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  1. Abstract

    A number of crop wild relatives can tolerate extreme stress to a degree outside the range observed in their domesticated relatives. However, it is unclear whether or how the molecular mechanisms employed by these species can be translated to domesticated crops. Paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) is a self-incompatible and multiply stress-tolerant wild relative of maize and sorghum. Here, we describe the sequencing and pseudomolecule level assembly of a vegetatively propagated accession ofP. vaginatum. Phylogenetic analysis based on 6,151 single-copy syntenic orthologues conserved in 6 related grass species places paspalum as an outgroup of the maize-sorghum clade. In parallel metabolic experiments, paspalum, but neither maize nor sorghum, exhibits a significant increase in trehalose when grown under nutrient-deficit conditions. Inducing trehalose accumulation in maize, imitating the metabolic phenotype of paspalum, results in autophagy dependent increases in biomass accumulation.

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  2. Abstract

    The zoosporic obligate endoparasites,Olpidium,hold a pivotal position to the reconstruction of the flagellum loss in fungi, one of the key morphological transitions associated with the colonization of land by the early fungi. We generated genome and transcriptome data from non-axenic zoospores ofOlpidium bornovanusand used a metagenome approach to extract phylogenetically informative fungal markers. Our phylogenetic reconstruction strongly supportedOlpidiumas the closest zoosporic relative of the non-flagellated terrestrial fungi. Super-alignment analyses resolvedOlpidiumas sister to the non-flagellated terrestrial fungi, whereas a super-tree approach recovered different placements ofOlpidium,but without strong support. Further investigations detected little conflicting signal among the sampled markers but revealed a potential polytomy in early fungal evolution associated with the branching order amongOlpidium, Zoopagomycota and Mucoromycota. The branches defining the evolutionary relationships of these lineages were characterized by short branch lengths and low phylogenetic content and received equivocal support for alternative phylogenetic hypotheses from individual markers. These nodes were marked by important morphological innovations, including the transition to hyphal growth and the loss of flagellum, which enabled early fungi to explore new niches and resulted in rapid and temporally concurrent Precambrian diversifications of the ancestors of several phyla of fungi.

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  3. Abstract

    Sex dimorphism and gene expression were studied in developing catkins in 159 F2 individuals from the bioenergy crop Salix purpurea, and potential mechanisms and pathways for regulating sex development were explored. Differential expression, eQTL, bisulfite sequencing, and network analysis were used to characterize sex dimorphism, detect candidate master regulator genes, and identify pathways through which the sex determination region (SDR) may mediate sex dimorphism. Eleven genes are presented as candidates for master regulators of sex, supported by gene expression and network analyses. These include genes putatively involved in hormone signaling, epigenetic modification, and regulation of transcription. eQTL analysis revealed a suite of transcription factors and genes involved in secondary metabolism and floral development that were predicted to be under direct control of the sex determination region. Furthermore, data from bisulfite sequencing and small RNA sequencing revealed strong differences in expression between males and females that would implicate both of these processes in sex dimorphism pathways. These data indicate that the mechanism of sex determination in Salix purpurea is likely different from that observed in the related genus Populus. This further demonstrates the dynamic nature of SDRs in plants, which involves a multitude of mechanisms of sex determination and a high rate of turnover.

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  4. Abstract The large size and complexity of most fern genomes have hampered efforts to elucidate fundamental aspects of fern biology and land plant evolution through genome-enabled research. Here we present a chromosomal genome assembly and associated methylome, transcriptome and metabolome analyses for the model fern species Ceratopteris richardii . The assembly reveals a history of remarkably dynamic genome evolution including rapid changes in genome content and structure following the most recent whole-genome duplication approximately 60 million years ago. These changes include massive gene loss, rampant tandem duplications and multiple horizontal gene transfers from bacteria, contributing to the diversification of defence-related gene families. The insertion of transposable elements into introns has led to the large size of the Ceratopteris genome and to exceptionally long genes relative to other plants. Gene family analyses indicate that genes directing seed development were co-opted from those controlling the development of fern sporangia, providing insights into seed plant evolution. Our findings and annotated genome assembly extend the utility of Ceratopteris as a model for investigating and teaching plant biology. 
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