Transposable elements (TEs) are powerful motors of genome evolution yet a comprehensive assessment of recent transposition activity at the species level is lacking for most organisms. Here, using genome sequencing data for 211 Arabidopsis thaliana accessions taken from across the globe, we identify thousands of recent transposition events involving half of the 326 TE families annotated in this plant species. We further show that the composition and activity of the 'mobilome' vary extensively between accessions in relation to climate and genetic factors. Moreover, TEs insert equally throughout the genome and are rapidly purged by natural selection from gene-rich regions because they frequently affect genes, in multiple ways. Remarkably, loci controlling adaptive responses to the environment are the most frequent transposition targets observed. These findings demonstrate the pervasive, species-wide impact that a rich mobilome can have and the importance of transposition as a recurrent generator of large-effect alleles.
- Daniel Zilberman, University of California, Berkeley, United States
© 2016, Quadrana et al.
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By capitalising on positive biodiversity-productivity relationships, intercropping provides opportunities to improve agricultural sustainability. Intercropping is generally implemented using commercial seeds that were bred for maximal productivity in monocultures, thereby ignoring the ability of plants to adapt over generations to the surrounding neighbourhood, notably through increased complementarity, i.e. reduced competition or increased facilitation. This is why using monoculture-adapted seeds for intercropping might limit the benefits of crop diversity on yield. However, the adaptation potential of crops and the corresponding changes in complementarity have not been explored in annual crop systems. Here we show that plant-plant interactions among annual crops shifted towards reduced competition and/or increased facilitation when the plants were growing in the same community type as their parents did in the previous two generations. Total yield did not respond to this common coexistence history, but in fertilized conditions, we observed increased overyielding in mixtures with a common coexistence history. Surprisingly, we observed character convergence between species sharing the same coexistence history for two generations, in monocultures but also in mixtures: the six crop species tested converged towards taller phenotypes with lower leaf dry matter content. This study provides the first empirical evidence for the potential of parental diversity affecting plant-plant interactions, species complementarity and therefore potentially ecosystem functioning of the following generations in annual cropping systems. Although further studies are required to assess the context-dependence of these results, our findings may still have important implications for diversified agriculture as they illustrate the potential of targeted cultivars to increase complementarity of species in intercropping, which could be achieved through specific breeding for mixtures.
Brassinosteroids (BR) are key hormonal regulators of plant development. However, whereas the individual components of BR perception and signaling are well characterized experimentally, the question of how they can act and whether they are sufficient to carry out the critical function of cellular elongation remains open. Here, we combined computational modeling with quantitative cell physiology to understand the dynamics of the plasma membrane (PM)-localized BR response pathway during the initiation of cellular responses in the epidermis of the Arabidopsis root tip that are be linked to cell elongation. The model, consisting of ordinary differential equations, comprises the BR induced hyperpolarization of the PM, the acidification of the apoplast and subsequent cell wall swelling. We demonstrate that the competence of the root epidermal cells for the BR response predominantly depends on the amount and activity of H+-ATPases in the PM. The model further predicts that an influx of cations is required to compensate for the shift of positive charges caused by the apoplastic acidification. A potassium channel was subsequently identified and experimentally characterized, fulfilling this function. Thus, we established the landscape of components and parameters for physiological processes potentially linked to cell elongation, a central process in plant development.