Arabidopsis Research Round-up

Categories: Arabidopsis, Global, Round-up
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Published on: October 9, 2014

It’s a strong week for the institutes this week with appearances in the Round-up from Rothamsted ResearchThe Sainsbury Laboratory and the John Innes CentreThe Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge also gets a mention, as does the University of Glasgow also gets a mention with Emily Larson’s contribution to a newPlant Method.


  • Hsiao A-S, Haslam RP, Michaelson LV, Liao P, Napier JA and Chye M-L. Gene expression in plant lipid metabolism in Arabidopsis seedlings. PLOS One, 29 September 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107372. [Open Access]

This paper was a collaborative effort between scientists from Hong Kong, and Richard HaslamLouise Michaelson and Johnathan Napier from Rothamsted Research. Using quantitative, real-time PCR analysis, the researchers investigated whether target genes associated with acyl-lipid transfer, b-oxidation and triacylglycerol synthesis and hydrolysis were under diurnal control in early seedling growth. A number of differentially expressed genes between two and five-day old seedlings suggest that yes, lipid metabolism in Arabidopsis seedling development is under diurnal control.


  • Paganelli L, Caillaud M-C, Quentin M, Damiani I, Givetto B, Lecomte P, Karpov PA, Abad P, Chabouté M-E and Favery B. Three BUB1 and BUBR1/MAD3-related spindle assembly checkpoint proteins are required for accurate mitosis in Arabidopsis. New Phytologist, 29 September 2014. DOI: 10.1111/nph.13073.

Marie-Cecile Caillaud, affiliated to The Sainsbury Laboratory and the John Innes Centre, contributed to this New Phytologist paper investigating protein interactions during plant mitosis. Though the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) has been studied extensively in metazoans and yeast, little is known about the roles of microtubule-associated proteins in plants. This research demonstrates the key roles that the Arabidopsis SAC proteins BRK1, BUBR/MAD3 and their associates play in ensuring chromosomes do not segregate before they have properly formed kinetochore attachments.


  • Lee S, Lee H-J, Jung J-H and Park C-M. The Arabidopsis thaliana RNA-binding protein FCA regulates thermotolerance by modulating the detoxification of reactive oxygen species. New Phytologist, 30 September 2014. DOI: 10.1111/nph.13079.

Working with Korean colleagues, Jae-Hoon Jung from The Sainsbury Laboratory at Cambridge University contributed to this paper in which the role of the RNA-binding protein FCA is discussed in terms of heat stress. The researchers found that transgenic plants over-expressing the FCA gene were resistant to heat stress, while FCAdefective mutants were sensitive to it. It is proposed that FCA induces thermotolerance by triggering antioxidant accumulations under heat stress conditions.


  • Larson ER, Tierney ML, Tinaz B and Domozych DS. Using monoclonal antibodies to label living root hairs: a novel tool for studying cell wall microarchitecture and dynamics in Arabidopsis. Plant Methods, 2 October 2014. DOI: 10.1186/1746-4811-10-30. [Open Access]

Calling all root biologists! Here’s a new Plant Method for live cell labeling of roots with monoclonal antibodies that bind to specific cell wall polymers. Developed by researchers from the US and also involving Emily Larson from the University of Glasgow, the protocol allows for direct visualization of cell wall dynamics throughout development in stable transgenic plant lines.


  • Yang L, Zhao X, Paul M, Zhu H, Zu Y and Tang Z. Exogenous trehalose largely alleviates ionic unbalance, ROS burst and PCD occurrence induced by high salinity in Arabidopsis seedlings. Frontiers in Plant Science, 03 October 2014. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00570. [Open Access]

This Chinese-led paper also involved Matthew Paul from Rothamsted Research, who provided data analysis and helped to prepare the manuscript. Here, the scientists demonstrate the ability of trehalose to improve Arabidopsis’ resistance to salt stress by regulating the redox state of the plant, as well as programmed cell death and distribution of ions.

Investment in plant science training

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Published on: October 7, 2014

The planet needs more plant scientists.

As a headline in The Scientist last week, this statement was unambiguously qualified by its ‘Opinion’ prefix. But for the UK plant sciences community it is a dangerous fact: the skills gaps in plant and agricultural sciences expertise and very limited plant science content on undergraduate courses were highlighted in the UKPSF report on the status of UK plant science.

The news that some 375 students will receive PhD training in agriculture and food security over the next five years is therefore very welcome. On Friday, Vince Cable announced the locations of 12 new Doctoral Training Partnerships, funded by a £125 million investment from BBSRC. 1250 PhD students will be trained, of which 30% (375) will be trained specifically in agricultural and food security science, 20% (250) will focus on industrial biotechnology and bioenergy, and 40% (500) on world-class ‘frontier’ bioscience – all areas in which plant science plays a key role. The remaining 10% (125) of students will work within BBSRC’s ‘Bioscience for Health’ theme.

We at GARNet are looking forward to seeing the impacts on plant science, from food security and bioenergy to the as yet unknown, that will come from the hundreds of plant scientists starting their training and careers in the next few years. As every student in the centres will have to do a funded three-month internship working in a different area from their PhD project, it will also be interesting to see how this impact spreads into areas like policy, funding and government over time.

Congratulations to all the organisations involved in the new Centres, lead by Imperial College London, the John Innes Centre, Newcastle University, University College London (not plant science), the University of Bristol, the University of Cambridge, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Leeds, the University of Manchester, the University of Nottingham, the University of Oxford and the University of Warwick.

Arabidopsis Research Round-up

Apologies there hasn’t been an Arabidopsis Research Round-up for a few weeks, I’ve been on annual leave getting married! Here’s a catch up of the newest Arabidopsis research papers from the UK community over the last month, including one from a GARNet committee member, and one from a former GARNet PI.


  • Schatlowski N, Wolff P, Santos-González J, Schoft V, Siretskiy A, Scott R, Tamaru H and Köhler C. Hypomethylated pollen bypasses the interploidy hybridization barrier in Arabidopsis. The Plant Cell, 1 September 2014. DOI: 10.1105/tpc.114.130120.

Rod Scott from the University of Bath was involved on this Plant Cell paper. With Swedish, Austrian and Swiss colleagues, it was identified that, through the suppression of expressed imprinted genes, hypomethylation can occur in pollen that alters the epigenetic control of the ‘interploidy hybridization barrier’. Based on these findings, the researchers here present a novel method for the generation of viable triploid Arabidopsis plants, which could have significant impact for plant breeding.


  • Chew YH, Wenden B, Flis A, et alMultiscale digital Arabidopsis predicts individual organ and whole-organism growth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2 September 2014. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1410238111. [Open Access]

You can tell former GARNet PI Andrew Millar from the University of Edinburgh led this paper – it’s all about linking the Arabidopsis research community! Quantitative modeling is undeniably an important tool in modern predictive biology, but understanding plants at a molecular level doesn’t necessarily help us to ‘bridge the genotype to phenotype gap’ and predict how molecular changes affect the whole organism, or vice versa. Linking together several models across multiple scales, Millar and colleagues here present a validated multiscale model of Arabidopsis rosette growth, enabling prediction of how genetic regulation and biochemical dynamics may affect organ and whole-plant growth.


  • Chao D-Y, Baraniecka P, Danku J, Koprivova A, Lahner B, Luo H, Yakubova E, Dilkes BP, Kopriva S and Salt DE. Variation in sulfur and selenium accumulation is controlled by naturally occurring isoforms of the key sulfur assimilation enzyme APR2 across the Arabidopsis thaliana species range. Plant Physiology, 18 September 2014. DOI: 10.1104/pp.114.247825. [Open Access]

GARNet committee member and ‘Mr Ionomics’ David Salt, from the University of Aberdeen, was the lead on this new paper in Plant Physiology, working with colleagues from the John Innes Centre, Purdue, Cologne and Shanghai. This study used linkage mapping in synthetic F2 populations to investigate the natural variation in total leaf sulphur and selenium levels across a wide range of Arabidopsis thaliana accessions. Though the significance is not yet understood, it was found that the catalytic capacity of APR2, an enzyme important in allowing the accumulation of sulphur and selenium in leaves, varied by four orders of magnitude.


  • Fujikura U, Elsaesser L, Breuninger H, Sanchez-Rodriguez C, Ivakov A, Laux T, Findlay K, Persson S and Lenhard M. Atkinesin-13A modulates cell wall synthesis and cell expansion in Arabidopsis thaliana via the THESEUS1 pathway. PLOS Genetics, 18 September 2014. DOI: 10.1104/pp.114.247825. [Open Access]

For plants to grow they need to not only proliferate their cells, but expand the size of the cells too. Since plant cells are encased in a rigid cell wall, the cell wall structure must be temporarily loosened to allow expansion and the deposition of additional cell wall materials. Working with a German-led team and colleagues in Australia, Kim Findlay from the John Innes Centre contributed to this paper, which discusses the roles of AtKINESIN-13-A and its homologue AtKINESIN-13B in limiting cell expansion and size in Arabidopsis thaliana.


  • Johansson H, Jones HJ, Foreman J, Hemsted JR, Stewart K, Grima R and Halliday KJ. Arabidopsis cell expansion is controlled by a photothermal switch.Nature Communications, 26 September 2014. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5848. [Open Access]

A second appearance in today’s Round-up for the University of Edinburgh’s Karen Halliday, and another paper discussing cell expansion. This time, this Nature Communications paper explores the finding that phytochrome B-controlled growth in the Arabidopsis hypocotyl is strictly regulated by temperature: a shift in temperature induces a dramatic reversal of response from inhibition to promotion of hypocotyl elongation by light.

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