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Plants, Volume 5, Issue 4 (December 2016)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle An In Vitro Procedure for Phenotypic Screening of Growth Parameters and Symbiotic Performances in Lotus corniculatus Cultivars Maintained in Different Nutritional Conditions
Plants 2016, 5(4), 40; doi:10.3390/plants5040040
Received: 18 July 2016 / Revised: 29 September 2016 / Accepted: 10 October 2016 / Published: 13 October 2016
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Abstract
The establishment of legumes crops with phenotypic traits that favour their persistence and competitiveness in mixed swards is a pressing task in sustainable agriculture. However, to fully exploit the potential benefits of introducing pasture-based grass-legume systems, an increased scientific knowledge of legume agronomy
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The establishment of legumes crops with phenotypic traits that favour their persistence and competitiveness in mixed swards is a pressing task in sustainable agriculture. However, to fully exploit the potential benefits of introducing pasture-based grass-legume systems, an increased scientific knowledge of legume agronomy for screening of favourable traits is needed. We exploited a short-cut phenotypic screening as a preliminary step to characterize the growth capacity of three different Lotus corniculatus cvs cultivated in different nutritional conditions as well as the evaluation of their nodulation capacities. This experimental scheme, developed for legume species amenable to grow on agar plates conditions, may represent a very preliminary step to achieve phenotypic discrimination on different cultivars. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Nitrogen Metabolism)
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Open AccessArticle Plant Responses to Climate Change: The Case Study of Betulaceae and Poaceae Pollen Seasons (Northern Italy, Vignola, Emilia-Romagna)
Plants 2016, 5(4), 42; doi:10.3390/plants5040042
Received: 24 October 2016 / Revised: 21 November 2016 / Accepted: 1 December 2016 / Published: 6 December 2016
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Abstract
Aerobiological data have especially demonstrated that there is correlation between climate warming and the pollination season of plants. This paper focuses on airborne pollen monitoring of Betulaceae and Poaceae, two of the main plant groups with anemophilous pollen and allergenic proprieties in Northern
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Aerobiological data have especially demonstrated that there is correlation between climate warming and the pollination season of plants. This paper focuses on airborne pollen monitoring of Betulaceae and Poaceae, two of the main plant groups with anemophilous pollen and allergenic proprieties in Northern Italy. The aim is to investigate plant responses to temperature variations by considering long-term pollen series. The 15-year aerobiological analysis is reported from the monitoring station of Vignola (located near Modena, in the Emilia-Romagna region) that had operated in the years 1990–2004 with a Hirst spore trap. The Yearly Pollen Index calculated for these two botanical families has shown contrasting trends in pollen production and release. These trends were well identifiable but fairly variable, depending on both meteorological variables and anthropogenic causes. Based on recent reference literature, we considered that some oscillations in pollen concentration could have been a main effect of temperature variability reflecting global warming. The duration of pollen seasons of Betulaceae and Poaceae, depending on the different species included in each family, has not unequivocally been determined. Phenological responses were particularly evident in Alnus and especially in Corylus as a general moving up of the end of pollination. The study shows that these trees can be affected by global warming more than other, more tolerant, plants. The research can be a contribution to the understanding of phenological plant responses to climate change and suggests that alder and hazelnut trees have to be taken into high consideration as sensible markers of plant responses to climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollen Tube Growth 2016)
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Open AccessArticle Analysis of Metabolites in Stem Parasitic Plant Interactions: Interaction of Cuscuta–Momordica versus Cassytha–Ipomoea
Plants 2016, 5(4), 43; doi:10.3390/plants5040043
Received: 25 October 2016 / Revised: 28 November 2016 / Accepted: 1 December 2016 / Published: 7 December 2016
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Abstract
Cuscuta and Cassytha are two well-known stem parasitic plant genera with reduced leaves and roots, inducing haustoria in their stems. Their similar appearance in the field has been recognized, but few comparative studies on their respective plant interactions are available. To compare their
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Cuscuta and Cassytha are two well-known stem parasitic plant genera with reduced leaves and roots, inducing haustoria in their stems. Their similar appearance in the field has been recognized, but few comparative studies on their respective plant interactions are available. To compare their interactions, we conducted a metabolite analysis of both the Cassytha–Ipomoea and the Cuscuta–Momordica interaction. We investigated the energy charge of the metabolites by UFLC (ultra-high performance liquid chromatography), and conducted GC-MS (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry) analysis for polar metabolites (e.g., saccharides, polyols) and steroids. The energy charge after parasitization changed considerably in Cassytha but not in Cusucta. Cuscuta changed its steroid pattern during the plant interaction, whereas Cassytha did not. In the polar metabolite analysis, the laminaribiose increase after parasitization was conspicuous in Cuscuta, but not in Cassytha. This metabolite profile difference points to different lifestyles and parasitic strategies. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Variation among Soybean Cultivars in Mesophyll Conductance and Leaf Water Use Efficiency
Plants 2016, 5(4), 44; doi:10.3390/plants5040044
Received: 14 September 2016 / Revised: 30 November 2016 / Accepted: 7 December 2016 / Published: 11 December 2016
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Abstract
Improving water use efficiency (WUE) may prove a useful way to adapt crop species to drought. Since the recognition of the importance of mesophyll conductance to CO2 movement from inside stomatal pores to the sites of photosynthetic carboxylation, there has been interest
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Improving water use efficiency (WUE) may prove a useful way to adapt crop species to drought. Since the recognition of the importance of mesophyll conductance to CO2 movement from inside stomatal pores to the sites of photosynthetic carboxylation, there has been interest in how much intraspecific variation in mesophyll conductance (gm) exists, and how such variation may impact leaf WUE within C3 species. In this study, the gm and leaf WUE of fifteen cultivars of soybeans grown under controlled conditions were measured under standardized environmental conditions. Leaf WUE varied by a factor of 2.6 among the cultivars, and gm varied by a factor of 8.6. However, there was no significant correlation (r = −0.047) between gm and leaf WUE. Leaf WUE was linearly related to the sub-stomatal CO2 concentration. The value of gm affected the ratio of maximum Rubisco carboxylation capacity calculated from the sub-stomatal CO2 concentration to that calculated from the CO2 concentration at the site of carboxylation. That is, variation in gm affected the efficiency of Rubisco carboxylation, but not leaf WUE. Nevertheless, there is considerable scope for genetically improving soybean leaf water use efficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Abiotic Environmental Stress Responses of Plants)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Understanding Plant Nitrogen Metabolism through Metabolomics and Computational Approaches
Plants 2016, 5(4), 39; doi:10.3390/plants5040039
Received: 8 August 2016 / Revised: 21 September 2016 / Accepted: 30 September 2016 / Published: 10 October 2016
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Abstract
A comprehensive understanding of plant metabolism could provide a direct mechanism for improving nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) in crops. One of the major barriers to achieving this outcome is our poor understanding of the complex metabolic networks, physiological factors, and signaling mechanisms that
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A comprehensive understanding of plant metabolism could provide a direct mechanism for improving nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) in crops. One of the major barriers to achieving this outcome is our poor understanding of the complex metabolic networks, physiological factors, and signaling mechanisms that affect NUE in agricultural settings. However, an exciting collection of computational and experimental approaches has begun to elucidate whole-plant nitrogen usage and provides an avenue for connecting nitrogen-related phenotypes to genes. Herein, we describe how metabolomics, computational models of metabolism, and flux balance analysis have been harnessed to advance our understanding of plant nitrogen metabolism. We introduce a model describing the complex flow of nitrogen through crops in a real-world agricultural setting and describe how experimental metabolomics data, such as isotope labeling rates and analyses of nutrient uptake, can be used to refine these models. In summary, the metabolomics/computational approach offers an exciting mechanism for understanding NUE that may ultimately lead to more effective crop management and engineered plants with higher yields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Nitrogen Metabolism)
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Open AccessReview Synthesis and Functions of Jasmonates in Maize
Plants 2016, 5(4), 41; doi:10.3390/plants5040041
Received: 29 October 2016 / Revised: 16 November 2016 / Accepted: 22 November 2016 / Published: 29 November 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (3572 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Of the over 600 oxylipins present in all plants, the phytohormone jasmonic acid (JA) remains the best understood in terms of its biosynthesis, function and signaling. Much like their eicosanoid analogues in mammalian system, evidence is growing for the role of the other
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Of the over 600 oxylipins present in all plants, the phytohormone jasmonic acid (JA) remains the best understood in terms of its biosynthesis, function and signaling. Much like their eicosanoid analogues in mammalian system, evidence is growing for the role of the other oxylipins in diverse physiological processes. JA serves as the model plant oxylipin species and regulates defense and development. For several decades, the biology of JA has been characterized in a few dicot species, yet the function of JA in monocots has only recently begun to be elucidated. In this work, the synthesis and function of JA in maize is presented from the perspective of oxylipin biology. The maize genes responsible for catalyzing the reactions in the JA biosynthesis are clarified and described. Recent studies into the function of JA in maize defense against insect herbivory, pathogens and its role in growth and development are highlighted. Additionally, a list of JA-responsive genes is presented for use as biological markers for improving future investigations into JA signaling in maize. Full article
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