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Gembloux, Belgium

Vleminckx J.,Free University of Colombia | Morin-Rivat J.,University Of Lie Ge | Morin-Rivat J.,Royal Museum for Central Africa | Biwole A.B.,University Of Lie Ge | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

The canopy of many central African forests is dominated by light-demanding tree species that do not regenerate well under themselves. The prevalence of these species might result from ancient slash-and-burn agricultural activities that created large openings, while a decline of these activities since the colonial period could explain their deficit of regeneration. To verify this hypothesis, we compared soil charcoal abundance, used as a proxy for past slash-and-burn agriculture, and tree species composition assessed on 208 rainforest 0.2 ha plots located in three areas from Southern Cameroon. Species were classified in regeneration guilds (pioneer, non-pioneer light-demanding, shade-bearer) and characterized by their woodspecific gravity, assumed to reflect light requirement. We tested the correlation between soil charcoal abundance and: (i) the relative abundance of each guild, (ii) each species and family abundance and (iii) mean wood-specific gravity. Charcoal was found in 83% of the plots, indicating frequent past forest fires. Radiocarbon dating revealed two periods of fires: ''recent'' charcoal were on average 300 years old (up to 860 BP, n = 16) and occurred in the uppermost 20 cm soil layer, while ''ancient'' charcoal were on average 1900 years old (range: 1500 to 2800 BP, n = 43, excluding one sample dated 9400 BP), and found in all soil layers. While we expected a positive correlation between the relative abundance of lightdemanding species and charcoal abundance in the upper soil layer, overall there was no evidence that the current heterogeneity in tree species composition can be explained by charcoal abundance in any soil layer. The absence of signal supporting our hypothesis might result from (i) a relatively uniform impact of past slash-and-burn activities, (ii) pedoturbation processes bringing ancient charcoal to the upper soil layer, blurring the signal of centuries-old Human disturbances, or (iii) the prevalence of other environmental factors on species composition. © 2014 Vleminckx et al.

Vanhee C.,Catholic University of Louvain | Guillon S.,Catholic University of Louvain | Masquelier D.,Catholic University of Louvain | Degand H.,Catholic University of Louvain | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Experimental Botany | Year: 2011

AtTSPO is a TspO/MBR domain-protein potentially involved in multiple stress regulation in Arabidopsis. As in most angiosperms, AtTSPO is encoded by a single, intronless gene. Expression of AtTSPO is tightly regulated both at the transcriptional and post-translational levels. It has been shown previously that overexpression of AtTSPO in plant cell can be detrimental, and the protein was detected in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and Golgi stacks, contrasting with previous findings and suggesting a mitochondrial subcellular localization for this protein. To ascertain these findings, immunocytochemistry and ABA induction were used to demonstrate that, in plant cells, physiological levels of AtTSPO colocalized with AtArf1, a mainly Golgi-localized protein in plant cells. In addition, fluorescent protein-tagged AtTSPO was targeted to the secretory pathway and did not colocalize with MitoTracker-labelled mitochondria. These results suggest that the polytopic membrane protein AtTSPO is cotranslationally targeted to the ER in plant cells and accumulates in the Trans-Golgi Network. Heterologous expression of AtTSPO in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, yeast devoid of TSPO-related protein, resulted in growth defects. However, subcellular fractionation and immunoprecipitation experiments showed that AtTSPO was targeted to mitochondria where it colocalized and interacted with the outer mitochondrial membrane porin VDAC1p, reminiscent of the subcellular localization and activity of mammalian translocator protein 18 kDa TSPO. The evolutionarily divergent AtTSPO appears therefore to be switching its sorting mode in a species-dependent manner, an uncommon peculiarity for a polytopic membrane protein in eukaryotic cells. These results are discussed in relation to the recognition and organelle targeting mechanisms of polytopic membrane proteins in eukaryotic cells. © 2010 The Author(s).

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