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Chlorophyll content is positively correlated with photosynthetic rate. However, little is known about the genetic correlation between grain yield and chlorophyll content in the same wheat mapping population. The primary goal of the study was to detect the genetic basis of grain yield and chlorophyll content and their possible roles in the genetic improvement of grain yield in wheat. Here, quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for grain yield and chlorophyll content were studied using a set of 168 doubled haploid (DH) lines derived from a cross between two elite Chinese wheat cultivars, Huapei 3×Yumai 57. The DH population and parents were evaluated for grain yield and chlorophyll content in three environments. A total of 11 additive QTLs and 6 pairs of epistatic QTLs were detected for grain yield and chlorophyll content. Loci, such as Xcfd53, Xwmc718 , and Xwmc215 on chromosomes (e.g. 2D, 4A, and 5D) simultaneously controling grain yield and chlorophyll content, showed tight linkages or pleiotropisms. Three novel major QTLs, qGY5D, qChla5D , and qChlb5D , closely linked with the PCR marker Xwmc215 on chromosome 5D, accounted for 10.32%, 12.95%, and 23.29% of the phenotypic variance, respectively. The favorable alleles came from Yumai 57.

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The relationship between plant communities and elevation in the Guandi mountainous area was studied. Data from 89 sampling units, each of 10 m x 20 m size, taken along an elevation gradient were analyzed by TWINSPAN, DECORANA and diversity and evenness indices. The samples were clustered into 23 groups by TWINSPAN, representing 23 vegetation types. The composition and distribution of communities varied greatly along the altitude gradient, suggesting that community diversity is closely related to elevation in the Guandi Mountains. This is due to the change of temperature and water-conditions along the elevation gradient. Species heterogeneity and evenness were significantly correlated with elevation along the entire gradient, but showing first a trend of increases and then decreases, corresponding to the hypothesis of maximum diversity at medium elevation. Species richness varied greatly in the study area, and was not significantly correlated with elevation.

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Different components of biodiversity may vary differently since species diversity was considered to be determined by resource availability but functional diversity was related to partitioning of niche space. Moreover, the harsh or benign conditions may result in different niche space partitioning by the coexisting species. For example, in harsh environments niche differentiation may be stronger resulting in higher functional diversity. In this study, we investigate species diversity and functional diversity along a south-to north-facing slope gradient with different resource availability in a sub-alpine meadow. Our results indicate that the patterns of species diversity and functional diversity are not consistent along this gradient. Both species richness and Shannon index of diversity increased, but functional diversity slightly decreased or changed a little from south-to north-facing slope. Moreover, these two components formed a quadratic relationship. Soil water content (SWC) was the limiting resource along this gradient. On one hand, it determined the species diversity; on the other hand, it also influenced functional diversity via affecting niche differentiation and species trait pool. In conclusion, functional diversity was determined by both species richness and niche differentiation with the influence of soil water content.

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Eight malting barley cultivars were used to investigate the cultivar and environmental effects on grain protein components and the relationships between protein fractions and β -amylase or β -glucanase activity. The results showed there was a great variation for three protein fraction (albumin, hordein and glutelin) contents over cultivars and locations, and a distinct difference in each protein fraction content between the locations for a given cultivars. Correlation analysis indicated that β -amylase activity was significantly correlated with three protein fraction contents and there was a negative correlation between glutelin content and β -amylase activity, but β -amylase activity positively correlated with albumin or hordein content. Furthermore, there was a significant positive correlation between total protein content and β -glucanase activity, and we found the hordein and glutelin content did not show correlated with β -glucanase activity but the albumin content was a significantly negative correlation with β -glucanase activity.

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Drought is a severe abiotic stress that affects wheat production worldwide. In order to identify candidate genes for tolerance to water stress in wheat, sequences of 11 genes that have function of drought tolerance in other plant species were used to identify the wheat ortholog genes via homology searching in the wheat EST database. Atotal of 11 primer pairs were identified and amplified PCR products in wheat. Of them, 10 STS markers were mapped on 11 chromosomes in a set of nulli-tetrasomic lines of ‘Chinese Spring’ wheat; six were mapped on chromosomes 1A, 1B, 4B, 7A, 2B and 5D, respectively, in a spring wheat mapping population (POP1). The marker XTaABH1 mapped on 7A in POP1 was the only one mapped but characterized in a winter wheat mapping population (POP2) for grain yield, kernel weight and diameter, and height in four-field trials applied different water stress or irrigation. The marker XTaABH1 was significantly associated with grain yield under rainfed condition, with kernel weight under terminal stress and non-irrigation conditions, with kernel diameter and height under non-irrigated condition. The STS primers, map information and marker-trait association produced in the currently study would be of interest to researchers working on drought tolerance.

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A synthetic autopolyploid was developed from diploid Aegilops tauschii, D genome progenitor of common wheat (Triticum aestivum). The tetraploid Ae. tauschii displayed a markedly larger organ size than the diploid donor. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and DNA marker analysis revealed that there is no clear variation at either the chromosomal or DNA level between the diploid and tetraploid plants. We analyzed the variation in cytosine methylation patterns between the diploid and tetraploid plants by methylation-sensitive amplified polymorphism (MSAP) and detected 228 and 232 methylated sites in diploid and tetraploid plants, respectively. Statistical comparison indicated that the tetraploid Ae. tauschii genotype displayed no significant difference in polymorphic methylation level compared to the diploid ones. Twenty-two different genomic fragments displaying different methylation behavior during the ploidy conversions were isolated and sequenced. It demonstrated that alterations in the level of methylation have the most profound effects on coding genes. We demonstrated that there are some genes expressions modified by DNA methylation may be correlated with phenotypic alteration after autotetraploidization.

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Thinopyrum ponticum is particularly a valuable source of genes for wheat improvement. A novel wheat-Th. ponticum addition line, 1–27, was identified using cytology, SSR, ESTSSR, EST-STS and PCR-based landmark unique gene (PLUG) markers in this study. Cytological studies showed that 1–27 contained 44 chromosomes and formed 22 bivalents at meiotic metaphase I. Genomic in situ hybridization (GISH) analysis indicated that two chromosomes from Th. ponticum had been introduced into 1–27 and that these two chromosomes could form a bivalent in wheat background. Such results demonstrated that 1–27 was a disomic addition line with 42 wheat chromosomes and a pair of Th. ponticum chromosomes. One SSR marker (BARC235), one EST-STS marker (MAG3284) and 8 PLUG markers (TNAC1210, TNAC1787, TNAC1803, TNAC1805, TNAC1806, TNAC1821, TNAC1867 and TNAC1957), which were all from wheat chromosome group 7, produced the specific band in Th. ponticum and 1–27, indicating that the introduced Th. ponticum chromosomes belonging to the group 7 of wheat. Sequence analysis on specific bands from Th. ponticum and 1–27 amplified using the PLUG marker TNAC1867 further confirmed this result. The 1–27 addition line was also observed to be high resistant to powdery mildew though it is not clear if the resistance of 1–27 inherited from Th. ponticum. This study provided some useful information for effective exploitation of the source of genetic variability in wheat breeding.

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Chinese endemic wheat landraces possess unique morphological features and desirable traits, useful for wheat breeding. It is important to clarify the relationship among these landraces. In this study, 21 accessions of the four Chinese endemic wheat landrace species were investigated using single-copy genes encoding plastid Acetyl-CoA carboxylase (Acc-1) and 3-phosphoglycerate kinase (Pgk-1) in order to estimate their phylogenetic relationship. Phylogenetic trees were constructed using maximum parsimony (MP), maximum likelihood (ML) and Bayesian, and TCS network and gene flow values. The A and B genome sequences from the Pgk-1 loci indicated that three accessions of Triticum petropavlovskyi were clustered into the same subclade, and the T. aestivum ssp. tibetanum and the Sichuan white wheat accessions were grouped into a separate subclade. Based on the Acc-1 gene, T. aestivum ssp. tibetanum and T. aestivum ssp. yunnanense were grouped into one subclade in the A genome; the B genome from T. petropavlovskyi and T. aestivum ssp. tibetanum, and the Sichuan white wheat complex and T. aestivum ssp. tibetanum were grouped in the same clades. The D genome of T. aestivum ssp. yunnanense clustered with T. petropavlovskyi. Our findings suggested that (1) T. petropavlovskyi is distantly related to the Sichuan white wheat complex; (2) T. petropavlovskyi, T. aestivum ssp. tibetanum and T. aestivum ssp. yunnanense are closely related; (3) T. aestivum ssp. tibetanum is closely related to T. aestivum ssp. yunnanense and the Sichuan white wheat complex; and (4) T. aestivum ssp. tibetanum may be an ancestor of Chinese endemic wheat landraces.

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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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Three wheat varieties of Atlas66 (Al-tolerant genotype), EM12 (a major elite cultivar in China) and Scout66 (Al-sensitive genotype) were used to investigate their potential mechanisms of Al toxicity. Al concentrations of 50, 75, 100 μmol l −1 were used and the inhibition on root elongation between Scout66 and EM12 is significantly higher than that of Al-tolerant Atlas66, which is negative correlated to the Al absorption in root apices. Organic acids secretion was checked 24 h after Al stress and only malate was detected in Atlas66, but none of the organic acids were detected in the others, suggesting that secretion of malate in root is a major mechanism of Al resistance in Al-tolerant wheat genotype. The root cell ultrastructure showed less damage in Atlas66 than that in Scout66 and EM12 under Al stress by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) technique. Tissue culture was carried out and the callus induction frequencies were all decreased on the media containing Al. The decrease of callus induction frequencies was less in Atlas66 than that in the others. It is concluded that Al damages the cell ultrastructure, resulting in the inhibition of acids secretion and cell division, which implies that the damage of cell ultrastructure is probably the key factor in Al inhibition of root growth.

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