Resilience of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) to salinity: implications for food security in low-lying regions.
ABSTRACT: Rising sea levels are threatening agricultural production in coastal regions due to inundation and contamination of groundwater. The development of more salt-tolerant crops is essential. Cassava is an important staple, particularly among poor subsistence farmers. Its tolerance to drought and elevated temperatures make it highly suitable for meeting global food demands in the face of climate change, but its ability to tolerate salt is unknown. Cassava stores nitrogen in the form of cyanogenic glucosides and can cause cyanide poisoning unless correctly processed. Previous research demonstrated that cyanide levels are higher in droughted plants, possibly as a mechanism for increasing resilience to oxidative stress. We determined the tolerance of cassava to salt at two different stages of development, and tested the hypothesis that cyanide toxicity would be higher in salt-stressed plants. Cassava was grown at a range of concentrations of sodium chloride (NaCl) at two growth stages: tuber initiation and tuber expansion. Established plants were able to tolerate 100mM NaCl but in younger plants 40mM was sufficient to retard plant growth severely. Nutrient analysis showed that plants were only able to exclude sodium at low concentrations. The foliar cyanogenic glucoside concentration in young plants increased under moderate salinity stress but was lower in plants grown at high salt. Importantly, there was no significant change in the cyanogenic glucoside concentration in the tubers. We propose that the mechanisms for salinity tolerance are age dependent, and that this can be traced to the relative cost of leaves in young and old plants.
Project description:Soils in areas affected by konzo (a cassava cyanide intoxication paralytic disorder) are predominantly infertile and probably unable to supply cultivated cassava with the nutrients it needs to achieve optimal growth. Soil nutrient supply in these areas could also be influencing cyanogenic glucoside production in cassava, however there is hardly any knowledge on this. An assessment of soil nutrient levels on crop fields in konzo-affected areas was therefore carried out to determine their adequacy for optimal cassava growth. Konzo-affected Mtwara region of Tanzania, was used as a case study. Whether soil nutrient supply influences cyanogenic glucoside production in cassava cultivated in konzo-affected areas and how it could be doing this, was additionally investigated. To investigate this, correlations between total hydrogen cyanide (HCN) levels (a measure of cyanogenic glucoside content) in cassava roots and various soil nutrient levels on crops fields were carried out. This was followed by an investigation of relationships between cases of cassava cyanide intoxication and soil nutrient levels on crop fields from which the consumed toxic cassava roots had been harvested. Cases of cassava cyanide intoxication were used as a proxy for high cyanogenic glucoside levels in cassava roots. Logistic regression analysis was used in the latter investigation. Other important non-nutrient soil chemical characteristics, like pH and soil organic carbon, were also included in all analysis performed. The results revealed that most soil nutrients known to have reducing effects on cassava cyanogenic glucosides, like potassium (mean = 0.09 cmol/kg, SD = 0.05 cmol/kg), magnesium (mean = 0.26 cmol/kg, SD = 0.14 cmol/kg) and zinc (mean = 1.34 mg/kg, SD = 0.26 mg/kg) were deficient on several crop fields. The results also showed that cyanogenic glucosides in cassava roots could be increased with the increased supply of sulphur in soils in bitter cassava varieties (rs = 0.593, p = 0.032), and with the increased supply of P in soils in all cassava varieties (rs = 0.486, p = 0.026). The risk of cassava cyanide intoxication occurring (and thus high cyanogenic glucoside levels in cassava) was found to be likely increased by cultivating cassava on soils with high pH (X2 = 8.124, p = 0.004) and high iron (X2 = 5.740, p = 0.017). The study managed to establish that cassava grows under conditions of severe nutrient stress and that soil nutrient supply influences cyanogenic glucoside production in cassava cultivated in konzo-affected areas of Mtwara region. Despite the multiple soil nutrient deficiencies on crop fields, low soil fertility was however not the only probable cause of increased cyanogenic glucosides in cassava, as high soil nutrient levels were also found to be potential contributors.
Project description:The use of plant tissue analysis as a tool for attaining low cyanogenic glucoside levels in cassava roots, has hardly been investigated. Just as the quality of crops is improved through the use of plant tissue analysis, the same can probably be done to consistently attain the lowest possible cyanogenic glucoside levels in cassava roots. High levels of cyanogenic glucosides in consumed fresh cassava roots or in their products have the potential of causing cyanide intoxication, hence the need to lower them. An experiment was thus conducted to assess the occurrence of meaningful relationships between plant nutritional status and cyanogenic glucoside production in cassava roots. Total hydrogen cyanide (HCN) levels in cassava roots were used to assess cyanogenic glucoside production. Using NPK fertiliser application to induce changes in plant nutritional status, the main objective of the study was investigated using the following sub-objectives; (1) to determine the effects of increased NPK fertiliser application on cassava root HCN levels; (2) and to show the occurrence of relationships between changes in nutrient levels in plant 'indicator tissue' and HCN levels in cassava roots. The study was a field experiment laid out as a split-plot in a randomized complete block design with three replicates. It was repeated in two consecutive years, with soil nutrient deficiencies only being corrected in the second year. The varieties Salanga, Kalinda, Supa and Kiroba were used in the experiment, while the NPK fertiliser treatments included; a control with no fertiliser applied; a moderate NPK treatment (50 kg N + 10 kg P + 50 kg K /ha); and a high NPK treatment (100 kg N + 25 kg P + 100 kg K /ha). A potassium only treatment (50 kg K/ha) was also included, but mainly for comparison. The root HCN levels of Salanga, Kalinda and Kiroba were significantly influenced by NPK fertiliser application in at least one of the two field experiments, while those of Supa remained uninfluenced. Changes in plant nutritional status in response to fertiliser application were thus shown to influence cyanogenic glucoside production. The results of the multiple linear regression analysis for the first field experiment, generally showed that the root HCN levels of some cassava varieties could have been 'reduced' by decreasing concentrations of nitrogen, potassium and magnesium in plants, or by improving plant calcium concentrations along with NPK fertiliser application. However, in the second field experiment (with corrected soil nutrient deficiencies) the regression analysis generally showed that the root HCN levels of some cassava varieties could have been 'reduced' by improving either one or a combination of the nutrients phosphorous, zinc and potassium in plants along with NPK fertiliser application. Although the results obtained in the two experiments had been contradicting due to slight differences in how they were conducted, the study had nonetheless demonstrated the occurrence of meaningful relationships between plant nutritional status and cyanogenic glucoside production; confirming the possible use of plant tissue analysis in predicting fertiliser needs for the consistent attainment of low cyanogenic glucosides in cassava roots.
Project description:In areas where konzo (a cassava cyanide related paralytic disorder) persists, the agronomic factors causing increased cyanogenic glucoside levels in cassava, during periods without water stress, are hardly known. However, through their assessment of cassava root toxicity, using its bitter taste, farmers may have noticed factors unrelated to water stress that additionally influence the cyanogenic glucoside content of cassava cultivated in these areas. Increased cassava root bitterness is often associated with an increase in cyanogenic glucoside levels, making it a good indicator of changes in root cyanogenic glucoside content. Bitter cassava varieties that are preferentially planted by people living in most konzo-affected areas, are an additional known contributor to high cyanogenic glucosides. It is water stress that further increases the inherent toxicity of the planted bitter cassava varieties. Using konzo-affected Mtwara region in Tanzania as a case study, a household survey was carried out to identify the overlooked agronomic factors that additionally influence cyanogenic glucoside levels in cassava cultivated in konzo-affected areas. A total of 120 farmers were interviewed and they mentioned a number of factors unrelated to water stress, as agronomic factors that influenced cassava root bitterness and hence cyanogenic glucoside production in cassava. The mentioned factors included; certain soil characteristics (14.2%), plant age at harvest (7.5%), poor weeding (0.8%), piecemeal harvesting (0.8%), and branch pruning (0.8%). The revealed factors constitute permanent environmental characteristics and crop management practices commonly used by farmers living in konzo-affected Mtwara region in Tanzania. The revealed factors could be contributing to increased cyanogenic glucoside levels in cassava, during periods without water stress in areas where konzo persists.
Project description:Traditional soaking method takes days to remove cassava cyanide. Ten minutes of ultrasonic pretreatment (UPT) was found to be a new effective method to eliminate both cyanogenic glycosides and hydrogen cyanide in cassava. Here, the parameters of UPT were optimized and the underlying mechanisms were investigated. 40.36% and 24.95% of hydrogen cyanide and cyanogenic glycosides in cassava juice were eliminated under 10 min of UPT (45℃, 81 W). UPT before boiling enhanced the total cyanide elimination to 41.94%. The degradation patterns of hydrogen cyanide and cyanogenic glycosides were different. Ultrasound directly eliminated hydrogen cyanide and indirectly degraded cyanogenic glycosides through promoting enzymatic hydrolysis. The β-glucosidase activity was increased by 17.99% induced by ultrasound. This was supported by the movement of hydrophobic residual and the rearrangement of the secondary structure of the molecular as found in fluorescence, CD, FTIR, DSC and TG analysis. This study revealed that UPT acted as a fast and simple technical way in improving cassava safety.
Project description:Cassava (<i>Manihot esculenta</i> Crantz) demand has been rising because of its various applications. High salinity stress is a major environmental factor that interferes with normal plant growth and limits crop productivity. As well as genetic engineering to enhance stress tolerance, the use of small molecules is considered as an alternative methodology to modify plants with desired traits. The effectiveness of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors for increasing tolerance to salinity stress has recently been reported. Here we use the HDAC inhibitor, suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA), to enhance tolerance to high salinity in cassava. Immunoblotting analysis reveals that SAHA treatment induces strong hyper-acetylation of histones H3 and H4 in roots, suggesting that SAHA functions as the HDAC inhibitor in cassava. Consistent with increased tolerance to salt stress under SAHA treatment, reduced Na<sup>+</sup> content and increased K<sup>+</sup>/Na<sup>+</sup> ratio were detected in SAHA-treated plants. Transcriptome analysis to discover mechanisms underlying salinity stress tolerance mediated through SAHA treatment reveals that SAHA enhances the expression of 421 genes in roots under normal condition, and 745 genes at 2 h and 268 genes at 24 h under both SAHA and NaCl treatment. The mRNA expression of genes, involved in phytohormone [abscisic acid (ABA), jasmonic acid (JA), ethylene, and gibberellin] biosynthesis pathways, is up-regulated after high salinity treatment in SAHA-pretreated roots. Among them, an <i>allene oxide cyclase</i> (<i>MeAOC4</i>) involved in a crucial step of JA biosynthesis is strongly up-regulated by SAHA treatment under salinity stress conditions, implying that JA pathway might contribute to increasing salinity tolerance by SAHA treatment. Our results suggest that epigenetic manipulation might enhance tolerance to high salinity stress in cassava.
Project description:For more than 420 million years, plants, insects and their predators have co-evolved based on a chemical arms race including deployment of refined chemical defence systems by each player. Cyanogenic glucosides are produced by numerous plants and by some specialized insects and serve an important role as defence compounds in these intimate interactions. Burnet moth larvae are able to sequester cyanogenic glucosides from their food plant as well as to carry out de novo biosynthesis. Here we show that three genes (CYP405A2, CYP332A3 and UGT33A1) encode the entire biosynthetic pathway of cyanogenic glucosides in the Burnet moth Zygaena filipendulae. In both plants and insects, convergent evolution has led to two multifunctional P450 enzymes each catalysing unusual reactions and a glucosyl-transferase acting in sequence to catalyse cyanogenic glucoside formation. Thus, plants and insects have independently found a way to package a cyanide time bomb to fend off herbivores and predators.
Project description:Whole genome sequencing has allowed rapid progress in the application of forward genetics in model species. In this study, we demonstrated an application of next-generation sequencing for forward genetics in a complex crop genome. We sequenced an ethyl methanesulfonate-induced mutant of Sorghum bicolor defective in hydrogen cyanide release and identified the causal mutation. A workflow identified the causal polymorphism relative to the reference BTx623 genome by integrating data from single nucleotide polymorphism identification, prior information about candidate gene(s) implicated in cyanogenesis, mutation spectra, and polymorphisms likely to affect phenotypic changes. A point mutation resulting in a premature stop codon in the coding sequence of dhurrinase2, which encodes a protein involved in the dhurrin catabolic pathway, was responsible for the acyanogenic phenotype. Cyanogenic glucosides are not cyanogenic compounds but their cyanohydrins derivatives do release cyanide. The mutant accumulated the glucoside, dhurrin, but failed to efficiently release cyanide upon tissue disruption. Thus, we tested the effects of cyanide release on insect herbivory in a genetic background in which accumulation of cyanogenic glucoside is unchanged. Insect preference choice experiments and herbivory measurements demonstrate a deterrent effect of cyanide release capacity, even in the presence of wild-type levels of cyanogenic glucoside accumulation. Our gene cloning method substantiates the value of (1) a sequenced genome, (2) a strongly penetrant and easily measurable phenotype, and (3) a workflow to pinpoint a causal mutation in crop genomes and accelerate in the discovery of gene function in the postgenomic era.
Project description:Cassava is a major tropical food crop in the Euphorbiaceae family that has high carbohydrate production potential and adaptability to diverse environments. Here we present the draft genome sequences of a wild ancestor and a domesticated variety of cassava and comparative analyses with a partial inbred line. We identify 1,584 and 1,678 gene models specific to the wild and domesticated varieties, respectively, and discover high heterozygosity and millions of single-nucleotide variations. Our analyses reveal that genes involved in photosynthesis, starch accumulation and abiotic stresses have been positively selected, whereas those involved in cell wall biosynthesis and secondary metabolism, including cyanogenic glucoside formation, have been negatively selected in the cultivated varieties, reflecting the result of natural selection and domestication. Differences in microRNA genes and retrotransposon regulation could partly explain an increased carbon flux towards starch accumulation and reduced cyanogenic glucoside accumulation in domesticated cassava. These results may contribute to genetic improvement of cassava through better understanding of its biology.
Project description:The acute toxicity of cyanide is determined by its peak levels reached in the body. Compared to the ingestion of free cyanide, lower peak levels may be expected after consumption of foods containing cyanogenic glycosides with the same equivalent dose of cyanide. This is due to possible delayed and/or incomplete release of cyanide from the cyanogenic glycosides depending on many factors. Data on bioavailability of cyanide after consumption of foods containing high levels of cyanogenic glycosides as presented herein were necessary to allow a meaningful risk assessment for these foods. A crossover study was carried out in 12 healthy adults who consumed persipan paste (equivalent total cyanide: 68 mg/kg), linseed (220 mg/kg), bitter apricot kernels (about 3250 mg/kg), and fresh cassava roots (76-150 mg/kg), with each "meal" containing equivalents of 6.8 mg cyanide. Cyanide levels were determined in whole blood using a GC-MS method with K(13)C(15)N as internal standard. Mean levels of cyanide at the different time points were highest after consumption of cassava (15.4 µM, after 37.5 min) and bitter apricot kernels (14.3 µM, after 20 min), followed by linseed (5.7 µM, after 40 min) and 100 g persipan (1.3 µM, after 105 min). The double dose of 13.6 mg cyanide eaten with 200 g persipan paste resulted in a mean peak level of 2.9 µM (after 150 min). An acute reference dose of 0.075 mg/kg body weight was derived being valid for a single application/meal of cyanides or hydrocyanic acid as well as of unprocessed foods with cyanogenic glycosides also containing the accompanying intact β-glucosidase. For some of these foods, this approach may be overly conservative due to delayed release of cyanide, as demonstrated for linseed. In case of missing or inactivated β-glucosidase, the hazard potential is much lower.
Project description:Cyanogenic glucosides are present in many plants, including eudicots, monocots, and ferns and function as defence compounds based on their ability to release hydrogen cyanide. In this study, the diurnal rhythm of cyanogenic glucoside content and of transcripts and enzymes involved in their biosynthesis was monitored in cassava plants grown in a glasshouse under natural light conditions. Transcripts of CYP79D1, CYP79D2, CYP71E7/11, and UGT85K5 were at minimal levels around 9 p.m., increased during the night and decreased following onset of early morning light. Transcripts of UGT85K4 and HNL10 showed more subtle variations with a maximum reached in the afternoon. Western blots showed that the protein levels of CYP71E7/11 and UGT85K4/5 decreased during the light period to a near absence around 4 p.m. and then recovered during the dark period. Transcript and protein levels of linamarase were stable throughout the 24-hr cycle. The linamarin content increased during the dark period. In the light period, spikes in the incoming solar radiation were found to result in concomitantly reduced linamarin levels. In silico studies of the promoter regions of the biosynthetic genes revealed a high frequency of light, abiotic stress, and development-related transcription factor binding motifs. The synthesis and endogenous turnover of linamarin are controlled both at the transcript and protein levels. The observed endogenous turnover of linamarin in the light period may offer a source of reduced nitrogen to balance photosynthetic carbon fixation. The rapid decrease in linamarin content following light spikes suggests an additional function of linamarin as a ROS scavenger.