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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  2. Many desiccation-tolerant plants are widely distributed and exposed to substantial environmental variation across their native range. These environmental differences generate site-specific selective pressures that could drive natural variation in desiccation tolerance across populations. If identified, such natural variation can be used to target tolerance-enhancing characteristics and identify trait associations within a common genetic background. Here, we tested for natural variation in desiccation tolerance across wild populations of the South African resurrection plant Myrothamnus flabellifolia. We surveyed a suite of functional traits related to desiccation tolerance, leaf economics, and reproductive allocation in M. flabellifolia to test for trait associations and tradeoffs.more »Despite considerable environmental variation across the study area, M. flabellifolia plants were extremely desiccation tolerant at all sites, suggesting that tolerance is either maintained by selection or fixed in these populations. However, we detected notable associations between environmental variation, population characteristics, and fitness traits. Relative to mesic sites, plants in xeric sites were more abundant and larger, but were slower growing and less reproductive. The negative association between growth and reproduction with plant size and abundance pointed towards a potential growth–abundance tradeoff. The finding that M. flabellifolia is more common in xeric sites despite reductions in growth rate and reproduction suggests that these plants thrive in extreme aridity.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  3. Abstract The field of plant genome sequencing has grown rapidly in the past 20 years, leading to increases in the quantity and quality of publicly available genomic resources. The growing wealth of genomic data from an increasingly diverse set of taxa provides unprecedented potential to better understand the genome biology and evolution of land plants. Here we provide a contemporary view of land plant genomics, including analyses on assembly quality, taxonomic distribution of sequenced species and national participation. We show that assembly quality has increased dramatically in recent years, that substantial taxonomic gaps exist and that the field has been dominatedmore »by affluent nations in the Global North and China, despite a wide geographic distribution of study species. We identify numerous disconnects between the native range of focal species and the national affiliation of the researchers studying them, which we argue are rooted in colonialism—both past and present. Luckily, falling sequencing costs, widening availability of analytical tools and an increasingly connected scientific community provide key opportunities to improve existing assemblies, fill sampling gaps and empower a more global plant genomics community.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 12, 2022
  5. Grasses are among the most resilient plants, and some can survive prolonged desiccation in semiarid regions with seasonal rainfall. However, the genetic elements that distinguish grasses that are sensitive versus tolerant to extreme drying are largely unknown. Here, we leveraged comparative genomic approaches with the desiccation-tolerant grass Eragrostis nindensis and the related desiccation-sensitive cereal Eragrostis tef to identify changes underlying desiccation tolerance. These analyses were extended across C4 grasses and cereals to identify broader evolutionary conservation and divergence. Across diverse genomic datasets, we identified changes in chromatin architecture, methylation, gene duplications, and expression dynamics related to desiccation in E. nindensismore ». It was previously hypothesized that transcriptional rewiring of seed desiccation pathways confers vegetative desiccation tolerance. Here, we demonstrate that the majority of seed-dehydration–related genes showed similar expression patterns in leaves of both desiccation-tolerant and -sensitive species. However, we identified a small set of seed-related orthologs with expression specific to desiccation-tolerant species. This supports a broad role for seed-related genes, where many are involved in typical drought responses, with only a small subset of crucial genes specifically induced in desiccation-tolerant plants.« less
  6. Abstract Transposable elements represent the largest components of many eukaryotic genomes and different genomes harbor different combinations of elements. Here, we discovered a novel DNA transposon in the genome of the clubmoss Selaginella lepidophylla. Further searching for related sequences to the conserved DDE region uncovered the presence of this superfamily of elements in fish, coral, sea anemone, and other animal species. However, this element appears restricted to Bryophytes and Lycophytes in plants. This transposon, named GingerRoot, is associated with a 6 bp (base pair) target site duplication, and 100–150 bp terminal inverted repeats. Analysis of transposase sequences identified the DDEmore »motif, a catalytic domain, which shows similarity to the integrase of Gypsy-like long terminal repeat retrotransposons, the most abundant component in plant genomes. A total of 77 intact and several hundred truncated copies of GingerRoot elements were identified in S. lepidophylla. Like Gypsy retrotransposons, GingerRoots show a lack of insertion preference near genes, which contrasts to the compact genome size of about 100 Mb. Nevertheless, a considerable portion of GingerRoot elements was found to carry gene fragments, suggesting the capacity of duplicating gene sequences is unlikely attributed to the proximity to genes. Elements carrying gene fragments appear to be less methylated, more diverged, and more distal to genes than those without gene fragments, indicating they are preferentially retained in gene-poor regions. This study has identified a broadly dispersed, novel DNA transposon, and the first plant DNA transposon with an integrase-related transposase, suggesting the possibility of de novo formation of Gypsy-like elements in plants.« less
  7. Abstract

    Teff (Eragrostis tef) is a cornerstone of food security in the Horn of Africa, where it is prized for stress resilience, grain nutrition, and market value. Here, we report a chromosome-scale assembly of allotetraploid teff (variety Dabbi) and patterns of subgenome dynamics. The teff genome contains two complete sets of homoeologous chromosomes, with most genes maintaining as syntenic gene pairs. TE analysis allows us to estimate that the teff polyploidy event occurred ~1.1 million years ago (mya) and that the two subgenomes diverged ~5.0 mya. Despite this divergence, we detect no large-scale structural rearrangements, homoeologous exchanges, or biased genemore »loss, in contrast to many other allopolyploids. The two teff subgenomes have partitioned their ancestral functions based on divergent expression across a diverse expression atlas. Together, these genomic resources will be useful for accelerating breeding of this underutilized grain crop and for fundamental insights into polyploid genome evolution.

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