Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Genetics and Molecular Biology]]> vol. 40 num. 1 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[Shaping a Plant Genetics and Molecular Biology research community in Brazil]]> <![CDATA[Secondary structure of nrDNA Internal Transcribed Spacers as a useful tool to align highly divergent species in phylogenetic studies]]> Abstract Recently, it has been suggested that internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences are under selective constraints to preserve their secondary structure. Here, we investigate the patterns of the ITS nucleotide and secondary structure conservation across the Passiflora L. genus to evaluate the potential use of secondary structure data as a helpful tool for the alignment in taxonomically complex genera. Considering the frequent use of ITS, this study also presents a perspective on future analyses in other plant groups. The ITS1 and ITS2 sequences presented significant differences for mean values of the lowest energy state (LES) and for number of hairpins in different Passiflora subgenera. Statistical analyses for the subgenera separately support significant differences between the LES values and the total number of secondary structures for ITS. In order to evaluate whether the LES values of ITS secondary structures were related to selective constraints, we compared these results among 120 ITS sequences from Passiflora species and 120 randomly generated sequences. These analyses indicated that Passiflora ITS sequences present characteristics of a region under selective constraint to maintain the secondary structure showing to be a promising tool to improve the alignments and identify sites with non-neutral substitutions or those correlated evolutionary steps. <![CDATA[Salt stress affects mRNA editing in soybean chloroplasts]]> Abstract Soybean, a crop known by its economic and nutritional importance, has been the subject of several studies that assess the impact and the effective plant responses to abiotic stresses. Salt stress is one of the main environmental stresses and negatively impacts crop growth and yield. In this work, the RNA editing process in the chloroplast of soybean plants was evaluated in response to a salt stress. Bioinformatics approach using sRNA and mRNA libraries were employed to detect specific sites showing differences in editing efficiency. RT-qPCR was used to measure editing efficiency at selected sites. We observed that transcripts of NDHA, NDHB, RPS14 and RPS16 genes presented differences in coverage and editing rates between control and salt-treated libraries. RT-qPCR assays demonstrated an increase in editing efficiency of selected genes. The salt stress enhanced the RNA editing process in transcripts, indicating responses to components of the electron transfer chain, photosystem and translation complexes. These increases can be a response to keep the homeostasis of chloroplast protein functions in response to salt stress. <![CDATA[Effect of soybean ureases on seed germination and plant development]]> Abstract Urease catalyzes the hydrolysis of urea to ammonia and carbon dioxide. The ammonia (nitrogen (N) product of urease activity) is incorporated into organic compounds. Thus, urease is involved in N remobilization, as well as in primary N assimilation. Two urease isoforms have been described for soybean: the embryo-specific, encoded by the Eu1 gene, and the ubiquitous urease, encoded by Eu4. A third urease-encoding gene was recently identified, designated Eu5, which encodes the putative protein product SBU-III. The present study aimed to evaluate the contribution of soybean ureases to seed germination and plant development. Analyses were performed using Eu1/Eu4/Eu5-co-suppressed transgenic plants and mutants of the Eu1 and Eu4 urease structural genes, as well as a urease-null mutant (eu3-a) that activates neither the ubiquitous nor embryo-specific ureases. The co-suppressed plants presented a developmental delay during the first month after germination; shoots and roots were significantly smaller and lighter. Slower development was observed for the double eu1-a/eu4-a mutant and the eu3-a single mutant. The N content in transgenic plants was significantly lower than in non-transgenic plants. Among the mutants, eu3-a presented the lowest and eu1-a the highest N content. Altogether, these results indicate that increased ureolytic activity plays an important role in plant development. <![CDATA[Genome-wide analysis of <em>EgEVE_1</em>, a transcriptionally active endogenous viral element associated to small RNAs in <em>Eucalyptus</em> genomes]]> Abstract Endogenous viral elements (EVEs) are the result of heritable horizontal gene transfer from viruses to hosts. In the last years, several EVE integration events were reported in plants by the exponential availability of sequenced genomes. Eucalyptus grandis is a forest tree species with a sequenced genome that is poorly studied in terms of evolution and mobile genetic elements composition. Here we report the characterization of E. grandis endogenous viral element 1 (EgEVE_1), a transcriptionally active EVE with a size of 5,664 bp. Phylogenetic analysis and genomic distribution demonstrated that EgEVE_1 is a newly described member of the Caulimoviridae family, distinct from the recently characterized plant Florendoviruses. Genomic distribution of EgEVE_1 and Florendovirus is also distinct. EgEVE_1 qPCR quantification in Eucalyptus urophylla suggests that this genome has more EgEVE_1 copies than E. grandis. EgEVE_1 transcriptional activity was demonstrated by RT-qPCR in five Eucalyptus species and one intrageneric hybrid. We also identified that Eucalyptus EVEs can generate small RNAs (sRNAs),that might be involved in de novo DNA methylation and virus resistance. Our data suggest that EVE families in Eucalyptus have distinct properties, and we provide the first comparative analysis of EVEs in Eucalyptus genomes. <![CDATA[Isolation and characterization of a promoter responsive to salt, osmotic and dehydration stresses in soybean]]> Abstract Drought stress is the main limiting factor of soybean yield. Currently, genetic engineering has been one important tool in the development of drought-tolerant cultivars. A widely used strategy is the fusion of genes that confer tolerance under the control of the CaMV35S constitutive promoter; however, stress-responsive promoters would constitute the best alternative to the generation of drought-tolerant crops. We characterized the promoter of α-galactosidase soybean (GlymaGAL) gene that was previously identified as highly up-regulated by drought stress. The β-glucuronidase (GUS) activity of Arabidopsis transgenic plants bearing 1000- and 2000-bp fragments of the GlymaGAL promoter fused to the uidA gene was evaluated under air-dried, polyethylene glycol (PEG) and salt stress treatments. After 24 h of air-dried and PEG treatments, the pGAL-2kb led to an increase in GUS expression in leaf and root samples when compared to the control samples. These results were corroborated by qPCR expression analysis of the uidA gene. The pGAL-1kb showed no difference in GUS activity between control and treated samples. The pGAL-2kb promoter was evaluated in transgenic soybean roots, leading to an increase in EGFP expression under air-dried treatment. Our data indicates that pGAL-2kb could be a useful tool in developing drought-tolerant cultivars by driving gene expression. <![CDATA[A walk on the wild side: <em>Oryza</em> species as source for rice abiotic stress tolerance]]> Abstract Oryza sativa, the common cultivated rice, is one of the most important crops for human consumption, but production is increasingly threatened by abiotic stresses. Although many efforts have resulted in breeding rice cultivars that are relatively tolerant to their local environments, climate changes and population increase are expected to soon call for new, fast generation of stress tolerant rice germplasm, and current within-species rice diversity might not be enough to overcome such needs. The Oryza genus contains other 23 wild species, with only Oryza glaberrima being also domesticated. Rice domestication was performed with a narrow genetic diversity, and the other Oryza species are a virtually untapped genetic resource for rice stress tolerance improvement. Here we review the origin of domesticated Oryza sativa from wild progenitors, the ecological and genomic diversity of the Oryza genus, and the stress tolerance variation observed for wild Oryza species, including the genetic basis underlying the tolerance mechanisms found. The summary provided here is important to indicate how we should move forward to unlock the full potential of these germplasms for rice improvement. <![CDATA[Plant arginyltransferases (ATEs)]]> Abstract Regulation of protein stability and/or degradation of misfolded and damaged proteins are essential cellular processes. A part of this regulation is mediated by the so-called N-end rule proteolytic pathway, which, in concert with the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS), drives protein degradation depending on the N-terminal amino acid sequence. One important enzyme involved in this process is arginyl-t-RNA transferase, known as ATE. This enzyme acts post-translationally by introducing an arginine residue at the N-terminus of specific protein targets to signal degradation via the UPS. However, the function of ATEs has only recently begun to be revealed. Nonetheless, the few studies to date investigating ATE activity in plants points to the great importance of the ATE/N-end rule pathway in regulating plant signaling. Plant development, seed germination, leaf morphology and responses to gas signaling in plants are among the processes affected by the ATE/N-end rule pathway. In this review, we present some of the known biological functions of plant ATE proteins, highlighting the need for more in-depth studies on this intriguing pathway. <![CDATA[Cyanobacterial nitrogenases: phylogenetic diversity, regulation and functional predictions]]> Abstract Cyanobacteria is a remarkable group of prokaryotic photosynthetic microorganisms, with several genera capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen (N2) and presenting a wide range of morphologies. Although the nitrogenase complex is not present in all cyanobacterial taxa, it is spread across several cyanobacterial strains. The nitrogenase complex has also a high theoretical potential for biofuel production, since H2 is a by-product produced during N2 fixation. In this review we discuss the significance of a relatively wide variety of cell morphologies and metabolic strategies that allow spatial and temporal separation of N2 fixation from photosynthesis in cyanobacteria. Phylogenetic reconstructions based on 16S rRNA and nifD gene sequences shed light on the evolutionary history of the two genes. Our results demonstrated that (i) sequences of genes involved in nitrogen fixation (nifD) from several morphologically distinct strains of cyanobacteria are grouped in similarity with their morphology classification and phylogeny, and (ii) nifD genes from heterocytous strains share a common ancestor. By using this data we also discuss the evolutionary importance of processes such as horizontal gene transfer and genetic duplication for nitrogenase evolution and diversification. Finally, we discuss the importance of H2 synthesis in cyanobacteria, as well as strategies and challenges to improve cyanobacterial H2 production. <![CDATA[The plant cell cycle: Pre-Replication complex formation and controls]]> Abstract The multiplication of cells in all living organisms requires a tight regulation of DNA replication. Several mechanisms take place to ensure that the DNA is replicated faithfully and just once per cell cycle in order to originate through mitoses two new daughter cells that contain exactly the same information from the previous one. A key control mechanism that occurs before cells enter S phase is the formation of a pre-replication complex (pre-RC) that is assembled at replication origins by the sequential association of the origin recognition complex, followed by Cdt1, Cdc6 and finally MCMs, licensing DNA to start replication. The identification of pre-RC members in all animal and plant species shows that this complex is conserved in eukaryotes and, more importantly, the differences between kingdoms might reflect their divergence in strategies on cell cycle regulation, as it must be integrated and adapted to the niche, ecosystem, and the organism peculiarities. Here, we provide an overview of the knowledge generated so far on the formation and the developmental controls of the pre-RC mechanism in plants, analyzing some particular aspects in comparison to other eukaryotes. <![CDATA[Translational control in plant antiviral immunity]]> Abstract Due to the limited coding capacity of viral genomes, plant viruses depend extensively on the host cell machinery to support the viral life cycle and, thereby, interact with a large number of host proteins during infection. Within this context, as plant viruses do not harbor translation-required components, they have developed several strategies to subvert the host protein synthesis machinery to produce rapidly and efficiently the viral proteins. As a countermeasure against infection, plants have evolved defense mechanisms that impair viral infections. Among them, the host-mediated translational suppression has been characterized as an efficient mean to restrict infection. To specifically suppress translation of viral mRNAs, plants can deploy susceptible recessive resistance genes, which encode translation initiation factors from the eIF4E and eIF4G family and are required for viral mRNA translation and multiplication. Additionally, recent evidence has demonstrated that, alternatively to the cleavage of viral RNA targets, host cells can suppress viral protein translation to silence viral RNA. Finally, a novel strategy of plant antiviral defense based on suppression of host global translation, which is mediated by the transmembrane immune receptor NIK1 (nuclear shuttle protein (NSP)-Interacting Kinase1), is discussed in this review. <![CDATA[New biotechnological tools to accelerate scab-resistance trait transfer to apple]]> Abstract Apple is a fruit crop cultivated worldwide. Apple orchards are exposed to a diverse set of environmental and biological factors that affect the productivity and sustainability of the culture. Many of the efforts and costs for apple production rely on reducing the incidence of fungal diseases, and one of the main diseases is apple scab caused by the fungus Venturia inaequalis. The economic impact of scab on apple productivity has guided many breeding programs to search for cultivars resistant to apple scab. Introgression from wild relatives has been successful to some extent, and genetic engineering for resistant cultivars has even been employed. This review presents the techniques used to the present time to obtain pathogen-resistant apple cultivars and introduces new biotechnological approaches based on plant plasmids that show promising results for delivering genetic traits with a short-term perspective. <![CDATA[Dealing with iron metabolism in rice: from breeding for stress tolerance to biofortification]]> Abstract Iron is a well-known metal. Used by humankind since ancient times in many different ways, this element is present in all living organisms, where, unfortunately, it represents a two-way problem. Being an essential block in the composition of different proteins and metabolic pathways, iron is a vital component for animals and plants. That is why iron deficiency has a severe impact on the lives of different organisms, including humans, becoming a major concern, especially in developing countries where access to adequate nutrition is still difficult. On the other hand, this metal is also capable of causing damage when present in excess, becoming toxic to cells and affecting the whole organism. Because of its importance, iron absorption, transport and storage mechanisms have been extensively investigated in order to design alternatives that may solve this problem. As the understanding of the strategies that plants use to control iron homeostasis is an important step in the generation of improved plants that meet both human agricultural and nutritional needs, here we discuss some of the most important points about this topic. <![CDATA[Regulation of Na<sup>+</sup> and K<sup>+</sup> homeostasis in plants: towards improved salt stress tolerance in crop plants]]> Abstract Soil salinity is a major abiotic stress that results in considerable crop yield losses worldwide. However, some plant genotypes show a high tolerance to soil salinity, as they manage to maintain a high K+/Na+ ratio in the cytosol, in contrast to salt stress susceptible genotypes. Although, different plant genotypes show different salt tolerance mechanisms, they all rely on the regulation and function of K+ and Na+ transporters and H+ pumps, which generate the driving force for K+ and Na+ transport. In this review we will introduce salt stress responses in plants and summarize the current knowledge about the most important ion transporters that facilitate intra- and intercellular K+ and Na+ homeostasis in these organisms. We will describe and discuss the regulation and function of the H+-ATPases, H+-PPases, SOS1, HKTs, and NHXs, including the specific tissues where they work and their response to salt stress. <![CDATA[Genome-wide identification, classification and transcriptional analysis of nitrate and ammonium transporters in <em>Coffea</em>]]> Abstract Nitrogen (N) is quantitatively the main nutrient required by coffee plants, with acquisition mainly by the roots and mostly exported to coffee beans. Nitrate (NO3–) and ammonium (NH4+) are the most important inorganic sources for N uptake. Several N transporters encoded by different gene families mediate the uptake of these compounds. They have an important role in source preference for N uptake in the root system. In this study, we performed a genome-wide analysis, including in silico expression and phylogenetic analyses of AMT1, AMT2, NRT1/PTR, and NRT2 transporters in the recently sequenced Coffea canephora genome. We analyzed the expression of six selected transporters in Coffea arabica roots submitted to N deficiency. N source preference was also analyzed in C. arabica using isotopes. C. canephora N transporters follow the patterns observed for most eudicots, where each member of the AMT and NRT families has a particular role in N mobilization, and where some of these are modulated by N deficiency. Despite the prevalence of putative nitrate transporters in the Coffea genome, ammonium was the preferential inorganic N source for N-starved C. arabica roots. This data provides an important basis for fundamental and applied studies to depict molecular mechanisms involved in N uptake in coffee trees. <![CDATA[Defense-related proteins involved in sugarcane responses to biotic stress]]> Abstract Sugarcane is one of the most important agricultural crops in the world. However, pathogen infection and herbivore attack cause constant losses in yield. Plants respond to pathogen infection by inducing the expression of several protein types, such as glucanases, chitinases, thaumatins, peptidase inhibitors, defensins, catalases and glycoproteins. Proteins induced by pathogenesis are directly or indirectly involved in plant defense, leading to pathogen death or inducing other plant defense responses. Several of these proteins are induced in sugarcane by different pathogens or insects and have antifungal or insecticidal activity. In this review, defense-related proteins in sugarcane are described, with their putative mechanisms of action, pathogen targets and biotechnological perspectives. <![CDATA[Interactions between plant hormones and heavy metals responses]]> Abstract Heavy metals are natural non-biodegradable constituents of the Earth's crust that accumulate and persist indefinitely in the ecosystem as a result of human activities. Since the industrial revolution, the concentration of cadmium, arsenic, lead, mercury and zinc, amongst others, have increasingly contaminated soil and water resources, leading to significant yield losses in plants. These issues have become an important concern of scientific interest. Understanding the molecular and physiological responses of plants to heavy metal stress is critical in order to maximize their productivity. Recent research has extended our view of how plant hormones can regulate and integrate growth responses to various environmental cues in order to sustain life. In the present review we discuss current knowledge about the role of the plant growth hormones abscisic acid, auxin, brassinosteroid and ethylene in signaling pathways, defense mechanisms and alleviation of heavy metal toxicity.