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Ecological transition zones are believed to be unique in their ability to shed light on the organization of populations and communities. In this paper, we study vegetation dynamics in the Great Plains short-grass steppe and Chihuahuan desert grassland ecotone in New Mexico, USA, using long-term, high resolution transect studies of the Sevilleta Long-Term Ecological Research Program. We focus on spatial pattern and examine this in several ways: patch size distribution, spatial autocorrelation analysis, and fractal scaling. These methods are used to examine patch size distributions in two sites representing distributional limits of the dominant species and for detection of an emergent scaling property. We found no characteristic spatial resolution (quadrat size), but rather a fractal structure of spatial variation in abundance and a trend towards consistency of the pattern in time when species were closer to their distributional limit. In this, we were able to detect a robust power law behaviour (the emergent property), indicating strong spatial organization via anti-persistence. Our investigation was exploratory in nature; we feel the results are highly suggestive of intrinsic organization in ecological dynamics and may also be useful in generating testable hypotheses regarding the behaviour of species along ecotones.

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Maize seeds from inbred line Mo17, susceptible to Sugarcane mosaic virus (SCMV), were investigated for SCMV seed transmission. The seed quality significantly influenced the seed transmission rate. There were more infected seedlings derived from larger seeds than smaller seeds in both golden (G) and buff (B) seed groups, the proportion of infected seedlings in G1 was similar to G2 and B1, and significantly higher than the others (P < 0.05 or P < 0.01). While the proportion of SCMV seed transmission was higher in golden (3.9%) than buff seeds groups (2.3%), and there were significantly difference (P < 0.05) between the both colors seeds. However the percentage of infected seedlings was closely related to the location of seeds on ears, most infected seedlings were derived from seeds of the middle (Part III) and mid-base regions (Part IV), and the both parts (Parts III and IV) were significantly higher than that of Part I (P < 0.05). Fisher’s exact test indicated that the seed quality was associated significantly with the efficiency of SCMV seed transmission.

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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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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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An allometric analysis of biomass and N mass allocation of rice (Oryza sativa L.) seedlings under non-shaded (100% of full sunlight) and shaded (30% of full sunlight) treatments were conducted. The allometric slopes and the intercepts were estimated using standardized major axis regression. Results indicated that biomass was preferentially allocated to stems during plant ontogeny, and leaves and roots were isometric when rice seedlings were not shaded. Under shade, however, more biomass was allocated to leaves and stems. N mass allocation was also altered by shading in that more N mass was allocated to the aerial shoots, and plants accumulated less N mass when shaded. Our study revealed that both biomass and N mass were in accordance with the optimal partitioning theory.

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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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Leaf senescence is a notably important trait that limits the yield and biomass accumulation of agronomic crops. Therefore, determining the chromosomal position of the expression sequence tags (ESTs) that are associated with leaf senescence is notably interesting in the manipulation of leaf senescence for crop improvement. A total of 32 ESTs that were previously identified during the delaying leaf senescence stage in the stay-green wheat cultivar CN17 were mapped to 42 chromosomes, a chloroplast, a mitochondrion, and a ribosome using in silico mapping. Then, we developed 19 pairs of primers based on these sequences and used them to determine the polymorphisms between the stay-green cultivars (CN12, CN17, and CN18) and the control cultivar MY11. Among the 19 pairs of primers, 5 pairs produced polymorphisms between the stay-green cultivar and the non-stay-green control. Further studies of Chinese Spring nullisomic-tetrasomics show that JK738991 is mapped to 3B, JK738983 is mapped to 5D, and JK738989 is mapped to 2A, 4A, and 3D. The other two ESTs, JK738994 and JK739003, were not assigned to a chromosome using the Chinese Spring nullisomic-tetrasomics, which indicates that these ESTs may be derived from rye DNA in the wide cross. In particular, the ESTs that produce polymorphisms are notably useful in identifying the stay-green cultivar using molecular marker-assisted selection. The results also suggest that the in silico mapping data, even from a comparison genomic analysis based on the homogeneous comparison, are useful at some points, but the data were not always reliable, which requires further investigation using experimental methods.

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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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Cereal Research Communications
Authors: Z.L. Li, H.Y. Li, G. Chen, X.J. Liu, C.L. Kou, S.Z. Ning, Z.W. Yuan, M. Hao, D.C. Liu, and L.Q. Zhang

Seven Glu-A1 m allelic variants of the Glu-A1 m x genes in Triticum monococcum ssp. monococcum, designated as 1Ax2.1 a, 1Ax2.1 b, 1Ax2.1 c, 1Ax2.1 d, 1Ax2.1 e, 1Ax2.1 f, and 1Ax2.1 g were characterized. Their authenticity was confirmed by successful expression of the coding regions in E. coli, and except for the 1Ax2.1 a with the presence of internal stop codons at position of 313 aa, all correspond to the subunit in seeds. However, all the active six genes had a same DNA size although their encoding subunits showed different molecular weight. Our study indicated that amino acid residue substitutions rather than previously frequently reported insertions/deletions played an important role on the subunit evolution of these Glu-A1 m x alleles. Since variation in the Glu-A1x locus in common wheat is rare, these novel genes at the Glu-A1 m x can be used as candidate genes for further wheat quality improvement.

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