Open AccessArticle
CO2-Induced Changes in Wheat Grain Composition: Meta-Analysis and Response Functions
Agronomy 2017, 7(2), 32; doi:10.3390/agronomy7020032 -
Abstract
Elevated carbon dioxide (eCO2) stimulates wheat grain yield, but simultaneously reduces protein/nitrogen (N) concentration. Also, other essential nutrients are subject to change. This study is a synthesis of wheat experiments with eCO2, estimating the effects on N, minerals (B,
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Elevated carbon dioxide (eCO2) stimulates wheat grain yield, but simultaneously reduces protein/nitrogen (N) concentration. Also, other essential nutrients are subject to change. This study is a synthesis of wheat experiments with eCO2, estimating the effects on N, minerals (B, Ca, Cd, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Na, P, S, Zn), and starch. The analysis was performed by (i) deriving response functions to assess the gradual change in element concentration with increasing CO2 concentration, (ii) meta-analysis to test the average magnitude and significance of observed effects, and (iii) relating CO2 effects on minerals to effects on N and grain yield. Responses ranged from zero to strong negative effects of eCO2 on mineral concentration, with the largest reductions for the nutritionally important elements of N, Fe, S, Zn, and Mg. Together with the positive but small and non-significant effect on starch concentration, the large variation in effects suggests that CO2-induced responses cannot be explained only by a simple dilution model. To explain the observed pattern, uptake and transport mechanisms may have to be considered, along with the link of different elements to N uptake. Our study shows that eCO2 has a significant effect on wheat grain stoichiometry, with implications for human nutrition in a world of rising CO2. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Development of a Statistical Crop Model to Explain the Relationship between Seed Yield and Phenotypic Diversity within the Brassica napus Genepool
Agronomy 2017, 7(2), 31; doi:10.3390/agronomy7020031 -
Abstract
Plants are extremely versatile organisms that respond to the environment in which they find themselves, but a large part of their development is under genetic regulation. The links between developmental parameters and yield are poorly understood in oilseed rape; understanding this relationship will
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Plants are extremely versatile organisms that respond to the environment in which they find themselves, but a large part of their development is under genetic regulation. The links between developmental parameters and yield are poorly understood in oilseed rape; understanding this relationship will help growers to predict their yields more accurately and breeders to focus on traits that may lead to yield improvements. To determine the relationship between seed yield and other agronomic traits, we investigated the natural variation that already exists with regards to resource allocation in 37 lines of the crop species Brassica napus. Over 130 different traits were assessed; they included seed yield parameters, seed composition, leaf mineral analysis, rates of pod and leaf senescence and plant architecture traits. A stepwise regression analysis was used to model statistically the measured traits with seed yield per plant. Above-ground biomass and protein content together accounted for 94.36% of the recorded variation. The primary raceme area, which was highly correlated with yield parameters (0.65), provides an early indicator of potential yield. The pod and leaf photosynthetic and senescence parameters measured had only a limited influence on seed yield and were not correlated with each other, indicating that reproductive development is not necessarily driving the senescence process within field-grown B. napus. Assessing the diversity that exists within the B. napus gene pool has highlighted architectural, seed and mineral composition traits that should be targeted in breeding programmes through the development of linked markers to improve crop yields. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Efficient Partitioning of Assimilates in Stress-Tolerant Groundnut Genotypes under High-Temperature Stress
Agronomy 2017, 7(2), 30; doi:10.3390/agronomy7020030 -
Abstract
Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) genotypes were assessed for pod yield and physiological parameters under heat-stress and non-stress environments. The air temperatures under heat-stress environments were 35 °C and above during flowering, and below 35 °C in non-stress environments. Variability was significant for
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Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) genotypes were assessed for pod yield and physiological parameters under heat-stress and non-stress environments. The air temperatures under heat-stress environments were 35 °C and above during flowering, and below 35 °C in non-stress environments. Variability was significant for pod yield and physiological parameters among the genotypes under heat stress. A pod yield reduction of 1.5% to 43.2% was observed under heat-stress environments. However, in heat-tolerant genotypes, either stable or increased pod yield was recorded under high-temperature stress. GJG 31, ICGV 87846, ICGV 03057, ICGV 07038 and GG 20 showed an increase in pod yield by 9.0% to 47.0% at high temperatures, with a 0.65% to 3.6% increase in pod growth rate, while ICGV 06420, ICGV 87128, ICGV 97182, TCGS 1043 and ICGV 03042 are stable for pod yield and recorded a 0.25% to 3.1% increase in pod growth rate. Pod yield, hundred-seed weight, and pod growth rate under heat stress can be used as criteria for selection of heat stress tolerant-genotypes. Based on stress tolerance indices and pod yield performance, ICGVs 07246, 07012, 06039, 06040, 03042, 07038 and 06424 were identified as heat-tolerant genotypes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effects on Water Management and Quality Characteristics of Ozone Application in Chicory Forcing Process: A Pilot System
Agronomy 2017, 7(2), 29; doi:10.3390/agronomy7020029 -
Abstract
Agriculture is the largest user of world water resources, accounting for 70% of all consumption. Reducing water consumption and increasing water use efficiency in agriculture are two of the main challenges that need to be faced in the coming decades. Radicchio Rosso di
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Agriculture is the largest user of world water resources, accounting for 70% of all consumption. Reducing water consumption and increasing water use efficiency in agriculture are two of the main challenges that need to be faced in the coming decades. Radicchio Rosso di Treviso Tardivo (RTT) is a vegetable that requires a water forcing process prior to final commercialization which presents a significant environmental impact due to the high water volumes used and then dispersed into the environment. The experiment was aimed at reducing the water use in the forcing process of RTT, by developing a pilot system with recycled water in a closed loop through ozone treatment. Concerning water quality, the redox potential value was higher in the ozonized system, whereas turbidity, pH and electrical conductivity of the ozonized system did not change significantly from the control. Yield and quality of plants obtained in the ozonized system did not significantly differ from the control plants except for the antioxidant activity that was higher in plants forced using the water treated with ozone. Our initial results suggest that the ozone treatment could be applied in the forcing process and is suitable for growers, saving up to 95% of water volumes normally used for this cultivation practice. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Opportunities for Napier Grass (Pennisetum purpureum) Improvement Using Molecular Genetics
Agronomy 2017, 7(2), 28; doi:10.3390/agronomy7020028 -
Abstract
Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum Schumach.) is a fast-growing perennial grass native to Sub-Saharan Africa that is widely grown across the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It is a multipurpose forage crop, primarily used to feed cattle in cut and carry
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Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum Schumach.) is a fast-growing perennial grass native to Sub-Saharan Africa that is widely grown across the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It is a multipurpose forage crop, primarily used to feed cattle in cut and carry feeding systems. Characterization and diversity studies on a small collection of Napier grasses have identified a moderate level of genetic variation and highlighted the availability of some good agronomic traits, particularly high biomass production, as a forage crop. However, very little information exists on precise phenotyping, genotyping and the application of molecular technologies to Napier grass improvement using modern genomic tools which have been applied in advancing the selection and breeding of important food crops. In this review paper, existing information on genetic resources, molecular diversity, yield and nutritional quality of Napier grass will be discussed. Recent findings on characterizing disease resistance and abiotic stress (drought) tolerance will also be highlighted. Finally, opportunities and future prospects for better conservation and use arising from the application of modern genomic tools in Napier grass phenotyping and genotyping will be discussed. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Bridging the Rice Yield Gaps under Drought: QTLs, Genes, and their Use in Breeding Programs
Agronomy 2017, 7(2), 27; doi:10.3390/agronomy7020027 -
Abstract
Rice is the staple food for more than half of the world’s population. Although rice production has doubled in the last 30 years as a result of the development of high-yield, widely adaptable, resource-responsive, semi-dwarf varieties, the threat of a food crisis remains
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Rice is the staple food for more than half of the world’s population. Although rice production has doubled in the last 30 years as a result of the development of high-yield, widely adaptable, resource-responsive, semi-dwarf varieties, the threat of a food crisis remains as severe as it was 60 years ago due to the ever-increasing population, water scarcity, labor scarcity, shifting climatic conditions, pest/diseases, loss of productive land to housing, industries, rising sea levels, increasing incidences of drought, flood, urbanization, soil erosion, reduction in soil nutrient status, and environmental issues associated with high-input agriculture. Among these, drought is predicted to be the most severe stress that reduces rice yield. Systematic research on drought over the last 10 years has been conducted across institutes on physiology, breeding, molecular genetics, biotechnology, and cellular and molecular biology. This has provided a better understanding of plant drought mechanisms and has helped scientists to devise better strategies to reduce rice yield losses under drought stress. These include the identification of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for grain yield under drought as well as many agronomically important traits related to drought tolerance, marker-assisted pyramiding of genetic regions that increase yield under drought, development of efficient techniques for genetic transformation, complete sequencing and annotation of rice genomes, and synteny studies of rice and other cereal genomes. Conventional and marker-assisted breeding rice lines containing useful introgressed genes or loci have been field tested and released as varieties. Still, there is a long way to go towards developing drought-tolerant rice varieties by exploiting existing genetic diversity, identifying superior alleles for drought tolerance, understanding interactions among alleles for drought tolerance and their interaction with genetic backgrounds, and pyramiding the best combination of alleles. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Residues Management Practices and Nitrogen-Potassium Fertilization Influence on the Quality of Pineapple (Ananas comosus (L.) Merrill) Sugarloaf Fruit for Exportation and Local Consumption
Agronomy 2017, 7(2), 26; doi:10.3390/agronomy7020026 -
Abstract
Heterogeneity in pineapple fruit quality explains the low export volume of fruits from Benin to international markets. This work aims to investigate the influences of residues mulching or burying and N-K fertilization on (1) fresh fruit juice quality and the proportion of fruit
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Heterogeneity in pineapple fruit quality explains the low export volume of fruits from Benin to international markets. This work aims to investigate the influences of residues mulching or burying and N-K fertilization on (1) fresh fruit juice quality and the proportion of fruit meeting European standards and (2) fruit acceptability for fresh local consumption, as well as to identify morphological characteristics most related to fruit chemical quality attributes. The experimental design was a split-plot with three replications, where the main factor was N-K fertilization (T1 = 1.6 N and 1.6 K, T2 = 5.8 N and 6.6 K, T3 = 10 N and 11.6 K, T4 = 1.6 N and 11.6 K, T5 = 10 N and 1.6 K in g·plant1) and the sub-plot factor was mulching with pineapple residues (no mulching = 0, surface mulching = 10, buried = 10 in t·ha1). The results suggested that residues mulching and N-K fertilization has improved the percentage of fruit meeting European standards and local acceptability. The treatments T2B (T2 + burying) and T4B (T4 + burying) gave a higher proportion of fruits meeting European standards and were also promising for producing highly acceptable fruits by local consumers. Finally, the results revealed that the ratios of crown length: fruit length, crown length: infructescence length and crown length: median diameter were significantly associated with fruit quality, which has not yet been reported. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Coordination of Cryptochrome and Phytochrome Signals in the Regulation of Plant Light Responses
Agronomy 2017, 7(1), 25; doi:10.3390/agronomy7010025 -
Abstract
In nature, plants integrate a wide range of light signals from solar radiation to adapt to the surrounding light environment, and these light signals also regulate a variety of important agronomic traits. Blue light-sensing cryptochrome (cry) and red/far-red light-sensing phytochrome (phy) play critical
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In nature, plants integrate a wide range of light signals from solar radiation to adapt to the surrounding light environment, and these light signals also regulate a variety of important agronomic traits. Blue light-sensing cryptochrome (cry) and red/far-red light-sensing phytochrome (phy) play critical roles in regulating light-mediated physiological responses via the regulated transcriptional network. Accumulating evidence in the model plant Arabidopsis has revealed that crys and phys share two mechanistically distinct pathways to coordinately regulate transcriptional changes in response to light. First, crys and phys promote the accumulation of transcription factors that regulate photomorphogenesis, such as HY5 and HFR1, via the inactivation of the CONSTITUTIVE PHOTOMORPHOGENIC1/SUPPRESSOR OF PHYA-105 E3 ligase complex by light-dependent binding. Second, photoactive crys and phys directly interact with PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR transcription factor family proteins to regulate transcriptional activity. The coordinated regulation of these two pathways (and others) by crys and phys allow plants to respond with plasticity to fluctuating light environments in nature. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Survey: Potential Impact of Genetically Modified Maize Tolerant to Drought or Resistant to Stem Borers in Uganda
Agronomy 2017, 7(1), 24; doi:10.3390/agronomy7010024 -
Abstract
Maize production in Uganda is constrained by various factors, but especially drought and stem borers contribute to significant yield losses. Genetically modified (GM) maize with increased drought tolerance and/or Bt insect resistance (producing the Bacillus thuringiensis Cry protein) is considered as an option.
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Maize production in Uganda is constrained by various factors, but especially drought and stem borers contribute to significant yield losses. Genetically modified (GM) maize with increased drought tolerance and/or Bt insect resistance (producing the Bacillus thuringiensis Cry protein) is considered as an option. For an ex ante impact analysis of these technologies, a farmer survey was carried out in nine districts of Uganda, representing the major farming systems. The results showed that farmers did rate stem borer and drought as the main constraints for maize farming. Most farmers indicated a positive attitude towards GM maize, and 86% of all farmers said they would grow GM maize. Farmer estimated yield losses to drought and stem borer damage were on average 54.7% and 23.5%, respectively, if stress occurred. Taking the stress frequency into consideration (67% for both), estimated yield losses were 36.5% and 15.6% for drought and stem borer, respectively. According to the ex-ante partial budget analysis, Bt hybrid maize could be profitable, with an average value/cost ratio of 2.1. Drought tolerant hybrid maize had lower returns and a value/cost ratio of 1.5. Negative returns occurred mainly for farmers with non-stressed grain yields below 2 t·ha−1. The regulatory framework in Uganda needs to be finalized with consideration of strengthening key institutions in the maize sector for sustainable introduction of GM maize. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Raising Crop Productivity in Africa through Intensification
Agronomy 2017, 7(1), 22; doi:10.3390/agronomy7010022 -
Abstract
The population of Africa will double in the next 33 years to reach 2.5 billion by 2050. Although roughly 60% of the continent’s population is engaged in agriculture, the produce from this sector cannot feed its citizens. Hence, in 2013 alone, Africa imported
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The population of Africa will double in the next 33 years to reach 2.5 billion by 2050. Although roughly 60% of the continent’s population is engaged in agriculture, the produce from this sector cannot feed its citizens. Hence, in 2013 alone, Africa imported 56.5 million tons of wheat, maize, and soybean at the cost of 18.8 billion USD. Although crops cultivated in Africa play a vital role in their contribution to Food Security, they produce inferior yields compared to those in other parts of the world. For instance, the average cereal yield in Africa is only 1.6 t·ha−1 compared to the global 3.9 t·ha−1. Low productivity in Africa is also related to poor soil fertility and scarce moisture, as well as a variety of insect pests, diseases, and weeds. While moisture scarcity is responsible for up to 60% of yield losses in some African staple cereals, insect pests inflict annually substantial crop losses. In order to devise a strategy towards boosting crop productivity on the continent where food insecurity is most prevalent, these production constraints should be investigated and properly addressed. This review focuses on conventional (also known as genetic) intensification in which crop productivity is raised through breeding for cultivars with high yield-potential and those that thrive well under diverse and extreme environmental conditions. Improved crop varieties alone do not boost crop productivity unless supplemented with optimum soil, water, and plant management practices as well as the promotion of policies pertaining to inputs, credit, extension, and marketing. Studies in Kenya and Uganda have shown that the yield of cassava can be increased by 140% in farmers’ fields using improved varieties and management practices. In addition to traditional organic and inorganic fertilizers, biochar and African Dark Earths have been found to improve soil properties and to enhance productivity, although their availability and affordability to African farmers remains to be explored. The concept of Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) has been successfully implemented in some African countries in the Great Lake Region. Other innovative technologies favorably accepted by farmers are the “Push-pull System” (an elegant method of controlling a devastating insect pest and a parasitic weed) and NERICA (New Rice for Africa, in which rice varieties with desirable nutritional and agronomic properties were developed by crossing Asian and African rice). This review calls for African governments and institutions not only to provide conducive environments but also to abide by the Maputo 2003 Declaration where they agreed to invest 10% of their national budget to agricultural research and development as the outcome has a positive impact on productivity and ultimately improves the livelihood of farmers. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Role of Specialized Photoreceptors in the  Protection of Energy‐Rich Tissues
Agronomy 2017, 7(1), 23; doi:10.3390/agronomy7010023 -
Abstract
The perception and absorption of light by plants is a driving force in plant evolutionary history, as plants have evolved multiple photoreceptors to perceive different light attributes including duration, intensity, direction and quality. Plant photoreceptors interpret these signals from the light environment and
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The perception and absorption of light by plants is a driving force in plant evolutionary history, as plants have evolved multiple photoreceptors to perceive different light attributes including duration, intensity, direction and quality. Plant photoreceptors interpret these signals from the light environment and mold plant architecture to maximize foliar light capture. As active sites of the production and accumulation of energy‐rich products, leaves are targets of pests and pathogens, which have driven the selection of physiological processes to protect these energy‐rich tissues. In the last ten years, several research groups have accumulated evidence showing that plant photoreceptors control specific molecular programs that define plant growth and immune processes. Here, we discuss recent knowledge addressing these roles in Arabidopsis and show that (1) plant immune responses affect energy acquisition and partitioning; (2) plant photoreceptors interpret the light environment and control growth and immune processes; and finally; (3) defense and light signaling pathways can be genetically manipulated to obtain plants able to grow and defend at the same time. This basic knowledge from Arabidopsis plants should lead new lines of applied research in crops. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Sowing Method and N Application on Seed Yield and N Use Efficiency of Winter Oilseed Rape
Agronomy 2017, 7(1), 21; doi:10.3390/agronomy7010021 -
Abstract
In northern Europe, replacing winter barley with winter wheat as the preceding crop for winter oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.; WOSR) often results in a delayed WOSR sowing and poor autumn growth. Based on data from a field experiment running in 2009/2010,
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In northern Europe, replacing winter barley with winter wheat as the preceding crop for winter oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.; WOSR) often results in a delayed WOSR sowing and poor autumn growth. Based on data from a field experiment running in 2009/2010, 2010/2011, and 2012/2013, this study aims (i) to investigate how a delayed sowing method affects seed yield, N offtake with the seeds, and apparent N use efficiency (NUE) of WOSR; (ii) to test the ability of autumn and spring N fertilization to compensate for the negative effects of a delayed sowing method; and (iii) to estimate the minimum autumnal growth for optimal seed yield. In order to create sufficiently differentiated canopies, a combination of four sowing methods (first week of August until the third week of September) and four autumn N treatments (0, 30, 60, and 90 kg·N·ha−1) was established. Each of these 16 different canopies was fertilized with 5 N amounts (0/0, 40/40, 80/80, 120/120, 140/140 kg·N·ha−1) in spring in order to estimate separate N response curves. Above-ground N accumulation in autumn and seed yield and N offtake by the seeds were determined. Plant establishment after mid-September significantly decreased seed yield. Autumn N fertilization of at least 30 kg·N·ha−1 increased seed yield and N offtake by the seeds without any significant interaction with sowing method and spring N supply. However, the pathway(s) remain(s) unclear. Spring N fertilization up to 130 kg·N·ha−1 (estimated by a Linear-Plateau N response curve) increased seed yield. NUE decreased with increasing N supply, where WOSR used autumn N to a lesser extent than spring N. An above-ground N uptake of at least 10–15 kg·N·ha−1 at the end of autumn growth was required to achieve high seed yields. From an environmental point of view, optimal autumn growth should be attained by choosing an adequate sowing method, not by applying additional N in autumn. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Using FACE Systems to Screen Wheat Cultivars for Yield Increases at Elevated CO2
Agronomy 2017, 7(1), 20; doi:10.3390/agronomy7010020 -
Abstract
Because of continuing increases in atmospheric CO2, identifying cultivars of crops with larger yield increases at elevated CO2 may provide an avenue to increase crop yield potential in future climates. Free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) systems have most often been
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Because of continuing increases in atmospheric CO2, identifying cultivars of crops with larger yield increases at elevated CO2 may provide an avenue to increase crop yield potential in future climates. Free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) systems have most often been used with multiple replications of each CO2 treatment in order to increase confidence in the effect of elevated CO2. For screening of cultivars for yield increases at elevated CO2, less precision about the CO2 effect, but more precision about cultivar ranking within CO2 treatments is appropriate. As a small-scale test of this approach, three plots, each of four cultivars of wheat, were grown in single FACE and control plots over two years, and the cultivar rankings of yield at elevated and ambient CO2 were compared. Each replicate plot was the size used in traditional cultivar comparisons. An additional test using four smaller replicate plots per cultivar within one FACE and one ambient plot was used to compare nine cultivars in another year. In all cases, elevated CO2 altered the ranking of cultivars for yield. This approach may provide a more efficient way to utilize FACE systems for the screening of CO2 responsiveness. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Optimal Regulation of the Balance between Productivity and Overwintering of Perennial Grasses in a Warmer Climate
Agronomy 2017, 7(1), 19; doi:10.3390/agronomy7010019 -
Abstract
Seasonal growth patterns of perennial plants are linked to patterns of acclimation and de-acclimation to seasonal stresses. The timing of cold acclimation (development of freezing resistance) and leaf growth cessation in autumn, and the timing of de-acclimation and leaf regrowth in spring, is
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Seasonal growth patterns of perennial plants are linked to patterns of acclimation and de-acclimation to seasonal stresses. The timing of cold acclimation (development of freezing resistance) and leaf growth cessation in autumn, and the timing of de-acclimation and leaf regrowth in spring, is regulated by seasonal cues in the environment, mainly temperature and light factors. Warming will lead to new combinations of these cues in autumn and spring. Extended thermal growing seasons offer a possibility for obtaining increased yields of perennial grasses at high latitudes. Increased productivity in the autumn may not be possible in all high latitude regions due to the need for light during cold acclimation and the need for accumulating a carbohydrate storage prior to winter. There is more potential for increased yields in spring due to the availability of light, but higher probability of freezing events in earlier springs would necessitate a delay of de-acclimation, or an ability to rapidly re-acclimate. In order to optimize the balance between productivity and overwintering in the future, the regulation of growth and acclimation processes may have to be modified. Here, the current knowledge on the coordinated regulation of growth and freezing resistance in perennial grasses is reviewed. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Plant Responses to Salt Stress: Adaptive Mechanisms
Agronomy 2017, 7(1), 18; doi:10.3390/agronomy7010018 -
Abstract
This review deals with the adaptive mechanisms that plants can implement to cope with the challenge of salt stress. Plants tolerant to NaCl implement a series of adaptations to acclimate to salinity, including morphological, physiological and biochemical changes. These changes include increases in
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This review deals with the adaptive mechanisms that plants can implement to cope with the challenge of salt stress. Plants tolerant to NaCl implement a series of adaptations to acclimate to salinity, including morphological, physiological and biochemical changes. These changes include increases in the root/canopy ratio and in the chlorophyll content in addition to changes in the leaf anatomy that ultimately lead to preventing leaf ion toxicity, thus maintaining the water status in order to limit water loss and protect the photosynthesis process. Furthermore, we deal with the effect of salt stress on photosynthesis and chlorophyll fluorescence and some of the mechanisms thought to protect the photosynthetic machinery, including the xanthophyll cycle, photorespiration pathway, and water-water cycle. Finally, we also provide an updated discussion on salt-induced oxidative stress at the subcellular level and its effect on the antioxidant machinery in both salt-tolerant and salt-sensitive plants. The aim is to extend our understanding of how salinity may affect the physiological characteristics of plants. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Molecular Regulation of Flowering Time in Grasses
Agronomy 2017, 7(1), 17; doi:10.3390/agronomy7010017 -
Abstract
Flowering time is a key target trait for extending the vegetative phase to increase biomass in bioenergy crops such as perennial C4 grasses. Molecular genetic studies allow the identification of genes involved in the control of flowering in different species. Some regulatory
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Flowering time is a key target trait for extending the vegetative phase to increase biomass in bioenergy crops such as perennial C4 grasses. Molecular genetic studies allow the identification of genes involved in the control of flowering in different species. Some regulatory factors of the Arabidopsis pathway are conserved in other plant species such as grasses. However, differences in the function of particular genes confer specific responses to flowering. One of the major pathways is photoperiod regulation, based on the interaction of the circadian clock and environmental light signals. Depending on their requirements for day-length plants can be classified as long-day (LD), short-day (SD), and day-neutral. The CONSTANS (CO) and Heading Date 1 (Hd1), orthologos genes, are central regulators in the flowering of Arabidopsis and rice, LD and SD plants, respectively. Additionally, Early heading date 1 (Ehd1) induces the expression of Heading date 3a (Hd3a), conferring SD promotion and controls Rice Flowering Locus T 1 (RFT1) in LD conditions, independently of Hd1. Nevertheless, the mechanisms promoting flowering in perennial bioenergy crops are poorly understood. Recent progress on the regulatory network of important gramineous crops and components involved in flowering control will be discussed. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Diurnal Leaf Starch Content: An Orphan Trait in Forage Legumes
Agronomy 2017, 7(1), 16; doi:10.3390/agronomy7010016 -
Abstract
Forage legumes have a relatively high biomass yield and crude protein content, but their grazed and harvested biomass lacks the high-energy carbohydrates required to meet the productivity potential of modern livestock breeds. Because of their low carbohydrate content, forage legume diets are typically
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Forage legumes have a relatively high biomass yield and crude protein content, but their grazed and harvested biomass lacks the high-energy carbohydrates required to meet the productivity potential of modern livestock breeds. Because of their low carbohydrate content, forage legume diets are typically supplemented with starch rich cereal grains or maize (Zea mays), leading to the disruption of local nutrient cycles. Although plant leaves were first reported to accumulate starch in a diurnal pattern over a century ago, leaf starch content has yet to be exploited as an agronomic trait in forage crops. Forage legumes such as red clover (Trifolium pratense) have the genetic potential to accumulate up to one third of their leaf dry mass as starch, but this starch is typically degraded at night to support nighttime growth and respiration. Even when diurnal accumulation is considered with regard to the time the crop is harvested, only limited gains are realized due to environmental effects and post-harvest losses from respiration. Here we present original data for starch metabolism in red clover and place it in the broader context of other forage legumes such as, white clover (T. repens), and alfalfa (Medicago sativa). We review the application of recent advances in molecular breeding, plant biology, and crop phenotyping, to forage legumes to improve and exploit a potentially valuable trait for sustainable ruminant livestock production. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Metabolite Profiling for Leaf Senescence in Barley Reveals Decreases in Amino Acids and Glycolysis Intermediates
Agronomy 2017, 7(1), 15; doi:10.3390/agronomy7010015 -
Abstract
Leaf senescence is a long developmental phase important for plant performance and nutrient management. Cell constituents are recycled in old leaves to provide nutrients that are redistributed to the sink organs. Up to now, metabolomic changes during leaf senescence have been mainly studied
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Leaf senescence is a long developmental phase important for plant performance and nutrient management. Cell constituents are recycled in old leaves to provide nutrients that are redistributed to the sink organs. Up to now, metabolomic changes during leaf senescence have been mainly studied in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana L.). The metabolite profiling conducted in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) during primary leaf senescence under two nitrate regimes and in flag leaf shows that amino acids, hexose, sucrose and glycolysis intermediates decrease during senescence, while minor carbohydrates accumulate. Tricarboxylic acid (TCA) compounds changed with senescence only in primary leaves. The senescence-related metabolite changes in the flag leaf were globally similar to those observed in primary leaves. The effect of senescence on the metabolite changes of barley leaves was similar to that previously described in Arabidopsis except for sugars and glycolysis compounds. This suggests a different role of sugars in the control of leaf senescence in Arabidopsis and in barley. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Generation and Characterisation of a Reference Transcriptome for Phalaris (Phalaris aquatica L.)
Agronomy 2017, 7(1), 14; doi:10.3390/agronomy7010014 -
Abstract
Phalaris aquatica is a cool-season perennial grass species that is extensively cultivated in Australia, with additional usage in other areas of the world. Phalaris displays a number of desirable agronomic characteristics, although unfavourable traits include excessive seed shattering, sensitivity to aluminium toxicity, and
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Phalaris aquatica is a cool-season perennial grass species that is extensively cultivated in Australia, with additional usage in other areas of the world. Phalaris displays a number of desirable agronomic characteristics, although unfavourable traits include excessive seed shattering, sensitivity to aluminium toxicity, and several toxicosis syndromes. Varietal development has to date been based on traditional selection methods, but would benefit from the application of genomics-based approaches, which require the development of large-scale sequence resources. Due to a large nuclear DNA content, methods that target the expressed component of the genome and reduce the complexity of analysis are most amenable to current sequencing technologies. A reference unigene set has been developed by transcriptome sequencing of multiple tissues from a single plant belonging to the variety Landmaster. Comparisons have been made to gene complements from related species, as well as reference protein databases, and patterns of gene expression in different tissues have been evaluated. A number of candidate genes relevant to removal of undesirable attributes have been identified. The reference unigene set will provide the basis for detailed studies of differential gene expression and identification of candidate genes for potential transgenic deployment, as well as a critical resource for genotypic analysis to support future genomics-assisted breeding activities for phalaris improvement. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Is There a Positive Synergistic Effect of Biochar and Compost Soil Amendments on Plant Growth and Physiological Performance?
Agronomy 2017, 7(1), 13; doi:10.3390/agronomy7010013 -
Abstract
The combination of biochar (BC) with compost has been suggested to be a promising strategy to promote plant growth and performance, but although “synergistic” effects have been stated to occur, full-factorial experiments are few, and explicit tests for synergism are lacking. We tested
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The combination of biochar (BC) with compost has been suggested to be a promising strategy to promote plant growth and performance, but although “synergistic” effects have been stated to occur, full-factorial experiments are few, and explicit tests for synergism are lacking. We tested the hypothesis that a combination of BC and spent mushroom substrate (SMS) has a positive synergistic effect on plant growth and physiological performance in a nutrient-limited growing media. A greenhouse experiment with a full factorial design was conducted using mixed-wood BC (3.0 kg·m−2) and SMS (1.5 kg·m−2) (the combination was not co-composted) as organic soil amendments for the annual Abutilon theophrasti and the perennial Salix purpurea. Several measurements related to plant growth and physiological performance were taken throughout the experiment. Contrary to the hypothesis, we found that the combination of BC + SMS had neutral or antagonistic interactive effects on many plant growth traits. Antagonistic effects were found on maximum leaf area, above- and belowground biomass, reproductive allocation, maximum plant height, chlorophyll fluorescence, and stomatal conductance of A. theophrasti. The effect on S. purpurea was mostly neutral. We conclude that the generalization that BC and compost have synergistic effects on plant performance is not supported. Full article
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