Horticulture Research

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ISSN / EISSN : 2052-7276 / 2052-7276
Published by: Springer Nature (10.1038)
Total articles ≅ 797
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Guodong Zhang, Ruimin Tang, Suyan Niu, Huaijun Si, Qing Yang, Om P. Rajora, Xiu-Qing Li
Published: 15 October 2021
Horticulture Research, Volume 8, pp 1-18; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41438-021-00680-2

Crops face increased risk from heat stress due to climate change. Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) tubers grown in hot summers often have defects including pre-harvest sprouting (“heat sprouts”). We have used 18 potato cultivars to investigate whether heat stress (HS) conditions alone could cause heat sprouting and dormancy changes in tubers. We also examined transcriptomic responses of potato to HS and whether these responses are like those induced by postharvest sprouting. We demonstrated that HS alone caused heat sprouts and shortened postharvest dormancy period, heat-sprouted tubers became dormant after harvest, and cultivars varied substantially for producing heat spouts but there was no clear association with cultivar maturity earliness. Cultivar Innovator did not show any heat sprouts and still had long dormancy. Dormancy-associated genes (DOG1 and SLP) were downregulated in HS tubers like in postharvest sprouting tubers. We have identified 1201 differentially expressed genes, 14 enriched GO terms and 12 enriched KEGG pathways in response to HS in growing tubers of ‘Russet Burbank’. Transcriptomic response of ‘Russet Burbank’ to HS showed significant similarities to that of postharvest non-HS sprouted tubers. Gibberellin biosynthesis pathway was enriched in heat-stressed tubers and was likely involved in heat sprouting and dormancy release. Heat sprouting and postharvest sprouting shared common candidate genes and had significant similarity in gene expression. Our study has significance for selecting potato cultivars for farming, planning storage and utilization of heat-stressed tubers, identifying sprouting-related genes, understanding heat-stress biology, and breeding heat-tolerant potato cultivars, especially for sustainable potato production under climate change.
Yingjun Hou, Xinyi Yu, Weiping Chen, Weibing Zhuang, Sanhong Wang, Chao Sun, Lifang Cao, Tingting Zhou, Shenchun Qu
Published: 11 October 2021
Horticulture Research, Volume 8, pp 1-21; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41438-021-00701-0

The Alternaria alternata apple pathotype adversely affects apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) cultivation. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying enhanced resistance to this pathogen in apple remain poorly understood. We have previously reported that MdWRKY75 expression is upregulated by A. alternata infection in ‘Sushuai’ apples. In this study, we discovered that overexpression of MdWRKY75e increased the resistance of transgenic apple lines to A. alternata infection, whereas silencing this gene enhanced susceptibility to A. alternata infection. Furthermore, we found that MdWRKY75e directly binds to the MdLAC7 promoter to regulate the biosynthesis of laccase and increase the biosynthesis of lignin during A. alternata infection. Moreover, the thickening of the cell wall enhanced the mechanical defense capabilities of apple. In addition, we found that jasmonic acid remarkably induced MdWRKY75e expression, and its levels in transgenic apple lines were elevated. These results indicate that MdWRKY75e confers resistance to the A. alternata apple pathotype mainly via the jasmonic acid pathway and that pathogenesis-related genes and antioxidant-related enzyme activity are involved in the disease resistance of MdWRKY75e transgenic plants. In conclusion, our findings provide insights into the importance of MdWRKY75e for resistance to A. alternata infection in apples.
Zhen Fan, Tomas Hasing, Timothy S. Johnson, Drake M. Garner, Michael L. Schwieterman, , Thomas A. Colquhoun, Charles A. Sims, , Vance M. Whitaker
Published: 6 October 2021
Horticulture Research, Volume 8, pp 1-1; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41438-021-00664-2

Qingyuan Dang, Haiyun Sha, Jiyun Nie, Yongzhang Wang, Yongbing Yuan, Dongjie Jia
Published: 5 October 2021
Horticulture Research, Volume 8, pp 1-12; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41438-021-00694-w

Color is an important trait for horticultural crops. Carotenoids are one of the main pigments for coloration and have important implications for photosynthesis in plants and benefits for human health. Here, we identified an APETALA2 (AP2)/ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTOR (ERF) transcription factor named MdAP2-34 in apple (Malus domestica Borkh.). MdAP2-34 expression exhibited a close correlation with carotenoid content in ‘Benin Shogun’ and ‘Yanfu 3’ fruit flesh. MdAP2-34 promotes carotenoid accumulation in MdAP2-34-OVX transgenic apple calli and fruits by participating in the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway. The major carotenoid contents of phytoene and β-carotene were much higher in overexpressing MdAP2-34 transgenic calli and fruit skin, yet the predominant compound of lutein showed no obvious difference, indicating that MdAP2-34 regulates phytoene and β-carotene accumulation but not lutein. MdPSY2-1 (phytoene synthase 2) is a major gene in the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway in apple fruit, and the MdPSY2-1 gene is directly bound and transcriptionally activated by MdAP2-34. In addition, overexpressing MdPSY2-1 in apple calli mainly increases phytoene and total carotenoid contents. Our findings will advance and extend our understanding of the complex molecular mechanisms of carotenoid biosynthesis in apple, and this research is valuable for accelerating the apple breeding process.
Xiaobing Kou, Jiangmei Sun, Peng Wang, Danqi Wang, Peng Cao, Jing Lin, Youhong Chang, Shaoling Zhang, Juyou Wu
Published: 4 October 2021
Horticulture Research, Volume 8, pp 1-13; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41438-021-00684-y

Rapid alkalinization factors (RALFs) are cysteine-rich peptides that play important roles in a variety of biological processes, such as cell elongation and immune signaling. Recent studies in Arabidopsis have shown that RALFs regulate pollen tube growth via plasma membrane receptor-like kinases (RLKs). However, the downstream signal transduction mechanisms of RLKs in pollen tubes are unknown. Here, we identified PbrRALF2, a pear (Pyrus bretschneideri) pollen RALF peptide that inhibits pollen tube growth. We found that PbrRALF2 interacts with a malectin-like domain-containing RLK, PbrCrRLK1L13. The relative affinity between PbrRALF2 and PbrCrRLK1L13 was at the submicromolar level, which is consistent with the values of ligand–receptor kinase pairs and the physiological concentration for PbrRALF2-mediated inhibition of pollen tube growth. After binding to its extracellular domain, PbrRALF2 activated the phosphorylation of PbrCrRLK1L13 in a dose-dependent manner. We further showed that the MAP kinase PbrMPK18 is a downstream target of PbrCrRLK1L13 that mediates PbrRALF2-elicited reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. The excessive accumulation of ROS inhibits pollen tube growth. We show that MPK acts as a mediator for CrRLK1L to stimulate ROS production, which might represent a general mechanism by which RALF and CrRLK1L function in signaling pathways.
Xianpu Wang, Lili Xu, Xiuxia Liu, Li Xin, , Xuesen Chen
Published: 1 October 2021
Horticulture Research, Volume 8, pp 1-9; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41438-021-00646-4

Protoplast transient expression is a powerful strategy for gene functional characterization, especially in biochemical mechanism studies. We herein developed a highly efficient transient expression system for apple protoplasts. The abilities of the Arabidopsis thaliana and Malus domestica ubiquitin-10 (AtUBQ10 and MdUBQ10) promoters to drive the expression of multiple genes were compared with that of the CaMV 35S promoter, and the results revealed that the AtUBQ10 and MdUBQ10 promoters were more efficient in apple protoplasts. With this system, we demonstrated that active AtMKK7ac could activate MAPK6/3/4 signaling cascades, which further regulated MdWRKY33 phosphorylation and stability in apple. Furthermore, the ligand-induced interaction between the immune receptor AtFLS2 and the coreceptor AtBAK1 was reconstituted in apple protoplasts. We also found that the stability of the bacterial effector AvrRpt2 was regulated by feedback involving auxin and the immune regulator RIN4. The system established herein will serve as a useful tool for the molecular and biochemical analyses of apple genes.
Tiantian Chen, Yongpeng Li, Lihui Xie, Xiaolong Hao, Hang Liu, Wei Qin, Chen Wang, Xin Yan, Kuanyu Wu-Zhang, Xinghao Yao, et al.
Published: 1 October 2021
Horticulture Research, Volume 8, pp 1-11; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41438-021-00652-6

Artemisia annua, a traditional Chinese medicinal plant, remains the only plant source for artemisinin production, yet few genes have been identified to be involved in both the response to biotic stresses, such as pathogens, and artemisinin biosynthesis. Here, we isolated and identified the WRKY transcription factor (TF) AaWRKY17, which could significantly increase the artemisinin content and resistance to Pseudomonas syringae in A. annua. Yeast one-hybrid (Y1H), dual-luciferase (dual-LUC), and electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) results showed that AaWRKY17 directly bound to the W-box motifs in the promoter region of the artemisinin biosynthetic pathway gene amorpha-4,11-diene synthase (ADS) and promoted its expression. Real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) analysis revealed that the transcript levels of two defense marker genes, Pathogenesis-Related 5 (PR5) and NDR1/HIN1-LIKE 10 (NHL10), were greatly increased in AaWRKY17-overexpressing transgenic A. annua plants. Additionally, overexpression of AaWRKY17 in A. annua resulted in decreased susceptibility to P. syringae. These results indicated that AaWRKY17 acted as a positive regulator in response to P. syringae infection. Together, our findings demonstrated that the novel WRKY transcription factor AaWRKY17 could potentially be used in transgenic breeding to improve the content of artemisinin and pathogen tolerance in A. annua.
Lingping Zhu, , Teemu H. Teeri
Published: 1 October 2021
Horticulture Research, Volume 8, pp 1-12; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41438-021-00642-8

The structurally robust biopolymer sporopollenin is the major constituent of the exine layer of pollen wall and plays a vital role in plant reproductive success. The sporopollenin precursors are synthesized through an ancient polyketide biosynthetic pathway consisting of a series of anther-specific enzymes that are widely present in all land plant lineages. Tetraketide α-pyrone reductase 1 (TKPR1) and TKPR2 are two reductases catalyzing the final reduction of the carbonyl group of the polyketide synthase-synthesized tetraketide intermediates to hydroxylated α-pyrone compounds, important precursors of sporopollenin. In contrast to the functional conservation of many sporopollenin biosynthesis associated genes confirmed in diverse plant species, TKPR2’s role has been addressed only in Arabidopsis, where it plays a minor role in sporopollenin biosynthesis. We identified in gerbera two non-anther-specific orthologues of AtTKPR2, Gerbera reductase 1 (GRED1) and GRED2. Their dramatically expanded expression pattern implies involvement in pathways outside of the sporopollenin pathway. In this study, we show that GRED1 and GRED2 are still involved in sporopollenin biosynthesis with a similar secondary role as AtTKPR2 in Arabidopsis. We further show that this secondary role does not relate to the promoter of the gene, AtTKPR2 cannot rescue pollen development in Arabidopsis even when controlled by the AtTKPR1 promoter. We also identified the gerbera orthologue of AtTKPR1, GTKPR1, and characterized its crucial role in gerbera pollen development. GTKPR1 is the predominant TKPR in gerbera pollen wall formation, in contrast to the minor roles GRED1 and GRED2. GTKPR1 is in fact an excellent target for engineering male-sterile gerbera cultivars in horticultural plant breeding.
Qinglong Dong, Dingyue Duan, Wenqian Zheng, Dong Huang, Qian Wang, Xiaoran Li, Ke Mao, Fengwang Ma
Published: 1 October 2021
Horticulture Research, Volume 8, pp 1-16; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41438-021-00655-3

High temperature (HT) is one of the most important environmental stress factors and seriously threatens plant growth, development, and production. VQ motif-containing proteins are transcriptional regulators that have been reported to regulate plant growth and developmental processes, including responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. However, the relationships between VQ motif-containing proteins and HT stress have not been studied in depth in plants. In this study, transgenic apple (Malus domestica) plants overexpressing the apple VQ motif-containing protein-coding gene (MdVQ37) were exposed to HT stress, and the transgenic lines exhibited a heat-sensitive phenotype. In addition, physiological and biochemical studies revealed that, compared with WT plants, transgenic lines had lower enzymatic activity and photosynthetic capacity and lower amounts of nonenzymatic antioxidant system metabolites under HT stress. Transcriptome analysis revealed 1379 genes whose expression differed between the transgenic lines and WT plants. GO and KEGG pathway analyses showed that transcription factor activity and plant hormone signaling pathways were differentially influenced and enriched in the transgenic lines. Salicylic acid (SA) content analysis indicated that overexpression of MdVQ37 reduced the content of endogenous SA by regulating the expression of SA catabolism-related genes, which ultimately resulted in disruption of the SA-dependent signaling pathway under HT stress. The application of SA slightly increased the survival rate of the transgenic lines under HT stress. Taken together, our results indicate that apple MdVQ37 has a regulatory function in basal thermotolerance by modulating the activity of transcription factors and SA homeostasis. Overall, this study provides novel insights that improve our understanding of the various functions of VQ motif-containing proteins.
, Diyang Zhang, Kang Yu, Jingjing Ji, Ning Liu, Yuping Zhang, Ming Xu, Yu-Jun Zhang, Xiaoxue Ma, Shuo Liu, et al.
Published: 1 October 2021
Horticulture Research, Volume 8, pp 1-11; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41438-021-00650-8

The genetic diversity of germplasm is critical for exploring genetic and phenotypic resources and has important implications for crop-breeding sustainability and improvement. However, little is known about the factors that shape and maintain genetic diversity. Here, we assembled a high-quality chromosome-level reference of the Chinese common apricot ‘Yinxiangbai’, and we resequenced 180 apricot accessions that cover four major ecogeographical groups in China and other accessions from occidental countries. We concluded that Chinese-cultivated common apricot germplasms possessed much higher genetic diversity than those cultivated in Western countries. We also detected seven migration events among different apricot groups, where 27% of the genome was identified as being introgressed. Remarkably, we demonstrated that these introgressed regions drove the current high level of germplasm diversity in Chinese-cultivated common apricots by introducing different genes related to distinct phenotypes from different cultivated groups. Our results highlight the consideration that introgressed regions may provide an important reservoir of genetic resources that can be used to sustain modern breeding programs.
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