Cytochrome P450-catalyzed biosynthesis of furanoditerpenoids in the bioenergy crop switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.).
ABSTRACT: Specialized diterpenoid metabolites are important mediators of plant-environment interactions in monocot crops. To understand metabolite functions in plant environmental adaptation that ultimately can enable crop improvement strategies, a deeper knowledge of the underlying species-specific biosynthetic pathways is required. Here, we report the genomics-enabled discovery of five cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (CYP71Z25-CYP71Z29) that form previously unknown furanoditerpenoids in the monocot bioenergy crop Panicum virgatum (switchgrass). Combinatorial pathway reconstruction showed that CYP71Z25-CYP71Z29 catalyze furan ring addition directly to primary diterpene alcohol intermediates derived from distinct class II diterpene synthase products. Transcriptional co-expression patterns and the presence of select diterpenoids in switchgrass roots support the occurrence of P450-derived furanoditerpenoids in planta. Integrating molecular dynamics, structural analysis and targeted mutagenesis identified active site determinants that contribute to the distinct catalytic specificities underlying the broad substrate promiscuity of CYP71Z25-CYP71Z29 for native and non-native diterpenoids.
Project description:Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is considered a model herbaceous energy crop for the USA, for its adaptation to marginal land, low rainfall and nutrient-deficient soils; however, its low biomass yield is one of several constraints, and this might be rectified by modulating plant growth regulator levels. In this study, we have determined whether the expression of the Zea mays gibberellin 20-oxidase (ZmGA20ox) cDNA in switchgrass will improve biomass production. The ZmGA20ox gene was placed under the control of constitutive CaMV35S promoter with a strong TMV omega enhancer, and introduced into switchgrass via Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. The transgene integration and expression levels of ZmGA20ox in T0 plants were analysed using Southern blot and qRT-PCR. Under glasshouse conditions, selected transgenic plants exhibited longer leaves, internodes and tillers, which resulted in twofold increased biomass. These phenotypic alterations correlated with the levels of transgene expression and the particular gibberellin content. Expression of ZmGA20ox also affected the expression of genes coding for key enzymes in lignin biosynthesis. Our results suggest that the employment of ectopic ZmGA20ox and selection for natural variants with high level expression of endogenous GA20ox are appropriate approaches to increase biomass production of switchgrass and other monocot biofuel crops.
Project description:Switchgrass (<i>Panicum virgatum</i> L.), a perennial C4 grass, represents an important species in natural and anthropogenic grasslands of North America. Its resilience to abiotic and biotic stress has made switchgrass a preferred bioenergy crop. However, little is known about the mechanisms of resistance of switchgrass against pathogens and herbivores. Volatile compounds such as terpenes have important activities in plant direct and indirect defense. Here, we show that switchgrass leaves emit blends of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes upon feeding by the generalist insect herbivore <i>Spodoptera frugiperda</i> (fall armyworm) and in a systemic response to the treatment of roots with defense hormones. Belowground application of methyl jasmonate also induced the release of volatile terpenes from roots. To correlate the emission of terpenes with the expression and activity of their corresponding biosynthetic genes, we identified a gene family of 44 monoterpene and sesquiterpene synthases (mono- and sesqui-TPSs) of the type-a, type-b, type-g, and type-e subfamilies, of which 32 TPSs were found to be functionally active <i>in vitro</i>. The TPS genes are distributed over the K and N subgenomes with clusters occurring on several chromosomes. Synteny analysis revealed syntenic networks for approximately 30-40% of the switchgrass TPS genes in the genomes of <i>Panicum hallii</i>, <i>Setaria italica</i>, and <i>Sorghum bicolor</i>, suggesting shared TPS ancestry in the common progenitor of these grass lineages. Eighteen switchgrass TPS genes were substantially induced upon insect and hormone treatment and the enzymatic products of nine of these genes correlated with compounds of the induced volatile blends. In accordance with the emission of volatiles, TPS gene expression was induced systemically in response to belowground treatment, whereas this response was not observed upon aboveground feeding of <i>S. frugiperda.</i> Our results demonstrate complex above and belowground responses of induced volatile terpene metabolism in switchgrass and provide a framework for more detailed investigations of the function of terpenes in stress resistance in this monocot crop.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Advances in genomic technologies have expanded our ability to accurately and exhaustively detect natural genomic variants that can be applied in crop improvement and to increase our knowledge of plant evolution and adaptation. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), an allotetraploid (2n?=?4×?=?36) perennial C4 grass (Poaceae family) native to North America and a feedstock crop for cellulosic biofuel production, has a large potential for genetic improvement due to its high genotypic and phenotypic variation. In this study, we analyzed single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) variation in 372 switchgrass genotypes belonging to 36 accessions for 12 genes putatively involved in biomass production to investigate signatures of selection that could have led to ecotype differentiation and to population adaptation to geographic zones. RESULTS:A total of 11,682 SNPs were mined from ~?15 Gb of sequence data, out of which 251 SNPs were retained after filtering. Population structure analysis largely grouped upland accessions into one subpopulation and lowland accessions into two additional subpopulations. The most frequent SNPs were in homozygous state within accessions. Sixty percent of the exonic SNPs were non-synonymous and, of these, 45% led to non-conservative amino acid changes. The non-conservative SNPs were largely in linkage disequilibrium with one haplotype being predominantly present in upland accessions while the other haplotype was commonly present in lowland accessions. Tajima's test of neutrality indicated that PHYB, a gene involved in photoperiod response, was under positive selection in the switchgrass population. PHYB carried a SNP leading to a non-conservative amino acid change in the PAS domain, a region that acts as a sensor for light and oxygen in signal transduction. CONCLUSIONS:Several non-conservative SNPs in genes potentially involved in plant architecture and adaptation have been identified and led to population structure and genetic differentiation of ecotypes in switchgrass. We suggest here that PHYB is a key gene involved in switchgrass natural selection. Further analyses are needed to determine whether any of the non-conservative SNPs identified play a role in the differential adaptation of upland and lowland switchgrass.
Project description:Cell wall recalcitrance is the major challenge to improving saccharification efficiency in converting lignocellulose into biofuels. However, information regarding the transcriptional regulation of secondary cell wall biogenesis remains poor in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), which has been selected as a biofuel crop in the United States. In this study, we present a combination of computational and experimental approaches to develop gene regulatory networks for lignin formation in switchgrass. To screen transcription factors (TFs) involved in lignin biosynthesis, we developed a modified method to perform co-expression network analysis using 14 lignin biosynthesis genes as bait (target) genes. The switchgrass lignin co-expression network was further extended by adding 14 TFs identified in this study, and seven TFs identified in previous studies, as bait genes. Six TFs (PvMYB58/63, PvMYB42/85, PvMYB4, PvWRKY12, PvSND2 and PvSWN2) were targeted to generate overexpressing and/or down-regulated transgenic switchgrass lines. The alteration of lignin content, cell wall composition and/or plant growth in the transgenic plants supported the role of the TFs in controlling secondary wall formation. RNA-seq analysis of four of the transgenic switchgrass lines revealed downstream target genes of the secondary wall-related TFs and crosstalk with other biological pathways. In vitro transactivation assays further confirmed the regulation of specific lignin pathway genes by four of the TFs. Our meta-analysis provides a hierarchical network of TFs and their potential target genes for future manipulation of secondary cell wall formation for lignin modification in switchgrass.
Project description:Although yield trials for switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), a potentially high value biofuel feedstock crop, are currently underway throughout North America, the genetic tools for crop improvement in this species are still in the early stages of development. Identification of high-density molecular markers, such as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), that are amenable to high-throughput genotyping approaches, is the first step in a quantitative genetics study of this model biofuel crop species. We generated and sequenced expressed sequence tag (EST) libraries from thirteen diverse switchgrass cultivars representing both upland and lowland ecotypes, as well as tetraploid and octoploid genomes. We followed this with reduced genomic library preparation and massively parallel sequencing of the same samples using the Illumina Genome Analyzer technology platform. EST libraries were used to generate unigene clusters and establish a gene-space reference sequence, thus providing a framework for assembly of the short sequence reads. SNPs were identified utilizing these scaffolds. We used a custom software program for alignment and SNP detection and identified over 149,000 SNPs across the 13 short-read sequencing libraries (SRSLs). Approximately 25,000 additional SNPs were identified from the entire EST collection available for the species. This sequencing effort generated data that are suitable for marker development and for estimation of population genetic parameters, such as nucleotide diversity and linkage disequilibrium. Based on these data, we assessed the feasibility of genome wide association mapping and genomic selection applications in switchgrass. Overall, the SNP markers discovered in this study will help facilitate quantitative genetics experiments and greatly enhance breeding efforts that target improvement of key biofuel traits and development of new switchgrass cultivars.
Project description:Switchgrass has increasingly been recognized as a dedicated biofuel crop for its broad adaptation to marginal lands and high biomass. However, little is known about the basic biology and the regulatory mechanisms of gene expression in switchgrass, particularly under stress conditions. In this study, we investigated the effect of salt and drought stress on switchgrass germination, growth and the expression of small regulatory RNAs. The results indicate that salt stress had a gradual but significant negative effect on switchgrass growth and development. The germination rate was significantly decreased from 82% for control to 36% under 1% NaCl treatment. However, drought stress had little effect on the germination rate but had a significant effect on the growth of switchgrass under the severest salinity stress. Both salt and drought stresses altered the expression pattern of miRNAs in a dose-dependent manner. However, each miRNA responded to drought stress in a different pattern. Salt and drought stress changed the expression level of miRNAs mainly from 0.9-fold up-regulation to 0.7-fold down-regulation. miRNAs were less sensitive to drought treatment than salinity treatment, as evidenced by the narrow fold change in expression levels. Although the range of change in expression level of miRNAs was similar under salt and drought stress, no miRNAs displayed significant change in expression level under all tested salt conditions. Two miRNAs, miR156 and miR162, showed significantly change in expression level under high drought stress. This suggests that miR156 and miR162 may attribute to the adaption of switchgrass to drought stress and are good candidates for improving switchgrass as a biofuel crop by transgenic technology.
Project description:Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a polyploid, outcrossing grass species native to North America and has recently been recognized as a potential biofuel feedstock crop. Significant phenotypic variation including ploidy is present across the two primary ecotypes of switchgrass, referred to as upland and lowland switchgrass. The tetraploid switchgrass genome is approximately 1400 Mbp, split between two subgenomes, with significant repetitive sequence content limiting the efficiency of re-sequencing approaches for determining genome diversity. To characterize genetic diversity in upland and lowland switchgrass as a first step in linking genotype to phenotype, we designed an exome capture probe set based on transcript assemblies that represent approximately 50 Mb of annotated switchgrass exome sequences. We then evaluated and optimized the probe set using solid phase comparative genome hybridization and liquid phase exome capture followed by next-generation sequencing. Using the optimized probe set, we assessed variation in the exomes of eight switchgrass genotypes representing tetraploid lowland and octoploid upland cultivars to benchmark our exome capture probe set design. We identified ample variation in the switchgrass genome including 1,395,501 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), 8173 putative copy number variants and 3336 presence/absence variants. While the majority of the SNPs (84%) detected was bi-allelic, a substantial number was tri-allelic with limited occurrence of tetra-allelic polymorphisms consistent with the heterozygous and polyploid nature of the switchgrass genome. Collectively, these data demonstrate the efficacy of exome capture for discovery of genome variation in a polyploid species with a large, repetitive and heterozygous genome.
Project description:Polyploidy poses challenges for phylogenetic reconstruction because of the need to identify and distinguish between homoeologous loci. This can be addressed by use of low copy nuclear markers. Panicum s.s. is a genus of about 100 species in the grass tribe Paniceae, subfamily Panicoideae, and is divided into five sections. Many of the species are known to be polyploids. The most well-known of the Panicum polyploids are switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and common or Proso millet (P. miliaceum). Switchgrass is in section Virgata, along with P. tricholaenoides, P. amarum, and P. amarulum, whereas P. miliaceum is in sect. Panicum. We have generated sequence data from five low copy nuclear loci and two chloroplast loci and have clarified the origin of P. virgatum. We find that all members of sects. Virgata and Urvilleana are the result of diversification after a single allopolyploidy event. The closest diploid relatives of switchgrass are in sect. Rudgeana, native to Central and South America. Within sections Virgata and Urvilleana, P. tricholaenoides is sister to the remaining species. Panicum racemosum and P. urvilleanum form a clade, which may be sister to P. chloroleucum. Panicum amarum, P. amarulum, and the lowland and upland ecotypes of P. virgatum together form a clade, within which relationships are complex. Hexaploid and octoploid plants are likely allopolyploids, with P. amarum and P. amarulum sharing genomes with P. virgatum. Octoploid P. virgatum plants are formed via hybridization between disparate tetraploids. We show that polyploidy precedes diversification in a complex set of polyploids; our data thus suggest that polyploidy could provide the raw material for diversification. In addition, we show two rounds of allopolyploidization in the ancestry of switchgrass, and identify additional species that may be part of its broader gene pool. This may be relevant for development of the crop for biofuels.
Project description:Due to its high biomass yield, low environmental impact, and widespread adaptability to poor soils and harsh conditions, switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), a warm-region perennial herbaceous plant, has attracted much attention in recent years. However, little is known about microRNAs (miRNAs) and their functions in this bioenergy grass. Here, we identified and characterized a miRNA gene, Pvi-MIR319a, encoding microRNA319a in switchgrass. Transgenic rice lines generated by overexpressing the Pvi-MIR319a precursor gene exhibited broader leaves and delayed flowering compared with the control. Gene expression analysis indicated at least four putative target genes were downregulated. Additionally, we cloned a putative target gene (PvPCF5) of Pvi-MIR319a from switchgrass. PvPCF5, a TCP transcription factor, is a nuclear-localized protein with transactivation activity and control the development of leaf. Our results suggest that Pvi-MIR319a and its target genes may be used as potential genetic regulators for future switchgrass genetic improvement.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Global warming predictions indicate that temperatures will increase by another 2-6°C by the end of this century. High temperature is a major abiotic stress limiting plant growth and productivity in many areas of the world. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a model herbaceous bioenergy crop, due to its rapid growth rate, reliable biomass yield, minimal requirements of water and nutrients, adaptability to grow on marginal lands and widespread distribution throughout North America. The effect of high temperature on switchgrass physiology, cell wall composition and biomass yields has been reported. However, there is void in the knowledge of the molecular responses to heat stress in switchgrass. RESULTS: We conducted long-term heat stress treatment (38°/30°C, day/night, for 50 days) in the switchgrass cultivar Alamo. A significant decrease in the plant height and total biomass was evident in the heat stressed plants compared to controls. Total RNA from control and heat stress samples were used for transcriptome analysis with switchgrass Affymetrix genechips. Following normalization and pre-processing, 5365 probesets were identified as differentially expressed using a 2-fold cutoff. Of these, 2233 probesets (2000 switchgrass unigenes) were up-regulated, and 3132 probesets (2809 unigenes) were down-regulated. Differential expression of 42 randomly selected genes from this list was validated using RT-PCR. Rice orthologs were retrieved for 78.7% of the heat stress responsive switchgrass probesets. Gene ontology (GOs) enrichment analysis using AgriGO program showed that genes related to ATPase regulator, chaperone binding, and protein folding was significantly up-regulated. GOs associated with protein modification, transcription, phosphorus and nitrogen metabolic processes, were significantly down-regulated by heat stress. CONCLUSIONS: Plausible connections were identified between the identified GOs, physiological responses and heat response phenotype observed in switchgrass plants. Comparative transcriptome analysis in response to heat stress among four monocots - switchgrass, rice, wheat and maize identified 16 common genes, most of which were associated with protein refolding processes. These core genes will be valuable biomarkers for identifying heat sensitive plant germplasm since they are responsive to both short duration as well as chronic heat stress treatments, and are also expressed in different plant growth stages and tissue types.