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Copenhagen, Denmark

Dockter C.,Carlsberg Laboratory | Hansson M.,Lund University
Journal of Experimental Botany | Year: 2015

The Green Revolution combined advancements in breeding and agricultural practice, and provided food security to millions of people. Daily food supply is still a major issue in many parts of the world and is further challenged by future climate change. Fortunately, life science research is currently making huge progress, and the development of future crop plants will be explored. Today, plant breeding typically follows one gene per trait. However, new scientific achievements have revealed that many of these traits depend on different genes and complex interactions of proteins reacting to various external stimuli. These findings open up new possibilities for breeding where variations in several genes can be combined to enhance productivity and quality. In this review we present an overview of genes determining plant architecture in barley, with a special focus on culm length. Many genes are currently known only through their mutant phenotypes, but emerging genomic sequence information will accelerate their identification. More than 1000 different short-culm barley mutants have been isolated and classified in different phenotypic groups according to culm length and additional pleiotropic characters. Some mutants have been connected to deficiencies in biosynthesis and reception of brassinosteroids and gibberellic acids. Still other mutants are unlikely to be connected to these hormones. The genes and corresponding mutations are of potential interest for development of stiff-straw crop plants tolerant to lodging, which occurs in extreme weather conditions with strong winds and heavy precipitation. © The Author 2015.

Palcic M.M.,Carlsberg Laboratory
Current Opinion in Chemical Biology | Year: 2011

Glycosyltransferases are useful synthetic tools for the preparation of natural oligosaccharides, glycoconjugates and their analogues. High expression levels of recombinant enzymes have allowed their use in multi-step reactions, on mg to multi-gram scales. Since glycosyltransferases are tolerant with respect to utilizing modified donors and acceptor substrates they can be used to prepare oligosaccharide analogues and for diversification of natural products. New sources of enzymes are continually discovered as genomes are sequenced and they are annotated in the Carbohydrate Active Enzyme (CAZy) glycosyltransferase database. Glycosyltransferase mutagenesis, domain swapping and metabolic pathway engineering to change reaction specificity and product diversification are increasingly successful due to advances in structure-function studies and high throughput screening methods. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Gleadow R.M.,Monash University | Moller B.L.,Copenhagen University | Moller B.L.,Carlsberg Laboratory
Annual Review of Plant Biology | Year: 2014

Cyanogenic glycosides (CNglcs) are bioactive plant products derived from amino acids. Structurally, these specialized plant compounds are characterized as α-hydroxynitriles (cyanohydrins) that are stabilized by glucosylation. In recent years, improved tools within analytical chemistry have greatly increased the number of known CNglcs by enabling the discovery of less abundant CNglcs formed by additional hydroxylation, glycosylation, and acylation reactions. Cyanogenesis - the release of toxic hydrogen cyanide from endogenous CNglcs - is an effective defense against generalist herbivores but less effective against fungal pathogens. In the course of evolution, CNglcs have acquired additional roles to improve plant plasticity, i.e., establishment, robustness, and viability in response to environmental challenges. CNglc concentration is usually higher in young plants, when nitrogen is in ready supply, or when growth is constrained by nonoptimal growth conditions. Efforts are under way to engineer CNglcs into some crops as a pest control measure, whereas in other crops efforts are directed toward their removal to improve food safety. Given that many food crops are cyanogenic, it is important to understand the molecular mechanisms regulating cyanogenesis so that the impact of future environmental challenges can be anticipated. Copyright © 2014 by Annual Reviews.

Breton C.,Joseph Fourier University | Fournel-Gigleux S.,University of Lorraine | Palcic M.M.,Carlsberg Laboratory
Current Opinion in Structural Biology | Year: 2012

Cellular glycome assembly requires the coordinated action of a large number of glycosyltransferases that catalyse the transfer of a sugar residue from a donor to specific acceptor molecules. This enzyme family is very ancient, encompassing all three domains of life. There has been considerable recent progress in structural glycobiology with the determination of crystal structures of several important glycosyltransferase members, showing novel folds and variations around a common α/β scaffold. Structural, kinetic and inhibitor data have led to the emergence of various scenarios with respect to their evolutionary history and reaction mechanisms thus highlighting the different solutions that nature has selected to catalyse glycosyl transfer. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Wendland J.,Carlsberg Laboratory
Eukaryotic Cell | Year: 2014

Alcoholic fermentations have accompanied human civilizations throughout our history. Lager yeasts have a several-centurylong tradition of providing fresh beer with clean taste. The yeast strains used for lager beer fermentation have long been recognized as hybrids between two Saccharomyces species. We summarize the initial findings on this hybrid nature, the genomics/ transcriptomics of lager yeasts, and established targets of strain improvements. Next-generation sequencing has provided fast access to yeast genomes. Its use in population genomics has uncovered many more hybridization events within Saccharomyces species, so that lager yeast hybrids are no longer the exception from the rule. These findings have led us to propose network evolution within Saccharomyces species. This “web of life” recognizes the ability of closely related species to exchange DNA and thus drain from a combined gene pool rather than be limited to a gene pool restricted by speciation. Within the domesticated lager yeasts, two groups, the Saaz and Frohberg groups, can be distinguished based on fermentation characteristics. Recent evidence suggests that these groups share an evolutionary history. We thus propose to refer to the Saaz group as Saccharomyces carlsbergensis and to the Frohberg group as Saccharomyces pastorianus based on their distinct genomes. New insight into the hybrid nature of lager yeast will provide novel directions for future strain improvement. © 2014, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

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