Characterization of Ataxin-2 and its interaction partners
Higher plant proteins of cyanobacterial origin: are they or are they not preferentially targeted to chloroplasts?
Roman G. Bayer
Atypical causes of nontraumatic intracranial subarachnoid hemorrhage
Verena Esther Kutschera
- Climatic fluctuations during the Pleistocene (2.6-0.01 million years) have played an important role during evolution of many species. Cyclic range contractions and expansions had demographic consequences within species, provided environmental conditions for population divergence and speciation and enabled secondary contact and interspecific hybridization. These and other evolutionary processes have left genetic signatures in the genomes of affected organisms. Comprehensive and unbiased estimates of evolutionary processes can be obtained using genetic markers from different parts of the genome and by integrating population genetic and phylogenetic concepts.
Suitable for studies on evolutionary processes and patterns over different evolutionary time scales are bears (Ursidae) and foxes (Vulpes), which occupy a wide range of habitats and evolved during the past few millions of years. In my thesis, I therefore used bears and red foxes as study species to investigate the genetic variation within and between species and to obtain estimates of evolutionary relationships and divergence times of populations and species that I interpreted in a climatic context. Further, I investigated population genetic processes during the evolution of bears. My thesis includes three publications and one submitted manuscript, spanning different evolutionary time scales - from evolutionary relationships and processes among species (phylogenetic time scales, Publications I & II), among populations and closely related species in a geographical context (phylogeographic time scales, Publications II & III), to ongoing processes within species (population genetic time scales, Publication IV).
In Publication I (Kutschera et al. 2014, Mol Biol Evol 31(8):2004-2017), I studied bears at several nuclear markers from several individuals per species, complemented with markers from the Y chromosome. Using approaches based on a population genetic concept (coalescent theory) I obtained a species tree with divergence time estimates. Further, I studied two evolutionary processes in bears, interspecific gene flow and incomplete lineage sorting (ILS). This study contributed to the growing evidence that population genetic processes can be relevant on time scales up to several millions of years.
In Publication II (Hailer, Kutschera et al. 2012, Science 336(6079):344-347), we complemented previous mitochondrial (mt) DNA-based inference of the evolutionary history of polar and brown bears with nuclear DNA. Coalescence-based species tree analyses of multiple nuclear markers from several individuals per species placed polar bears as sister lineage to brown bears and their divergence time to about 600 thousand years ago (ka). This contrasted previous mtDNA-based inference. We explained this discrepancy between mtDNA and nuclear DNA with interspecific gene flow between polar and brown bears.
In Publication III (Kutschera et al. 2013, BMC Evol Biol 13:114), I studied range-wide phylogeographic events and their timing in red foxes. A synthesis of newly generated and published mtDNA sequences was analyzed using a coalescence-based approach with multiple fossil calibration points. Thereby, I validated the identity and geographic distribution of several red fox lineages and showed that red foxes colonized North America and Japan several times independently during the late Pleistocene (126-11 ka) and around the last glacial maximum (26.5-19 ka). In a comparison of my results from red foxes to brown bears and grey wolves, I identified similar phylogeographic patterns.
In Publication IV (Kutschera et al., submitted to Biol Conserv), I found similar levels of genetic variability in vagrant polar bears that had reached Iceland compared to established subpopulations from across the range. Based on climate projections reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2014, polar bear habitat will markedly decline and become increasingly fragmented within the next decades. Dispersal will play an important role by connecting isolated subpopulations, thereby maintaining genetic diversity levels. My results indicate that vagrants could stabilize genetic variability when immigrating into established subpopulations.
In conclusion, my thesis provided a deeper understanding of evolutionary genetic processes and patterns and their timing in bears and red foxes in a climatic context, which can have conservation implications. Further, I showed that processes like ILS and interspecific gene flow can be relevant over different time scales and are important aspects of evolutionary history. Thereby, my thesis contributed to the knowledge on the evolutionary history of several carnivore species and on evolutionary processes acting within and between closely related species.
Cytotoxicity and infiltration of human NK cells in in vivo-like tumor spheroids
Ernst H. K. Stelzer
- BACKGROUND: The complex cellular networks within tumors, the cytokine milieu, and tumor immune escape mechanisms affecting infiltration and anti-tumor activity of immune cells are of great interest to understand tumor formation and to decipher novel access points for cancer therapy. However, cellular in vitro assays, which rely on monolayer cultures of mammalian cell lines, neglect the three-dimensional architecture of a tumor, thus limiting their validity for the in vivo situation.
METHODS: Three-dimensional in vivo-like tumor spheroid were established from human cervical carcinoma cell lines as proof of concept to investigate infiltration and cytotoxicity of NK cells in a 96-well plate format, which is applicable for high-throughput screening. Tumor spheroids were monitored for NK cell infiltration and cytotoxicity by flow cytometry. Infiltrated NK cells, could be recovered by magnetic cell separation.
RESULTS: The tumor spheroids were stable over several days with minor alterations in phenotypic appearance. The tumor spheroids expressed high levels of cellular ligands for the natural killer (NK) group 2D receptor (NKG2D), mediating spheroid destruction by primary human NK cells. Interestingly, destruction of a three-dimensional tumor spheroid took much longer when compared to the parental monolayer cultures. Moreover, destruction of tumor spheroids was accompanied by infiltration of a fraction of NK cells, which could be recovered at high purity.
CONCLUSION: Tumor spheroids represent a versatile in vivo-like model system to study cytotoxicity and infiltration of immune cells in high-throughput screening. This system might proof useful for the investigation of the modulatory potential of soluble factors and cells of the tumor microenvironment on immune cell activity as well as profiling of patient-/donor-derived immune cells to personalize cellular immunotherapy.
Abscisic acid negatively interferes with basal defence of barley against Magnaporthe oryzae
- Background: Plant hormones are well known regulators which balance plant responses to abiotic and biotic stresses. We investigated the role of abscisic acid (ABA) in resistance of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) against the plant pathogenic fungus Magnaporthe oryzae.
Results: Exogenous application of ABA prior to inoculation with M. oryzae led to more disease symptoms on barley leaves. This result contrasted the finding that ABA application enhances resistance of barley against the powdery mildew fungus. Microscopic analysis identified diminished penetration resistance as cause for enhanced susceptibility. Consistently, the barley mutant Az34, impaired in ABA biosynthesis, was less susceptible to infection by M. oryzae and displayed elevated penetration resistance as compared to the isogenic wild type cultivar Steptoe. Chemical complementation of Az34 mutant plants by exogenous application of ABA re-established disease severity to the wild type level. The role of ABA in susceptibility of barley against M. oryzae was corroborated by showing that ABA application led to increased disease severity in all barley cultivars under investigation except for the most susceptible cultivar Pallas. Interestingly, endogenous ABA concentrations did not significantly change after infection of barley with M. oryzae.
Conclusion: Our results revealed that elevated ABA levels led to a higher disease severity on barley leaves to M. oryzae. This supports earlier reports on the role of ABA in enhancing susceptibility of rice to the same pathogen and thereby demonstrates a host plant-independent function of this phytohormone in pathogenicity of monocotyledonous plants against M. oryzae.
Diversity, taxonomy, and biogeography of the reptiles inhabiting the highlands of the Cordillera Central (Serranía de Talamanca and Serranía de Tabasará) in western Panama
- Panama is a megadiverse country that together with Costa Rica constitutes Lower Central America (LCA). Western Panama's Cordillera Central accounts for the eastern part of the LCA highlands shared between these countries. The aim of the present study is to compile the most complete and updated picture possible of the taxonomy, diversity, and distribution of reptiles that occur from 500 m asl upwards along the Talamanca and Tabasará ranges. These two continuous mountain ridges account for the western two-thirds of the Cordillera Central between the Costa Rican border and 81°W Including specimens collected four own research travels, I morphologically examined more than 1800 specimens, analyzed 16S and/or COI barcodes of 300 specimens, and performed a thorough search in literature and databases to obtain locality records for specimens and species occurrences. My complete occurrence dataset comprises 14620 georeferenced occurrence records in three quality categories. Conceivable occurrences of species not yet documented from a given area are evaluated on the basis of existing data either as "plausible" or "possible". I provide all datasets which I generated for this study in Appendices. The previously published descriptions of Dactyloa ginaelisae Lotzkat, Hertz, Bienentreu & Köhler 2013, Norops benedikti (Lotzkat, Bienentreu, Hertz & Köhler 2011), Sibon perissostichon Köhler, Lotzkat & Hertz 2010, and Sibon noalamina Lotzkat, Hertz & Köhler 2012 are included in the present work. In the course of integrative taxonomic analyses, I classify 15 genealogical lineages revealed by DNA barcoding within 7 anole species as Deep Conspecific Lineages (DCLs) because they lack consistent morphological differences to their nominal conspecifics. I provisionally classify 18 mitochondrial lineages found within six other anole species as Unconfirmed Genealogical Lineages (UGLs) pending adequate analyses of their morphological variation. I regard the two additional UGLs Celestus sp. and Geophis sp. and the two Confirmed Genealogical Lineages (CGLs) Lepidoblepharis sp. 1 and 2 to represent undescribed species. My taxonomic analyses yield the hitherto most comprehensive survey of the variability exhibited by dozens of reptile species in western Panama. The 16S and/or COI barcodes I provide represent 65 species recognized herein and constitute the first DNA barcode reference library for LCA reptiles. The reptile fauna of Panama comprises 265 species, including the four UGLs and CGLs mentioned above and characterized for the first time in this study, as well as Dendrophidion crybelum Cadle 2012 whose presence in the country I consider plausible. My occurrence dataset reveals that 160 of these species have been documented to occur in my study area. Adding the 20 species whose occurrence therein I consider plausible, I report the total species richness of the Talamanca and Tabasará ranges as comprising 180 species representing 81 genera in 25 families. With 178.8 species per 10 000 km2, the relative species richness of the area is extremely high even in a tropical context. In view of their overall documented distribution, I regard the presence of 27 additional species in my study area as possible. For the 180 species occurring in my study area I provide standardized species accounts that, together with the taxonomic results, for the first time permit the doubtless identification of all 180 species, and illustrate 168 of these with color photographs. Concerning biogeography, my georeferenced dataset yields noteworthy distribution extensions for many species. Moreover, I present the hitherto most comprehensive, detailed, and reproducible assessments of the distribution patterns, historical origins, and conservation as well as of the occurrence among physiographic regions, climatic and altitudinal belts, political subdivisions, and protected areas, for my study area's reptile fauna. With 65 species, more than a third of the fauna is endemic to LCA. Among these, 42 Talamancan highland endemics are restricted to the LCA highlands, in the case of 16 small-scale highland endemics with documented ranges spanning less than 100 km. I assess many of these endemics as endangered. The fact that several of these species do not occur in any protected area renders the establishment of additional conservation areas necessary, especially in the central Serranía de Tabasará. Distributional range boundaries shared among different clades of highland anoles indicate physiographic and climatic barriers that may have effected in situ speciation within these lineages. As the largest study on Panamanian reptile diversity assembled to date, the present dissertation considerably increases our knowledge on the reptiles along the Cordillera Central and beyond, and thus constitutes a solid basis for future studies.
Integrative taxonomy and conservation status of amphibians in western Panama with an emphasis on the highlands of the Cordillera Central
- Amphibians have existed on the planet for over 300 million years and are today one of the most diverse vertebrate classes in the world with over 7000 known species and still many more to be discovered. However, several studies assume that approximately one third of the world´s known living amphibians are directly threatened with extinction, making it the most endangered vertebrate class. In relation to the relatively small land mass that is occupied by the state of Panama, it supports one of the most diverse amphibian faunas. However, in many cases the ecological role of single species in a wider context and their habitat preferences are still poorly understood and subject to ongoing research. Modern taxonomic approaches in other tropical regions have shown that former assumptions of amphibian diversity were distinct underestimations of the actual species diversity; a situation that is probably also true for Panama. Concurrently, the collection of amphibian diversity data and the description of new species is a race against time. The amphibian fauna of the world and that of Panama in particular, has suffered from an unprecedented loss of diversity over the last 30 years. The reasons are manifold and include destruction, alteration, and fragmentation of their natural habitats as the main causes, but also the deadly amphibian disease chytridiomycosis caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). In Panama and Costa Rica, this Emerging Infectious Disease (EID) spread in a wave-like manner from west to east causing mass die-offs and reduced amphibian diversity even in well-preserved habitats. The disease has primarily affected stream-associated highland species. The last large-scale evaluation of the conservation status of Panama´s amphibians through the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2004 concluded that approximately 30% of the known species are acutely threatened with extinction. Furthermore, around 17% of the amphibian species that have been known back then lacked adequate data to be assessed. In view of Panama´s already overwhelming amphibian diversity, as well as the variety of habitats and the large number of sites that have not been examined with regard to amphibians before, I started this study with the conviction that the inventory of Panama´s amphibian diversity is far from being completed. Furthermore, when I started this study, it was uncertain if there would be any surviving amphibian species in areas where chytridiomycosis had emerged. The loss of whole amphibian communities in upland western Panama following Bd arrival led to a shift of amphibian research to lowland sites in central and eastern Panama aiming primarily on pathogen arrival and the documentation of epizootic outbreak and subsequent population decline. The situation of amphibian communities in areas post-decline was therefore largely unknown. Accordingly, the main goals of my study were to add to the taxonomic inventory of amphibians in Panama and to assess the situation of amphibian populations in habitats where chytrid-driven declines have been observed. To address these tasks I conducted fieldwork in western Panama with a focus on mountainous elevations between 1000 and 3475 m asl. Additionally, I visited different lowland sites between sea level and 1000 m asl to collect comparative material. In the period between 2008 and 2013, I conducted five collection trips to Panama that add up to a total of approximately 13 months in the field. I have sampled nine regions in western Panama and collected 767 specimens together with student collaborators, 531 of which were collected under my personal field number. Additional data obtained from those specimens include 68 male anuran call recordings, 102 standardized color descriptions of specimens in life, and 259 tissue samples that to date yielded 185 16S mtDNA sequences. This comprises the most comprehensive data set for amphibians of Panama and the first large-scale DNA barcoding approach for western Panama to date. After a preliminary DNA barcoding and subsequent comparative examination of morphological und bioacoustic data of all specimens collected, the number of taxonomic problems that needed to be addressed was higher than I previously anticipated. For most genetic lineages deeper taxonomic analyses were required to reach conclusive results. A selection had to be made with which lineages to proceed in the analyses, in view of the substantial financial and time expenditure that would be needed for a complete taxonomic revision. Therefore, I chose to run deeper analyses on one genus from each of the three amphibian orders in Panama. The genera selection depended largely on the availability of sufficient material and the scientific relevance of the respective genus.
I selected the genus Diasporus from the order Anura. These small frogs are omnipresent in many habitats and thus relatively easy to find. In addition, the genus is underrepresented in taxonomic studies. This is the first taxonomic study on the genus Diasporus to include a molecular phylogeny and the first comparison of advertisement calls between several populations from western Panama. In total, I collected 67 Diasporus specimens throughout western Panama and compared them morphologically with 49 additional specimens from Central America in collections, including the primary types of D. diasporus and D. hylaeformis. Additional comparative data were taken from literature. The DNA barcoding analysis of a fragment of the 16S rRNA gene included 43 own sequences that were complemented with 15 relevant GenBank sequences. In addition, I compared the advertisement calls of 26 male individuals among each other and with call descriptions from the literature. The DNA barcoding approach revealed several unnamed genetic lineages, but in some cases also resulted in the lumping of morphologically and bioacoustically distinct specimens. Generally, the morphological examination of the collected material revealed almost no specific characters that could be used to distinguish between genetic lineages. However, it was possible to identify species using a combination of several morphological characteristics. Which ones are relevant in the individual case depends on the respective species. My extensive collection of call recordings made it possible to test for the first time the intraspecific call variation of D. hylaeformis in dependency of various parameters. This analysis showed that the dominant frequency depends significantly on the body size of the calling male; the smaller the calling male, the higher the frequency of the call. A similar relationship was observed between the call rate and temperature: the lower the temperature during calling, the lower the call rate. I suppose that these general patterns, which have already been observed in other anuran genera, are also true in other Diasporus species that could not be tested in this study. Taking into account the intraspecific variation of Diasporus advertisement calls, I consider comparative call analyses to be the best way to distinguish between species. This is especially true in syntopic species. Integration of the three lines of evidence (i.e., morphology, DNA barcoding, and bioacoustics) led to the identification of four new species, two of which (i.e., D. citrinobapheus and D. igneus) colleagues and I have already formally described.
I conducted an integrative taxonomic analysis of the western Panamanian representatives of the genus Bolitoglossa from the order Caudata, the larger of the two Panamanian salamander genera. Bolitoglossa is very species-rich with a centre of diversification in the high mountains of Costa Rica and western Panama. I collected 53 Bolitoglossa specimens and compared them to twelve specimens in collection, including the holotype and one paratype of B. gomezi. The dataset was complemented with information from the literature. Among the sampled specimens were two species considered to be endangered that have not been collected or observed for several decades; B. magnifica has not been seen for 34 years and B. anthracina has not been seen for 22 years. Further, I collected salamanders at several new locations. To date, my 16S mtDNA barcoding analysis represents the densest taxon sampling for Panamanian Bolitoglossa composed of 21 own sequences that were combined in the final alignment with 47 GenBank sequences. Even though the molecular phylogeny is based only on a single marker, the received trees largely coincide with previous studies and the nodes received high statistical support. In these trees, I retrieve all previously defined subgenera and species groups. On the basis of this molecular phylogeny, I placed B. anthracina, here sequenced for the first time, in the B. subpalmata species group. Due to the fact that B. anthracina is a large and dark colored species it had previously been placed by implication in the B. schizodactyla species group along with other large black salamanders of the B. nigrescens species complex. Moreover, I found deep divergent genetic lineages among geographically separated populations of B. minutula. However, until now there were no additional morphological characteristics detectable to distinguish between these lineages. Additionally, my colleagues and I described a new deep divergent lineage in the B. robinsoni species group as B. jugivagans, a species new to science. In contrast, I found only minor genetic differences between specimens of B. sombra and B. nigrescens. After combining morphometric data and tooth counts from literature of both species with additional data from specimens of B. sombra that I collected near the type locality, the distinguishing features blurred. In particular, including much larger specimens of B. sombra, not yet known at the time of its description, showed that the tooth count difference is dependent on the size and age of the specimen examined. Larger specimens have more maxillary and vomerine teeth. Based on this evidence I regard B. sombra as a junior synonym of B. nigrescens. Further, I revised the Panamanian distribution of the two relatively common lowland salamanders, B. colonnea and B. lignicolor. Besides filling the gaps in the fragmentary known distributions of these species, I assessed the molecular and morphological variation of both species among populations in Panama. While there was little variation in B. lignicolor, I found divergent genetic lineages among geographically distinct populations of B. colonnea that require further taxonomic examination.
Caecilians (order Gymnophiona) are among the least investigated terrestrial vertebrates. After I received a first specimen of the predominantly South American genus Oscaecilia (family Caeciliidae) in western Panama, I started to work more extensively on the taxonomy of Caeciliidae in Central America. The specimens from western Panama were not readily assignable to a single described species, but shared characters with O. elongata and O. osae. While O. osae was only known from the holotype, the type material of O. elongata was destroyed during World War II. On the basis of the original description, the unique feature in O. elongata within Oscaecilia is the absence of subdermal scales in the posterior part of the body. In a referred specimen of O. elongata mentioned in the original description from eastern Panama, this characteristic cannot be examined as it consists of head and neck only. Therefore, I used non-destructive high-resolution, synchrotron-based X-ray micro CT imaging (HRμCT) to examine cranial characters in the specimens in question and took normal radiographs to count vertebrae and to make subdermal scales visible. I found that the fragmented specimen from eastern Panama likely belongs to the well-sampled species O. ochrocephala and has not much in common with O. osae or the specimens from western Panama. Contrarily, O. osae and the specimens from western Panama share many morphological characters, but also show some differences. Genetic barcoding revealed that both species are close relatives, but the genetic distance could not be finally resolved, because 16S sequences obtained from blood samples of living O. osae were of poor quality. Thus, I compare the Oscaecilia from western Panama to O. osae in this study, but postpone a taxonomic decision until further material becomes available. Further, I designate O. elongata a nomen dubium, because the type material is lost, the type locality is not defined in more detail than “Panama”, and the original description does not allow for a definite assignment. Since previous molecular studies only considered O. ochrocephala, the monophyly of Oscaecilia was never tested before. So far, the genus Oscaecilia is based largely on a single cranial character, the eyes covered with bone. Here, I combined two 16S mtDNA sequences of O. osae from Costa Rica and two sequences from O. sp. from western Panama with two sequences of O. ochrocephala and ten sequences of four species of the genus Caecilia, the sister genus of Oscaecilia. The resulted phylogeny contains two well-supported clades, one clade containing two species of Caecilia, one from Panama and one from western Ecuador and all species of Oscaecilia tested. The other clade consists of two species of Caecilia from the Amazon basin. I therefore assume that the split in both clades is due to the rise of the Andes, what led to today’s cis-trans-Andean distribution of the two clades. For now, to restore monophyly, I suggest to place Oscaecilia within the synonymy of Caecilia until more taxa have been tested. When assessing the conservation status of the amphibian species in mountainous western Panama, I first compiled a list of known species that I potentially could have found during my fieldwork. Using the IUCN categories, I analyzed how many of the endangered species I actually found and how these are distributed over families and species groups. Surprisingly, my rediscoveries of lost species were not equally distributed among the four families that comprise most endangered amphibian species (i.e., Bufonidae, Craugastoridae, Hylidae, and Plethodontidae). While I discovered ten of eleven endangered hylids and six of nine endangered plethodontids, I found only one of four endangered bufonids and none of the nine endangered craugastorids. I assume that the secretive living plethodontids, for which no Bd related declines have been documented, were just overlooked in the past decades. In contrast, I propose that hylids, in which Bd related population decline is well documented, developed distinct evolutionary solutions permitting coexistence with the pathogen. The situation is obviously different in bufonids and craugastorids, where I found no signs of population recoveries at present. So far, the only surviving populations of species from these families exist in climatic or physiographic niches that have probably shielded them from Bd. My data confirm the current view that the risk for naïve amphibian populations to decline during Bd epizootics is predicted by ecological traits (e.g., aquatic index, vertical distribution) and not dependent on taxonomic affiliation. However, I propose that only certain amphibian families (e.g., hylids and centrolenids) have the ability to acquire immunity solutions to coexist with the pathogen during enzootic stages. This is a very new perspective on the worst infectious disease in amphibians worldwide, allowing for new research approaches to understand the host-pathogen dynamics. Moreover, I examined where the share of surviving endangered amphibian species is particularly high in mountainous western Panama. As was to be expected, most of the endangered species are found within the boundaries of protected areas. One exception is the unprotected Cerro Colorado region in the Comarca Ngöbe-Buglé that provides habitat for a wide variety of endangered and undiscovered amphibian species. Nonetheless, planned open pit mining would destroy the forests in a large part of the area. This demonstrates once again that human activities are the biggest threat to amphibians in Panama and elsewhere.
Spatio-temporal evolution of Cedrela (Meliaceae) : climatic niche dynamics, phylogeography and taxonomy
Anna Valerie Köcke
- Understanding major causes of biodiversity and range dynamics requires research on evolutionary processes under consideration of environmental changes. In my thesis, I investigated the spatio-temporal evolution of the Neotropical tree genus Cedrela from the Meliaceae family by studying its genetic diversity, taxonomy, colonization history, climatic niche changes and dynamics of species distributions. My results show that climatic and geological changes are major drivers of biological diversification in Cedrela.
Long-term observation of arabidopsis thaliana root growth under close-to-natural conditions using light sheet-based fluorescence microscopy
Daniel Wangenheim von
- In the interest of understanding the development of a multicellular organism, subcellular events must be seen in the context of the entire three-dimensional tissue. In addition, events that occur within a short period of time can be of great importance for the relatively long developmental process of the organ. Thus, it is required to capture subcellular events in a larger spatio-temporal scale context, which has been up to now a technical challenge. In developmental biology, light microscopy has always been an important tool. The dilemma of light microscopy, in particular fluorescence microscopy, is that molecules receive high light intensities that might change the conformation of molecules, which can have signaling or toxic effects. In Light Sheet-based Fluorescence Microscopy (LSFM), the energy required for a single recording is reduced by several orders of magnitude compared to other fluorescence microscopy techniques. During the last ten years, LSFM has emerged as a preferred tool to capture all cells during embryogenesis of the zebrafish Danio rerio, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster or recently the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum for a period of several days. The motivation of this work was to gain new insights in developmental related processes of plant organs. The aim of this work was to establish a protocol for imaging plant growth over a long period of time using LSFM and perform comprehensive analyses at the cellular level. Plants have to cope with a variety of environmental conditions, therefore the conditions inside the microscope chamber had to be brought under control. The sample preparation methods and the standardized conditions at a physiological level allowed the study of gravity response, day-night rhythms, organ shape development as well as the intracellular dynamic events of the cytoskeleton and endosomal compartments in an unprecedented manner. Several of these projects were successfully published in collaborations with Prof. Jozef Šamaj (Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic), Prof. Niko Geldner (University of Lausanne, Switzerland), Prof. Malcom Bennett (University of Nottingham, UK) and Dr. Jürgen Kleine-Vehn (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria). The main part of my work focused on the formation of lateral roots in Arabidopsis thaliana and was conducted in close collaboration with Dr. Alexis Maizel (University of Heidelberg, Germany). Previously, most experiments that describe lateral root formation have been performed on a small number of cells and for short periods of time. Capturing the complete process of lateral roots is an ambitious goal, because first, the primordium of a lateral root is located deep inside the primary root and imaging quality is impaired due to scattering of the overlaying tissue. Second, the process takes about 48 h, i.e. the plant has to be kept healthy for the whole period. Third, the amount of excitation light required for the spatio-temporal might have phototoxic effects that lead to a stop of growth at least in conventional microscopic techniques. In Arabidopsis embryogenesis, the sequence of cell divisions is relatively invariant. However, whether lateral root organogenesis follows particular cell division patterns has been unknown. The complete process of lateral root formation was captured from the first cell division until after the emergence from the main root. Images of a nuclei marker and a plasmamembrane marker were recorded every 5 min for a time period of up to 64 h. The positions and cell divisions of all cells were tracked manually. In collaboration with Alexander Schmitz (Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany) and Dr. Jens Fangerau (University of Heidelberg, Germany), comprehensive analyses of the data were performed. A lateral root forms from initially 8-15 founder cells, arranged in a patch of 5-8 parallel files. The occurrence of new cell layers by periclinal divisions, as well as the sequence of layer generation was conserved and resembles the sequence suggested by Malamy and Benfey in 1997. Besides this stereotyped occurrence of periclinal divisions, radial divisions were found to appear stochastically, following no particular pattern. A large variability was also found in the contribution of founder cells and cell files to the final lateral root. In summary, the results suggest that a stereotyped pattern of cell divisions at particular developmental stages and a dynamically adapted control of cell divisions exist in parallel. Both properties allow a controlled but flexible development of the organ according to variations in cell topology and mechanical properties of the surrounding tissue. This work shows that LSFM, the sample preparation methods and controlled environmental conditions allow to capture and analyse the development of plants over several days at high resolution in an unprecedented manner.
A revised infrageneric classification and synopsis of the Afro-Eurasian genus Moraea (Iridaceae: Irideae)
John C. Manning
- Molecular phylogenetic studies of Moraea Mill. and the inclusion of Barnardiella Goldblatt, Galaxia Thunb., Gynandriris Parl., Hexaglottis Vent., Homeria Vent. and Roggeveldia Goldblatt in the genus have rendered the existing infrageneric classification, dating from 1976, in need of substantial revision. In particular, subg. Moraea and subg. Vieusseuxia have been shown to be paraphyletic. We propose a new infrageneric classification, based, as far as current data permit, on phylogenetic principles. Monophyletic subgenera and sections are circumscribed based on molecular phylogenies alone or in combination with morphological considerations. We recognize 11 subgenera, 15 sections and three series, arranged as follows in phylogenetic sequence: Plumarieae; Visciramosae (with sect. Multifoliae and sect. Visciramosae); Moraea (with sect. Moraea and sect. Polyphyllae); Galaxia (with ser. Unguiculatae, ser. Eurystigma and ser. Galaxia); Monocephalae; Acaules; Polyanthes (with sect. Serpentinae, sect. Deserticola, sect. Hexaglottis, sect. Gynandriris, sect. Polyanthes and sect. Pseudospicatae); Grandifl orae; Vieusseuxia (with sect. Integres, sect. Vieusseuxia and sect. Villosae); and Homeria (with sect. Stipanthera, sect. Flexuosae, sect. Homeria and sect. Conantherae). Most are moderately to well circumscribed at the morphological level either by floral or vegetative characters, except subg. Moraea, which includes a small number of unspecialized species apparently not linked by any apomorphic features. With over 27 new species described in the past 25 years and another 60 transferred to the genus, Moraea now includes 214 species. We provide a full taxonomic synopsis of the genus.