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Abstract

Intraspecific changes in genome size and chromosome number lead to divergence and species evolution. Heavy metals disturb the cell cycle and cause mutations. Areas contaminated by heavy metals (metalliferous sites) are places where microevolutionary processes accelerate: very often only a few generations are enough for a new genotype to arise. This study, which continues our long-term research on Viola tricolor (Violaceae), a species occurring on both metalliferous (Zn, Pb, Cd, Cu) and non-metalliferous soils in Western and Central Europe, is aimed at determining the influence of environments polluted with heavy metals on genome size and karyological variability. The genome size of V. tricolor ranged from 3.801 to 4.203 pg, but the differences between metallicolous and non-metallicolous populations were not statistically significant. Altered chromosome numbers were significantly more frequent in material from the polluted sites than from the non-polluted sites (43% versus 28%). Besides the standard chromosome number (2n = 26), aneuploid cells with lower (2n = 18-25) or higher (2n = 27, 28) chromosome numbers were found in plants from both types of site, but polyploid (2n = 42) cells were observed only in plants from the metalliferous locality. The lack of correlation between chromosome variability in root meristematic cells and genome size estimated from peduncle cells can be attributed to elimination of somatic mutations in generative meristem, producing chromosome-stable non-meristematic tissues in the peduncle.
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Abstract

In flowering plants, seeds are produced both sexually (double fertilization is required) and asexually via apomixis (meiotic reduction and egg fertilization are omitted). An apomictic-like pattern of endosperm development in planta is followed by fis mutants of sexual Arabidopsis thaliana. In our experiments in planta, autonomous endosperm (AE) developed in met1 mutants. Furthermore we obtained autonomous endosperm formation in vitro not only in unfertilized ovules of fie mutants but also in wild genotypes (Col-0, MET1/MET1, FIE/FIE) and met1 mutants. AE induction and development occurred in all genotypes on the each of the media used and in every trial. The frequency of AE was relatively high (51.2% ovaries) and genotype-dependent. AE induced in vitro represents a more advanced stage of development than AE induced in fie mutants in planta. This was manifested by a high number of nuclei surrounded by cytoplasm and organized in nuclear cytoplasmic domains (NCDs), nodule formation, division into characteristic regions, and cellularization. The high frequency of AE observed in homozygous met1 (met1/met1) mutants probably is due to accumulation of hypomethylation as an effect of the met1 mutation and the in vitro conditions. AE development was most advanced in FIE/fie mutants. We suggest that changes in the methylation of one or several genes in the DNA of Arabidopsis genotypes caused by in vitro conditions resulted in AE induction and/or further AE development.
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Abstract

The Arabidopsis CDKG;2 gene encodes a putative cyclin-dependent Ser/Thr protein kinase of unknown biological function. This gene shows structural similarity to animal and human cyclin-dependent (PITSLRE) kinases. This study used the homozygous knockout cdkg;2 mutant based on T-DNA insertional line SALK_090262 to study the effect of mutation of the CDKG;2 gene on explant response and in vitro plant regeneration. For callus induction and proliferation, hypocotyls and cotyledons of 3-day-old seedlings of cdkg;2 and A. thaliana ecotype Col-0 were cultured on solid MS medium supplemented with 2,4-D (2 mg l-1). Organogenesis was induced after callus transfer on MS + TDZ (0.5 mg l-1). The initiation time of callus and shoot induction differed between the mutant and control cultures. Shoot regeneration after callus transfer on MS + TDZ was delayed in cdkg;2 (31 days versus 7 days in Col- 0). Shoots formed on callus derived from Col-0 hypocotyls but not on cotyledon-derived callus; in cdkg;2, shoots developed on both callus types. Mutant shoots did not form roots, regenerants were dwarfed, and inflorescences had small bud-like flowers with a reduced corolla and generative organs. Abnormalities observed during cdkg;2 organogenesis suggest a role of CDKG;2 as a regulator of adventitious root initiation
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Abstract

Miscanthus ×giganteus Greef et Deu. (Poaceae), a hybrid of Miscanthus sinensis and M. sacchariflorus native to Japan, is an ornamental and a highly lignocellulosic bioenergy crop, cultivated in the European Union as an alternative source of energy. This grass reproduces exclusively vegetatively, by rhizomes or via expensive in vitro micropropagation. The present study was aimed at finding the barriers that prevent sexual seed production, based on detailed embryological analyses of the whole generative cycle, including microsporogenesis, pollen viability, megasporogenesis, female gametophyte development, and embryo and endosperm formation. Sterility of M. ×giganteus results from abnormal development of both male and female gametophytes. Disturbed microsporogenesis (laggard chromosomes, univalents, micronuclei) was further highlighted by low pollen staining. The frequency of stainable pollen ranged from 13.9% to 55.3% depending on the pollen staining test, and no pollen germination was observed either in vitro or in planta. The wide range of pollen sizes (25.5-47.6 μm) clearly indicated unbalanced pollen grain cytology, which evidently affected pollen germination. Only 9.7% of the ovules developed normally. No zygotes nor embryos were found in any analyzed ovules. Sexual reproduction of M. ×giganteus is severely hampered by its allotriploid (2n=3x=57) nature. Hybrid sterility, a strong postzygotic barrier, prevents sexual reproduction and, therefore, seed formation in this taxon.
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