Current research

New research grants in our institute – 16.11.2018

Dr. hab. Marcin Nobis
"Analysis of factors affecting species diversity and endemism of the Middle Asian mountains, as a basis in planning of biodiversity hotspot conservation"
M.Sc.  Justyna Żabicka
"The exploration of genetic diversity and the postglacial colonisation of two closely related species, Viola epipsila and V. palustris, in their circumboreal range"

Cryptogamic communities as a useful bioindication tool for estimating heavy-metal soil pollution

Lichens and bryophytes have commonly been used as bioindicators of environmental conditions, especially in relation to air quality. However, their diagnostic role in the assessment of soil pollution is relatively poorly recognised. In the present study we found significant relationship between soil chemical parameters and cryptogamic biota structure which implies the high bioindicative value of the defined lichen and bryophyte assemblages. Specific sets of distinct species reflecting levels of pollution were instrumental in the development of a practical tool. This approach may constitute a first step in soil quality assessment in a broad landscape scale. It provides an opportunity for preliminary verification of the sites that are potentially the most contaminated and which require further attention, for example, within the framework of restoration projects, reclamation interventions, or conservation strategies.

More info: Rola K., Osyczka P. 2018. Cryptogamic communities as a useful bioindication tool for estimating the degree of soil pollution with heavy metals. Ecological Indicators 88: 454-464.

A new book about carnivorous plants

In 2018 the book about carnivorous plants was printed by Oxford University Press (“Carnivorous Plants: Physiology, ecology, and evolution”, editors: Aaron Ellison and Lubomír Adamec). It provides the latest findings related to the physiology, ecology, and evolution of carnivorous plants. Bartosz Płachno contributed to three chapters of this book.

More info:

Floral micromorphology of the bird-pollinated carnivorous plant species Utricularia menziesii

Bird pollination is rare among species in the genus Utricularia. Bartosz Płachno and co-workers examined the micromorphology of U. menziesii flowers to assess traits that may be linked to its pollination strategy. They showed that the flowers of U. menziesii fulfil many criteria that characterize bird-pollinated flowers: red colour, a large, tough nectary spur that can withstand contact with a hard beak, lack of visual nectar guides and fragrance. The type of nectar which was detected in U. menziesii spurs is common in flowers pollinated by passerine perching birds.

Annals of Botany,

New research projects in our institute – 15.05.2018

1. M.Sc. Katarzyna Rożek
"Comparison of the impact of fourteen tree species on herbaceous layer development, soil physicochemical properties and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi abundance, species richness and composition in the experimental forest"

2. M.Sc.  Klaudia Sychta
"Cell suspension culture of selected Viola L. species to study zinc and lead accumulation and cell tolerance to heavy metal stress as a model to demonstrate evolutionary developed tolerance in the genus Viola"

3. M.Sc.  Paulina Wietrzyk
"Are cryptogams main factor responsible for initial soil development and carbon sequestration on glacier forelands in Svalbard?"

4. Dr. hab. Szymon Zubek
"A comprehensive analysis of interactions between herbaceous plants and soil microbiological and physicochemical properties in temperate deciduous forests as the basis for effective biodiversity protection of these ecosystems"

New research project in our institute - 26.01.2018

Dr Grzegorz Pacyna has received a grant for a project “Fossil plants from the late Triassic Krasiejów locality as a key to understanding the evolution of floras of the Triassic and Jurassic periods”, from the Polish National Science Foundation.

Modifications in the structure of the lichen thalli and implications for their heavy-metal accumulation capacity

Phenotypic traits of lichens can be greatly modified by environmental factors. The results showed that morphological modifications within the same lichen species could greatly affect heavy-metal accumulation in variously formed individuals. This has implications for bioindication and biomonitoring studies in which the concentration of a given element in the thalli is considered as a determinant of the environment condition.

More info: Environmental Science and Pollution Research (2018) 25:1950–1961

New research project in our institute – 10.01.2018

Dr Agnieszka Nobis has received a grant for a project "River corridor plants: Linking the occurrence of plants confined to large river valley with soil properties", from the Polish National Science Foundation.

The “behaviour” of the plasmodesmata in the mucilage cells

The integument peri-endothelial zone in species from genera Taraxacum, Hieracium and Pilosella consists of mucilage cells. The mucilage is deposited as a thick layer between the plasma membrane and the cell wall, and therefore the mucilage pushed the protoplast to the centre of the cell and cytoplasmic bridges connected the protoplast to the plasmodesmata through the mucilage layers. It is also worth mentioning that we also observed the elongation of the plasmodesmata in the mucilage cells. These studies were funded by the National Science Centre, Poland (Contract grant number: DEC-2013/09/B/NZ8/03308).

More info:
Protoplasma 253: 1365–1372
Protoplasma 254: 2287–2294

"Chromatubules" (chromatin-filled tubules)

Of the 11 Utricularia species examined, the spindle-like tubular projections (approx. 5 µm long) emanating from resident nuclei located in placental nutritive tissues were observed only in U. nelumbifolia. These tubular nuclear extensions contained chromatin distributed along hexagonally shaped tubules. The apices of the projections extended into the cell plasma membrane, and in many cases also made contact at the two opposing cellular poles, and with plasmodesmata via a short cisterna of the cortical endoplasmic reticulum. In collaboration with the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, we created 3-D ultrastructural reconstructions of the nuclei with projections using the serial block face scanning electron microscopy (SBEM) technique. We named the specific nuclear projections “chromatubules” (chromatin-filled tubules). Chromatubules resemble the stromules (stroma-filled tubules) of plastids. Chromatubules potentially connect the cell poles and possibly interact with the plasma membrane and plasmodesmata and neighbouring cells. We proposed that they are involved in nucleus-cell-cell communication, thereby constituting a novel functional process for the plant nucleus.

More info:
Annals of Botany 120: 673–680

New taxonomic monograph of water buttercups (Ranunculus sect. Batrachium)

After 50 years since the first monograph of the group was published,  a new taxonomic account of water buttercups (Ranunculus sect. Batrachium) was realized. International research team with Joanna Zalewska-Gałosz from our Institute published a completed taxonomic characterizations of 30 species of Batrachium occurring worldwide. Diagnostic characters, identification keys, ecological preferences and geographical ranges for all 30 taxa were also presented. We hope that this work will be a starting point for more advanced, scientific studies of this interesting group of aquatic plants.

Pdf: A taxonomic account of Ranunculus section Batrachium (Ranunculaceae)

Symbiotic fungi may accelerate plant invasions

Two invasive plants, Rudbeckia laciniata and Solidago gigantea (Asteraceae), are strongly dependent on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) for their growth. The fungi also increased P concentration in shoots. However, the magnitude of the response of both plant species to AMF was dependent on the fungal and soil identities. The findings of Marta Majewska, Kaja Rola and Szymon Zubek thus indicate that the presence of particular AMF species in a site enhances the performance of plants and may determine the success of their invasion.

More info: Mycorrhiza (2017) 27:83–94

New research project in our institute

Dr Małgorzata Jaźwa has received a grant for a project “The floristic diversity and physicochemical properties of soils on the roadsides", from the Polish National Science Foundation. Congratulations!

Immunolocalization of cyclotides in plant cells, tissues and organ supports their role in host defense

The distribution of cyclotides was visualized using immunohistochemistry in cells of leaf, petiole and root fragments of Viola odorata and Viola uliginosa of the Violaceae family rich in species producing  cyclotides, head-to-tail cyclic plant peptides consisting of approximately 30 amino acids, having diverse biological activities. Relatively large quantities were observed in tissues potentially vulnerable to pathogen attacks (the leaf and petiole epidermis and in vascular tissue in all the assessed plant organs). The findings of international group, with Elżbieta Kuta from our Institute, supports cyclotides role as defense molecules.

More info: Planta (2016) 244: 1029–1040