Special Issue "Genetic Resources, Nitrogen Nutrition, and Stress Tolerance in Cereals"

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Nutrition".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2021) | Viewed by 6384

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Svetlana Misheva
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Plant Physiology and Genetics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria
Interests: cereal molecular genetics and cytogenetics; genetic diversity; genetic control of agronomical and physiological traits; stress resistance/tolerance; wild relatives; wheat-alien introgressions
Dr. Konstantina Kocheva
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Institute of Plant Physiology and Genetics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria
Interests: mineral nutrition; water stress; photosynthesis; biochemical analyzes; cytogenetics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The major part of the world’s food supply relies heavily on cereal crop cultivation. Today’s cereal production faces an existential challenge to ensure food security for all. This problem is complex but at least partially compounded by the environmental limitations to agricultural production. Cereal crops are continually exposed to resource deficits and a plethora of abiotic and biotic stresses, which compromise grain yield and quality.

The two resources with the greatest influence on cereal crop productivity are water and nitrogen (N). Insufficiency of water adversely affects many biochemical processes and physiological functions within plants. Water shortage restricts nutrient availability in plants, and during drought episodes, crops may suffer from both water and N deficiency. In this regard, we need more meticulous knowledge about the sophisticated interplay between water and N transportation. As an essential macronutrient, N amply contributes to the accumulation of biomass by affecting photosynthesis and the synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids. Besides promoting growth, N availability has a direct influence on plant responses to stress. Contemporary scientific approaches render new possibilities for insight into the interaction between N limitation/excess and alterations in the expression of specific genes, and in transcriptomic, metabolomic, and phenomic patterns in cereal plants responding to different abiotic and biotic stressors.

The current challenge of increasing resource-use efficiency (NUE and WUE) in cereal crops, and improving plant-stress tolerance and grain production, requires profound understanding of the genetic variation and genetic architecture of the so-called subtraits making up NUE, WUE, and stress tolerance. The genetic diversity within germplasm collections is a key foundation upon which agriculture and food security are based. We are lucky to have a vast part of this diversity preserved in ex situ seed genebanks. “Exotic” germplasm collections, in particular, composed of landraces, old varieties, and wild relatives, represent a rich pool of useful traits and genes, which can be incorporated into a crop’s genome. 

We invite contributions to this Special Issue from scientists who do research in the field of plant physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, molecular genetics, pathology and entomology, plant–soil interactions, and molecular breeding in cereals. Articles are welcome that address the intricate relationships between water and N transport, NUE and WUE, NUE and tolerance to nutrient deficiency, N and carbon metabolism, N and abiotic stress tolerance, the triggered signaling cascades, breeding for resource-use efficiency or for stress tolerance, the potential and utilization of genetic resources for improving nutrient-use efficiency and stress tolerance in cereals. Interdisciplinary works are particularly welcome. We believe that it is now possible to develop integral research on the whole plant, cellular, and subcellular level to gain new knowledge to support designing novel genotypes for modern on-target agriculture.

Prof. Dr. Svetlana Misheva
Dr. Konstantina Kocheva
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • plant genetic resources
  • cereals
  • wheat, rye, barley, oats, rice, maize, triticale, landraces, old germplasm
  • wild relatives
  • nitrogen
  • nitrogen assimilation
  • nitrogen deficiency
  • nitrogen use efficiency (NUE)
  • water deficiency
  • water use efficiency (WUE)
  • photosynthesis
  • abiotic stress
  • biotic stress
  • stress tolerance
  • genetic variation
  • genome mapping
  • gene expression
  • transcriptomics
  • metabolomics
  • phenomics
  • molecular breeding

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
Nitrogen Starvation-Responsive MicroRNAs Are Affected by Transgenerational Stress in Durum Wheat Seedlings
Plants 2021, 10(5), 826; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10050826 - 21 Apr 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 781
Abstract
Stress events have transgenerational effects on plant growth and development. In Mediterranean regions, water-deficit and heat (WH) stress is a frequent issue that negatively affects crop yield and quality. Nitrogen (N) is an essential plant macronutrient and often a yield-limiting factor for crops. [...] Read more.
Stress events have transgenerational effects on plant growth and development. In Mediterranean regions, water-deficit and heat (WH) stress is a frequent issue that negatively affects crop yield and quality. Nitrogen (N) is an essential plant macronutrient and often a yield-limiting factor for crops. Here, the response of durum wheat seedlings to N starvation under the transgenerational effects of WH stress was investigated in two genotypes. Both genotypes showed a significant reduction in seedling height, leaf number, shoot and root weight (fresh and dry), primary root length, and chlorophyll content under N starvation stress. However, in the WH stress-tolerant genotype, the percentage reduction of most traits was lower in progeny from the stressed parents than progeny from the control parents. Small RNA sequencing identified 1534 microRNAs in different treatment groups. Differentially expressed microRNAs (DEMs) were characterized subject to N starvation, parental stress and genotype factors, with their target genes identified in silico. GO and KEGG enrichment analyses revealed the biological functions, associated with DEM-target modules in stress adaptation processes, that could contribute to the phenotypic differences observed between the two genotypes. The study provides the first evidence of the transgenerational effects of WH stress on the N starvation response in durum wheat. Full article
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Article
Assessment of the Biochemical Responses of Wheat Seedlings to Soil Drought after Application of Selective Herbicide
Plants 2021, 10(4), 733; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10040733 - 09 Apr 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 882
Abstract
Drought is a major environmental constrain with a deleterious effect on plant development leading to a considerable reduction of crop productivity worldwide. Wheat is a relatively drought tolerant crop during the vegetative stage. The herbicide Serrate® (Syngenta) is a preparation containing two [...] Read more.
Drought is a major environmental constrain with a deleterious effect on plant development leading to a considerable reduction of crop productivity worldwide. Wheat is a relatively drought tolerant crop during the vegetative stage. The herbicide Serrate® (Syngenta) is a preparation containing two active chemical substances with different modes of action, which inhibit the biosynthesis of fatty and amino acids. It is commonly used as a systemic and selective chemical agent to control annual grass and broadleaf weeds in cereal crops and particularly in wheat, which is tolerant to Serrate®. Seventeen-day-old wheat seedlings (Triticum aestivum L., cv. Sadovo-1) grown as soil culture under controlled conditions were sprayed with an aqueous solution of Serrate®. Seventy-two hours later the plantlets were subjected to drought stress for seven days to reach a severe water deficit followed by four days of recovery with a normal irrigation regime. Oxidative stress markers, non-enzymatic, and enzymatic antioxidants were analyzed in the leaves of plants from the different treatment groups (herbicide-treated, droughts-stressed, and individuals which were consecutively subjected to both treatments) at 0, 96, and 168 h of drought stress, and after 96 h of recovery. Herbicide treatment did not alter substantially the phenotype and growth parameters of the above-ground plant parts. It provoked a moderate increase in phenolics, thiol-containing compounds, catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione reductase, and H2O2. However, significant variations of malondialdehyde, proline, and peroxidase activity caused by the sole application of the herbicide were not detected during the experimental period. Drought and herbicide + drought treatments caused significant growth inhibition, increased oxidative stress markers, and activation of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant defense reaching the highest levels at 168 h of stress. Plant growth was restored after 96 h of recovery and the levels of the monitored biochemical parameters showed a substantial decline. The herbicide provoked an extra load of oxidative stress-related biochemical components which did not aggravate the phenotypic and growth traits of plants subjected to drought, since they exhibited a good physiological status upon recovery. Full article
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Article
Agronomic Assessment of a Controlled-Release Polymer-Coated Urea-Based Fertilizer in Maize
Plants 2021, 10(3), 594; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10030594 - 22 Mar 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1094
Abstract
Increasing nutrient use efficiency of fertilizers is one of the major challenges to improve crop yields and minimize environmental impacts. This work compared the efficacy of a new ecological polymer-coated urea fertilizer and a slow release urea-based traditional fertilizer. Reductions in the N [...] Read more.
Increasing nutrient use efficiency of fertilizers is one of the major challenges to improve crop yields and minimize environmental impacts. This work compared the efficacy of a new ecological polymer-coated urea fertilizer and a slow release urea-based traditional fertilizer. Reductions in the N doses of the polymer-coated fertilizer were tested. A comparative study was first carried out by measuring the different physiological and yield parameters at the micro-scale level, and later-on field experiments were performed. Grain yield in the field was significantly higher (20%) when applying the new controlled-release fertilizer than when using the traditional one at the same dose. A 20% reduction in N content in the new fertilizer gave similar physiological and yield responses compared to the traditional fertilizer. We conclude that this new fertilizer can be used in extensive cropping of maize, guaranteeing at least the same yields than traditional fertilizers, with a reduction on the impact on soil properties and nitrogen losses. Full article
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Article
Optimal Nitrogen Supply Ameliorates the Performance of Wheat Seedlings under Osmotic Stress in Genotype-Specific Manner
Plants 2021, 10(3), 493; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10030493 - 05 Mar 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 838
Abstract
Strategies and coping mechanisms for stress tolerance under sub-optimal nutrition conditions could provide important guidelines for developing selection criteria in sustainable agriculture. Nitrogen (N) is one of the major nutrients limiting the growth and yield of crop plants, among which wheat is probably [...] Read more.
Strategies and coping mechanisms for stress tolerance under sub-optimal nutrition conditions could provide important guidelines for developing selection criteria in sustainable agriculture. Nitrogen (N) is one of the major nutrients limiting the growth and yield of crop plants, among which wheat is probably the most substantial to human diet worldwide. Physiological status and photosynthetic capacity of two contrasting wheat genotypes (old Slomer and modern semi-dwarf Enola) were evaluated at the seedling stage to assess how N supply affected osmotic stress tolerance and capacity of plants to survive drought periods. It was evident that higher N input in both varieties contributed to better performance under dehydration. The combination of lower N supply and water deprivation (osmotic stress induced by polyethylene glycol treatment) led to greater damage of the photosynthetic efficiency and a higher degree of oxidative stress than the individually applied stresses. The old wheat variety had better N assimilation efficiency, and it was also the one with better performance under N deficiency. However, when both N and water were deficient, the modern variety demonstrated better photosynthetic performance. It was concluded that different strategies for overcoming osmotic stress alone or in combination with low N could be attributed to differences in the genetic background. Better performance of the modern variety conceivably indicated that semi-dwarfing (Rht) alleles might have a beneficial effect in arid regions and N deficiency conditions. Full article
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Article
Metabolite Profiling and Network Analysis Reveal Coordinated Changes in Low-N Tolerant and Low-N Sensitive Maize Genotypes under Nitrogen Deficiency and Restoration Conditions
Plants 2020, 9(11), 1459; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9111459 - 29 Oct 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 933
Abstract
Nitrogen (N), applied in the form of a nitrogenous fertilizer, is one of the main inputs for agricultural production. Food production is closely associated with the application of N. However, the application of nitrogenous fertilizers to agricultural fields is associated with heavy production [...] Read more.
Nitrogen (N), applied in the form of a nitrogenous fertilizer, is one of the main inputs for agricultural production. Food production is closely associated with the application of N. However, the application of nitrogenous fertilizers to agricultural fields is associated with heavy production of nitrous oxide because agricultural crops can only utilize 30–40% of applied N, leaving behind unused 60–70% N in the environment. The global warming effect of this greenhouse gas is approximately 300 times more than of carbon dioxide. Under the present scenario of climate change, it is critical to maintain the natural balance between food production and environmental sustainability by targeting traits responsible for improving nitrogen-use-efficiency (NUE). Understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind the metabolic alterations due to nitrogen status needs to be addressed. Additionally, mineral nutrient deficiencies and their associated metabolic networks have not yet been studied well. Given this, the alterations in core metabolic pathways of low-N tolerant (LNT) and low-N sensitive (LNS) genotypes of maize under N-deficiency and their efficiency of recovering the changes upon resupplying N were investigated by us, using the GC–MS and LC–MS based metabolomic approach. Significant genotype-specific changes were noted in response to low-N. The N limitation affected the whole plant metabolism, most significantly the precursors of primary metabolic pathways. These precursors may act as important targets for improving the NUE. Limited availability of N reduced the levels of N-containing metabolites, organic acids and amino acids, but soluble sugars increased. Major variations were encountered in LNS, as compared to LNT. This study has revealed potential metabolic targets in response to the N status, which are indeed the prospective targets for crop improvement. Full article
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Article
Enhanced Agronomic Efficiency Using a New Controlled-Released, Polymeric-Coated Nitrogen Fertilizer in Rice
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1183; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9091183 - 11 Sep 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 1253
Abstract
Fertilizer-use efficiency is one of the most critical concerns in rice cultivation to reduce N losses, increase yields, and improve crop management. The effects of a new polymeric-coated controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) were compared to those of other slow-release and traditional fertilizers in a [...] Read more.
Fertilizer-use efficiency is one of the most critical concerns in rice cultivation to reduce N losses, increase yields, and improve crop management. The effects of a new polymeric-coated controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) were compared to those of other slow-release and traditional fertilizers in a microscale experiment, which was carried out in cuvettes under partly controlled ambient conditions, and a large-scale field experiment. To evaluate the fertilizer’s efficiency, nitrogen and water-use efficiency were calculated using the measurement of different photosynthetic and crop yield parameters. Improved responses regarding some of the analyzed physiological and growth parameters were observed for those plants fertilized with the new CRF. In the microscale experiment, significantly increased yields (ca. 35%) were produced in the plants treated with CRF as compared to traditional fertilizer. These results were in accordance with ca. 24% significant increased levels of N in leaves of CRF-treated plants, besides increased P, Fe, Mn, and cytokinin contents. At the field scale, similar yields were obtained with the slow-release or traditional fertilizers and CRF at a 20% reduced N dose. The new controlled-release fertilizer is a urea-based fertilizer coated with lignosulfonates, which is cheaply produced from the waste of pulp and wood industries, containing humic acids as biostimulants. In conclusion, CRF is recommended to facilitate rice crop management and to reduce contamination, as it can be formulated with lower N doses and because it is ecological manufacturing. Full article
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