Cavitation fatigue. Embolism and refilling cycles can weaken the cavitation resistance of xylem. (1/566)

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)

How aphids lose their marbles. (2/566)

Insects provide examples of many cunning stratagems to cope with the challenges of living in a world dominated by surface forces. Despite being the current masters of the land environment, they are at constant risk of being entrapped in liquids, which they prevent by having waxy and hairy surfaces. The problem is particularly acute in an enclosed space, such as a plant gall. Using secreted wax to efficiently parcel and transport their own excrement, aphids were able to solve this problem 200 Myr ago. Here, we report on the physical and physiological significance of this ingenious solution. The secreted powdery wax has three distinct roles: (i) it is hydrophobic, (ii) it creates a microscopically rough inner gall surface made of weakly compacted wax needles making the gall ultra-hydrophobic, and (iii) it coats the honeydew droplets converting them into liquid marbles, that can be rapidly and efficiently moved.  (+info)

A hierarchical statistical model for estimating population properties of quantitative genes. (3/566)

BACKGROUND: Earlier methods for detecting major genes responsible for a quantitative trait rely critically upon a well-structured pedigree in which the segregation pattern of genes exactly follow Mendelian inheritance laws. However, for many outcrossing species, such pedigrees are not available and genes also display population properties. RESULTS: In this paper, a hierarchical statistical model is proposed to monitor the existence of a major gene based on its segregation and transmission across two successive generations. The model is implemented with an EM algorithm to provide maximum likelihood estimates for genetic parameters of the major locus. This new method is successfully applied to identify an additive gene having a large effect on stem height growth of aspen trees. The estimates of population genetic parameters for this major gene can be generalized to the original breeding population from which the parents were sampled. A simulation study is presented to evaluate finite sample properties of the model. CONCLUSIONS: A hierarchical model was derived for detecting major genes affecting a quantitative trait based on progeny tests of outcrossing species. The new model takes into account the population genetic properties of genes and is expected to enhance the accuracy, precision and power of gene detection.  (+info)

A preliminary investigation of the role of auxin and cytokinin in sylleptic branching of three hybrid poplar clones exhibiting contrasting degrees of sylleptic branching. (4/566)

Sylleptic branches grow out from lateral buds during the same growing season in which the buds are formed. This type of branching is present in poplar and in many tropical species. It results in the production of more branches, more leaves and expanded photosynthetic capacity and is thought to assist in increasing the overall growth and biomass of the tree at a young age. However, very little is known about the physiology of sylleptic branching in poplar, which is an extremely important source of fibre and fuel. In the present study of three hybrid poplar clones (11-11, 47-174 and 49-177) of Populus trichocarpa x P. deltoides exhibiting contrasting degrees of sylleptic branching, an analysis was carried out on parent shoot elongation and sylleptic branching, together with a preliminary comparison of the parent shoots' sensitivity to auxin (naphthaleneacetic acid) as a repressor of lateral bud outgrowth, and cytokinin (benzyladenine) as a promoter. Suggestive evidence was found for an inverse correlation between parent shoot sensitivity to auxin and the degree of sylleptic branching, as well as a partially positive correlation with respect to sensitivity to cytokinin. The present data are consistent with the hypothesis that auxin and cytokinin may play repressive and promotive roles, respectively, in the sylleptic branching of hybrid poplar.  (+info)

Differential expression of two distinct phenylalanine ammonia-lyase genes in condensed tannin-accumulating and lignifying cells of quaking aspen. (5/566)

Lignins, along with condensed tannins (CTs) and salicylate-derived phenolic glycosides, constitute potentially large phenylpropanoid carbon sinks in tissues of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.). Metabolic commitment to each of these sinks varies during development and adaptation, and depends on L-phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL), an enzyme catalyzing the deamination of L-phenylalanine to initiate phenylpropanoid metabolism. In Populus spp., PAL is encoded by multiple genes whose expression has been associated with lignification in primary and secondary tissues. We now report cloning two differentially expressed PAL cDNAs that exhibit distinct spatial associations with CT and lignin biosynthesis in developing shoot and root tissues of aspen. PtPAL1 was expressed in certain CT-accumulating, non-lignifying cells of stems, leaves, and roots, and the pattern of PtPAL1 expression varied coordinately with that of CT accumulation along the primary to secondary growth transition in stems. PtPAL2 was expressed in heavily lignified structural cells of shoots, but was also expressed in non-lignifying cells of root tips. Evidence of a role for Pt4CL2, encoding 4-coumarate:coenzyme A ligase, in determining CT sink strength was gained from cellular co-expression analysis with PAL1 and CTs, and from experiments in which leaf wounding increased PAL1 and 4CL2 expression as well as the relative allocation of carbon to CT with respect to phenolic glycoside, the dominant phenolic sink in aspen leaves. Leaf wounding also increased PAL2 and lignin pathway gene expression, but to a smaller extent. The absence of PAL2 in most CT-accumulating cells provides in situ support for the idea that PAL isoforms function in specific metabolic milieus.  (+info)

Characterization of SP1, a stress-responsive, boiling-soluble, homo-oligomeric protein from aspen. (6/566)

sp1 cDNA was isolated from aspen (Populus tremula) plants by immunoscreening an expression library using polyclonal antibodies against BspA protein. BspA, which is a boiling-stable protein, accumulates in aspen plants in response to water stress and abscisic acid application (Pelah et al., 1995). The sp1 cDNA was found to encode a 12.4-kD generally hydrophilic protein with a hydrophobic C terminus, which is different from the BspA protein and was termed SP1 (stable protein 1). Northern-blot analysis revealed that sp1 encodes a small mRNA (about 0.6 kb) that is expressed in aspen plants under non-stress conditions and is accumulated after salt, cold, heat, and desiccation stress, and during the recovery from stress. The SP1 detected in plants remained soluble upon boiling, migrated both as a 12.4-kD band and a much higher mass of 116 kD on a 17% (w/v) Tricine-sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel. Comparative protease digestion patterns, amino acid analyses, and the N-terminal sequences of the 12.4- and 116-kD proteins revealed that SP1 is homo-oligomeric. Furthermore, gel filtration chromatography analysis indicated that SP1 exists in aspen plants as a complex, composed of 12 subunits of 12.4 kD. A large number of sequences deduced from expressed sequence tags and genomic sequences of other organisms with unknown function show high homology to SP1. Thus, SP1 may represent a new protein family. Here, we present the first report on this putative protein family: the cloning, isolation, and characterization of SP1, a stress-responsive, boiling-soluble, oligomeric protein.  (+info)

Populus: arabidopsis for forestry. Do we need a model tree? (7/566)

Trees are used to produce a variety of wood-based products including timber, pulp and paper. More recently, their use as a source of renewable energy has also been highlighted, as has their value for carbon mitigation within the Kyoto Protocol. Relative to food crops, the domestication of trees has only just begun; the long generation time and complex nature of juvenile and mature growth forms are contributory factors. To accelerate domestication, and to understand further some of the unique processes that occur in woody plants such as dormancy and secondary wood formation, a 'model' tree is needed. Here it is argued that Populus is rapidly becoming accepted as the 'model' woody plant and that such a 'model' tree is necessary to complement the genetic resource being developed in arabidopsis. The genus Populus (poplars, cottonwoods and aspens) contains approx. 30 species of woody plant, all found in the Northern hemisphere and exhibiting some of the fastest growth rates observed in temperate trees. Populus is fulfilling the 'model' role for a number of reasons. First, and most important, is the very recent commitment to sequence the Populus genome, a project initiated in February 2002. This will be the first woody plant to be sequenced. Other reasons include the relatively small genome size (450-550 Mbp) of Populus, the large number of molecular genetic maps and the ease of genetic transformation. Populus may also be propagated vegetatively, making mapping populations immortal and facilitating the production of large amounts of clonal material for experimentation. Hybridization occurs routinely and, in these respects, Populus has many similarities to arabidopsis. However, Populus also differs from arabidopsis in many respects, including being dioecious, which makes selfing and back-cross manipulations impossible. The long time-to-flower is also a limitation, whilst physiological and biochemical experiments are more readily conducted in Populus compared with the small-statured arabidopsis. Recent advances in the development of large expressed sequence tagged collections, microarray analysis and the free distribution of mapping pedigrees for quantitative trait loci analysis secure Populus as the ideal subject for further exploitation by a wide range of scientists including breeders, physiologists, biochemists and molecular biologists. In addition, and in contrast to other model plants, the genus Populus also has genuine commercial value as a tree for timber, plywood, pulp and paper.  (+info)

Xyloglucan endotransglycosylases have a function during the formation of secondary cell walls of vascular tissues. (8/566)

Xyloglucan transglycosylases (XETs) have been implicated in many aspects of cell wall biosynthesis, but their function in vascular tissues, in general, and in the formation of secondary walls, in particular, is less well understood. Using an in situ XET activity assay in poplar stems, we have demonstrated XET activity in xylem and phloem fibers at the stage of secondary wall formation. Immunolocalization of fucosylated xylogucan with CCRC-M1 antibodies showed that levels of this species increased at the border between the primary and secondary wall layers at the time of secondary wall deposition. Furthermore, one of the most abundant XET isoforms in secondary vascular tissues (PttXET16A) was cloned and immunolocalized to fibers at the stage of secondary wall formation. Together, these data strongly suggest that XET has a previously unreported role in restructuring primary walls at the time when secondary wall layers are deposited, probably creating and reinforcing the connections between the primary and secondary wall layers. We also observed that xylogucan is incorporated at a high level in the inner layer of nacreous walls of mature sieve tube elements.  (+info)