Analysis of tall fescue ESTs representing different abiotic stresses, tissue types and developmental stages.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb) is a major cool season forage and turf grass species grown in the temperate regions of the world. In this paper we report the generation of a tall fescue expressed sequence tag (EST) database developed from nine cDNA libraries representing tissues from different plant organs, developmental stages, and abiotic stress factors. The results of inter-library and library-specific in silico expression analyses of these ESTs are also reported. RESULTS: A total of 41,516 ESTs were generated from nine cDNA libraries of tall fescue representing tissues from different plant organs, developmental stages, and abiotic stress conditions. The Festuca Gene Index (FaGI) has been established. To date, this represents the first publicly available tall fescue EST database. In silico gene expression studies using these ESTs were performed to understand stress responses in tall fescue. A large number of ESTs of known stress response gene were identified from stressed tissue libraries. These ESTs represent gene homologues of heat-shock and oxidative stress proteins, and various transcription factor protein families. Highly expressed ESTs representing genes of unknown functions were also identified in the stressed tissue libraries. CONCLUSION: FaGI provides a useful resource for genomics studies of tall fescue and other closely related forage and turf grass species. Comparative genomic analyses between tall fescue and other grass species, including ryegrasses (Lolium sp.), meadow fescue (F. pratensis) and tetraploid fescue (F. arundinacea var glaucescens) will benefit from this database. These ESTs are an excellent resource for the development of simple sequence repeat (SSR) and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) PCR-based molecular markers.
Project description:Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) is an important cool-season perennial grass species used as forage and turf, and in conservation plantings. There are three morphotypes in hexaploid tall fescue: Continental, Mediterranean and Rhizomatous. This study was conducted to develop morphotype-specific molecular markers to distinguish Continental and Mediterranean tall fescues, and establish their relationships with other species of the Festuca genus for genomic inference. Chloroplast sequence variation and simple sequence repeat (SSR) polymorphism were explored in 12 genotypes of three tall fescue morphotypes and four Festuca species. Hypervariable chloroplast regions were retrieved by using 33 specifically designed primers followed by sequencing the PCR products. SSR polymorphism was studied using 144 tall fescue SSR primers. Four chloroplast (NFTCHL17, NFTCHL43, NFTCHL45 and NFTCHL48) and three SSR (nffa090, nffa204 and nffa338) markers were identified which can distinctly differentiate Continental and Mediterranean morphotypes. A primer pair, NFTCHL45, amplified a 47 bp deletion between the two morphotypes is being routinely used in the Noble Research Institute's core facility for morphotype discrimination. Both chloroplast sequence variation and SSR diversity showed a close association between Rhizomatous and Continental morphotypes, while the Mediterranean morphotype was in a distant clade. F. pratensis and F. arundinacea var. glaucescens, the P and G1G2 genome donors, respectively, were grouped with the Continental clade, and F. mairei (M1M2 genome) grouped with the Mediterranean clade in chloroplast sequence variation, while both F. pratensis and F. mairei formed independent clade in SSR analysis. Age estimation based on chloroplast sequence variation indicated that the Continental and Mediterranean clades might have been colonized independently during 0.65 ± 0.06 and 0.96 ± 0.1 million years ago (Mya) respectively. The findings of the study will enhance tall fescue breeding for persistence and productivity.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) is major cool-season forage and turf grass species worldwide, but high-temperature is a major environmental stress that dramatically threaten forage production and turf management of tall fescue. However, very little is known about the whole-genome molecular mechanisms contributing to thermotolerance. The objectives of this study were to analyzed genome-wide gene expression profiles in the leaves of two tall fescue genotypes, heat tolerant 'PI578718' and heat sensitive 'PI234881' using high-throughput RNA sequencing. RESULTS: A total of 262 million high-quality paired-end reads were generated and assembled into 31,803 unigenes with an average length of 1,840 bp. Of these, 12,974 unigenes showed different expression patterns in response to heat stress and were categorized into 49 Gene Ontology functional subcategories. In addition, the variance of enrichment degree in each functional subcategory between PI578718 and PI234881 increased with increasing treatment time. Cell division and cell cycle genes showed a massive increase in transcript abundance in heat-stressed plants and more activated genes were detected in PI 578718 by Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathways analysis. Low molecular weight heat shock protein (LMW-HSP, HSP20) showed activated in two stressed genotypes and high molecular weight HSP (HMW-HSP, HSP90) just in PI578718. Assimilation such as photosynthesis, carbon fixation, CH4, N, S metabolism decreased along with increased dissimilation such as oxidative phosphorylation. CONCLUSIONS: The assembled transcriptome of tall fescue could serve as a global description of expressed genes and provide more molecular resources for future functional characterization analysis of genomics in cool-season turfgrass in response to high-temperature. Increased cell division, LMW/HMW-HSP, dissimilation and antioxidant transcript amounts in tall fescue were correlated with successful resistance to high temperature stress.
Project description:The mutualistic associations of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) with seed-borne fungal symbionts (endophytes) are important for fitness of the grass host and its survival under biotic and abiotic stress. The tall fescue endophytes are asexual relatives of biological species (mating populations) of genus Epichloë (Clavicipitaceae), sexual fungi that cause grass choke disease. Isozyme studies have suggested considerable genetic diversity among endophytes of tall fescue. Phylogenetic relationships among seven isolates from tall fescue, three from meadow fescue (a probable ancestor of tall fescue), and nine Epichloë isolates from other host species were investigated by comparing sequences of noncoding segments of the beta-tubulin (tub2) and rRNA (rrn) genes. Whereas each Epichloë isolate and meadow fescue endophyte had only a single tub2 gene, most tall fescue endophytes had two or three distinct tub2 copies. Phylogenetic analysis of tub2 sequences indicated that the presence of multiple copies in the tall fescue endophytes was a consequence of hybridization with Epichloë species. At least three hybridization events account for the distribution and relationships of tub2 genes. These results suggest that interspecific hybridization is the major cause of genetic diversification of the tall fescue endophytes.
Project description:Heat stress transcription factors (HSFs) compose a large gene family, and different members play differential roles in regulating plant responses to abiotic stress. The objectives of this study were to identify and characterize an A2-type HSF, FaHsfA2c, in a cool-season perennial grass tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) for its association with heat tolerance and to determine the underlying physiological functions and regulatory mechanisms of FaHsfA2c imparting plant tolerance to heat stress. FaHsfA2c was localized in nucleus and exhibited a rapid transcriptional increase in leaves and roots during early phase of heat stress. Ectopic expression of FaHsfA2c improved basal and acquired thermotolerance in wild-type Arabidopsis and also restored heat-sensitive deficiency of hsfa2 mutant. Overexpression of FaHsfA2c in tall fescue enhanced plant tolerance to heat by triggering transcriptional regulation of heat-protective gene expression, improving photosynthetic capacity and maintaining plant growth under heat stress. Our results indicated that FaHsfA2c acted as a positive regulator conferring thermotolerance improvement in Arabidopsis and tall fescue, and it could be potentially used as a candidate gene for genetic modification and molecular breeding to develop heat-tolerant cool-season grass species.
Project description:Plant cytochrome P450s are involved in a wide range of biosynthetic reactions that generate various biomolecules, including a variety of defensive compounds. Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) and tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) are two major species of turf and forage grasses that usually experience low temperature below -10°C and high temperature over 38°C around the world. In this study, we re-analyzed transcriptome of perennial ryegrass and tall fescue treated with heat and cold stress. Thus, we can evaluate P450 composition in these species and confirm whether P450 genes response to temperature stress. We identified 277 and 319 P450 transcripts with open reading frames larger than 300 bp, respectively. These P450 transcripts were mainly classed in the CYP71, 51, 94, 89, 72, and 734 families. In perennial ryegrass and tall fescue, a total of 66 and 62 P450 transcripts were up-regulated, and 65 and 117 transcripts were down-regulated when subjected to heat stress, respectively. When exposed to cold stress, 60 and 73 transcripts were up-regulated, and 59 and 77 transcripts were down-regulated in perennial ryegrass and tall fescue. Among these differentially expressed transcripts, 64 and 87 of them showed expression level changes that followed the same trend, and these temperature-responsive genes primarily belong to the CYP71, 72 and 99 families. Besides, heat and cold stress altered phenylalanine and brassinosteroid involved P450 transcripts in perennial ryegrass and tall fescue. P450 transcripts involved in the metabolism of these compounds showed a strong response to heat and/or cold stress, indicating that they likely play important roles in temperature acclimation in these two species. The CYPome provide a genetic base for the future functional studies, as well as genetic studies that may improve stress tolerance for perennial ryegrass and tall fescue to extreme temperature.
Project description:Heat stress is a critical challenge to tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) in many areas of the globe and variations in genetic structure and functional traits is for the efficient breeding programs on developing heat tolerant cultivars. Tolerant-related morpho-physiological traits and simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers were employed to survey genetic diversity in greenhouse and growth chamber trials. 100 tall fescue accessions, including 8 commercial cultivars and 92 natural genotypes, showed a high variation in phenotypic performance under heat stress. Based on standardized heat tolerant-related morpho-physiological data, all tall fescue accessions were clustered into five groups. The accessions with similar heat tolerance were likely to be clustered in the same group. The highest genetic diversity was obtained for accessions from Africa judged by Nei's gene diversity (0.2640) and PIC (0.2112). All grass accessions could be divided into three major groups based on SSR markers, which was partially congruous to the geographical regions and history of introduction. A low correlation was found between morpho-physiological traits and SSR markers by Mantel test. The patterns in morpho-physiological trait variations and genetic diversity associated with heat tolerance were useful to design breeding programs for developing heat stress resistance in tall fescue.
Project description:Cool season grasses associate asymptomatically with foliar Epichloë endophytic fungi in a symbiosis where Epichloë spp. protects the plant from a number of biotic and abiotic stresses. Furthermore, many grass species can accumulate large quantities of silicon (Si), which also alleviates a similar range of stresses. While Epichloë endophytes may improve uptake of minerals and nutrients, their impact on Si is largely unknown. Likewise, the effect of Si availability on Epichloë colonization remains untested. To assess the bidirectional relationship, we grew tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) and perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) hydroponically with or without Si. Grasses were associated with five different Epichloë endophyte strains [tall fescue: AR584 or wild type (WT); perennial ryegrass: AR37, AR1, or WT] or as Epichloë-free controls. Reciprocally beneficial effects were observed for tall fescue associations. Specifically, Epichloë presence increased Si concentration in the foliage of tall fescue by at least 31%, regardless of endophyte strain. In perennial ryegrass, an increase in foliar Si was observed only for plants associated with the AR37. Epichloë promotion of Si was (i) independent of responses in plant growth, and (ii) positively correlated with endophyte colonization, which lends support to an endophyte effect independent of their impacts on root growth. Moreover, Epichloë colonization in tall fescue increased by more than 60% in the presence of silicon; however, this was not observed in perennial ryegrass. The reciprocal benefits of Epichloë-endophytes and foliar Si accumulation reported here, especially for tall fescue, might further increase grass tolerance to stress.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The agriculturally important pasture grass tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb. syn. Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) Darbysh.) is an outbreeding allohexaploid, that may be more accurately described as a species complex consisting of three major (Continental, Mediterranean and rhizomatous) morphotypes. Observation of hybrid infertility in some crossing combinations between morphotypes suggests the possibility of independent origins from different diploid progenitors. This study aims to clarify the evolutionary relationships between each tall fescue morphotype through phylogenetic analysis using two low-copy nuclear genes (encoding plastid acetyl-CoA carboxylase [Acc1] and centroradialis [CEN]), the nuclear ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer (rDNA ITS) and the chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) genome-located matK gene. Other taxa within the closely related Lolium-Festuca species complex were also included in the study, to increase understanding of evolutionary processes in a taxonomic group characterised by multiple inter-specific hybridisation events. RESULTS:Putative homoeologous sequences from both nuclear genes were obtained from each polyploid species and compared to counterparts from 15 diploid taxa. Phylogenetic reconstruction confirmed F. pratensis and F. arundinacea var. glaucescens as probable progenitors to Continental tall fescue, and these species are also likely to be ancestral to the rhizomatous morphotype. However, these two morphotypes are sufficiently distinct to be located in separate clades based on the ITS-derived data set. All four of the generated data sets suggest independent evolution of the Mediterranean and Continental morphotypes, with minimal affinity between cognate sequence haplotypes. No obvious candidate progenitor species for Mediterranean tall fescues were identified, and only two putative sub-genome-specific haplotypes were identified for this morphotype. CONCLUSIONS:This study describes the first phylogenetic analysis of the Festuca genus to include representatives of each tall fescue morphotype, and to use low copy nuclear gene-derived sequences to identify putative progenitors of the polyploid species. The demonstration of distinct tall fescue lineages has implications for both taxonomy and molecular breeding strategies, and may facilitate the generation of morphotype and/or sub-genome-specific molecular markers.
Project description:Many cool-season grasses (subfamily Pooideae) possess maternally transmitted fungal symbionts which cause no known pathology and often enhance the ecological fitness and biochemical capabilities of the grass hosts. The most commonly described endophytes are the Acremonium section Albo-lanosa spp. (Acremonium endophytes), which are conidial anamorphs (strictly asexual forms) of Epichloë typhina. Other endophytes which have been noted are a Gliocladium-like fungus in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) and a Phialophora-like fungus in tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.). Here, we report the identification of additional non-Acremonium sp. endophytes (herein designated p-endophytes) in three more grass species: Festuca gigantea, Festuca arizonica, and Festuca pratensis. In each grass species, the p-endophyte was cosymbiotic with an Acremonium endophyte. Serological analysis and sequence determinations of variable portions of their rRNA genes indicated that the two previously identified non-Acremonium endophytes are closely related to each other and to the newly identified p-endophytes. Therefore, the p-endophytes represent a second group of widely distributed grass symbionts.
Project description:Plant functional traits are thought to drive variation in primary productivity. However, there is a lack of work examining how dominant species identity affects trait-productivity relationships. The productivity of 12 pasture mixtures was determined in a 3-year field experiment. The mixtures were based on either the winter-active ryegrass (Lolium perenne) or winter-dormant tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea). Different mixtures were obtained by adding forb, legume, and grass species that differ in key leaf economics spectrum (LES) traits to the basic two-species dominant grass-white clover (Trifolium repens) mixtures. We tested for correlations between community-weighted mean (CWM) trait values, functional diversity, and productivity across all plots and within those based on either ryegrass or tall fescue. The winter-dormant forb species (chicory and plantain) had leaf traits consistent with high relative growth rates both per unit leaf area (high leaf thickness) and per unit leaf dry weight (low leaf dry matter content). Together, the two forb species achieved reasonable abundance when grown with either base grass (means of 36% and 53% of total biomass, respectively, with ryegrass tall fescue), but they competed much more strongly with tall fescue than with ryegrass. Consequently, they had a net negative impact on productivity when grown with tall fescue, and a net positive effect when grown with ryegrass. Strongly significant relationships between productivity and CWM values for LES traits were observed across ryegrass-based mixtures, but not across tall fescue-based mixtures. Functional diversity did not have a significant positive effect on productivity for any of the traits. The results show dominant species identity can strongly modify trait-productivity relationships in intensively grazed pastures. This was due to differences in the intensity of competition between dominant species and additional species, suggesting that resource-use complementarity is a necessary prerequisite for trait-productivity relationships.