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In this study, the cDNA of homocysteine S-methyltransferase was isolated from Aegilops tauschii Coss., with the gene accordingly designated as AetHMT1. Similar to other methyltransferases, AetHMT1 contains a GGCCR consensus sequence for a possible zinc-binding motif near the C-terminal and a conserved cysteine residue upstream of the zinc-binding motif. Analysis of AetHMT1 uncovered no obvious chloroplast or mitochondrial targeting sequences. We functionally expressed AetHMT1 in Escherichia coli and confirmed its biological activity, as evidenced by a positive HMT enzyme activity of 164.516 ± 17.378 nmol min−1 mg−1 protein when catalyzing the transformation of L-homocysteine. Compared with the bacterium containing the empty vector, E. coli harboring the recombinant AetHMT1 plasmid showed much higher tolerance to selenate and selenite. AetHMT1 transcript amounts in different organs were increased by Na2SeO4 treatment, with roots accumulating higher amounts than stems, old leaves and new leaves. We have therefore successfully isolated HMT1 from Ae. tauschii and characterized the biochemical and physiological functions of the corresponding protein.

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Wheat-rye 1BL.1RS translocations have been widely used in wheat breeding programs. A 1BL.1RS translocation wheat line, 91S-23, was developed from a 1R monosomic addition of the rye (Secale cereale) inbred line L155 into wheat (Triticum aestivum) MY11. A new commercial wheat cultivar, CN18, which also contained the 1BL.1RS translocation, was derived from the cross MY11 × 91S-23. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) indicated that the rye centromere was eliminated from the 1BL.1RS chromosomes of CN18 but not from 91S-23. Based on the 1RS source and the centromeric structure of the translocation chromosome, CN18 qualifies as a new wheat cultivar possessing a 1BL.1RS translocation. CN18 displayed high yield performance and resistance to powdery mildew and stripe rust, whereas 91S-23 was susceptible to these diseases. The present study provides a new 1RS resource for wheat improvement.

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Purple pericarp is an interesting and useful trait in Triticum aestivum, but the molecular mechanism behind this phenotype remains unclear. The allelic variation in the MYB transcriptors is associated with the phenotype of pigmented organs in many plants. In this study, a MYB transcription factor gene, TaMYB3, was isolated using homology-based cloning and a differentially expressed gene mining approach, to verify the function of the MYB transcriptor in the purple pericarp. The coding sequence of TaMYB3 in cultivar Gy115 was the same as that in cultivar Opata. TaMYB3 was localized to FL0.62–0.95 on chromosome 4BL. The TaMYB3 protein contains DNA-binding and transcription-activation domains, and clustered on a phylogenetic tree with the MYB proteins that regulates anthocyanin and proanthocyanin biosynthesis. TaMYB3 localized in the nuclei of Arabidopsis thaliana and wheat protoplasts after it was transiently expressed with PEG transformation. TaMYB3 induced anthocyanin synthesis in the pericarp cells of Opata in the dark in collaboration with the basic helix–loop–helix protein ZmR, which is also the function of ZmC1. However, TaMYB3 alone did not induce anthocyanin biosynthesis in the pericarp cells of the white grain wheat cultivar Opata in the light after bombardment, whereas the single protein ZmR did. Light increased the expression of TaMYB3 in the pericarp of Gy115 and Opata, but only induced anthocyanin biosynthesis in the grains of Gy115. Our results extend our understanding of the molecular mechanism of the purple pericarp trait in T. aestivum.

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Cereal Research Communications
Authors: W.F. Song, Z.Y. Ren, Y.B. Zhang, H.B. Zhao, X.B. Lv, J.L. Li, C.H. Guo, Q.J. Song, C.L. Zhang, W.L. Xin, and Z.M. Xiao

Two lines, L-19-613 and L-19-626, were produced from the common wheat cultivar Longmai 19 (L-19) by six consecutive backcrosses using biochemical marker-assisted selection. L-19 (Glu-D1a, Glu-A3c/Gli-A1?; Gli-A1? is a gene coding for unnamed gliadin) and L-19-613 (Glu-D1d, Glu-A3c/Gli-A1?) formed a set of near-isogenic lines (NILs) for HMW-GS, while L-19-613 and L-19-626 (Glu-D1d, Glu-A3e/Gli-A1m) constituted another set of NILs for the LMW-GS/gliadins. The three L-19 NILs were grown in the wheat breeding nursery in 2007 and 2008. The field experiments were designed using the three-column contrast arrangement method with four replicates. The three lines were ranked as follows for measurements of gluten strength, which was determined by the gluten index, Zeleny sedimentation, the stability and breakdown time of the farinogram, the maximum resistance and area of the extensogram, and the P andWvalues of the alveogram: L-19-613 > L-19-626 > L-19. The parameters listed above were significantly different between lines at the 0.05 or 0.01 level. The Glu-D1 and Glu-A3/Gli-A1 loci had additive effects on the gluten index, Zeleny sedimentation, stability, breakdown time, maximum resistance, area, P and W values. Although genetic variation at the Glu-A3/Gli-A1 locus had a great influence on wheat quality, the genetic difference between Glu-D1d and Glu-D1a at the Glu-D1 locus was much larger than that of Glu-A3c/Gli-A1? and Glu-A3e/Gli-A1m at the Glu-A3/Gli-A1 locus. Glu-D1d had negative effects on the extensibility and the L value compared with Glu-D1a. In contrast, Glu-A3c/Gli-A1? had a positive effect on these traits compared with Glu-A3e/Gli-A1m.

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Red coleoptile is an easily observed trait in Triticum aestivum and can provide some protection against stress. Here, TaMYB-A1 or TuMYB-A1, homologous to TaMYB-D1, which controls red coleoptile formation in the common wheat cultivar ‘Gy115’, was isolated from eight T. aestivum and 34 T. urartu cultivars. The genome sequence of TaMYB-A1 was 867 bp with an intron of 93 bp, which was similar to the MYBs regulating anthocyanin biosynthesis in T. aestivum but different from other MYB transcription factors regulating anthocyanin biosynthesis. TaMYB-A1 had an integrated DNA-binding domain of 102 amino acids and a transcriptional domain of 42 amino acids, which was responsible for regulating anthocyanin biosynthesis. TaMYB-A1 was assigned to the same branch as the MYBs regulating anthocyanin biosynthesis in a phylogenetic tree. A transient expression analysis showed that TaMYB-A1 induced ‘Opata’ coleoptile cells to synthesize anthocyanin with the help of ZmR. A non-functional allele of TaMYB-a1 existed in common wheat cultivars containing rc-a1. One single nucleotide was deleted 715 bp after the start codon in TaMYB-a1 compared with TaMYB-A1. The deletion caused a frame shift mutation, destroyed the DNA transcription activator domain, and resulted in TaMYB-a1 losing its ability to regulate anthocyanin biosynthesis in ‘Opata’ coleoptile cells. Those cultivars with functional TaMYB-A1 or TuMYB-A1 have red coleoptiles. The isolation of TaMYB-A1 should aid in understanding the molecular mechanisms of coleoptile traits in T. aestivum.

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Red coleoptile is an easily observed agronomic trait of wheat and has been extensively studied. However, the molecular mechanism of this trait has not yet been revealed. In this study, the MYB gene TaMYB-D1 was isolated from the wheat cultivar ‘Gy115’, which possesses red coleoptiles. This gene resided at the short arm of the homoelogous group 7 chromosomes. TaMYB-D1 was the only gene expressed in the coleoptiles of ‘Gy115’ and was not expressed in ‘Opata’ and ‘CS’, which have uncoloured coleoptiles. Phylogenetic analysis placed TaMYB-D1 very close to ZmC1 and other MYB proteins regulating anthocyanin biosynthesis. The encoded protein of TaMYB-D1 had an integrated DNA binding domain of 102 amino acids and a transcription domain with 42 amino acids, similar to the structure of ZmC1. Transient expression analysis in onion epidermal cells showed that TaMYB-D1 was located at the plant nucleus, which suggested its role as a transcription factor. The expression of TaMYB-D1 was accompanied with the expression of TaDFR and anthocyanin biosynthesis in the development of the coleoptile of ‘Gy115’. Transient expression analysis showed that only TaMYB-D1 induced a few ‘Opata’ coleoptile cells to synthesize anthocyanin in light, and the gene also induced a colour change to red in many cells with the help of ZmR. All of these results suggested TaMYB-D1 as the candidate gene for the red coleoptile trait of ‘Gy115’.

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Alpha, beta, and gamma diversity are three fundamental biodiversity components in ecology, but most studies focus only on the scale issues of the alpha or gamma diversity component. The beta diversity component, which incorporates both alpha and gamma diversity components, is ideal for studying scale issues of diversity. We explore the scale dependency of beta diversity and scale relationship, both theoretically as well as by application to actual data sets. Our results showed that a power law exists for beta diversity-area (spatial grain or spatial extent) relationships, and that the parameters of the power law are dependent on the grain and extent for which the data are defined. Coarse grain size generates a steeper slope (scaling exponent z) with lower values of intercept (c), while a larger extent results in a reverse trend in both parameters. We also found that, for a given grain (with varying extent) or a given extent (with varying grain) the two parameters are themselves related by power laws. These findings are important because they are the first to simultaneously relate the various components of scale and diversity in a unified manner.

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Numerous studies showed that lipid transfer proteins (LTPs) play important roles in flower, development, cuticular wax deposition and pathogen responses; however, their roles in abiotic stresses are relatively less reported. This study characterized the function of a maize LTP gene (ZmLTP3) during drought stress. ZmLTP3 gene was transferred into maize inbred line Jing2416; subsequently the glyphosate and drought tolerance of the over-expression (OE) lines were analyzed. Analysis showed that OE lines could significantly enhance drought tolerance. Transgenic maize lines OE6, OE7 and OE8 showed lower cell membrane damage, higher chlorophyll contents, higher protective enzymes activities, better growth and development under drought condition. The results strongly indicated that overexpression of ZmLTP3 could increase drought tolerances in maize.

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Wheat kernel morphology is a very important trait for wheat yield improvement. This is the first report of association analysis of kernel morphology traits in wheat breeding lines. In Qinghai, China, the research described here involved genome-wide association analysis in breeding lines derived from synthetic hexaploid wheat with a mixed linear model to identify the quantitative trait loci (QTLs) related to kernel morphology. The 8033 effective Diversity Array Technology (DArT) markers produced a genetic map of 5901.84 cM with an average density of 1.36 markers/cM. Population structure analysis classified 507 breeding lines into three groups by Bayesian structure analysis using unlinked markers. Linkage disequilibrium decay was observed with a map coverage of 2.78 cM. Marker-trait association analysis showed that 15 DArT markers for kernel morphology were detected, located on nine chromosomes, and explained 2.6%–4.0% of the phenotypic variation of kernel area (KA), kernel width (KW), kernel length (KL) and thousand-kernel weight (TKW). The marker 1139297 was related to both the KL and KA traits. Only six DArT markers were close to known QTLs. The parent SHW-L1 carried eight favored alleles, while other seven favored alleles were derived from elite common wheat cultivars. These QTLs, identified in elite breeding lines, should help us understand the kernel morphology trait better, and to provide germplasm for breeding new wheat cultivars for Qinghai Province or other regions.

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Cereal Research Communications
Authors: L. Wei, S.G. Bai, X.J. Hou, J.M. Li, B. Zhang, W.J. Chen, D.C. Liu, B.L. Liu, and H.G. Zhang

Among 20 awnless Tibetan wheat cultivars analyzed by SDS-PAGE, the migration rate of an HMW-GS in XM001584 and XM001593, named 1BX23*. was shown to be slightly faster than 1Bx6. and slower than Bx7. Its nucleotide sequence was isolated based on homology clones. In a phylogenetic tree of 1Bx genes, 1Bx23* was apparently clustered with 1Bx23. Compared with 1Bx23. eight single nucleotide replacements caused four single amino acid replacements in 1Bx23*. The deletion of “G” at base pair 1463 and insertion of “A” at 1509 bps induced a 42-nucleotide frame shift. “GQRQQAGQWQRPGQ” was replaced by “DKGNRQDNGNDRDK”. The new segment cannot be found in other HMW-GSs, and it is very similar to a segment found in collagen. Moreover, an 18-nucleotide deletion made 1Bx23* six amino acids shorter than 1Bx23. The cultivar XM001593 had 28 chromosomes, which signifies that it was tetraploid wheat, and that the new HMW-GS 1Bx23* cannot be used directly for breeding in common wheat.

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