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    Plant science. Genomic-scale exchange of mRNA between a parasitic plant and its hosts. Kim Gunjune,LeBlanc Megan L,Wafula Eric K,dePamphilis Claude W,Westwood James H Science (New York, N.Y.) Movement of RNAs between cells of a single plant is well documented, but cross-species RNA transfer is largely unexplored. Cuscuta pentagona (dodder) is a parasitic plant that forms symplastic connections with its hosts and takes up host messenger RNAs (mRNAs). We sequenced transcriptomes of Cuscuta growing on Arabidopsis and tomato hosts to characterize mRNA transfer between species and found that mRNAs move in high numbers and in a bidirectional manner. The mobile transcripts represented thousands of different genes, and nearly half the expressed transcriptome of Arabidopsis was identified in Cuscuta. These findings demonstrate that parasitic plants can exchange large proportions of their transcriptomes with hosts, providing potential mechanisms for RNA-based interactions between species and horizontal gene transfer. 10.1126/science.1253122
    Autophagy is required for gamete differentiation in the moss Physcomitrella patens. Sanchez-Vera Victoria,Kenchappa Chandra Shekar,Landberg Katarina,Bressendorff Simon,Schwarzbach Stefan,Martin Tom,Mundy John,Petersen Morten,Thelander Mattias,Sundberg Eva Autophagy Autophagy, a major catabolic process in eukaryotes, was initially related to cell tolerance to nutrient depletion. In plants autophagy has also been widely related to tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses (through the induction or repression of programmed cell death, PCD) as well as to promotion of developmentally regulated PCD, starch degradation or caloric restriction important for life span. Much less is known regarding its role in plant cell differentiation. Here we show that macroautophagy, the autophagy pathway driven by engulfment of cytoplasmic components by autophagosomes and its subsequent degradation in vacuoles, is highly active during germ cell differentiation in the early diverging land plant Physcomitrella patens. Our data provide evidence that suppression of ATG5-mediated autophagy results in reduced density of the egg cell-mediated mucilage that surrounds the mature egg, pointing toward a potential role of autophagy in extracellular mucilage formation. In addition, we found that ATG5- and ATG7-mediated autophagy is essential for the differentiation and cytoplasmic reduction of the flagellated motile sperm and hence for sperm fertility. The similarities between the need of macroautophagy for sperm differentiation in moss and mouse are striking, strongly pointing toward an ancestral function of autophagy not only as a protector against nutrient stress, but also in gamete differentiation. 10.1080/15548627.2017.1366406
    Nitrogen deposition drives loss of moss cover in alpine moss-sedge heath via lowered C : N ratio and accelerated decomposition. Britton Andrea J,Mitchell Ruth J,Fisher Julia M,Riach David J,Taylor Andy F S The New phytologist In alpine ecosystems, nitrogen (N) deposition has been linked to plant community composition change, including loss of bryophytes and increase of graminoids. Since bryophyte growth is stimulated by increased N availability, it has been hypothesized that loss of bryophyte cover is driven by enhanced decomposition. As bryophyte mats are a significant carbon (C) store, their loss may impact C storage in these ecosystems. We used an N deposition gradient across 15 sites in the UK to examine effects of N deposition on bryophyte litter quality, decomposition and C and N stocks in Racomitrium moss-sedge heath. Increasing N deposition reduced C : N in bryophyte litter, which in turn enhanced decomposition. Soil N stocks increased significantly in response to increased N deposition, and soil C : N declined. However, depletion of the bryophyte mat and its replacement by graminoids under high N deposition was not associated with a change in total ecosystem C stocks. We conclude that decomposition processes in Racomitrium heath are very sensitive to N deposition and provide a mechanism by which N deposition drives depletion of the bryophyte mat. Nitrogen deposition did not measurably alter C stocks, but changes in soil N stocks and C : N suggest the ecosystem is becoming N saturated. 10.1111/nph.15006
    Eight types of stem cells in the life cycle of the moss Physcomitrella patens. Kofuji Rumiko,Hasebe Mitsuyasu Current opinion in plant biology Stem cells self-renew and produce cells that differentiate to become the source of the plant body. The moss Physcomitrella patens forms eight types of stem cells during its life cycle and serves as a useful model in which to explore the evolution of such cells. The common ancestor of land plants is inferred to have been haplontic and to have formed stem cells only in the gametophyte generation. A single stem cell would have been maintained in the ancestral gametophyte meristem, as occurs in extant basal land plants. During land plant evolution, stem cells diverged in the gametophyte generation to form different types of body parts, including the protonema and rhizoid filaments, leafy-shoot and thalloid gametophores, and gametangia formed in moss. A simplex meristem with a single stem cell was acquired in the sporophyte generation early in land plant evolution. Subsequently, sporophyte stem cells became multiple in the meristem and were elaborated further in seed plant lineages, although the evolutionary origin of niche cells, which maintain stem cells is unknown. Comparisons of gene regulatory networks are expected to give insights into the general mechanisms of stem cell formation and maintenance in land plants and provide information about their evolution. P. patens develops at least seven types of simplex meristem in the gametophyte and at least one type in the sporophyte generation and is a good material for regulatory network comparisons. In this review, we summarize recently revealed molecular mechanisms of stem cell initiation and maintenance in the moss. 10.1016/j.pbi.2013.10.007