The C4 pathway is a highly complex trait that increases photosynthetic efficiency in over sixty plant lineages. Although the majority of C4 plants occupy disturbed, arid and nutrient-poor habitats, some grow in high-nutrient, waterlogged conditions. One such example is Echinochloa glabrescens, which is an aggressive weed of rice paddies. We generated comprehensive transcriptome datasets for C4 E. glabrescens and C3 rice to identify genes associated with adaption to waterlogged, nutrient-replete conditions, but also used the data to better understand how C4 photosynthesis operates in these conditions. Leaves of E. glabrescens exhibited classical Kranz anatomy with lightly lobed mesophyll cells having low chloroplast coverage. As with rice and other hygrophytic C3 species, leaves of E. glabrescens accumulated a chloroplastic phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase protein, albeit at reduced amounts relative to rice. The arid-grown species Setaria italica (C4) and Brachypodium distachyon (C3) were also found to accumulate chloroplastic PEPC. We identified a molecular signature associated with C4 photosynthesis in nutrient-replete, waterlogged conditions that is highly similar to those previously reported from C4 plants that grow in more arid conditions. We also identified a cohort of genes that have been subjected to a selective sweep associated with growth in paddy conditions. Overall, this approach highlights the value of using wild species such as weeds to identify adaptions to specific conditions associated with high-yielding crops in agriculture.
|Early online date||02 Nov 2015|
|Publication status||Published - 01 Jan 2016|
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- Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Department of Life Sciences - Senior Lecturer in Microbial Genomics
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