observed. "Resilient" xylem (Acer negundo and Alnus incana stems) showed no change in cavitation resistance after a cavitation-refilling cycle. In contrast, "weakened" xylem (Populus angustifolia, P. tremuloides, Helianthus annuus stems, and Aesculus hippocastanum petioles) showed considerable reduction in cavitation resistance. Weakening was observed whether cavitation was induced by centrifugation, air dehydration, or soil drought. Observations from H. annuus showed that weakening was proportional to the embolism induced by stress. Air injection experiments indicated that the weakened response was a result of an increase in the leakiness of the vascular system to air seeding. The increased air permeability in weakened xylem could result from rupture or loosening of the cellulosic mesh of interconduit pit membranes during the water stress and cavitation treatment.  (+info)

Phenylcoumaran benzylic ether and isoflavonoid reductases are a new class of cross-reactive allergens in birch pollen, fruits and vegetables. (2/167)

We investigated the biochemical function of the birch pollen allergen Bet v 6 and its role in the IgE-cross-reactivity between birch pollen and plant foods, and characterized Pyr c 5, a Bet v 6-related food allergen, from pear; the proteins were expressed as His-Tag fusion proteins in Eschershia coli and purified by Ni-chelate affinity chromatography under native conditions. Nonfusion proteins were obtained by factor Xa protease treatment. The highest degree of amino-acid sequence identity of Pyr c 5 and Bet v 6 was found with a plant protein related to a defense mechanism, which we have named phenylcoumaran benzylic ether reductase (PCBER) based on its ability to catalyze the NADPH-dependent reduction of 8-5' linked lignans such as dehydrodiconiferyl alcohol to give isodihydrodehydrodiconiferyl alcohol. Enzymatic assays with recombinant Pyr c 5 and Bet v 6 showed PCBER catalytic activity for both recombinant allergens. Both Pyr c 5 and Bet v 6 allergens had similar IgE binding characteristics in immunoblotting and enzyme allergosorbent tests (EAST), and bound IgE from 10 sera of birch-pollen-allergic patients including six pear-allergic subjects. EAST inhibition experiments with Pyr c 5 as the solid phase antigen suggested that homologous allergens may be present in many vegetable foods such as apple, peach, orange, lychee fruit, strawberry, persimmon, zucchini (courgette), and carrot. In extracts of pear, apple, orange, and persimmon, the presence of proteins of approximately 30-35 kDa containing Bet v 6 cross-reactive epitopes was demonstrated with two Bet v 6-specific monoclonal antibodies. Recombinant Pyr c 5 triggered a strong, dose-dependent mediator release from basophils of a pear-allergic subject, suggesting that Pyr c 5 has the potential to elicit type I allergic reactions.  (+info)

Comparative analysis of pollen counts of Corylus, Alnus and Betula in Szczecin, Warsaw and Lublin (2000-2001). (3/167)

The aim of the study was to compare the airborne concentrations of allergenic pollen produced by three early flowering tree taxa (Corylus, Alnus, Betula) in the cities of Warsaw (central Poland), Lublin (eastern Poland) and Szczecin (western Poland) during the years 2000-2001. Measurements were performed by the volumetric method. Pollen seasons were defined as the periods in which 95% of the total catch occurred. The highest concentration and annual pollen count of Corylus was measured in Lublin in both seasons, while the highest annual pollen counts of Alnus and Betula were noted in Warsaw, where the annual pollen count of Betula in 2001 was four times higher than in 2000 and equalled 5,376 grains in m3 per 24 h. Significant differences in the pollen count of the examined taxa were observed between two seasons: the pollen count of Corylus was higher in 2000 than in 2001, while for Alnus and Betula the opposite was the case. The longest pollen seasons were observed at low annual pollen counts for the pollen of Corylus. Results of the study reveal significant differences between the seasons and the cities. The differences concern the dates of the appearance of pollen grains in the air, the duration of the presence of sporomorphs and the maximum concentrations in particular seasons. The pollen counts of alder, birch and hazel trees are determined by the weather, diversity of local flora and specific rhythm of pollination of particular taxa.  (+info)

Mast cell alpha-chymase reduces IgE recognition of birch pollen profilin by cleaving antibody-binding epitopes. (4/167)

In sensitized individuals birch pollen induces an allergic response characterized by IgE-dependent mast cell degranulation of mediators, such as alpha-chymase and other serine proteases. In birch and other plant pollens, a major allergen is profilin. In mammals, profilin homologues are found in an intracellular form bound to cytoskeletal or cytosolic proteins or in a secreted form that may initiate signal transduction. IgE specific to birch profilin also binds human profilin I. This cross-reactivity between airborne and endogenous proteins may help to sustain allergy symptoms. The current work demonstrates that cultured mast cells constitutively secrete profilin I, which is susceptible to degranulation-dependent proteolysis. Coincubation of chymase-rich BR mastocytoma cells with Ala-Ala-Pro-Phe-chloromethylketone (a chymase inhibitor) blocks profilin cleavage, which does not occur in degranulated HMC-1 mast cells, which are rich in tryptase, but chymase deficient. These data implicate chymase as the serine protease cleaving secreted mast cell profilin. Sequencing of chymase-cleaved profilins reveals hydrolysis at Tyr(6)-Val(7) and Trp(35)-Ala(36) in birch profilin and at Trp(32)-Ala(33) in human profilin, with all sites lying within IgE-reactive epitopes. IgE immunoblotting studies with sera from birch pollen-allergic individuals demonstrate that cleavage by chymase attenuates binding of birch profilin to IgE. Thus, destruction of IgE-binding epitopes by exocytosed chymase may limit further mast cell activation by this class of common plant allergens, thereby limiting the allergic responses in sensitized individuals.  (+info)

Morphological, cytogenetic, and molecular evidence for introgressive hybridization in birch. (5/167)

Extensive morphological variation of tetraploid birch (Betula pubescens) in Iceland is believed to be due to gene flow from diploid dwarf birch (B. nana) by means of introgressive hybridization. A combined morphological and cytogenetic approach was used to investigate this phenomenon in two geographically separated populations of natural birch woodland in Iceland. The results not only confirmed introgressive hybridization in birch, but also revealed bidirectional gene flow between the two species via triploid interspecific hybrids. The populations showed continuous morphological variation connecting the species, but karyotypically they consisted of only three types of plants: diploids, triploids, and tetraploids. No aneuploids were found. Some of the tetraploid plants had B. pubescens morphology as expected, but most of them had intermediate characters. Most of the diploid plants were B. nana, but some were intermediates and a few had B. pubescens morphology. The triploid plants were either intermediates or they resembled one of the two species. Similar introgressive variation was observed among the diploid and triploid progeny of open-pollinated B. nana in a garden. Birch samples including field plants and artificial hybrids were further examined using a molecular method based on genomic Southern hybridization. The experiments verified introgression at the DNA level.  (+info)

Leaf structural and photosynthetic characteristics, and biomass allocation to foliage in relation to foliar nitrogen content and tree size in three Betula species. (6/167)

Young trees 0.03-1.7 m high of three coexisting Betula species were investigated in four sites of varying soil fertility, but all in full daylight, to separate nutrient and plant size controls on leaf dry mass per unit area (MA), light-saturated foliar photosynthetic electron transport rate (J) and the fraction of plant biomass in foliage (F(L)). Because the site effect was generally non-significant in the analyses of variance with foliar nitrogen content per unit dry mass (N(M)) as a covariate, N(M) was used as an explaining variable of leaf structural and physiological characteristics. Average leaf area (S) and dry mass per leaf scaled positively with N(M) and total tree height (H) in all species. Leaf dry mass per unit area also increased with increasing H, but decreased with increasing N(M), whereas the effects were species-specific. Increases in plant size led to a lower and increases in N(M) to a greater FL and total plant foliar area per unit plant biomass (LAR). Thus, the self-shading probably increased with increasing N(M) and decreased with increasing H. Nevertheless, the whole-plant average M(A), as well as M(A) values of topmost fully exposed leaves, correlated with N(M) and H in a similar manner, indicating that scaling of MA with N(M) and H did not necessarily result from the modified degree of within-plant shading. The rate of photosynthetic electron transport per unit dry mass (J(M)) scaled positively with N(M), but decreased with increasing H and M(A). Thus, increases in M(A) with tree height and decreasing nitrogen content not only resulted in a lower plant foliar area (LAR = F(L)/M(A)), but also led to lower physiological activity of unit foliar biomass. The leaf parameters (J(M), N(M) and M(A)) varied threefold, but the whole-plant characteristic FL varied 20-fold and LAR 30-fold, indicating that the biomass allocation was more plastically adjusted to different plant internal nitrogen contents and to tree height than the foliar variables. Our results demonstrate that: (1) tree height and N(M) may independently control foliar structure and physiology, and have an even greater impact on biomass allocation; and (2) the modified within-plant light availabilities alone do not explain the observed patterns. Although there were interspecific differences with respect to the statistical significance of the relationships, all species generally fit common regressions. However, these differences were consistent, and suggested that more competitive species with inherently larger growth rates also more plastically respond to N and H.  (+info)

Hydrogen peroxide activates cell death and defense gene expression in birch. (7/167)

The function of hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) as a signal molecule regulating gene expression and cell death induced by external stresses was studied in birch (Betula pendula). Ozone (O(3)), Pseudomonas syringae pv syringae (Pss), and wounding all induced cell death of various extents in birch leaves. This was temporally preceded and closely accompanied by H(2)O(2) accumulation at, and especially surrounding, the lesion sites. O(3) and Pss, along with an artificial H(2)O(2) producing system glucose (Glc)/Glc oxidase, elicited elevated mRNA levels corresponding to genes encoding reactive oxygen species detoxifying enzymes, Pal, Ypr10, and mitochondrial phosphate translocator 1. In addition to the regulation of gene expression, Glc/Glc oxidase also induced endogenous H(2)O(2) production in birch leaves, accompanied by cell death that resembled O(3) and Pss damage. Wound-induced gene expression differed from that induced by O(3) and Pss. Thus, it appears that at least two separate defense pathways can be activated in birch leaves by stress factors, even though the early H(2)O(2) accumulation response is common among them all.  (+info)

Xylem ray parenchyma cells in boreal hardwood species respond to subfreezing temperatures by deep supercooling that is accompanied by incomplete desiccation. (8/167)

It has been accepted that xylem ray parenchyma cells (XRPCs) in hardwood species respond to subfreezing temperatures either by deep supercooling or by extracellular freezing. Present study by cryo-scanning electron microscopy examined the freezing responses of XRPCs in five boreal hardwoods: Salix sachalinensis Fr. Schmit, Populus sieboldii Miq., Betula platyphylla Sukat. var japonica Hara, Betula pubescens Ehrh., and red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea), in which XRPCs have been reported to respond by extracellular freezing. Cryo-scanning electron microscopy observations revealed that slow cooling of xylem to -80 degrees C resulted in intracellular freezing in the majority of XRPCs in S. sachalinensis, an indication that these XRPCs had been deep supercooled. In contrast, in the majority of XRPCs in P. sieboldii, B. platyphylla, B. pubescens, and red osier dogwood, slow cooling to -80 degrees C produced slight cytorrhysis without clear evidence of intracellular freezing, suggesting that these XRPCs might respond by extracellular freezing. In these XRPCs exhibited putative extracellular freezing; however, deep etching revealed the apparent formation of intracellular ice crystals in restricted local areas. To confirm the occurrence of intracellular freezing, we rewarmed these XRPCs after cooling and observed very large intracellular ice crystals as a result of the recrystallization. Thus, the XRPCs in all the boreal hardwoods that we examined responded by deep supercooling that was accompanied with incomplete desiccation. From these results, it seems possible that limitations to the deep-supercooling ability of XRPCs might be a limiting factor for adaptation of hardwoods to cold climates.  (+info)