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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology


Functional Plant Biology publishes new and significant information on the functional biology of plants at all scales from the molecular through whole plant to community. More

Editor-in-Chief: Sergey Shabala


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Published online 03 August 2015
Genetic approaches to enhancing nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE) in cereals: challenges and future directions 
Trevor Garnett, Darren Plett, Sigrid Heuer and Mamoru Okamoto

Australian farmers apply large amounts of nitrogen fertiliser to cereal crops to achieve high yields and maintain grain quality. The use of this applied nitrogen fertiliser by cereals is poor, and leads to economic losses and environmental problems. This review details the problem in an Australian context and details genetic approaches to improve the use of nitrogen fertiliser by cereal plants.

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Published online 24 July 2015
A thermodynamic analysis of the feasibility of water secretion into xylem vessels against a water potential gradient 
Lars H. Wegner

The energetic aspects of water secretion into root xylem vessels by cotransport with salts were analysed by assuming water transport to be ‘energetically uphill’ and associated with a free energy gain of water. This paper shows that despite considerable energy costs, root respiration and H+-ATPase activity could drive secondary active water transport. This may contribute to the generation of root pressure, embolism repair and water ascent in trees.

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Published online 16 July 2015
Effects of elevated temperature on sucrose metabolism and cellulose synthesis in cotton fibre during secondary cell wall development 
Yanjiao Dai, Binglin Chen, Yali Meng, Wenqing Zhao, Zhiguo Zhou, Derrick M. Oosterhuis and Youhua Wang

Global warming has posed a major threat to cotton fiber development. This work shows that elevated temperature had negative impacts on sucrose metabolism and on cellulose synthesis in cotton fibre during fibre secondary wall development. Our results suggest that the cellulose content in cotton fibre is positively correlated with temperatures above 15°C but under 30°C.

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Published online 14 July 2015
Constitutively overexpressing a tomato fructokinase gene (LeFRK1) in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L. cv. Coker 312) positively affects plant vegetative growth, boll number and seed cotton yield 
Thiya Mukherjee, Mariana Ivanova, Marisela Dagda, Yoshinori Kanayama, David Granot and A. Scott Holaday

Increasing gene expression for the fructokinase that phosphorylates fructose in cotton improves seed cotton and fibre yield through positive effects on seed number per boll, boll number, leaf number and area, and stem diameter. We hypothesise that some processes associated with cotton development are constrained by fructose inhibition of the sucrose synthase required for sucrose metabolism in growing cells. Improving fructokinase activity may improve fibre yield through its indirect effects on photosynthetic capacity.

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Published online 07 July 2015
The hydraulic architecture of Eucalyptus trees growing across a gradient of depth-to-groundwater 
Sepideh Zolfaghar, Randol Villalobos-Vega, Melanie Zeppel and Derek Eamus

Over extraction of groundwater is a serious problem globally because it negatively impacts on groundwater dependent vegetation. This paper compares the hydraulic architecture of Eucalyptus woodlands across a naturally occurring gradient of depth-to-groundwater and shows that significant variation in hydraulic traits occurs in response to differences in depth-to-groundwater. This is the first such study in a mesic environment and shows even in high rainfall zones extraction of groundwater require careful control.

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Published online 30 June 2015
Compact panicle architecture is detrimental for growth as well as sucrose synthase activity of developing rice kernels 
B. B. Panda, A. K. Badoghar, K. Das, R. Panigrahi, E. Kariali, S. R. Das, S. K. Dash, B. P. Shaw and P. K. Mohapatra

Poor synthesis of starch in the grains on the basal part of rice panicle of modern rice cultivars underscores their potential for high grain yield. The study identified genetic expression of starch synthesising enzymes, particularly sucrose synthase, poor in the in the inferior type grains. Harnessing high yield in these rice cultivars need genetic manipulation of the enzyme for improved grain filling.

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Published online 26 June 2015
What drives fruit growth? 
Robert C. O. Okello, Ep Heuvelink, Pieter H. B. de Visser, Paul C. Struik and Leo F. M. Marcelis

Although plant growth through aggregation of number and size of tissues and organs seems straightforward, the cellular basis of fruit growth is still unresolved. We argue that (1) the positive correlation between cell number and fruit size does not imply a causal relationship, and (2) fruit growth is regulated by a global protein through cell autonomous and noncell autonomous mechanisms. We propose that fruit size can be manipulated via genes regulating cell division or cell expansion.

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Published online 24 June 2015
Ultrastructural and biochemical changes induced by salt stress in Jatropha curcas seeds during germination and seedling development 
Nara L. M. Alencar, Cibelle G. Gadelha, Maria I. Gallão, Mary A. H. Dolder, José T. Prisco and Enéas Gomes-Filho

Jatropha curcas emerges as potential energy source but the effects of NaCl stress on germination and seed reserves are poorly known. Salt stress delays protein and lipid mobilisation and promotes ultrastructural changes in endosperm cells. Seed germination of J. curcas is inhibited through increase the Na+ and Cl accumulation in the embryo axes and endosperm of seeds.

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Published online 24 June 2015
Rising temperature may negate the stimulatory effect of rising CO2 on growth and physiology of Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) 
James D. Lewis, Nathan G. Phillips, Barry A. Logan, Renee A. Smith, Iker Aranjuelo, Steve Clarke, Catherine A. Offord, Allison Frith, Margaret Barbour, Travis Huxman and David T. Tissue

Wollemi pine, formerly widespread in Australia, has been reduced by past climate change to a remnant population and this rare species may be pushed to extinction by future climate change. We examined the impact of rising [CO2] and temperature on clonally propagated seedlings, and observed positive impacts on growth and physiology in elevated [CO2] that were generally negated by elevated temperature. The remnant wild population of Wollemi pine is susceptible to warming, which may be the most significant environmental factor determining success in a future climate.

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Published online 22 June 2015
Optimum temperature for floral terpene emissions tracks the mean temperature of the flowering season 
Gerard Farré-Armengol, Iolanda Filella, Joan Llusià, Ülo Niinemets and Josep Peñuelas

Flower scent plays a crucial role in pollinator attraction and is affected by environmental conditions such as temperature. We tested whether optimum temperatures for floral emissions are adapted to the temperature range during the flowering period and found that species flowering in cold seasons have lower optimum temperatures than those flowering in warm seasons. The results suggest that the flower physiology of different species is adapted to optimise emissions during their flowering period.

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Published online 15 June 2015
High resolution imaging of maize (Zea maize) leaf temperature in the field: the key role of the regions of interest 
Taha Jerbi, Nathalie Wuyts, Maria Angela Cane, Philippe-François Faux and Xavier Draye

Remote sensing technologies have the potential to help scientists, breeders and decision makers to assess the extent to which crops are affected by drought. This paper evaluates some benefits of high spatial resolution for thermal imaging applications in field conditions. The study indicates that careful selection of information-rich areas in canopy images captures temperature differences that are filtered out in lower resolution configurations.

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blank image Functional Plant Biology
Volume 42 Number 8 2015

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Descriptive Table of Contents 
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Cryptic crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) in Jatropha curcas 
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Klaus Winter and Joseph A. M. Holtum
pp. 711-717

Jatropha curcas (Euphorbiaceae) is a drought-tolerant shrub or small tree that is a candidate bioenergy feedstock. J. curcas exhibits features diagnostic of low-level crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), a water-conserving mode of photosynthesis. Studies of plants with low-level CAM activity are key for our understanding of how plants have transitioned from C3 to CAM.


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A possible link between hydraulic properties and leaf habits in Hevea brasiliensis 
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Jun-Wen Chen and Kun-Fang Cao
pp. 718-726

Rubber tree is an evergreen tree from the Amazon rainforest; however, we have never understood why it changes into a deciduous species in introduced ranges, such as the Xishuangbanna region, China. To analyse the reason for this change in leaf habit, a co-occurring native evergreen tree was selected as a comparison. This study found that seasonal drought is the main reason for leaf shedding in rubber tree in introduced ranges.


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Variation potential induces decreased PSI damage and increased PSII damage under high external temperatures in pea 
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Vladimir Sukhov , Lyubov Surova , Oksana Sherstneva , Albina Bushueva and Vladimir Vodeneev
pp. 727-736

In higher plants, local damage induces a unique electrical signal: variation potential, which influences numerous physiological processes; however, its role in plant life is not clear. We showed that variation potential decreases PSI damage, increases PSII damage and raises the resistance of the whole plant under heating. Thus variation potential can increase the probability of plant survival under high temperatures.


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Spatial heterogeneity in stomatal features during leaf elongation: an analysis using Rosa hybrida 
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Dimitrios Fanourakis , Ep Heuvelink and Susana M. P. Carvalho
pp. 737-745

Stomatal features are determined by examining an area that does not exceed 1 cm2. This study reveals a considerable within-leaf heterogeneity in these features, with implications in studying stomatal initiation or estimating stomatal conductance. We show that the sampling scheme for stomatal traits ought to be a function of the leaf developmental stage, the feature under study and the growth environment.

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Dynamic response of plant chlorophyll fluorescence to light, water and nutrient availability 
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M. Pilar Cendrero-Mateo , A. Elizabete Carmo-Silva , Albert Porcar-Castell , Erik P. Hamerlynck , Shirley A. Papuga and M. Susan Moran
pp. 746-757

Chlorophyll fluorescence is under consideration as a potential tool for assessing plant physiological status over large areas using remote sensing sensors. This study demonstrated that under growth light conditions, chlorophyll fluorescence is a versatile and robust indicator of crop stress in response to both water and nitrogen deficit. This study provides support for the use of remotely-sensed chlorophyll fluorescence as a proxy to monitor plant stress dynamics from space.

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Novel insights into the Citrus sinensis nonhost response suggest photosynthesis decline, abiotic stress networks and secondary metabolism modifications 
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Lucas D. Daurelio , M. Laura Tondo , M. Soledad Romero , Paz Merelo , Adriana A. Cortadi , Manuel Talón , Francisco R. Tadeo and Elena G. Orellano
pp. 758-769

Citrus species are one of the most important fruit crops worldwide but pathogen attacks cause significant losses in their production. With the aim of contributing to finding solutions, the fundamental defence mechanism known as the nonhost response was studied in sweet orange and the participation of novel features was determined. These results contribute to our overall comprehension of this defence strategy in nonmodel tree plants.

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Interactive effect of biochar and plant growth-promoting bacterial endophytes on ameliorating salinity stress in maize 
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Saqib Saleem Akhtar , Mathias Neumann Andersen , Muhammad Naveed , Zahir Ahmad Zahir and Fulai Liu
pp. 770-781

Salinity stress constraints plant growth and reduces crop yield. Incorporation of biochar and plant growth-promoting endophytic bacteria containing 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate deaminase and exopolysaccharide activity in the soil could mitigate salinity stress in maize either by decreasing sodium uptake or by maintaining nutrient balance. Therefore, inoculation of plants with endophytic bacterial strains along with biochar amendment could be an effective approach for sustaining crop production in salt-affected soils.


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Photon flux density and temperature-dependent responses of photosynthesis and photosystem II performance of apple leaves grown in field conditions 
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Dennis H. Greer
pp. 782-791

The interaction of light and leaf temperature on the photosynthetic process is important to understand how climate affects productivity. This study documents the interaction on photosynthesis but also the performance of PSII across different light and temperature conditions. Modelling the photosynthetic response has enhanced understanding of the photochemical and non-photochemical contributions to photosynthesis in different light and temperature conditions.


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Alkaloid production and capacity for methyljasmonate induction by hairy roots of two species in Tribe Anthocercideae, family Solanaceae 
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Suzanne M. Ryan , Kathleen D. DeBoer and John D. Hamill
pp. 792-801

Within the family Solanaceae, tribe Anthocercideae and the genus Nicotiana (tobacco) diverged from common ancestral stock ~15 million years ago. Cultured roots of the Anthocercideae species Cyphanthera tasmanica and Anthocercis ilicifolia ssp. ilicifolia produce the medicinally useful tropane alkaloid hyoscyamine and also the pyridine alkaloids nicotine and nornicotine. We observed that treatment of these roots with low levels of the wound hormone methyl jasmonate led to increased levels of nicotine/nornicotine but not hyoscyamine, possibly indicating evolutionary conservation of mechanisms underpinning wound-stress induction of pyridine alkaloid metabolism for defensive purposes.

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Selectable marker-free co-expression of Nicotiana rustica CN and Nicotiana tabacum HAK1 genes improves resistance to tobacco mosaic virus in tobacco 
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Li-Jun Qin , Dan Zhao , Yi Zhang and De-Gang Zhao
pp. 802-815

Diseases-resistance gene and mineral nutrition play an important role in improving the plant resistance to pathogens. TMV-resistance gene CN with K-enrichment gene HAK1 synergistically improved TMV-resistance in selectable marker-free tobaccos by adjusting potassium status, regulating resistance defence and affecting K+-involved biotic stress-resistance. This study provided a way for screening new varieties of marker-free and antiviral tobaccos.

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These articles have been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. They are still in production and have not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.

    FP15126  Accepted 29 July 2015
    Physiological Characterization and Fine Mapping of a Salt-Tolerant Mutant in Rice (Oryza Sativa L.)
    Ping Deng, Dan Jiang, Yanmin Dong, Xingyu Shi, Wen Jing, Wenhua Zhang

    FP15135  Accepted 08 July 2015
    Response of leaf water status, stomatal characteristics, photosynthesis and yield in black gram and green gram genotypes to soil water deficit
    Bhaswatee Baroowa, Nirmali Gogoi, Sreyashi Paul, Kushal Baruah

    FP15087  Accepted 06 July 2015
    Simultaneous recording of diurnal changes in leaf turgor pressure and stem water status of bread wheat reveal variation in hydraulic mechanisms in response to drought
    Helen Bramley, Rebecca Bitter, Gertraud Zimmermann, Ulrich Zimmermann

    FP15151  Accepted 02 July 2015
    Lipoxygenase 2 functions in exogenous nitric oxide-induced stomatal closure in Arabidopsis thaliana
    Yanfeng Sun, Dong Lv, Wei Xu, Li Wang, Wei Wang, Chen Miao, Hong-Hui Lin

    FP15103  Accepted 01 July 2015
    Re-analysis of plant CO2 responses during the exponential growth phase: interactions with light, temperature, nutrients and water availability
    Miko Kirschbaum, Suzanne Lambie

    FP15033  Accepted 01 July 2015
    The Significance of Image Compression in Plant Phenotyping Applications
    Massimo Minervini, Hanno Scharr, Sotirios Tsaftaris

    FP15133  Accepted 25 June 2015
    Cellular pathways of source leaf phloem loading and of phloem unloading in developing stems of Sorghum bicolor in relation to stem sucrose storage
    Ricky Milne, Tina Offler, John Patrick, Christopher Grof

    FP15041  Accepted 22 June 2015
    Genetic diversity for root plasticity and nitrogen uptake in wheat seedlings
    Vanessa Melino, Gabriele Fiene, Akiko Enju, Jinhai Cai, Peter Buchner, Sigrid Heuer


The Most Read ranking is based on the number of downloads from the CSIRO PUBLISHING website of articles published in the previous 12 months. Usage statistics are updated daily.

Rank Paper Details
1. Published 13 February 2015
The structure and activity of nodulation-suppressing CLE peptide hormones of legumes

April H. Hastwell, Peter M. Gresshoff and Brett J. Ferguson

2. Published 14 August 2014
Crop yield components – photoassimilate supply- or utilisation limited-organ development?

John W. Patrick and Kim Colyvas

3. Published 30 September 2014
Genomics for drought resistance – getting down to earth

Abraham Blum

4. Published 30 September 2014
Strategies to increase the yield and yield stability of crops under drought – are we making progress?

Neil C. Turner, Abraham Blum, Mehmet Cakir, Pasquale Steduto, Roberto Tuberosa and Neil Young

5. Published 10 July 2015
Cryptic crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) in Jatropha curcas

Klaus Winter and Joseph A. M. Holtum

6. Published 30 September 2014
Two potato (Solanum tuberosum) varieties differ in drought tolerance due to differences in root growth at depth

Jaime Puértolas, Carlos Ballester, E. David Elphinstone and Ian C. Dodd

7. Published 7 January 2015
High night temperature induces contrasting responses for spikelet fertility, spikelet tissue temperature, flowering characteristics and grain quality in rice

Onoriode Coast, Richard H. Ellis, Alistair J. Murdoch, Cherryl Quiñones and Krishna S. V. Jagadish

8. Published 12 May 2015
Towards a conceptual ABA ideotype in plant breeding for water limited environments

Abraham Blum

9. Published 14 August 2014
Review on shape formation in epidermal pavement cells of the Arabidopsis leaf

Eveline Jacques, Jean-Pierre Verbelen and Kris Vissenberg

10. Published 30 September 2014
Phenotyping novel stay-green traits to capture genetic variation in senescence dynamics

John T. Christopher, Mathieu Veyradier, Andrew K. Borrell, Greg Harvey, Susan Fletcher and Karine Chenu

11. Published 12 March 2015
Image based phenotyping during winter: a powerful tool to assess wheat genetic variation in growth response to temperature

Christoph Grieder, Andreas Hund and Achim Walter

12. Published 30 September 2014
Partial root zone drying exerts different physiological responses on field-grown grapevine (Vitis vinifera cv. Monastrell) in comparison to regulated deficit irrigation

Pascual Romero, Juan Gabriel Pérez-Pérez, Francisco M. del Amor, Adrián Martinez-Cutillas, Ian C. Dodd and Pablo Botía

13. Published 14 August 2014
When smaller is better: leaf hydraulic conductance and drought vulnerability correlate to leaf size and venation density across four Coffea arabica genotypes

Andrea Nardini, Eele Õunapuu-Pikas and Tadeja Savi

14. Published 30 September 2014
Genotypic differences in deep water extraction associated with drought tolerance in wheat

Eric S. Ober, Peter Werner, Edward Flatman, William J. Angus, Peter Jack, Lucy Smith-Reeve and Chris Tapsell

15. Published 11 December 2014
Suppression of starch synthesis in rice stems splays tiller angle due to gravitropic insensitivity but does not affect yield

Masaki Okamura, Tatsuro Hirose, Yoichi Hashida, Ryu Ohsugi and Naohiro Aoki

16. Published 30 September 2014
Physiological basis of salt stress tolerance in rice expressing the antiapoptotic gene SfIAP

Thi My Linh Hoang, Brett Williams, Harjeet Khanna, James Dale and Sagadevan G. Mundree

17. Published 30 September 2014
Mucilage exudation facilitates root water uptake in dry soils

Mutez A. Ahmed, Eva Kroener, Maire Holz, Mohsen Zarebanadkouki and Andrea Carminati

18. Published 14 August 2014
Responses of rice to Fe2+ in aerated and stagnant conditions: growth, root porosity and radial oxygen loss barrier

Jenjira Mongon, Dennis Konnerup, Timothy D. Colmer and Benjavan Rerkasem

19. Published 13 February 2015
Auxin-modulated root growth inhibition in Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings with ammonium as the sole nitrogen source

Huaiyu Yang, Jenny von der Fecht-Bartenbach, Ji?í Friml, Jan U. Lohmann, Benjamin Neuhäuser and Uwe Ludewig

20. Published 30 September 2014
Quantitative trait locus mapping of the transpiration ratio related to preflowering drought tolerance in sorghum (Sorghum bicolor)

Mohankumar H. Kapanigowda, William A. Payne, William L. Rooney, John E. Mullet and Maria Balota

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