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  1. Abstract

    Basic helix–loop–helix (bHLH) transcription factors constitute a superfamily in eukaryotes, but their roles in plant immunity remain largely uncharacterized. We found that the transcript abundance in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) leaves of one bHLH transcription factor-encoding gene, negative regulator of resistance to DC3000 1 (Nrd1), increased significantly after treatment with the immunity-inducing flgII-28 peptide. Plants carrying a loss-of-function mutation in Nrd1 (Δnrd1) showed enhanced resistance to Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato (Pst) DC3000 although early pattern-triggered immunity responses, such as generation of reactive oxygen species and activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases after treatment with flagellin-derived flg22 and flgII-28 peptides, were unaltered compared to wild-type plants. RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis identified a gene, Arabinogalactan protein 1 (Agp1), whose expression is strongly suppressed in an Nrd1-dependent manner. Agp1 encodes an arabinogalactan protein, and overexpression of the Agp1 gene in Nicotiana benthamiana led to ∼10-fold less Pst growth compared to the control. These results suggest that the Nrd1 protein promotes tomato susceptibility to Pst by suppressing the defense gene Agp1. RNA-seq also revealed that the loss of Nrd1 function has no effect on the transcript abundance of immunity-associated genes, including AvrPtoB tomato-interacting 9 (Bti9), Cold-shock protein receptor (Core), Flagellin sensing 2 (Fls2), Flagellin sensing (Fls3),more »and Wall-associated kinase 1 (Wak1) upon Pst inoculation, suggesting that the enhanced immunity observed in the Δnrd1 mutants is due to the activation of key PRR signaling components as well as the loss of Nrd1-regulated suppression of Agp1.

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  2. Abstract

    Water availability influences all aspects of plant growth and development; however, most studies of plant responses to drought have focused on vegetative organs, notably roots and leaves. Far less is known about the molecular bases of drought acclimation responses in fruits, which are complex organs with distinct tissue types. To obtain a more comprehensive picture of the molecular mechanisms governing fruit development under drought, we profiled the transcriptomes of a spectrum of fruit tissues from tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), spanning early growth through ripening and collected from plants grown under varying intensities of water stress. In addition, we compared transcriptional changes in fruit with those in leaves to highlight different and conserved transcriptome signatures in vegetative and reproductive organs. We observed extensive and diverse genetic reprogramming in different fruit tissues and leaves, each associated with a unique response to drought acclimation. These included major transcriptional shifts in the placenta of growing fruit and in the seeds of ripe fruit related to cell growth and epigenetic regulation, respectively. Changes in metabolic and hormonal pathways, such as those related to starch, carotenoids, jasmonic acid, and ethylene metabolism, were associated with distinct fruit tissues and developmental stages. Gene coexpression network analysis provided furthermore »insights into the tissue-specific regulation of distinct responses to water stress. Our data highlight the spatiotemporal specificity of drought responses in tomato fruit and indicate known and unrevealed molecular regulatory mechanisms involved in drought acclimation, during both vegetative and reproductive stages of development.

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  3. Abstract

    Spinach is a nutritious leafy vegetable belonging to the family Chenopodiaceae. Here we report a high-quality chromosome-scale reference genome assembly of spinach and genome resequencing of 305 cultivated and wild spinach accessions. Reconstruction of ancestral Chenopodiaceae karyotype indicates substantial genome rearrangements in spinach after its divergence from ancestral Chenopodiaceae, coinciding with high repeat content in the spinach genome. Population genomic analyses provide insights into spinach genetic diversity and population differentiation. Genome-wide association studies of 20 agronomical traits identify numerous significantly associated regions and candidate genes for these traits. Domestication sweeps in the spinach genome are identified, some of which are associated with important traits (e.g., leaf phenotype, bolting and flowering), demonstrating the role of artificial selection in shaping spinach phenotypic evolution. This study provides not only insights into the spinach evolution and domestication but also valuable resources for facilitating spinach breeding.

  4. Abstract Pear is a major fruit tree crop distributed worldwide, yet its breeding is a very time-consuming process. To facilitate molecular breeding and gene identification, here we have performed genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on eleven fruit traits. We identify 37 loci associated with eight fruit quality traits and five loci associated with three fruit phenological traits. Scans for selective sweeps indicate that traits including fruit stone cell content, organic acid and sugar contents might have been under continuous selection during breeding improvement. One candidate gene, PbrSTONE , identified in GWAS, has been functionally verified to be involved in the regulation of stone cell formation, one of the most important fruit quality traits in pear. Our study provides insights into the complex fruit related biology and identifies genes controlling important traits in pear through GWAS, which extends the genetic resources and basis for facilitating molecular breeding in perennial trees.
  5. Abstract Extreme temperature conditions seriously impair male reproductive development in plants; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying the response of anthers to extreme temperatures remain poorly described. The transcription factor phytochrome-interacting factor4 (PIF4) acts as a hub that integrates multiple signaling pathways to regulate thermosensory growth and architectural adaptation in plants. Here, we report that SlPIF4 in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) plays a pivotal role in regulating cold tolerance in anthers. CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)–associated nuclease Cas9-generated SlPIF4 knockout mutants showed enhanced cold tolerance in pollen due to reduced temperature sensitivity of the tapetum, while overexpressing SlPIF4 conferred pollen abortion by delaying tapetal programmed cell death (PCD). SlPIF4 directly interacts with SlDYT1, a direct upstream regulator of SlTDF1, both of which (SlDYT1 and SlTDF1) play important roles in regulating tapetum development and tapetal PCD. Moderately low temperature (MLT) promotes the transcriptional activation of SlTDF1 by the SlPIF4–SlDYT1 complex, resulting in pollen abortion, while knocking out SlPIF4 blocked the MLT-induced activation of SlTDF1. Furthermore, SlPIF4 directly binds to the canonical E-box sequence in the SlDYT1 promoter. Collectively, these findings suggest that SlPIF4 negatively regulates cold tolerance in anthers by directly interacting with the tapetal regulatory module in a temperature-dependent manner.more »Our results shed light on the molecular mechanisms underlying the adaptation of anthers to low temperatures.« less
  6. Abstract Background Brassica oleracea includes several morphologically diverse, economically important vegetable crops, such as the cauliflower and cabbage. However, genetic variants, especially large structural variants (SVs), that underlie the extreme morphological diversity of B. oleracea remain largely unexplored. Results Here we present high-quality chromosome-scale genome assemblies for two B. oleracea morphotypes, cauliflower and cabbage. Direct comparison of these two assemblies identifies ~ 120 K high-confidence SVs. Population analysis of 271 B. oleracea accessions using these SVs clearly separates different morphotypes, suggesting the association of SVs with B. oleracea intraspecific divergence. Genes affected by SVs selected between cauliflower and cabbage are enriched with functions related to response to stress and stimulus and meristem and flower development. Furthermore, genes affected by selected SVs and involved in the switch from vegetative to generative growth that defines curd initiation, inflorescence meristem proliferation for curd formation, maintenance and enlargement, are identified, providing insights into the regulatory network of curd development. Conclusions This study reveals the important roles of SVs in diversification of different morphotypes of B. oleracea , and the newly assembled genomes and the SVs provide rich resources for future research and breeding.
  7. Fruit softening is a key component of the irreversible ripening program, contributing to the palatability necessary for frugivore-mediated seed dispersal. The underlying textural changes are complex and result from cell wall remodeling and changes in both cell adhesion and turgor. While a number of transcription factors (TFs) that regulate ripening have been identified, these affect most canonical ripening-related physiological processes. Here, we show that a tomato fruit ripening–specific LATERAL ORGAN BOUNDRIES ( LOB ) TF, SlLOB1 , up-regulates a suite of cell wall–associated genes during late maturation and ripening of locule and pericarp tissues. SlLOB1 repression in transgenic fruit impedes softening, while overexpression throughout the plant under the direction of the 35s promoter confers precocious induction of cell wall gene expression and premature softening. Transcript and protein levels of the wall-loosening protein EXPANSIN1 ( EXP1 ) are strongly suppressed in Sl LOB1 RNA interference lines, while EXP1 is induced in Sl LOB1 -overexpressing transgenic leaves and fruit. In contrast to the role of ethylene and previously characterized ripening TFs, which are comprehensive facilitators of ripening phenomena including softening, Sl LOB1 participates in a regulatory subcircuit predominant to cell wall dynamics and softening.
  8. Abstract Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a highly valuable fruit crop, and yield is one of the most important agronomic traits. However, the genetic architecture underlying tomato yield-related traits has not been fully addressed. Based on ∼4.4 million single nucleotide polymorphisms obtained from 605 diverse accessions, we performed a comprehensive genome-wide association study for 27 agronomic traits in tomato. A total of 239 significant associations corresponding to 129 loci, harboring many previously reported and additional genes related to vegetative and reproductive development, were identified, and these loci explained an average of ∼8.8% of the phenotypic variance. A total of 51 loci associated with 25 traits have been under selection during tomato domestication and improvement. Furthermore, a candidate gene, Sl-ACTIVATED MALATE TRANSPORTER15, that encodes an aluminum-activated malate transporter was functionally characterized and shown to act as a pivotal regulator of leaf stomata formation, thereby affecting photosynthesis and drought resistance. This study provides valuable information for tomato genetic research and breeding.
  9. Fruit flavor is defined as the perception of the food by the olfactory and gustatory systems, and is one of the main determinants of fruit quality. Tomato flavor is largely determined by the balance of sugars, acids and volatile compounds. Several genes controlling the levels of these metabolites in tomato fruit have been cloned, including LIN5 , ALMT9 , AAT1 , CXE1 , and LoxC . The aim of this study was to identify any association of these genes with trait variation and to describe the genetic diversity at these loci in the red-fruited tomato clade comprised of the wild ancestor Solanum pimpinellifolium , the semi-domesticated species Solanum lycopersicum cerasiforme and early domesticated Solanum lycopersicum . High genetic diversity was observed at these five loci, including novel haplotypes that could be incorporated into breeding programs to improve fruit quality of modern tomatoes. Using newly available high-quality genome assemblies, we assayed each gene for potential functional causative polymorphisms and resolved a duplication at the LoxC locus found in several wild and semi-domesticated accessions which caused lower accumulation of lipid derived volatiles. In addition, we explored gene expression of the five genes in nine phylogenetically diverse tomato accessions. In general, the expressionmore »patterns of these genes increased during fruit ripening but diverged between accessions without clear relationship between expression and metabolite levels.« less
  10. The environment has constantly shaped plant genomes, but the genetic bases underlying how plants adapt to environmental influences remain largely unknown. We constructed a high-density genomic variation map of 263 geographically representative peach landraces and wild relatives. A combination of whole-genome selection scans and genome-wide environmental association studies (GWEAS) was performed to reveal the genomic bases of peach adaptation to diverse climates. A total of 2092 selective sweeps that underlie local adaptation to both mild and extreme climates were identified, including 339 sweeps conferring genomic pattern of adaptation to high altitudes. Using genome-wide environmental association studies (GWEAS), a total of 2755 genomic loci strongly associated with 51 specific environmental variables were detected. The molecular mechanism underlying adaptive evolution of high drought, strong UVB, cold hardiness, sugar content, flesh color, and bloom date were revealed. Finally, based on 30 yr of observation, a candidate gene associated with bloom date advance, representing peach responses to global warming, was identified. Collectively, our study provides insights into molecular bases of how environments have shaped peach genomes by natural selection and adds candidate genes for future studies on evolutionary genetics, adaptation to climate changes, and breeding.