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      Pistil Smut Infection Increases Ovary Production, Seed Yield Components, and Pseudosexual Reproductive Allocation in Buffalograss

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          Sex expression of dioecious buffalograss [ Bouteloua dactyloides Columbus (syn. Buchloë dactyloides (Nutt.) Engelm.)] is known to be environmentally stable with approximate 1:1, male to female, sex ratios. Here we show that infection by the pistil smut fungus [ Salmacisia buchloëana Huff & Chandra (syn. Tilletia buchloëana Kellerman and Swingle)] shifts sex ratios of buffalograss to be nearly 100% phenotypically hermaphroditic. In addition, pistil smut infection decreased vegetative reproductive allocation, increased most seed yield components, and increased pseudosexual reproductive allocation in both sex forms compared to uninfected clones. In female sex forms, pistil smut infection resulted in a 26 fold increase in ovary production and a 35 fold increase in potential harvest index. In male sex forms, pistil smut infection resulted in 2.37 fold increase in floret number and over 95% of these florets contained a well-developed pistil. Although all ovaries of infected plants are filled with fungal teliospores and hence reproductively sterile, an average male-female pair of infected plants exhibited an 87 fold increase in potential harvest index compared to their uninfected clones. Acquiring an ability to mimic the effects of pistil smut infection would enhance our understanding of the flowering process in grasses and our efforts to increase seed yield of buffalograss and perhaps other grasses.

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          Adaptations of Endophyte-Infected Cool-Season Grasses to Environmental Stresses

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            RAPD variation within and among natural populations of outcrossing buffalograss [Buchloë dactyloides (Nutt.) Engelm].

            RAPD markers provide a powerful tool for the investigation of genetic variation in natural and domesticated populations. Recent studies of strain/cultivar identification have shown extensive RAPD divergence among, but little variation within, inbred species or cultivars. In contrast, little is known about the pattern and extent of RAPD variation in heterogeneous, outcrossing species. We describe the population genetic variation of RAPD markers in natural, diploid sources of dioecious buffalograss [Buchloë dactyloides (Nutt.) Engelm.]. Buffalograss is native to the semi-arid regions of the Great Plains of North America, where it is important for rangeland forage, soil conservation, and as turfgrass. Most sources of buffalograss germplasm are polyploid; diploid populations are previously known only from semi-arid Central Mexico. This is the first report of diploids from humid Gulf Coastal Texas. These two diploid sources represent divergent adaptive ecotypes. Seven 10-mer primers produced 98 polymorphic banding sites. Based on the presence/ absence of bands, a genetic distance matrix was calculated. The new Analysis of Molecular Variance (AMOVA) technique was used to apportion the variation among individuals within populations, among populations within adaptive regions, and among regions. There was considerable variation within each of the four populations, and every individual was genetically distinct. Even so, genetic divergence was found among local populations. Within-population variation was larger and among-population variation smaller in Mexico than in Texas. The largest observed genetic differences were those between the two regional ecotypes. These patterns of genetic variation were very different from those reported for inbred species and provide important baseline data for cultivar identification and continuing studies of the evolution of polyploid races in this species.
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              Metabolomic analysis reveals a common pattern of metabolic re-programming during invasion of three host plant species by Magnaporthe grisea.

              The mechanisms by which biotrophic and hemi-biotrophic fungal pathogens simultaneously subdue plant defences and sequester host nutrients are poorly understood. Using metabolite fingerprinting, we show that Magnaporthe grisea, the causal agent of rice blast disease, dynamically re-programmes host metabolism during plant colonization. Identical patterns of metabolic change occurred during M. grisea infections in barley, rice and Brachypodium distachyon. Targeted metabolite profiling by GC-MS confirmed the modulation of a conserved set of metabolites. In pre-symptomatic tissues, malate and polyamines accumulated, rather than being utilized to generate defensive reactive oxygen species, and the levels of metabolites associated with amelioration of redox stress in various cellular compartments increased dramatically. The activity of NADP-malic enzyme and generation of reactive oxygen species were localized to pathogen penetration sites, and both appeared to be suppressed in compatible interactions. Early diversion of the shikimate pathway to produce quinate was observed, as well as accumulation of non-polymerized lignin precursors. These data are consistent with modulation of defensive phenylpropanoid metabolism by M. grisea and the inability of susceptible hosts to mount a hypersensitive reaction or produce lignified papillae (both involving reactive oxygen species) to restrict pathogen invasion. Rapid proliferation of M. grisea hyphae in plant tissue after 3 days was associated with accelerated nutrient acquisition and utilization by the pathogen. Conversion of photoassimilate into mannitol and glycerol for carbon sequestration and osmolyte production appear to drive hyphal growth. Taken together, our results suggest that fungal pathogens deploy a common metabolic re-programming strategy in diverse host species to suppress plant defence and colonize plant tissue.

                Author and article information

                Plants (Basel)
                Plants (Basel)
                01 December 2014
                December 2014
                : 3
                : 4
                : 594-612
                [1 ]Texas AgriLife Research, Texas A&M System, 17360 Coit Road, Dallas, TX 75252, USA; E-Mail: a-chandra@
                [2 ]Department of Plant Science, The Pennsylvania State University, 116 ASI Bldg., University Park, PA 16802, USA
                Author notes

                These authors contributed equally to this work.

                [* ]Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: drh15@ ; Tel.: +1-814-863-9805; Fax: +1-814-863-7043.
                © 2014 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

                This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (



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