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Plant function and evolutionary biology

Functional Plant Biology

Functional Plant Biology

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. Read more about the journalMore

Editor-in-Chief: Sergey Shabala

Current Issue

Functional Plant Biology

Volume 45 Number 3 2018

FP17031The pros and cons of GM crops

Jennifer A. Thomson
pp. 297-304

By 2015 genetically modified (GM) crops had been commercialised for 20 years. This technology ranks amongst the most rapidly accepted by farmers, but are there downsides to these introductions? This review considers the advantages and potential disadvantages of GM crops.


Gibberellins (GAs) promote hypocotyl elongation by controlling the expression of many genes in plants. However, only a few target genes of GAs have been identified to date. The paper provides strong evidence that tonoplast aquaporin AtTIP5;1 mediates GA-stimulated hypocotyl cell elongation under excess boron condition in Arabidopsis. The finding highlights the essential roles of vacuoles and boron in GA signalling in plants.


Interspecific differences in photosynthetic attributes of Chardonnay and Merlot grapevines have been established. The cause of such differences were attributed to a higher carboxylation and regeneration capacity in the Merlot leaves, especially at high temperatures and cultivar differences were exacerbated as the season progressed. Differences in biochemical processes related to assimilation at high temperatures were measured between the cultivars, and these may relate to inherent differences in temperature tolerance between these closely related cultivars.

FP17167Co-inoculation of maize with Azospirillum brasilense and Rhizobium tropici as a strategy to mitigate salinity stress

Josiane Fukami, Clara de la Osa, Francisco Javier Ollero, Manuel Megías and Mariangela Hungria
pp. 328-339

Salinity is a major factor affecting crop production worldwide. We identified enzymatic and genetic mechanisms in maize that confer tolerance against abiotic stresses when inoculated with plant growth-promoting bacteria. Inoculation with the elite strains identified in this study, of Azospirillum brasilense (Ab-V6) and Rhizobium tropici (CIAT 899) might represent a valuable and sustainable strategy to mitigate salinity stress.

FP17184Protecting cotton crops under elevated CO2 from waterlogging by managing ethylene

Ullah Najeeb, Daniel K. Y. Tan, Michael P. Bange and Brian J. Atwell
pp. 340-349

Ethylene-induced abscission of young cotton fruits is a major lint yield limiting factor in cotton crop production under stressed environments. Extreme weather events such as long-term soil waterlogging and elevated CO2 can increase fruit loss caused by ethylene production in cotton. Our study showed that the physiological and yield performance of cotton crops under future environments can potentially be improved by mitigating ethylene action.

FP17181NaCl markedly improved the reproductive capacity of the euhalophyte Suaeda salsa

Jianrong Guo, Yandi Li, Guoliang Han, Jie Song and Baoshan Wang
pp. 350-361

Reproductive growth is very important for plant survival and population establishment under salinity. It remains unknown whether the reproductive process of Suaeda salsa is affected by salinity. NaCl markedly increased the reproductive growth of S. salsa by increasing flower number and fertility. Unravelling the mechanisms of plant salt tolerance will be helpful for improving agricultural production.

FP17225Simulating daily field crop canopy photosynthesis: an integrated software package

Alex Wu, Al Doherty, Graham D. Farquhar and Graeme L. Hammer
pp. 362-377

Global demand for agricultural product is predicted to surpass our production capacity in the near future, and enhancing plant photosynthesis may be a solution for crop yield improvement. To accelerate enhancement we need to know which target(s) should be manipulated for greatest impact, therefore, a modelling tool has been developed. The tool will be able to improve our understanding of photosynthetic manipulation impacts on crop biomass accumulation, which ultimately affects crop yield.

FP17202The LmSAP gene isolated from the halotolerant Lobularia maritima improves salt and ionic tolerance in transgenic tobacco lines

Rania Ben Saad, Ameny Farhat-Khemekhem, Nihed Ben Halima, Karim Ben Hamed, Faical Brini and Walid Saibi
pp. 378-391

Abiotic stresses pose serious threats to growth and productivity of crop plants worldwide. We describe the isolation of a novel gene, designated LmSAP, from Lobularia maritime to exploit the potential of this halophyte as a genetic resource to improve salt and ionic tolerance in plants and, particularly, in cereals. These results show that LmSAP is a potentially useful candidate gene for engineering salt and ionic tolerance in cultivated plants.

Online Early

The peer-reviewed and edited version of record published online before inclusion in an issue

Published online 20 February 2018

FP17209Linking root traits to superior phosphorus uptake and utilisation efficiency in three Fabales in the Core Cape Subregion, South Africa

Dunja MacAlister, A. Muthama Muasya and Samson B. M. Chimphango
 

Dwindling phosphate reserves and the high costs of P fertilisers drive the need to develop more P-efficient crops through enhancing P uptake. We expected that Aspalathus linearis, a cluster-root-forming species, would be better at P acquisition than other species. Polygala myrtifolia, however, developed a root system with better P uptake traits and had a higher P uptake efficiency. Therefore, other root traits besides cluster roots are important for enhancing P uptake in plants.

Published online 16 February 2018

FP17278Dynamic analysis of the impact of free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) on biomass and N uptake in two contrasting genotypes of rice

Jingjing Wu, Herbert J. Kronzucker and Weiming Shi
 

Elevated [CO2] increases rates of photosynthesis and crop yields, but the degree of enhancement varies among cultivars. The present study indicates that the more effective use of CO2 in IIY compared with WYJ results in a strong response in root growth, nitrogen uptake, and in yield, N synchronises biomass responses between shoot and root. Our findings help clarify key mechanisms by which elevated [CO2] elicits differential growth and yield responses among cultivars in rice.

Published online 16 February 2018

FP17304Selection of optimal reference genes for quantitative RT-PCR transcript abundance analysis in white clover (Trifolium repens L.)

Rafael Narancio, Ulrik John, John Mason and German Spangenberg
 

Quantitative reverse transcription PCR, a widely used technique for measuring the transcriptional activity of genes, is critically dependent upon the use of reference genes. This manuscript is the first reported systematic search for reference genes in the commercially important forage legume white clover. Three genes, out of seven evaluated, were identified as reliable references, paving the way for future work on any gene in white clover.

Published online 15 February 2018

FP17241Structural and functional disorder in the photosynthetic apparatus of radish plants under magnesium deficiency

Izabela A. Samborska, Hazem M. Kalaji, Leszek Sieczko, Vasilij Goltsev, Wojciech Borucki and Anjana Jajoo
 

Detection of nutrients deficiency in plants has previously been based on either observation of visible changes or destructive estimation methods. Here we identify parameters related to photosynthetic efficiency that enable early detection of Mg deficiency in radish plants before visual symptoms appear. We confirm that some parameters can be used as bioindicators for transient and persistent Mg deficiency.

Published online 13 February 2018

FP17127Enhancing antioxidant systems by exogenous spermine and spermidine in wheat (Triticum aestivum) seedlings exposed to salt stress

Abdelaleim I. ElSayed, Mohammed S. Rafudeen, Mohamed A. M. El-hamahmy, Dennis C. Odero and M. Sazzad Hossain
 

Salinity stress is one of the major limitations to crop productivity worldwide. The aim of the present study was to understand the functional role of spermidine and spermine with respect to salt stress in wheat seedlings. Our results show that exogenous spermidine and spermine effectively up-regulated transcriptional levels of antioxidant enzyme genes and improved the defence response of plants under salt stress.

Published online 13 February 2018

FP17192MeBIK1, a novel cassava receptor-like cytoplasmic kinase, regulates PTI response of transgenic Arabidopsis

Ke Li, Xi Xiong, Shousong Zhu, Hualan Liao, Xiaorong Xiao, Zhijuan Tang, Yuhui Hong, Chunxia Li, Lijuan Luo, Linlin Zheng, Xiaolei Niu and Yinhua Chen
 

Cassava bacterial blight is the most destructive disease of cassava, which results in a significant reduction in cassva production caused by Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis; however, little is known about the resistance mechanisms of cassava bacterial blight. In our study, MeBIK1, an ortholog of the AtBIK1 gene was cloned from cassava and MeBIK1 was found to positively regulate pathogen resistance. Our results provide the basis for elucidating the mechanism of disease resistance in cassava.


Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) in most crops is low, resulting in N waste, leading to increased crop production costs and environmental concerns globally. Efficient and reliable phenotyping would help manage N application and speeding up efforts to breed crop varieties with higher NUE. A comprehensive insight is provided into the approaches, tools and methods applicable to phenotyping NUE-related traits in crops.


CAM is a flexible photosynthetic mode conferring robust environmental resilience. This investigation tackles the scarcity of data linking anatomical evolution and CAM function, showing that in a diverse family, co-option and augmentation of existing succulence was integral to multiple CAM origins. The results clarify the evolution of CAM and also help define the baseline level of cell and tissue succulence required in efforts to bioengineer CAM into food and biomass crops.

Published online 29 January 2018

FP17249S-nitrosocysteine-responsive genes modulate diverse regulatory pathways in Oryza sativa: a transcriptome profiling study

Bong-Gyu Mun, Sang-Uk Lee, Adil Hussain, Hyun-Ho Kim, Nkulu Kabange Rolly, Ki-Hong Jung and Byung-Wook Yun
 

One of the good news in plants is NO news. NO is an all-around molecule that plays a vital role during the entire life cycle of plants. This study identified a large number of genes that were activated in response to exogenous NO in rice. In conclusion, NO mediates the transcriptional control of genes involved in a wide variety of physiological functions in rice.

Published online 18 January 2018

FP17195Wheat pre-anthesis development as affected by photoperiod sensitivity genes (Ppd-1) under contrasting photoperiods

Thomas I. Pérez-Gianmarco, Gustavo A. Slafer and Fernanda G. González
 

The duration of phases leading to wheat anthesis date, and hence yield potential, are regulated by daylength (photoperiod). Genes controlling the response to photoperiod (Ppd-1): (i) provided varying magnitudes of insensitivity; (ii) were not particularly associated to duration – photoperiod sensitivity – of any specific phase; and (iii) showed no additive effect when stacked. Further investigation with different allelic variants should be conducted to tailor time to anthesis and duration of each particular phase to improve wheat yield potential facing climate change.

Published online 15 January 2018

FP17162Antioxidant capacity along the leaf blade of the C3-CAM facultative bromeliad Guzmania monostachia under water deficit conditions

Maria E. Abreu, Victória Carvalho and Helenice Mercier
 

Guzmania monostachia is an epiphytic, tank-forming bromeliad that displays variable degrees of crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) along the leaf blade under water deficit conditions. The hypothesis that the most intense CAM found in the apex portion is related to reduced oxidative burden was not confirmed. However, G. monostachia was able to keep reactive oxygen species under tolerable levels under water deficit conditions by increasing the antioxidant capacity in the apex, which is the leaf portion most exposed to light.


Bacterial pathogens secret effectors to modulate plant immunity, enabling unlimited pathogen growth inside host, and causing disease. Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae executes XopR effector to suppress immune responses in rice for its growth and subsequent blight disease. This finding provides insights into understanding the key weapon used by the pathogen, and will help to identify the novel targets for disease management.

Published online 05 January 2018

FP17199Seasonal variations of leaf chlorophyll–protein complexes in the wintergreen herbaceous plant Ajuga reptans L.

Olga Dymova, Mikhail Khristin, Zbigniew Miszalski, Andrzej Kornas, Kazimierz Strzalka and Tamara Golovko
 

In the perennial herbaceous wintergreen plant Ajuga reptans (bugle), the photosynthetic apparatus (PSA) is reorganised during winter. The aim of this work was to examine the structural changes in the pigment–protein complexes of PSA. Changes in aggregation of the thylakoid protein complexes were observed including a restructuring of the PSI–PSII megacomplex and the PSII–LHCII supercomplex parallel to changes in the zeaxanthin-dependent protective mechanism.

Published online 05 January 2018

FP17303Integrated genomics, physiology and breeding approaches for improving nitrogen use efficiency in potato: translating knowledge from other crops

Jagesh K. Tiwari, Darren Plett, Trevor Garnett, Swarup K. Chakrabarti and Rajesh K. Singh
 

Potato is a high nitrogen-responsive crop, hence improving nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of plant is important to reduce production cost and minimize environmental loss. Potato is a less studied crop especially at plant level with enhanced NUE. This review highlights translation of advanced NUE research from other plants like Arabidopsis, rice, wheat and maize applying integrated genomics, physiology and breeding approaches.

Published online 05 January 2018

FP17262Phenotyping roots in darkness: disturbance-free root imaging with near infrared illumination

Rongli Shi, Astrid Junker, Christiane Seiler and Thomas Altmann
 

Root properties impact strongly on plant performance, but high-throughput methods for non-invasive and quantitative root trait assessment are rarely available. We developed and tested a root phenotyping concept, which involves NIR imaging of roots grown along surfaces of transparent culture vessels using visible light blocking long pass filters. We reveal the viability of the concept and its suitability for simultaneous root and shoot phenotyping.

Published online 05 January 2018

FP17226Constitutive expression of CaHSP22.5 enhances chilling tolerance in transgenic tobacco by promoting the activity of antioxidative enzymes

Meifang Li, Lusha Ji, Zefeng Jia, Xinghong Yang, Qingwei Meng and Shangjing Guo
 

Chilling stress limits the productivity and geographical distribution of many plants throughout the world. Accumulation of the endoplasmic reticulum-located small heat shock protein CaHSP22.5 enhanced photochemical activity and oxidation resistance and alleviated endoplasmic reticulum stress caused by chilling stress in transgenic tobacco plants. CaHSP22.5 could be useful for improving the tolerance of chilling-sensitive plant types.

Published online 21 December 2017

FP17211Physiological and molecular characterisation for high temperature stress in Lens culinaris

Jitendra Kumar, Partha Sarathi Basu, Sunanda Gupta, Sonali Dubey, Debjyoti Sen Gupta and Narendra Pratap Singh
 

Understanding the mechanism of high-temperature stress (heat) tolerance during the plant reproductive phase is important for developing heat tolerant cultivars in lentil. We found a higher reduction in pollen viability and lower photosynthetic electron transport rate in heat sensitive genotypes and a functional marker amplified only in heat tolerant ones. We conclude that these traits and the associated functional markers will be useful in lentil breeding.

Published online 19 December 2017

FP17288Identification of MdDof genes in apple and analysis of their response to biotic or abiotic stress

Qing Yang, Qiuju Chen, Yuandi Zhu and Tianzhong Li
 

In the study presented we identified MdDof genes in apple and analysed their response to biotic/abiotic stress. The aim of the work was to give references to understand the function of MdDof genes generally and serve as a reference for studies of Dof zinc finger genes in other plants. Finally, we fit the original images into the software Photoshop 6.0 for bigger pictures.

Published online 18 December 2017

FP17233Impact of hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) infestation on xylem structure and function and leaf physiology in eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

Brett A. Huggett, Jessica A. Savage, Guang-You Hao, Evan L. Preisser and N. Michele Holbrook
 

Hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is an invasive insect that feeds upon the foliage of eastern hemlock trees leading to a decline in health and mortality. During early infestation, HWA-induced decline in the health of eastern hemlock is not initially caused by compromised water transport or needle loss. Our results contribute to efforts to understand the mechanisms leading to the demise of eastern hemlocks.

Published online 14 December 2017

FP17212Structural and functional characterisation of two novel durum wheat annexin genes in response to abiotic stress

Marwa Harbaoui, Rania Ben Saad, Nihed Ben Halima, Mouna Choura and Faiçal Brini
 

Abiotic stress reduces the grain yield of cereal crops. Here, we show that the two durum wheat annexin genes, TdAnn6 and TdAnn12, are induced by different abiotic stresses and heterologous expression in yeast improves tolerance to different stresses. These results show that the two annexins are potentially useful candidate genes for engineering abiotic stress tolerance in cultivated plants.


We proved for the first time the effects of H2S, a novel gasotransmitter, on darkness-induced stomatal closure and the relationship with H2O2 in Vicia faba. Here we found that H2S mediated darkness-induced stomatal closure in Vicia faba and it acted downstream of H2O2 in this process. This work enriches the signalling network during darkness-regulated stomatal movement and provides evidence for further research.

Published online 11 December 2017

FP17265Biochemical and transcriptomic analysis of maize diversity to elucidate drivers of leaf carbon isotope composition

Allison R. Kolbe, Anthony J. Studer and Asaph B. Cousins
 

Leaf carbon isotope composition (δ13C) has been used to screen for water-use efficiency in C3 plants, but gaps in the understanding of factors influencing δ13C have limited its application in C4 species. This study exploited maize genetic diversity to explore biochemical and post-photosynthetic factors that may influence δ13C. Our findings indicate that the observed variation in leaf carbon isotope composition across diverse maize lines is likely driven by differences in stomatal and mesophyll conductance and not photosynthetic or respiratory metabolism.

Published online 07 December 2017

FP16378The effect of simulated microgravity on the Brassica napus seedling proteome

Andrej Frolov, Anna Didio, Christian Ihling, Veronika Chantzeva, Tatyana Grishina, Wolfgang Hoehenwarter, Andrea Sinz, Galina Smolikova, Tatiana Bilova and Sergei Medvedev
 

Sustaining plant productivity under microgravity conditions is a prerequisite for successful colonisation of space by humans. Therefore, we address the effects of simulated microgravity on seed germination and the first steps of seedling development at the total proteome level. This study complements a large body of transcriptomic data and gives an insight into gravity-related changes in early plant ontogenesis.


Stomatal guard cells sense and respond to sugar, but the means by which they do so have not been fully elucidated. Our study showed that RGS1, a putative receptor for D-glucose, mediates D-glucose-induced H2O2 and NO production in guard cells and subsequent stomatal closure. The data suggest that photosynthetic product D-glucose, as an integrative signal, coordinates plant CO2 uptake with water loss.


Fine tuning the flow of chlorophyll biosynthesis pathway is crucial for the growth and development of the plants. Antioxidant systems were found to influence this pathway through maintaining the specific concentration of H2O2. This finding provides insights into understanding the antioxidant-mediated regulation of chlorophyll biosynthesis in detail, and will help in the development of oxidative stress-resistant plants.

Published online 20 November 2017

FP17150Plant circadian networks and responses to the environment

Chenjerai I. Muchapirei, Shannon-Leigh Valentine and Laura C. Roden
 

Many environmental stresses are periodic and predictable. Plants have adapted to these by temporally organising their stress responses to maximise efficiency and efficacy. We review current evidence for temporal regulation of responses to the environment and environmental impacts on the plant circadian clock. Better understanding of the reciprocal interactions between the plant circadian clock and environmental stresses may aid in identifying mechanisms to improve plant growth and increase food security.

Published online 20 November 2017

FP17203The involvement of programmed cell death in inflated leaf petiole morphogenesis in Trapa pseudoincisa

Xi-Lu Ni, Ling-ling Tan, Ya-fu Zhou, Wen-zhe Liu and Chang-xiao Li
 

The inflated leaf petiole of Trapa pseudoincisa undergoes a developmental process from solid to hollow phase. Schizo-lysigenous aerenchyma was developed via the mechanism of programmed cell death (PCD) during the process of inflated leaf petiole morphogenesis. Thus, a trans-disciplinary systems approach that recognizes the need for integration of cytological and molecular characteristics for identification of aerenchyma type in aquatic plant is required.

Published online 17 November 2017

FP17095Involvement of signalling molecules NO, H2O2 and H2S in modification of plasma membrane proton pump in cucumber roots subjected to salt or low temperature stress

Małgorzata Janicka, Małgorzata Reda, Katarzyna Czyżewska and Katarzyna Kabała
 

Cascades by which signalling molecules participate in plant responses to changes in environmental conditions are still under intensive study. Our aim was to explain the role of NO, H2O2 and H2S in adaptation of cucumber seedlings to both salt and low temperature stress. Results show that signalling molecules are important for understanding the mechanisms of modification of the activity of the plasma membrane proton pump, which is a key enzyme in abiotic stress conditions.

Published online 13 November 2017

FP17056Stomata control is changed in a chlorophyll b-free barley mutant

Elena V. Tyutereva, Valeria A. Dmitrieva, Alexey L. Shavarda and Olga V. Voitsekhovskaja
 

Chlorophyll b is the major regulator of photosynthetic antennae in land plants. Its absence diminishes light harvesting, photoprotection and ultimately photosynthesis. We show that barley mutants lacking chl b display impaired stomatal control, which can be restored by temporal shading of the plants. Thus the effects of this mutation extend beyond chloroplast metabolism.

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