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Youzimai is a widespread wheat landrace and has been used extensively in breeding programs in China. In order to assess the genetic variation between and within Youzimai accessions, samples of 31 landrace accessions of wheat, all called ‘Youzimai’, were collected from 6 geographic regions in China and evaluated using morphological traits, seedling resistance to powdery mildew, gliadin and microsatellite markers. Typical differences among accessions were observed in morphological characteristics. Forty-five (58.4%) of 77 assayed SSR markers showed polymorphism over the entire collection and total 226 alleles were identified with an average of 5.02 alleles per locus. SSR data indicated that the accessions from Hebei province were the most diverse, as evidenced by greatest number of region-specific alleles and highest diversity index. These accessions, therefore, probably experienced the most substantial morphological and molecular evolution as a result of various natural and anthropomorphic influences. On the other hand, differentiation in gliadin phenotypes was found among seeds within 80.6% of total accessions and average 61.5% of entire collections showed heterogeneous and comprised resistant plants in reaction to powdery mildew, suggesting the presence of a wide diversity within the wheat landrace. By developing an intimate knowledge of the available wheat genotypes, appropriate selections can be made for commercial application in order to conserve and exploit the diversity of the wheat landraces.

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A reborn interest has occurred during the last decade toward wheat landraces for broadening genetic basis of modern wheat cultivars. The investigation of molecular traits within and between existing landraces of wheat can help scientists to develop appropriate strategies for their efficient maintenance and exploitation. The present study dealt with the gliadin characterization of forty-seven wheat landraces collected from wheat mainly planted areas of China, each of which was represented by a sample of at least 43 individuals. Twelve accessions selected on the basis of gliadin analysis were investigated further using 21 SSR markers. The results proved that landraces of wheat are a mixture of variable individuals genetically distinguishable from each other. Twelve of the analyzed 47 accessions were observed to be homogeneous, while 35 (74.5%) of them were heterogeneous in their gliadin composition. In total, 122 gliadin pattern were observed. On average, 10.1% (Gst) of the total variation arose from differentiation among regions, and 89.9% was attributed to within-region variation. Furthermore, nineteen of the 21 SSR markers were polymorphic across all the populations. The total number of the amplified DNA products was 110, with a mean of 6.11 alleles per locus. The values of genetic diversity within each landrace population varied from 0.006 to 0.351. Implications for the management of this valuable genetic resource are discussed.

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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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Three field experiments were conducted to determine the effect of soil Zn, foliar Zn, and soil N application on Zn and phytic acid concentrations in wheat grain grown on potentially Zn-deficient soil. Results showed significant genotypic variation in grain Zn concentrations among fifteen wheat cultivars commonly grown in northwest China. Soil Zn application had mixed effects, increasing grain Zn concentrations of some cultivars by as much as 21%, but reducing grain Zn concentrations of other cultivars by as much as 14%. In comparison, foliar Zn application increased grain Zn concentrations by 26 to 115%. Grain Zn concentrations were 14% larger in the combined (foliar Zn + soil Zn) treatment compared to the foliar Zn treatment, but the added cost of soil Zn application may not be economically justifiable. Wheat grain phytic acid concentrations and phytic acid: Zn molar ratios were less in the foliar Zn and (foliar Zn + soil Zn) treatments compared to the soil Zn and the unfertilized treatments. This indicated that foliar Zn increased Zn bioavailability. Best results were obtained when foliar Zn was applied at early grain filling. Overall, these findings indicate that foliar Zn application to Zn-efficient cultivars could reduce human Zn deficiency in regions with potentially Zn-deficient soil.

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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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Cereal Research Communications
Authors: X. Zhang, Y. Chen, Y. Wei, W. Lu, H. Liao, Y. Liu, X. Yang, X. Li, L. Yang, L. Li, and R. Li

Partial abortion of gametes possessing S-5 j in S-5 i / S-5 j genotype at locus S-5 is responsible for hybrid sterility between indica and japonica subspecies in rice ( Oryza sativa L.), while a single wide compatibility (WC) allele S-5 n can restore normal hybrid fertility between the two groups. In this study, Pei’ai 64S, one of the most popular WC line widely used for subspecific hybrid rice breeding program in South China was studied for location of its S-5 locus. Twenty SSR (Simple Sequence Repeat) markers derived from Cornell SSR linkage map and 9 developed using sequences from GenBank database were employed to perform bulked segregant analysis of the mapping population derived from a three-way cross (Pei’ai 64S/T8//Akihikari) to tag fine location of the hybrid sterility locus, S-5 . This S-5 locus was mapped on chromosome 6 approximately 0.2 cM from GXR6 and RM276 SSR markers. This tight linkage of the markers and the S-5 locus would be very useful for efficient marker-assisted selection for WC varieties and for map-based cloning of the gene.

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Aegiolops kotschyi cytoplasmic male sterile system often results in part of haploid plants in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). To elucidate the origin of haploid, 235 wheat microsatellite (SSR) primers were randomly selected and screened for polymorphism between haploid (2n = 3x = 21 ABD) and its parents, male-sterile line YM21 (2n = 6x = 42 AABBDD) and male fertile restorer YM2 (2n = 6x = 42 AABBDD). About 200 SSR markers yielded clear bands from denatured PAGE, of which 180 markers have identifiable amplification patterns, and 20 markers (around 8%) resulted in different amplification products between the haploid and the restorer, YM2. There were no SSR markers that were found to be distinguishable between the haploid and the male sterile line YM21. In addition, different distribution of HMW-GS between endosperm and seedlings from the same seeds further confirmed that the haploid genomes were inherited from the maternal parent. After haploidization, 1.7% and 0.91% of total sites were up- and down-regulated exceeding twofold in the shoot and the root of haploid, respectively, and most of the differentially expressed loci were up/down-regulated about twofold. Out of the sensitive loci in haploid, 94 loci in the shoot, 72 loci in the root can be classified into three functional subdivisions: biological process, cellular component and molecular function, respectively.

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