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Accession IconERP010718

A blueprint for C4 photosynthesis in the rice paddy: insights from the noxious weed Echinochloa glabrescens

Organism Icon Oryza sativa, Echinochloa glabrescens
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Technology Badge IconIllumina HiSeq 2000

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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. Similar to arid C4 species, leaves of E. glabrescens exhibited classical Kranz anatomy with lightly lobed mesophyll cells. As with rice and other hygrophytic C3 species, leaves of E. glabrescens accumulated a chloroplastic phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase protein, albeit at reduced levels relative to rice. 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.
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