Project description:Background:Newly formed polyploids may experience short-term adaptative changes in their genome that may enhance the resistance of plants to stress. Considering the increasingly serious effects of drought on biofuel plants, whole genome duplication (WGD) may be an efficient way to proceed with drought resistant breeding. However, the molecular mechanism of drought response before/after WGD remains largely unclear. Result:We found that autoploid switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) 8X Alamo had higher drought tolerance than its parent amphidiploid 4X Alamo using physiological tests. RNA and microRNA sequencing at different time points during drought were then conducted on 8X Alamo and 4X Alamo switchgrass. The specific differentially expressed transcripts (DETs) that related to drought stress (DS) in 8X Alamo were enriched in ribonucleoside and ribonucleotide binding, while the drought-related DETs in 4X Alamo were enriched in structural molecule activity. Ploidy-related DETs were primarily associated with signal transduction mechanisms. Weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) detected three significant DS-related modules, and their DETs were primarily enriched in biosynthesis process and photosynthesis. A total of 26 differentially expressed microRNAs (DEmiRs) were detected, and among them, sbi-microRNA 399b was only expressed in 8X Alamo. The targets of microRNAs that were responded to polyploidization and drought stress all contained cytochrome P450 and superoxide dismutase genes. Conclusions:This study explored the drought response of 8X and 4X Alamo switchgrass on both physiological and transcriptional levels, and provided experimental and sequencing data basis for a short-term adaptability study and drought-resistant biofuel plant breeding.
Project description:In light of the changes in precipitation and soil water availability expected with climate change, understanding the mechanisms underlying plant responses to water deficit is essential. Toward that end we have conducted an integrative analysis of responses to drought stress in the perennial C4 grass and biofuel crop, Panicum virgatum (switchgrass). Responses to soil drying and re-watering were measured at transcriptional, physiological, and metabolomic levels. To assess the interaction of soil moisture with diel light:dark cycles, we profiled gene expression in drought and control treatments under pre-dawn and mid-day conditions. Soil drying resulted in reduced leaf water potential, gas exchange, and chlorophyll fluorescence along with differential expression of a large fraction of the transcriptome (37%). Many transcripts responded differently depending on time of day (e.g. up-regulation pre-dawn and down-regulation mid-day). Genes associated with C4 photosynthesis were down-regulated during drought, while C4 metabolic intermediates accumulated. Rapid changes in gene expression were observed during recovery from drought, along with increased water use efficiency and chlorophyll fluorescence. Our findings demonstrate that drought responsive gene expression depends strongly on time of day and that gene expression is extensively modified during the first few hours of drought recovery. Analysis of covariation in gene expression, metabolite abundance, and physiology among plants revealed non-linear relationships that suggest critical thresholds in drought stress responses. Future studies may benefit from evaluating these thresholds among diverse accessions of switchgrass and other C4 grasses. mRNA profiles of leaf tissue from clonal replicates at various time points during drydown and recovery were generated by deep sequencing 3' mRNA tags using SOLiD.
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:The CRISPR/Cas9 system has become a powerful tool for targeted mutagenesis. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a high yielding perennial grass species that has been designated as a model biomass crop by the U.S. Department of Energy. The self-infertility and high ploidy level make it difficult to study gene function or improve germplasm. To overcome these constraints, we explored the feasibility of using CRISPR/Cas9 for targeted mutagenesis in a tetraploid cultivar 'Alamo' switchgrass. We first developed a transient assay by which a non-functional green-fluorescent protein gene containing a 1-bp frameshift insertion in its 5' coding region was successfully mutated by a Cas9/sgRNA complex resulting in its restored function. Agrobacterium-mediated stable transformation of embryogenic calli derived from mature caryopses averaged a 3.0% transformation efficiency targeting the genes of teosinte branched 1(tb1)a and b and phosphoglycerate mutase (PGM). With a single construct containing two sgRNAs targeting different regions of tb1a and tb1b genes, primary transformants (T0) containing CRISPR/Cas9-induced mutations were obtained at frequencies of 95.5% (tb1a) and 11% (tb1b), respectively, with T0 mutants exhibiting increased tiller production. Meanwhile, a mutation frequency of 13.7% was obtained for the PGM gene with a CRISPR/Cas9 construct containing a single sgRNA. Among the PGM T0 mutants, six are heterozygous and one is homozygous for a 1-bp deletion in the target region with no apparent phenotypical alterations. We show that CRISPR/Cas9 system can generate targeted mutagenesis effectively and obtain targeted homozygous mutants in T0 generation in switchgrass, circumventing the need of inbreeding.
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.
Project description:Wide crosses have been used for decades as a method for transferring novel genetic material and traits in plant breeding. Historically, many products of wide crosses require tedious and inefficient surgical embryo rescue prior to embryo abortion to recover single plantlets. We have utilized transgenic switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L. cv Alamo) as a pollen donor in conjunction with antibiotic or herbicide selection for recovery of intra-and interspecific F<sub>1</sub> crosses by using developing ovules from the female parent and selecting for embryogenic cultures derived from the in situ immature embryo. Using this approach, several intravarietial crosses were generated between transgenic Alamo and the switchgrass varieties Kanlow, Blackwell and Cave-in-Rock as well as an interspecific cross with Atlantic coastal panicgrass. This procedure selected F<sub>1</sub> embryogenic callus produced from the developing embryo contained within isolated immature ovules. Several clonal plants were successfully regenerated from each cross. Southern blot, PCR, phenotypic analyses and genomic analysis confirmed F<sub>1</sub> hybrids. Using genotyping-by-sequencing shows the hybridization of the recovered plants by determining the ratio of transgressive markers to total compared markers between parents and their potential offspring. The ratio of transgressive markers to total compared markers was significantly lower between parents and their predicted offspring than between parents and offspring unrelated to them. This approach provides the possibility to move useful transgenes into varieties that are recalcitrant to direct transformation which can be optionally segregated thus useful to create new hybrids, as well as recovery of wide crosses that are either difficult or impossible using traditional techniques.
Project description:Small RNAs (21-24 nt) are pivotal regulators of gene expression that guide both transcriptional and post-transcriptional silencing mechanisms in diverse eukaryotes, including most if not all plants. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) and short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are the two major types, both of which have a demonstrated and important role in plant development, stress responses and pathogen resistance. In this work, we used a deep sequencing approach (Sequencing-By-Synthesis, or SBS) to develop sequence resources of small RNAs from Panicum virgatum tissues (including leaves, drought-treated leaves and flowers). The high depth of the resulting datasets enabled us to examine in detail critical small RNA features as size distribution, tissue-specific regulation and sequence conservation between different organs in this species. We also developed database resources and a dedicated website (http://smallrna.udel.edu/) with computational tools for allowing other users to identify new miRNAs or siRNAs involved in specific regulatory pathways, verify the degree of conservation of these sequences in other plant species and map small RNAs on genes or larger regions of the maize genome under study. Small RNA libraries were derived from leaves, drought-treated leaves and flowers of Panicum virgatum. Total RNA was isolated using the Plant RNA Purification Reagent (Invitrogen), and submitted to Illumina (Hayward, CA, http://www.illumina.com) for small RNA library construction using approaches described in (Lu et al., 2007) with minor modifications. The small RNA libraries were sequenced with the Sequencing-By-Synthesis (SBS) technology by Illumina. PERL scripts were designed to remove the adapter sequences and determine the abundance of each distinct small RNA. We thank Pamela Green for providing the plant material as well as Kan Nobuta and Gayathri Mahalingam for assistance with the computational methods.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a warm-season C4 grass that is a target lignocellulosic biofuel species. In many regions, drought stress is one of the major limiting factors for switchgrass growth. The objective of this study was to evaluate the drought tolerance of 49 switchgrass genotypes. The relative drought stress tolerance was determined based on a set of parameters including plant height, leaf length, leaf width, leaf sheath length, leaf relative water content (RWC), electrolyte leakage (EL), photosynthetic rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (g s), transpiration rate (Tr), intercellular CO2 concentration (Ci), and water use efficiency (WUE). RESULTS:SRAP marker analysis determined that the selected 49 switchgrass genotypes represent a diverse genetic pool of switchgrass germplasm. Principal component analysis (PCA) and drought stress indexes (DSI) of each physiological parameter showed significant differences in the drought stress tolerance among the 49 genotypes. Heatmap and PCA data revealed that physiological parameters are more sensitive than morphological parameters in distinguishing the control and drought treatments. Metabolite profiling data found that under drought stress, the five best drought-tolerant genotypes tended to have higher levels of abscisic acid (ABA), spermine, trehalose, and fructose in comparison to the five most drought-sensitive genotypes. CONCLUSION:Based on PCA ranking value, the genotypes TEM-SEC, TEM-LoDorm, BN-13645-64, Alamo, BN-10860-61, BN-12323-69, TEM-SLC, T-2086, T-2100, T-2101, Caddo, and Blackwell-1 had relatively higher ranking values, indicating that they are more tolerant to drought. In contrast, the genotypes Grif Nebraska 28, Grenville-2, Central Iowa Germplasm, Cave-in-Rock, Dacotah, and Nebraska 28 were found to be relatively sensitive to drought stress. By analyzing physiological response parameters and different metabolic profiles, the methods utilized in this study identified drought-tolerant and drought-sensitive switchgrass genotypes. These results provide a foundation for future research directed at understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying switchgrass tolerance to drought.
Project description:Small RNAs (21-24 nt) are pivotal regulators of gene expression that guide both transcriptional and post-transcriptional silencing mechanisms in diverse eukaryotes, including most if not all plants. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) and short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are the two major types, both of which have a demonstrated and important role in plant development, stress responses and pathogen resistance. In this work, we used a deep sequencing approach (Sequencing-By-Synthesis, or SBS) to develop sequence resources of small RNAs from Panicum virgatum tissues (including leaves, drought-treated leaves and flowers). The high depth of the resulting datasets enabled us to examine in detail critical small RNA features as size distribution, tissue-specific regulation and sequence conservation between different organs in this species. We also developed database resources and a dedicated website (http://smallrna.udel.edu/) with computational tools for allowing other users to identify new miRNAs or siRNAs involved in specific regulatory pathways, verify the degree of conservation of these sequences in other plant species and map small RNAs on genes or larger regions of the maize genome under study. Overall design: Small RNA libraries were derived from leaves, drought-treated leaves and flowers of Panicum virgatum. Total RNA was isolated using the Plant RNA Purification Reagent (Invitrogen), and submitted to Illumina (Hayward, CA, http://www.illumina.com) for small RNA library construction using approaches described in (Lu et al., 2007) with minor modifications. The small RNA libraries were sequenced with the Sequencing-By-Synthesis (SBS) technology by Illumina. PERL scripts were designed to remove the adapter sequences and determine the abundance of each distinct small RNA. We thank Pamela Green for providing the plant material as well as Kan Nobuta and Gayathri Mahalingam for assistance with the computational methods.
Project description:Cereal aphids can successfully colonize and damage switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) plants. Among the aphids tested, greenbugs (Schizaphis graminum, GB) caused significant plant damage likely through a combination of aphid-salivary proteins that are injected into plants during feeding and a strong host response elicited by herbivory. In this study, changes in protein phosphorylation present in GB-infested and uninfested control plants was determined. These data were compared against transcriptome changes recently published for this system.