The D165H Polymorphism of QiMYB-like-1 Is Linked to Interactions between Tannin Accumulation, Herbivory and Biogeographical Determinants of Quercus ilex .

International journal of molecular sciences(2022)

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The accumulation in the leaves and young stems of phenolic compounds, such as hydrolyzable and condensed tannins, constitutes a defense mechanism of plants against herbivores. Among other stressing factors, chronic herbivory endangers , a tree playing a central role in Mediterranean forests. This work addressed the connections between the chemical defenses of leaves and their susceptibility to herbivory, quantitative traits whose relationships are modulated by environmental and genetic factors that could be useful as molecular markers for the selection of plants with improved fitness. A search for natural variants detected the polymorphism D165H in the effector domain of QiMYB-like-1, a TT2-like transcription factor whose family includes members that control the late steps of condensed tannins biosynthesis in different plant species. QiMYB-like-1 D165H polymorphism was screened by PCR-RFLP in trees from six national parks in Spain where has a relevant presence, revealing that, unlike most regions that match the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, homozygous plants are over-represented in "Monfragüe" and "Cabañeros", among the best examples to represent the continental Mediterranean (cM) ecosystem. Accordingly, the averages of two stress-related quantitative traits measured in leaves, herbivory index and accumulation of condensed tannins, showed asymmetric distributions depending on the clustering of trees based on ecological and genetic factors. Thus, the impact of herbivory was greater in managed forests with a low density of trees from the cM region, among which QiMYB-like-1 D165 homozygotes stand out, whereas condensed tannins accumulation was higher in leaves of QiMYB-like-1 H165 homozygotes from low-density forests, mainly in the Pyrenean (Py) region. Besides, the correlation between the contents of condensed tannins and total tannins vanished after clustering by the same factors: the cM region singularity, forest tree density, and QiMYB-like-1 genotype, among which homozygous shared the lowest link. The biogeographical and genetic constraints that modulate the contribution of condensed tannins to chemical defenses also mediated their interactions with the herbivory index, which was found positively correlated with total phenolics or tannins, suggesting an induction signal by this biotic stress. In contrast, a negative correlation was observed with condensed tannins after tree clustering by genetics factors where associations between tannins were lost. Therefore, condensed tannins might protect from defoliation in parks belonging to the cM ecosystem and carrying genetic factor(s) linked to the QiMYB-like-1 D165H polymorphism.
(condensed) tannins,QiMYB-like-1,Quercus ilex,herbivory,phenolics
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