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Members of WRKY gene family encode transcription factors involved in plant developmental processes and response to biotic and abiotic stresses. In order to understand the function of the TaWRKY71 gene, a homologue gene was isolated and characterised in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) genotype TAM107. Tissue-specific gene expression profiles indicated that TaWRKY71 was constitutively expressed in roots, stems, leaves, stamen and pistil. The relative expression of TaWRKY71 was elucidated under ABA treatment and other abiotic stresses. In agreement with this, several putative cis-acting elements involved in ABA-response, drought-inducibility, low-temperature and heat response were detected in the promoter region of TaWRKY71. The function of TaWRKY71 was further determined by transforming Arabidopsis thaliana. Transgenic plants over-expressing TaWRKY71 displayed enhanced seed germination under ABA treatment and were tolerant to salt and drought stresses. These results indicate that TaWRKY71 gene might play important roles in seed germination and abiotic stress response.

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Barley stripe mosaic virus (BSMV)-based virus induced gene silencing (VIGS) is an effective strategy for rapid determination of functional genes in wheat plants. ERECTA genes are reported to regulate stomatal pattern of plants, and manipulation of TaERECTA (a homologue of ERECTA in bread wheat) is a potential route for investigating stomatal development. Here, the leucine-rich repeat domains (LRRs) and transmembrane domains of TaERECTA were selected to gain BSMV:ER-LR and BSMV:ER-TM constructs, respectively, targeting TaERECTA for silencing in wheat cultivars ‘Bobwhite’ and ‘Cadenza’, to identify the function of TaERECTA on stomatal patterns. The results showed that reduced expression of TaERECTA caused an increased stomatal and epidermal cell density by average 13.5% and 3.3%, respectively, due to the significantly reduced size of leaf epidermal and stomatal cells, and this led to an increase in stomatal conductance. These suggest that modulation of TaERECTA offers further opportunities in stomatal engineering for the adaptation of photosynthesis in wheat.

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This research was aimed to study the cell wall degradation and the dynamic changes of Ca2+ and related enzymes in developing aerenchyma of wheat root under waterlogging. An examination of morphological development by light and electron microscope revealed that the structure of cell wall in middle cortical cells remained intact after 12 h of waterlogging and turned thinner after waterlogging for 24 h. At 48 h, the aerenchyma has been formed. The cellulase activity gradually increased in middle cortical cells within 24 h of waterlogging, and decreased with the formation of aerenchyma. Fluorescence detection and subcellular localization of Ca2+ showed the dynamic changing of Ca2+ at the cellular and subcellular levels during the development of aerenchyma. The activity of Ca2+-ATPase enhanced markedly in intercellular space, plasma membrane and tonoplast of some middle cortical cells after 8 h of waterlogging and remained high after 24 h, but it decreased after 48 h of waterlogging. All these suggests that cellulase, Ca2+ and Ca2+-ATPase show a dynamic distribution during the aerenchyma development which associated with the cell wall degradation of middle cortical cells. Moreover, there is a feedback regulation between Ca2+ and Ca2+-ATPase.

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The study investigated the effects of environmental factors (salinity, pH, ions and activation media) on sperm motility (activation rate, duration of quick movement, and lifespan) and fertilization rate of Phascolosoma esculenta. The results showed that spermatozoa in the coelom and nephridium are able to move quickly. The optimal salinity was 14.64 to 43.35 and the optimal pH was 6.46 to 9.53 for sperm activation and motility, whereas the ranges for fertilization were narrower (18.56 to 30.3 for salinity and 6.46 to 8.61 for pH). Of the ions studied, Na+ was indispensable for sperm motility and fertilization, and Ca2+ and Mg2+ were necessary for fertilization. P. esculenta sperm could not fertilize eggs and have short lifespans in 200 to 600 mmol/L NaCl and KCl solutions. Furthermore, they could not be activated or move in 200 to 600 mmol/L CaCl2, MgSO4, and sucrose solutions.

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Stripe rust, caused by Puccinia striiformis Westend. f. sp. tritici Eriks., is a major disease that causes substantial losses to wheat production worldwide. The utilization of effective resistance genes in wheat cultivars is the preferred control of the disease. To study the inheritance of all-stage resistance in spring wheat cultivars Louise, WA008016, Express, Solano, Alturas and Zak from the Pacific Northwest (PNW) of the United States, the six cultivars were crossed with the Chinese susceptible variety Taichung 29. Single-spore isolates of CYR32 and CYR33, the predominant Chinese races of P. striiformis f. sp. tritici, were used to evaluate F1, F2 and BC1 generations for stripe rust resistance under controlled greenhouse conditions. Genetic analysis determined that Louise had one dominant resistance gene to CYR32, temporarily designated as YrLou. WA008016 had two dominant and one recessive resistance genes to CYR32, temporarily designated as YrWA1, YrWA2 and YrWA3, respectively. Express had a single recessive gene that conferred resistance to CYR32, temporarily designated as YrExp3. The two independent dominant genes in Solano conferring resistance to CYR32 were temporarily designated as YrSol1 and YrSol2. Alturas had two recessive genes for resistance to CYR32, temporarily designated as YrAlt1 and YrAlt2. Zak has one dominant gene for resistance to CYR33, temporarily designated as YrZak1. These six cultivars can be important resistance sources in Chinese wheat stripe rust resistance 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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As one of the world’s earliest domesticated crops, barley is a model species for the study of evolution and domestication. Domestication is an evolutionary process whereby a population adapts, through selection; to new environments created by human cultivation. We describe the genome-scanning of molecular diversity to assess the evolution of barley in the Tibetan Plateau. We used 667 Diversity Arrays Technology (DArT) markers to genotype 185 barley landraces and wild barley accessions from the Tibetan Plateau. Genetic diversity in wild barley was greater than in landraces at both genome and chromosome levels, except for chromosome 3H. Landraces and wild barley accessions were clearly differentiated genetically, but a limited degree of introgression was still evident. Significant differences in diversity between barley subspecies at the chromosome level were observed for genes known to be related to physiological and phenotypical traits, disease resistance, abiotic stress tolerance, malting quality and agronomic traits. Selection on the genome of six-rowed naked barley has shown clear multiple targets related to both its specific end-use and the extreme environment in Tibet. Our data provide a platform to identify the genes and genetic mechanisms that underlie phenotypic changes, and provide lists of candidate domestication genes for modified breeding strategies.

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