GARNet Research Roundup: March 7th 2019

This edition of the GARNet research roundup begins with a study into the genetic basis of fertility in barley led by Sarah McKim from Dundee. Second is a study from Oxford and Leicester that characterizes the proteolytic control of chloroplast import. The third paper from Levi Yant’s group at JIC and Nottingham that attempts to discover the influence of polyploidism on population genomic effects whilst the fourth paper from Juliet Coates’ lab in Birmingham uses the growth of Arabidopsis to assess the potential of algal biomass as a biofertiliser. The next two papers include co-authors from Oxford and Warwick respectively and investigate different factors that control seed viability in Arabidopsis and Brassica oleracea. The final paper includes Seth Davies from York as a co-author on a study that looks at control of the circadian clock in field-grown Arabidopsis.


Zwirek M, Waugh R, McKim SM (2019) Interaction between row-type genes in barley controls meristem determinacy and reveals novel routes to improved grain. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.15548

Open Access

Current GARNet committee members Sarah McKim is the leader of this study in which first author is Monica Zwirek. They investigate the mechanism through which the barley VRS genes contribute to spikelet fertility. They undercover the epistatic relationship between five VRS genes that explains how they contribute to controlling fertility of lateral spikelets. Importantly they demonstrate that various vrs mutant combinations improve fertility in a variety of ways, information that will be useful during the generation of new varieties of barley.

https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/nph.15548

Ling Q, Broad W, Trösch R, Töpel M, Demiral Sert T, Lymperopoulos P, Baldwin A, Jarvis RP (2019) Ubiquitin-dependent chloroplast-associated protein degradation in plants. Science. doi: 10.1126/science.aav4467

Qihua Ling and William Broad are the first authors on this study from the Universities of Oxford and Leicester. They investigate the role of proteolysis in the functional control of chloroplast-envelope translocases, which are required for the transport of proteins from nucleus-encoded genes into the chloroplast. They identify two newly characterised proteins that function in the same pathway as the known ubiquitin E3 ligase SP1. These novel proteins, SP2 and CDC48, are both required for the movement of ubiquitinated proteins from the chloroplast outer envelope membrane (OEM) into the cytosol, where they are degraded by the proteolytic machinery. This process of chloroplast-associated protein degradation (CHLORAD) maintains tight control of the activity of OEM proteins and is essential for organelle function.

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6429/eaav4467.long

Monnahan P, Kolář F, Baduel P, Sailer C, Koch J, Horvath R, Laenen B, Schmickl R, Paajanen P, Šrámková G, Bohutínská M, Arnold B, Weisman CM, Marhold K, Slotte T, Bomblies K, Yant L (2019) Pervasive population genomic consequences of genome duplication in Arabidopsis arenosa. Nat Ecol Evol. doi: 10.1038/s41559-019-0807-4.

Patrick Monnahan at the John Innes Centre is first author on this study from the Yant lab that has recently moved to the University of Nottingham. In this collaboration with colleagues in the US, Austria, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, they have performed large scale sequencing on 39 populations of Arabidopsis arenosa. These plants have differing levels of ploidy and they are attempting to understand how ploidy effects population genomics. They demonstrate that the ploidy effects are subtle but significant and that masking of deleterious mutations, faster substitution rates and interploidy introgression will likely impact the evolution of populations where polyploidy is common.


Ghaderiardakani F, Collas E, Damiano DK, Tagg K, Graham NS, Coates J (2019) Effects of green seaweed extract on Arabidopsis early development suggest roles for hormone signalling in plant responses to algal fertilisers. Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-38093-2

Open Access

This work from the Coates lab at the University of Birmingham is led by Fatemeh Ghaderiardakani and looked into the potential of algal extracts as biofertiliser. They showed that at >0.1%, extracts taken from the common green seaweed Ulva intestinalis inhibit Arabidopsis seed germination and root elongation. At lower concentrations primary root elongation was promoted albeit with a complete loss of lateral root formation. Elemental analysis allows the authors to suggest that this effect was mediated via a novel mechanism involving aluminium. Overall the authors caution against the use of algal biofertilisers due to potential unforeseen negative effects on plant growth.


Viñegra de la Torre N, Kaschani F, Kaiser M, van der Hoorn RAL, Soppe WJJ, Misas Villamil JC (2019) Dynamic hydrolase labelling as a marker for seed quality in Arabidopsis seeds. Biochem J. doi: 10.1042/BCJ20180911.

GARNet Committee member Renier van der Hoorn is a co-author on this German-led study that investigates how the activity of seed-localised proteases can affect Arabidopsis seed germination. This study has clear real-world application regarding the storage of economically important seed stocks. They show that vacuolar processing enzymes (VPEs) become more active during aging whilst the activity of serine hydrolases declines alongside seed quality. This information has allowed the authors to develop protease-activity-based markers that will provide information about seed quality.


Schausberger C, Roach T, Stöggl WM, Arc E, Finch-Savage WE, Kranner I (2019) Abscisic acid-determined seed vigour differences do not influence redox regulation during ageing. Biochem J. doi: 10.1042/BCJ20180903

William Finch-Savage from the University of Warwick is a co-author on this Austrian-led study that looks at the effect of aging on the quality of Brassica oleracea seeds stored at two oxygen concentrations. Higher O2 causes a more rapid decrease in seed quality through aging yet in contrast aging did not alter the impact of the hormone ABA on seed viability. This study enables the authors to uncover two mechanisms that control seed quality that appear to act through different mechanisms.


Rubin MJ, Brock MT, Davis SJ, Weinig C (2019) QTL Underlying Circadian Clock Parameters Under Seasonally Variable Field Settings in Arabidopsis thaliana G3 (Bethesda). doi: 10.1534/g3.118.200770

Open Access

Seth Davies from the University of York is a co-author on this study led by Matthew Rubin from the University of Wyoming. They looked at the growth of Arabidopsis thaliana recombinant inbred lines grown in field conditions and found an extremely nuanced relationship regarding how QTLs that influence the circadian clock respond to environmental conditions. For example the authors showed that plant growth in June, July and September is controlled by different QTL architecture, demonstrating the complex regulation of the circadian clock in these field growth plants.

GARNet Research Roundup: February 14th 2019

This GARNet research Roundup includes a broad range of topics and contributing institutions. First is a study from TSL that investigates the molecular basis of Arabidopsis and Brassica responses to white rust disease. Second is work from Warwick that uses Arabidopsis as a tool to test genes involved in the evolution of Flax domestication.

The third paper is work from Cambridge that models the response of the circadian oscillator to nicotinamide whilst the fourth paper is a study from the University of Dundee that compares differential gene expression software in the analysis of RNAseq data from a complex organism. The penultimate paper includes a co-author from the University of Oxford and has generated an extended phylogeny of the Brassicaceae family. The final paper compares the growth and metabolite profiles of Arabidopsis and Eutrema salsugineum following drought stress.


Cevik V, Boutrot F, Apel W, Robert-Seilaniantz A, Furzer OJ, Redkar A, Castel B, Kover PX, Prince DC, Holub EB, Jones JDG (2019) Transgressive segregation reveals mechanisms of Arabidopsis immunity to Brassica-infecting races of white rust (Albugo candida). Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1812911116

Open Access

https://www.pnas.org/content/116/7/2767.long

Volkan Cevik is the lead author on this international collaboration that is led by Jonathan Jones at the Sainsbury Lab, Norwich. They have taken advantage of Arabidopsis resistance to white rust (Albugo candida) and used the Multiparent Advanced Generation InterCross (MAGIC) lines to identity the genes responsible for this resistance. This is important as related crop species Brassica juncea and Brassica oleracea are sensitive to this economically important pathogen. They identified a range of nucleotide-binding, leucine-rich repeat (NLR)-encoding genes that were involved in resistance to the pathogen.


Gutaker RM, Zaidem M, Fu YB, Diederichsen A, Smith O, Ware R, Allaby RG (2019) Flax latitudinal adaptation at LuTFL1 altered architecture and promoted fiber production. Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-37086-5

Open Access

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-37086-5

Rafal Gutaker is the lead author on this collaborative study between the University of Warwick and colleagues in Germany, Canada and Denmark, which investigated the route of domestication of the cultivated crop Flax. At northern european latitudes flax evolved to become a fibre crop rather than an oil crop by stem expansion and reduction of seed size. The authors investigated the role in this adaptation of PEBP family genes in the flax genome, LuTFL1 and LuTFL2. LuTFL1 was heterologously expressed in Arabidopsis, demonstrating that it is able to perform roles in flowering time and plant architecture. This research highlights the importance of Arabidopsis as a tool for testing the function of genes from less-easily transformed organisms.


Mombaerts L, Carignano A, Robertson FR, Hearn TJ, Junyang J, Hayden D, Rutterford Z, Hotta CT, Hubbard KE, Maria MRC, Yuan Y, Hannah MA, Goncalves J, Webb AAR (2019) Dynamical differential expression (DyDE) reveals the period control mechanisms of the Arabidopsis circadian oscillator. PLoS Comput Biol. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006674

Open Access

Laurents Mombarts is the first author in this collaboration between the departments of Plant science and Engineering at the University of Cambridge that looked at the mechanistic effect on nicotinamide on the timing of the circadian oscillation. They developed a systematic and practical modeling framework for the gene regulatory circuits that respond to nicotinamide. They initially developed a mathematical model and then experimentally confirmed their predictions to uncover a role for blue light signalling in this response. Overall their approach could be adapted to predict mechanisms of drug action in other complex biological systems.


Froussios K, Schurch NJ, Mackinnon K, Gierlinski M, Duc C, Simpson GG, Barton GJ (2019) How well do RNA-Seq differential gene expression tools perform in a complex eukaryote? A case study in A. thaliana. Bioinformatics. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btz089

Open Access

Gordon Simpson and colleagues at the University of Dundee collaborate with researchers in Clermont-Ferrand with Kimon Froussios as first author. They use Arabidopsis as a model to test a set of Differential Gene Expression (DGE) tools for the effective analysis of RNAseq data generated with three or fewer biological replicates. They tested nine widely used DGE tools and ultimately recommend the use of tools that are based on the negative binomial distribution.

https://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006674

Nikolov LA, Shushkov P, Nevado B, Gan X, Al-Shehbaz IA, Filatov D, Bailey CD, Tsiantis M (2019) Resolving the backbone of the Brassicaceae phylogeny for investigating trait diversity. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.15732.

https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/nph.15732

This German, US and UK collaboration is led by Lachezar Nikolov and includes Dmitry Filatov from the University of Oxford as a co-author. They generated a phylogeny of the Brassicaceae, the family that contains Arabidopsis and a number of economically important crops. They used a mixture of fresh tissue and herbarium samples to perform the analysis on almost 80 species; enabling the resolution of new relationships between family members. This work represents an important tool for phylogenetic and comparative studies to maximise future outputs.


Pinheiro C, Dickinson E, Marriott A, Ribeiro IC, Pintó-Marijuan M, António C, Zarrouk O, Chaves MM, Dodd IC, Munné-Bosch S, Thomas-Oates J, Wilson J (2019) Distinctive phytohormonal and metabolic profiles of Arabidopsis thaliana and Eutrema salsugineum under similar soil drying. Planta. doi: 10.1007/s00425-019-03095-5

This collaboration between the UK and Portugal is led by Carla Pinheiro and the corresponding author is Julie Wilson from the University of York. Eutrema salsugineum is a stress-tolerance relative of Arabidopsis and in this study the authors have compared the response of these plants following growth on drying soils. Whereas stomatal sensitivity was similar in both species there were significant differences in metabolite profiles and water usage following drought stress. This analysis allowed the authors to conclude that Arabidopsis is indeed a good model for analysis of responses to commonly encountered levels of drought stress.

Report from Vector-Borne Diseases Meeting: December 2018

Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: No Tags
Comments: No Comments
Published on: February 12, 2019

GARNet supported Warren Arinaitwe (Cambridge University PhD Student) to attend the Vector-Borne Diseases meeting at John Innes Centre, Norwich, 3rd -4th December 2018.


Meeting report from Warren: I presented a poster (see below) on Cucumber mosaic virus-induced changes on aphid-tomato interactions. The meeting brought together human, animal and plant scientists who shared their findings towards understanding the nature and context of vector-transmitted diseases. During the meeting, different scientists shared integrated strategies towards reducing vector-borne pressure in a range of ecosystems. I enjoyed and benefited more from the interdisciplinarity of the meeting. During poster sessions, I spoke about my research to participants who provided great inputs towards improving my research agenda. I also was able to network with fellow graduate students and senior scientists for future collaborative work in food security.

I had an opportunity to tour the insectary at the John Innes Centre where I learnt diverse ways of rearing different insect species from temperate and tropical environments. Lastly, I enjoyed the English folk dance at the Sainsbury Visual Arts Centre during the conference dinner. This was my first experience of English traditional music since he moved to the UK in 2017. I am very grateful to GARNet for supporting my travel to this uniquely-organised vector-borne meeting.  I look forward to participating in the next conference. 

DiversifyPlantSci

Categories: Global, Uncategorized
Tags: No Tags
Comments: No Comments
Published on: February 5, 2019

The North American Arabidopsis Steering Committee (NAASC) is committed to promoting a global plant sciences community that reflects the true diversity of all its members. To further this mission, the NAASC Diversity and Inclusion Task Force has created the DiversifyPlantSci online resource, a list of plant biologists from under-represented
groups to reference for speakers, reviewers, and participants for career or mentorship opportunities.


We hope to increase diversity and inclusion by making it easy to expand invitations past one’s personal networks.

To add yourself or others to the list:
https://goo.gl/forms/s461eDrbKzoK1JzD2

To access the list:
https://tinyurl.com/DiversifyPlantSci

Please forward this invitation to your networks to spread as widely as possible!

Warmly,

Elizabeth Haswell, Washington University in St. Louis, ehaswell@wustl.edu


Joanna Friesner, Executive Director: North American Arabidopsis Steering Committee, UC Davis, jdfriesner@ucdavis.edu

GARNet Research Roundup: January 31st 2019

Tags: No Tags
Comments: No Comments
Published on: January 31, 2019

This edition of the GARNet research roundup has an initial focus on the shoot apical meristem. Firstly a study from the University of Birmingham performs network analysis to define the connections that control the global organisation of this tissue.

Second is the first of a group of papers involving authors from the Sainsbury Lab, Cambridge University and the University of Cambridge. Henrik Jönsson and Henrik Ahl contribute to a study that refines our understanding about the role of auxin in leaf dorsoventral patterning. Next from SLCU are two papers published in collaboration with the University of Helsinki that identify a set of novel regulators of cambial development.

The final SLCU paper from James Locke’s group attempts to tackle the challenging topic of ‘noise’ in biological systems. The final paper from the University of Cambridge investigate factors involved in karrikin signaling.

The penultimate paper characterises the LINC complex in monocots and includes authors from Oxford Brookes University whilst the final paper is from the University of York and performs a structural analysis of a key enzyme involved in the potential phytoremediation of TNT.


Jackson MDB, Duran-Nebreda S, Kierzkowski D, Strauss S, Xu H, Landrein B, Hamant O, Smith RS, Johnston IG, Bassel GW (2019) Global Topological Order Emerges through Local Mechanical Control of Cell Divisions in the Arabidopsis Shoot Apical Meristem. Cell Syst. doi: 10.1016/j.cels.2018.12.009

Open Access

George Bassel is corresponding author of this paper led by Matthew Jackson at the University of Birmingham. They use live 3D imaging and computational analysis to identify a network of cellular connections in the shoot apical meristem. They show that locally generated cell division rules lead to emergence of global tissue organisation, which facilitates cellular communication. In addition they show that global cellular organization requires the activity of the KATANIN protein.


Bhatia N, Åhl H, Jönsson H, Heisler MG (2019) Quantitative analysis of auxin sensing in leaf primordia argues against proposed role in regulating leaf dorsoventrality. Elife. doi: 10.7554/eLife.39298

Open Access

Henrik Jönsson and Henrik Ahl at SLCU are co-authors on this study led by Neha Bhatia at the University of Sydney. They use data gained from analysis of the R2D2 auxin sensor to argue against the current hypothesis stating that asymmetric auxin distribution is necessary to define the dorso-ventral polarity of the Arabidopsis leaf. They repeat previous experiments using the DII auxin sensor and through additional analysis using an auxin insensitive version of the sensor (mDII), provide results that contrast to previously published data.

https://elifesciences.org/articles/39298

Miyashima S, Roszak P, Sevilem I, Toyokura K, Blob B, Heo JO, Mellor N, Help-Rinta-Rahko H, Otero S, Smet W, Boekschoten M, Hooiveld G, Hashimoto K, Smetana O, Siligato R, Wallner ES, Mähönen AP, Kondo Y, Melnyk CW, Greb T, Nakajima K, Sozzani R, Bishopp A, De Rybel B, Helariutta Y (2019). Mobile PEAR transcription factors integrate positional cues to prime cambial growth. Nature doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0839-y

Smetana O, Mäkilä R, Lyu M, Amiryousefi A, Sánchez Rodríguez F, Wu MF, Solé-Gil A, Leal Gavarrón M, Siligato R, Miyashima S, Roszak P, Blomster T, Reed JW, Broholm S, Mähönen AP (2019). High levels of auxin signalling define the stem-cell organizer of the vascular cambium. Nature. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0837-0

These back-to-back manuscripts include Pawel Roszak from the SLCU as an author in both papers. The corresponding author for the first paper, which is a true global collaboration, is Yrjo Helariutta who holds research positions at both SLCU and the University of Helsinki. These papers introduce a new signalling module of transcriptional factors that control radial growth initiated in procambial cells. In root protophloem cells cytokinin induces the expression of a newly characterised set of PEAR transcription factors, which form a short-range concentration gradient and initiate radial growth. To maintain tight developmental control of this program PEAR protein activity is antagonised by HD-ZIP III proteins, whose expression domain is controlled by the activity of auxin and a set of mobile miRNAs. The identification of this signalling module increases our understanding about the factors that control the growth of woody tissues and therefore has enormous translational significance.


Cortijo S, Aydin Z, Ahnert S, Locke JC (2019) Widespread inter-individual gene expression variability in Arabidopsis thaliana Mol Syst Biol. doi: 10.15252/msb.20188591

Open Access

Sandra Cortijo is the lead author of this paper and works with James Locke at SLCU. They have attempted to address the fundamental question of noise within biological outputs through analysis of gene expression from a set of identical Arabidopsis plants grown in identical conditions. They identify hundreds of genes that show variable expression between these plants, with different gene sets changing throughout the diurnal cycle. They further define this variability by identifying gene length, the number of transcription factors regulating the genes and the chromatin environment as contributory factors to explain why this variation occurs.


Swarbreck SM, Guerringue Y, Matthus E, Jamieson FJC, Davies JM (2019) Impairment in karrikin but not strigolactone sensing enhances root skewing in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant J. doi: 10.1111/tpj.14233

Stéphanie Swarbreck is the first author of this work from Julia Davies’ lab at the University of Cambridge. They show that perception of karrikins (smoke-derived butenolides) through the interaction of the KAI2 hydrolase and MAX2 F-box protein occurs independent of strigolactone-sensing mechanism of the MAX2-D14 hydrolase interaction. Karrikins cause a root skewing phenotype so the authors use this output to identify that previously characterised SMAX1 (SUPPRESSOR OF MAX2-1)/SMXL2 and SMXL6,7,8 (SUPPRESSOR OF MAX2-1-LIKE) proteins are targets of degradation by the KAI2/MAX2 complex. Overall they show that KAI2/MAX2 limits root skewing but is not involved in the role KAI2 plays in gravi- or mechano-sensing. These results are indicative of a set of KAI2 specific ligands that control root skewing yet candidate proteins for these roles remain to be identified.


Gumber HK, McKenna JF, Estrada AL, Tolmie AF, Graumann K, Bass HW (2019) Identification and characterization of genes encoding the nuclear envelope LINC complex in the monocot species Zea mays. J Cell Sci. doi: 10.1242/jcs.221390

This paper is led by Hank Bass and Hardeep Gumber from Florida State University and includes Joe McKenna, Andrea Tolmie and Katja Graumann at Oxford Brookes as co-authors. They use phylogenetic and microscopic analysis to identify and characterise components of the nuclear-envelope spanning LINC (Linker of Nucleoskeleton to Cytoskeleton) complex in Zea mays. They identify a set of monocot-specific members of the LINC complex, which will allow an increased understanding about the functional linkages between the cytoplasm, nuclear envelope, nucleoplasm and chromatin.

Hank Bass discusses this paper on the GARNet YouTube channel. Hank and Katja are members of the EU COST action entitled ‘Impact of Nuclear Domains On Gene Expression and Plant Traits (INDEPTH).


Tzafestas K, Ahmad L, Dani MP, Grogan G, Rylott EL, Bruce NC (2018) Structure-Guided Mechanisms Behind the Metabolism of 2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene by Glutathione Transferases U25 and U24 That Lead to Alternate Product Distribution Front Plant Sci. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01846

Open Access

Kyriakos Tzafestas is the first author on this paper from the University of York led by Neil Bruce. They perform a structural analysis of the Arabidopsis tau class glutathione transferase, GSTU25, which is involved in the phytoremediation of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT). This analysis identified of a key set of amino acids involved in a precise part of its enzymatic activity, which can in turn be transferred to the related, but enzymatically-inert GSTU24. These findings will aid in the development of increasingly efficient strategies for plant-based remediation of environmental TNT.

What has UK Plant Science ever done for us?

Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: No Tags
Comments: No Comments
Published on: January 29, 2019

Like that famous sketch about the Romans from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, the contributions of the UK plant science community are often overlooked in favour of (equally worthy) research in cancer or neurobiology. However it is clear from numerous outstanding discoveries and from international citations-rankings that UK plant science is world-leading.

It is in this exciting climate that the Royal Science of Biology launched the ‘Growing the future’ report, which highlights the excellent potential of the UK plant science. The full report can be downloaded from RSB or the GARNet. The report is split into a series of focus areas, namely: ‘Improving crops and agricultural systems’, ‘Plant health and biosecurity’,Plant biotechnology’ and ‘Biodiversity and ecosystems’.

Each section outlines how UK plant science can have a significant societal benefit through maintenance of ecosystem services, protecting our indigenous plant life and in the development of novel plant varieties for feed, food and novel products.


Over the past two weeks high-profile stories have appeared in the mainstream media that have touched on the problems of food supply in a no-deal Brexit as well as the recommendation of a vegetable-based diet to alleviate the effects of climate change. UK plant scientists have the ability to mitigate both of these significant challenges both by improving the nutritional quality of crops and/or by engineering them to grow in changing geographies and using non-traditional methods.

One of the challenges is to work with both funders and the general public to inform them as to the enormous potential of UK plant science as well as to engender enthusiasm for plants across the national curriculum. The report makes the important point that over the long term, engaging with the next generation is key to facilitating the remainder of the recommendations.


The Growing the future document was presented in the Churchill room at the Houses of Parliament and introduced by Stephen Metcalfe MP, who is a current member of the Science and Technology committee. Following on from this introduction, outgoing UK Plant Science Federation chairman Rick Mumford, Director of the John Innes Centre Dale Sanders and head of AgritechEast Belinda Clarke provided enthusiastic testaments about the past achievements and the future potential of UK plant science.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_2920-1024x768.jpg

In particular Dr Clarke urged the use of multidisciplinary approaches and highlighted the importance of asking young people to turn their expertise with new technologies to the challenges of plant science. She suggested this would allow the next generation to gain an interest in plant science through the prism of technological development, which would have clear trickle-down benefits across many areas.


The current news cycle is dominated by the machinations of Brexit, yet there is no doubt that over the longer term and irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations, UK plant scientists, in collaboration with international partners, will play a critical role in improving the living standards and health of both UK and global communities.

Download the full Growing the Future report here.

Hank Bass talks to GARNet

Categories: Global, INDEPTH, Uncategorized
Tags: No Tags
Comments: No Comments
Published on: January 23, 2019

Hank describes a recent paper published in the Journal of Cell Science entitled ‘Identification and characterization of genes encoding the nuclear envelope LINC complex in the monocot species Zea mays’. This paper also includes fellow INDEPTH member Katja Graumann from Oxford Brookes University.

White Paper from the International Arabidopsis Informatics Consortium

Categories: Global, Uncategorized
Tags: No Tags
Comments: No Comments
Published on: January 18, 2019

The International Arabidopsis Informatics Consortium (IAIC) has existed since 2010 to facilitate the maintenance, development and evolution of informatics tools that primarily support Arabidopsis researchers.

They have recently published a White paper on the future of Arabidopsis bioinformatics resources.

As we all know the first published plant genome was that of Arabidopsis thaliana in 2000 and since that time Arabidopsis has been used extensively around the globe as the primary plant experimental organism.

At the present time the use of Arabidopsis as a model organism has plateaued in most Western countries but is still on the rise in China and, as reported in the 2018 Multinational Arabidopsis Steering Committee (MASC) Annual Report, there remain more Arabidopsis-focused papers published than those than focus on any other single plant, although rice is catching up fast!!

Therefore with such a large number of researchers requiring effective bioinformatic tools to help their experimental planning and analysis it is essential that these tools are maintained and expanded.

The current situation sees TAIR and Araport existing as two complimentary resources. Active since 1999, TAIR is the older resource and now emphasizes high quality functional annotation. Araport was established in 2014 following a community recommendation from the last IAIC White paper and now focuses on the computational aggregation of diverse resources. TAIR is funded through an innovative subscription model that has maintained the resource over the past 5 years, Araport was funded by NSF and but unfortunately since publication of the White Paper it has emerged that NSF’s currently will not renew this funding.

Both these resources are clearly US-based as a holdover from the early uptake of Arabidopsis research in that country. As mentioned above TAIR received subscriptions from across the world so it remains to be seen how Araport might be funded as there is a clear community need for this resource.


In order to plan for the next phase of bioinformatics support for Arabidopsis and wider plant science researchers, the IAIC met in St Louis in May 2018 and the White Paper resulted from that meeting. One common theme that emerged from the meeting was the importance of metadata standards to facilitate comparable reuse of any deposited data. In addition it became clear that a robust upfront plan for gene ID assignment was critical for the future facile comparison of data from different experiments, across ecotypes and even between species.

Overall the workshop discussions resulted the formulation of the following recommendations:

Integration of data and tools: Identifying a need for a system for standardiSing and integrating data that is sustainable and not overly dependent on a few individuals. This can be achieved by development of a PlantHub or Arabidopsis Super-Portal as well as overseeing a managed expansion of fully integrated analysis tools.

Data formats and standards: This is extremely challenging but there should be community agreement on ontologies, standards and formats, their usage, and enforcement across all types of data. This would allow linkage with independently developed annotation and datasets and thus would require an authority to maintain a gold standard.

Tool development: With more data generation comes the requirement for new ways of browsing genomes that can be integrated with other overlapping ‘omic databases and then compared across genomes and networks. This type of higher level software development will need collaboration with the larger IT community, especially if the end goal is a set of simple GUIs (graphical user interfaces) that encompass more complex underlying information.


As ever the primary challenge lies in obtaining the funding and manpower to meet these recommendations. This should be a global effort given the international uptake of the resources that has been initially developed using US-based funding sources. The TAIR-type funding model is sufficient to maintain their excellent service but development of new tools requires a significant new commitment.

Over the short term the recommendations have resulted in the set up of an Arabidopsis Community Hub hosted by TAIR. This contains a list of software tools that will be of broad interest to plant scientists. They are happy to include additional appropriate links to other well-used tools. This site links to the GARNet Resources page that also contains a similar set of resources, arranged over a broader set of headings.

Please visit the TAIR Arabidopsis Community site and watch this space for updates on how the Arabidopsis bioinformatics community will evolve over the coming years.

«page 1 of 54

Follow Me
TwitterRSS
GARNetweets
March 2019
M T W T F S S
« Feb    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Welcome , today is Wednesday, March 20, 2019