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Erick Amombo, Huiying Li and Jinmin Fu

Soil salinity is one of the major abiotic stress factors that constrain plant growth and limit crop productivity. About a quarter of the global land area is affected by salinity; therefore, there is increased need to develop salt-tolerant crops. Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) is one of the most important cool-season turfgrasses, which has medium tolerance to salinity and has a promising potential to be used as a turfgrass under saline conditions. However, up to now, the maximum use of tall fescue under salinity stress is still limited by inadequate scientific literature. Recent studies have attempted to identify various adaptive responses to salinity stress at molecular, cellular, metabolic, and physiological levels in tall fescue. The successful integration of information concerning signal sensing, molecular tools with recent advances in -omics would certainly provide a clue for creating salt-tolerant tall fescue. Because salinity limits water availability to plants via hindering water absorption, and by inducing physiological drought, here we review and propose a probable mechanism of tall fescue response to salinity stress and to similar effects induced by drought based on published literature.

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Huiying Li, Hongji Luo, Deying Li, Tao Hu and Jinmin Fu

Lead pollution is an important issue in the world. Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne), as one of the widely used turfgrass and forage species, has a potential for bioremediation. The objective of this study was to investigate how antioxidant enzymes and their gene transcripts respond to Pb stress in perennial ryegrass. Ryegrass seedlings were subjected to 0, 0.5, and 3.2 mm of Pb(NO3)2 for 7 days in a hydroponic system maintained in a greenhouse. Both root and shoot growths were inhibited by Pb compared with the control. However, contents of chlorophyll (Chl) a and total Chl were unaffected by Pb treatment. Results from this study showed a substantial increase of malondialdehyde (MDA) content in leaf tissues when perennial ryegrass was exposed to Pb at 3.2 mm. The MDA content from plants in the 0.5 mm Pb treatment was lower than the control, indicating that an effective defense mechanism existed. Circumstantial evidence came also from the content of soluble protein in 0.5 mm Pb treatment, which was not different from the control. Furthermore, the activity of catalase (CAT) increased at 0.5 mm Pb compared with the control, indicating that CAT might play an important role in scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS). The expression profiles of eight genes encoding antioxidative enzymes were upregulated within 24 hours of Pb treatment. In conclusion, antioxidant enzymes responded to Pb at an early stage of exposure and their gene expression profiles provided more details in time courses of the activation of those systems.

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Yi-Xuan Kou, Hui-Ying Shang, Kang-Shan Mao, Zhong-Hu Li, Keith Rushforth and Robert P. Adams

Leyland cypress [×Hesperotropsis leylandii (A.B. Jacks. & Dallim.) Garland & G. Moore, Cupressaceae] is a well-known horticultural evergreen conifer in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. As demonstrated by previous studies, this taxon is a hybrid between alaska (nootka) cypress [Callitropsis nootkatensis (D. Don) Oerst. ex D.P. Little] and monterey cypress [Hesperocyparis macrocarpa (Hartw. ex Gordon) Bartel]. However, the genetic background of leyland cypress cultivars is unclear. Are they F1 or F2 hybrids or backcrosses? In this study, six individuals that represent major leyland cypress cultivars and two individuals each of its two putative parental species were collected, and three nuclear DNA regions (internal transcribed spacer, leafy and needly), three mitochondrial (mt) DNA regions (coxI, atpA, and rps3), and two chloroplast (cp) DNA regions (matK and rbcL) were sequenced and analyzed. Sequencing results of nuclear DNA regions revealed that leyland cypress cultivars consist of putative F1 and F2 hybrids as well as backcrosses. Analysis of the cp and mt DNA from six cultivars of leyland cypress revealed that their cytoplasmic (cp and mt) genomes came from alaska cypress. Our findings will provide important instructions and background knowledge on the management of these major leyland cypress cultivars as well as future studies. Meanwhile, alaska cypress and monterey cypress may have diverged with each other ≈46 million years ago. The fact that they can produce fertile hybrids indicates that hybridization events may have played an important role in the evolutionary history of the cypress family (Cupressaceae).