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  • Author or Editor: S. Yang x
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New technologies in gene transfer combined with experimental embryology make the chicken embryo an excellent model system for gene function studies. The techniques of in ovo electroporation, in vitro culture for ex ovo electroporation and retrovirus-mediated gene transfer have already been fully developed in chicken. Yet to our knowledge, there are no definite descriptions on the features and application scopes of these techniques. The survival rates of different in vitro culture methods were compared and the EGFP expression areas of different gene transfer techniques were explored. It was that the optimal timings of removing embryo for EC culture and Petri dish system was at E1.5 and E2.5, respectively; and optimal timing of injecting retrovirus is at E0. Results indicated that the EC culture, in ovo electroporation, the Petri dish system and retrovirus-mediated method are, respectively, suitable for the very early, early, late and whole embryonic stages in chicken. Comparison of different gene transfer methods and establishment of optimal timings are expected to provide a better choice of the efficient method for a particular experiment.

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High ozone (O3) can cause great damage to plants. However, the effect of high O3 on nitrogen (N) absorption, distribution, and utilization in rice at different growth stages under different planting densities is poorly understood. In the present study, a conventional cultivar (Yangdao 6) and a hybrid cultivar (II You 084) with different planting densities were exposed to an elevated amount of O3 (E-O3; 50% higher than that of the control, C-O3) under a freeair gas concentration enrichment (FACE) system. N absorption, distribution, and utilization of the green leaves, stems, and shoots at tillering, jointing heading, and maturity were investigated. Results showed that E-O3 significantly increased the N content in the shoots of Yangdao 6 by 7.5%, 12.7%, and 19.6%, respectively, at jointing, heading, and maturity. Also, the N content in the shoots of II You 084 increased by 5.4%, 6.5%, and 8.4% at the corresponding growth stage upon E-O3 application. E-O3 significantly decreased N accumulation of II You 084 by 8.3%, 4.9%, 4.7%, and 19.2%, respectively, at tillering, jointing, heading, and maturity. Further, E-O3 had a decreasing effect on the N distribution in green leaves (p ≤ 0.05) of both cultivars, but exerted an increasing effect on that in the stems of both cultivars (p ≤ 0.05). In addition, E-O3 significantly decreased the N use efficiency (NUE) for biomass of the two cultivars in all growth stages. These results revealed that E-O3 could increase the N content in rice plants but decrease the N accumulation and utilization in both cultivars. The effects of E-O3 on N absorption, distribution, and utilization were not affected by planting density.

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Naturalization is the introduction and establishment of a nonnative species with sustainable populations in a novel environment. The success of nonnative species may be influenced by their relatedness to the native flora. Darwin proposed that if a nonnative plant species is introduced into an environment without native congeners, the nonnative species will have a greater chance of becoming naturalized. To test Darwin’s naturalization hypothesis, we compiled a Kentucky plant database consisting of 821 vascular plant species and subsequently selected species traits and distribution information to determine the effect of congeneric species and traits on the probability of successful naturalization and invasion. The predictors used include reproductive traits, growth form, abundance, habitat type, native congeners, and biogeographical origin. We fit three sets of generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) with a binomial family and a logit link. Backward selection based on minimizing the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) was used in the analyses. Our results from these three sets of models clearly indicate that the validity of Darwin’s hypothesis is invasion stage dependent. More specific, the naturalized and invasive models (predicting the probability of being naturalized and invasive respectively) did not support Darwin’s naturalization hypothesis. The number of native congeners had no effect on the likelihood that a particular species would naturalize and become invasive. Our results suggest that Darwin’s naturalization hypothesis is more relevant during the early stage of establishment as demonstrated by the native model (predicting the probability of being native) and it becomes irrelevant during the late stages of invasion as indicated by the naturalized and invasive models. Thus, it can be generalized that biotic interactions, especially competition, is a critical determinant of initial success for nonnative species in the recipient communities. Once established, the fate of non-native species during the late stages of invasion may be more related to other factors such as biogeographic origin and habitat conditions. Furthermore, we found reproductive traits such as flowering phenology and flower type are associated with invasion success. We also recognized contrasting traits between native and nonnative species, indicating niche differentiation between these two groups of species. Niche overlapping was found as well among species regardless of the status of being native or otherwise. Our study provides a novel approach to advance the understanding of phylogenetic relatedness between nonnative species and native flora by integrating traits and niche concepts at the regional scale.

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We described the structure of two different morphological gall types, subglobular and fusiform in Ephedra distachya. The gall midge, Xerephedromyia ustjurtensis Fedotova (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) induces both types of gall formation. Galls are persistent resinous stem swellings usually subglobular and rarely fusiform in shape. Mature galls are solid, hard, indehiscent woody structure with many circular exit holes on their surface. Galls are anatomically similar, but different from the unaffected stems. The mean number of larval cavities varied significantly between subglobular and fusiform galls, while variation of diameter of the larval cavities was not significant between the gall morphotypes. We documented significant (p < 0.05) variation in total gall densities between sexes of Ephedra distachya, where male plants (mean = 0.89 ± 0.15) supporting higher gall densities than females (mean = 0.36±0.04). Total gall densities varied significantly (p < 0.05) among three sample populations of E. distachya and exhibited an increasing trend from mesic to xeric sites along an altitudinal gradient. Gall size also varied between plant sexes and among sites.

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Starch is a product of photosynthetic activities in leaves. Wheat yields largely depend on photosynthetic carbon fixation and carbohydrate metabolism in flag leaves. The mapping of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) associated with flag leaf starch content (FLSC) in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) was completed using unconditional and conditional QTL analyses. The FLSC of this population during the early grain-filling stage was measured at six stages in six environments. Combining unconditional and conditional QTL mapping methods, eight unconditional QTLs and nine conditional QTLs were detected, with five QTLs identified as unconditional and conditional QTLs. Four unconditional QTLs (i.e. qFLS-1B, qFLS-1D-1, qFLS-4A, and qFLS-7D-1) and one conditional QTL (i.e. qFLS-3A-1) were identified in two of six environments. Two QTLs (qFLS-1D-2 and qFLS-7D-1), which significantly affected the FLSC, were identified using the unconditional QTL mapping method, while three QTLs (i.e. qFLS-1A, qFLS-3A-1, and qFLS-7D-1) were detected using the conditional QTL mapping method. Our findings provide new insights into the genetic mechanism and regulatory network underlying the diurnal FLSC in wheat.

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Global rice supplies have been found contaminated with unapproved varieties of genetically modified (GM) rice in recent years, which has led to product recalls in several of countries. Faster and more effective detection of GM contamination can prevent adulterated food, feed and seed from being consumed and grown, minimize the potential environmental, health or economic damage. In this study, a simple, reliable and cost-effective multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for identifying genetic modifications of TT51-1, Kemingdao1 (KMD1) and Kefeng6 (KF6) rice was developed by using the event-specific fragment. The limit of detection (LOD) for each event in the multiplex PCR is approximately 0.1%. Developed multiplex PCR assays can provide a rapid and simultaneous detection of GM rice.

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Doublesex and mab-3-related transcription factor 1 (Dmrt1) is a Z-linked gene that putatively determines the phenotype of gonads in birds. The sex differential expression of Dmrt1 was examined using wholemount in situ hybridization (WISH) in the urogenital systems during embryogenesis. The results revealed that Dmrt1 showed dimorphic expression in chicken gonads, which increased from day 6.5 to day 10.5. The expression of Dmrt1 in male (ZZ) gonads was not twice as much as in female (ZW) gonads, suggesting the existence of other regulatory mechanisms in addition to Z chromosome dosage effect.

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In mammals, testis development is initiated by the expression of the sex-determining gene, SRY , where-as the genetic trigger for sex determination in birds remains unknown. In the present study, the expression of seven genes implicated in vertebrate sex determination and differentiation were studied in chicken embryonic gonads from day 4 to day 12 of incubation using reverse transcription and the polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Results showed transcription of c Lhx9 , c GATA4 , c Vnn1 , c Ppt1 , c Brd3 were sexually dimorphic during chicken gonadal development, whereas c Eki2 , c Fog2 were expressed at similar levels in both sexes. Results of comparative studies between mammals and chickens show that vertebrate sex-determining pathways comprise both conserved and divergent elements: expression profiles of c GATA4 /c Fog2 and c Vnn1 are similar to those in mammals, while others appear some differences. Possible functions of these genes on chicken gonadal development were analyzed based on their expression profiles.

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The hypothesis of niche differentiation with respect to resources is considered to be one of the most influential explanations for the maintenance of species diversity. The hypothesis has been examined extensively by testing its prediction of species-habitat association, which posits that the spatial distribution of species is highly correlated with environmental variables. However, we argue that widespread evidence of the species-habitat association lacks adequate rigor to justify the niche differentiation hypothesis. In this study, we tested whether and to what extent the observed species-habitat association could be caused by ecological processes other than niche differentiation, in a 20-ha subtropical forest plot. The niche differentiation hypothesis was evaluated by testing the species-habitat association and performing a cross-evaluation of the habitat-diversity expectation, which posits that a strong positive correlation exists between species diversity and habitat complexity. Failure to support the habitat-diversity expectation would at a minimum indicate that the niche differentiation hypothesis might not be the main underlying process of species distribution, despite prevalence of the species-habitat association in the same plot. Our analysis revealed that distributions of most species (86.11%) in the plot were significantly associated with at least one of eight topographical and soil nutrient variables. However, there was almost no significant positive correlation between species diversity and habitat complexity at various spatial scales in the same plot. The results indicate that additional caution is warranted when interpreting the species-habitat association from the niche differentiation perspective. A significant species-habitat association indicates only a species’ habitat preference. The association may reveal nothing about interspecific differences in habitat preference, which is a requirement of the niche differentiation hypothesis.

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A two-year field experiment with a split-split plot design was conducted to investigate the effects of soil N(0, 120 and 240 kg N·ha−1) and foliar Zn applications at different growth stages (jointing, flowering, early grain filling, and late grain filling) on Zn translocation and utilization efficiency in winter wheat grown on potentially Zn-deficient soil. Our results showed that foliar Zn application at the early grain filling stage significantly increased the Zn concentration in the grain (by 82.9% compared to control) and the Zn utilization efficiency (by 49% compared to jointing). The Zn concentration in the straw consistently increased with the timing of the foliar Zn application and was highest at late grain filling. However, the timing of the Zn application had little effect on Zn uptake in the grain and straw. A high N supply significantly increased the Zn concentration in and uptake by grain and straw, but it had little effect on the efficiency of Zn utilization. Consequently, a foliar Zn application at early grain filling causes Zn to re-translocate into grain from vegetative tissues, resulting in highly nutritional wheat grain. Finally, these practices improved the efficiency of Zn utilization in winter wheat and led to Zn-enriched straw, which may contribute to Zn recycling if it is returned to the field. The results also indicated that N nutrition is a critical factor in both the concentration and translocation of Zn in wheat.

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