GARNet Research Roundup: December 7th 2018

The first four papers in this GARNet Research Roundup includes research from Norwich Research Park. Firstly members of Jonathan Jones’ lab have identified a new Avr gene from Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis. Secondly Anne Osbourn’s lab characterises two novel arabinosyltransferases that are involved in the plant defence response. Thirdly Cathie Martin’s group is involved in a study that investigates the biosynthesis of the metabolite ubiquinone. Finally in research from NRP is from Silke Robatzek’s lab, where they use a novel quantitative imaging system to characterise stomatal mutants.

The next two papers arise from work at SLCU, firstly looking at the possible role of a novel transposon family during gene-shuffling and secondly a paper that investigates the structure of an important component of the strigolactone signaling pathway.

The seventh paper from Peter Eastmond’s lab at Rothamsted Research identifies a novel gene involved in seed oil composition. The penultimate paper is from Peter Unwin at the University of Leeds and assesses the cell wall composition of ‘giant’ root cells induced by nematode Meloidogyne spp. Finally is a methods paper that describes how microCT imaging can be used to measure different leaf parameters.


Asai S, Furzer O, Cavik V, Kim DS, Ishaque N, Goritschnig S, Staskawicz B, Shirasu K, Jones JDG (2018) A downy mildew effector evades recognition by polymorphism of expression and subcellular localization. Nature Communications doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07469-3

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-07469-3

Open Access

Shuta Asai from Jonathan Jones’ lab at The Sainsbury Lab, Norwich is the lead-author on this study that looks at co-evolution of host and pathogen resistance genes. The relationship between Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis (Hpa) and Arabidopsis is defined by the gene-for-gene model of host Resistance (R) genes and pathogen Avirulence (AVR) genes. In this study the authors identify the HaRxL103Emoy2 AVR gene that is recognised by the R gene RPP4 and how this resistance is broken by altered expression or cellular localization.


Louveau T, Orme A, Pfalzgraf H, Stephenson M, Melton RE, Saalbach G, Hemmings  AM, Leveau A, Rejzek M, Vickerstaff RJ, Langdon T, Field R, Osbourn AE (2018) Analysis of two new arabinosyltransferases belonging to the carbohydrate-active enzyme (CAZY) glycosyl transferase family 1 provides insights into disease resistance and sugar donor specificity. Plant Cell. doi: 10.1105/tpc.18.00641

Open Access

This research from the John Innes Centre, East Maling and Aberystwyth University is led by Thomas Louveau and Anne Osbourn and characterises two new arabinosyltransferases from oat and soybean. These enzymes are involved in the production of saponins that are involved in defence responses. These enzymes normally transfer arabinose to their substrates but through targeted mutations the authors modified one of them to instead transfer glucose. This study provides insights into the specifics of ‘sugar-donation’ and has identified potential novel targets for manipulating defence responses in two crop species.


Soubeyrand E, Johnson TS, Latimer S, Block A, Kim J, Colquhoun TA, Butelli E,  Martin C, Wilson MA, Basset G (2018) The Peroxidative Cleavage of Kaempferol Contributes to the Biosynthesis of the Benzenoid Moiety of Ubiquinone in Plants. Plant Cell. 2018 Nov 14. pii: tpc.00688.2018. doi: 10.1105/tpc.18.00688

Open Access

This US-led study includes members of Cathie Martin’s lab at the John Innes Centre as co-authors in which they investigate the flavonoid-biosynthesis pathway, in particular the land-plant-specific synthesis of ubiquinone. They used Arabidopsis and tomato mutants to dissect the ubiquinone biosynthesis pathway, revealing that the B-ring of the specalised metabolite kaempferol is incorporated into the primary metabolite ubiquinone.


Bourdais G, McLachlan DH, Rickett LM, Zhou J, Siwoszek A, Häweker H, Hartley M, Kuhn H, Morris RJ, MacLean D, Robatzek S (2018) The use of quantitative imaging to investigate regulators of membrane trafficking in Arabidopsis stomatal closure. Traffic. doi: 10.1111/tra.12625

This work from both Norwich Research Park and the University of Bristol is led by Gildas Bourdais and describes a high-throughput quantitative imaging, reverse genetic screen to characterize known stomatal mutants on the basis of their effect on the endomembrane system. This screen allowed them to precisely define the point in the signaling pathway at which each mutant was affected, providing a genetic framework for the control of stomatal closure. This image-based tool should be a valuable addition to future studies that aim to use quantitative image analysis.


https://academic.oup.com/nar/advance-article/doi/10.1093/nar/gky1196/5198529

Catoni M, Jonesman T, Cerruti E, Paszkowski J (2018) Mobilization of Pack-CACTA transposons in Arabidopsis suggests the mechanism of gene shuffling (2018) Nucleic Acids Res. doi: 10.1093/nar/gky1196

Open Access

This work was performed at SLCU in Jerzy Paszkowski’s lab by current University of Birmingham lecturer Marco Catoni and analyses the genomic impact of the mobilisation of Pack-TYPE transposons. They track the movement of these transposons over multiple generations, showing that they can insert into genic regions and that their subsequent incomplete excisions can cause deleterious effect on gene function. Over evolutionary time the action of this type of mobile element might therefore importantly influence gene shuffling.


Shabek N, Ticchiarelli F, Mao H, Hinds TR, Leyser O, Zheng N (2018) Structural plasticity of D3-D14 ubiquitin ligase in strigolactone signalling. Nature. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0743-5

Nitzan Shabek is the lead author on his US-led paper that includes Fabrizio Ticchiarelli and Ottoline Leyser from SLCU as co-authors. This paper reveals the structure of the interaction between the Arabidopsis α/β hydrolase D14 and the D3 F-box protein, which is important for multiple aspects of strigolactone signaling. They show that structural plasticity of the D3 C-terminal α-helix, which can switch between two different forms, enables the interaction between D14 and the D53 repressor protein. Providing insight into these specific interactions is key to increasing understanding of how the D14-D3 complex influences strigolactone signaling.


Menard GN, Bryant FM, Kelly AA, Craddock CP, Lavagi I, Hassani-Pak K, Kurup S, Eastmond PJ (2018) Natural variation in acyl editing is a determinant of seed storage oil composition. Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-35136-6

Open Access

This work is led from Rothamsted Research with Guillaume Menard as first author and uses the Arabidopsis MAGIC population to identify novel genetic loci involved in seed oil composition. They identified multiple QTLs associated with the quantity of the major very long chain fatty acid species 11-eicosenoic acid (20:1), showing that the enzyme LYSOPHOSPHATIDYLCHOLINE ACYLTRANSFERASE 2 (LPCAT2), which is involved in the acyl-editing pathway, was the primary QTL. Subsequently they show LPCAT2 expression was key for varying seed 20:1 content and that natural variation in the capacity for acyl editing is an important determinant of oil content.


Bozbuga R, Lilley CJ, Knox JP, Urwin PE (2018) Host-specific signatures of the cell  wall changes induced by the plant parasitic nematode, Meloidogyne incognita (2018). Sci  Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-35529-7

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-35529-7

Open Access

Refik Bozbuga at the University of Leeds is first author on this study that investigates the cell wall composition of nutrient-supplying ‘giant cells’ that are induced in roots following infection with Meloidogyne spp nematodes. They analysed the cell walls of giant cells from three species (Arabidopsis, maize and aduki bean) as well as using a set of Arabidopsis mutants to characterise the possible cell wall components that might influence infection rates.


Mathers AW, Hepworth C, Baillie AL, Sloan J, Jones H, Lundgren M, Fleming AJ,  Mooney SJ, Sturrock CJ (2018) Investigating the microstructure of plant leaves in 3D with lab-based X-ray computed tomography. Plant Methods. doi:  10.1186/s13007-018-0367-7

Open Access
This paper from the Universities of Nottingham, Sheffield and Lancaster provides a methodology that uses a microCT image pipeline to measure leaf intercellular airspace and to provide quantitative data on descriptors of leaf cellular architecture. They measured 6 different plant species, showing that this 3D method generates an improved dataset when compared to traditional 2D methods of measurement.

https://plantmethods.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13007-018-0367-7

30th International Conference on Arabidopsis Research

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Published on: December 5, 2018

Chinese researchers publish a lot more papers in which Arabidopsis is the primary organism of study. The 2018 MASC annual report showed that in 2017 Chinese researchers published 1318 papers, which was over double the number published by researchers in the USA.

This is the exciting backdrop for the 30th International Conference for Arabidopsis Research (ICAR) that will take place in Wuhan on June 16th-21st 2019.

The conference website went live last weekend: http://icar2019.arabidopsisresearch.org/index.html


ICAR is the largest annual conference that focuses almost exclusively on discovery-led fundamental plant research. The only time ICAR has been held in China was for ICAR2007. This remains the highest ever attended ICAR with over 1400 delegates yet took place at a time when Chinese researchers published ‘just’ 248 papers, which was a 1/3 of the number published by US researchers.

At that time China was beginning its research relationship with fundamental plant science but in 2019 it is very much the most productive nation.

There is understandable excitement for ICAR2019 as it will undoubtedly be the most highly attended ICAR and will introduce excellent Chinese research to a global conference that is conducted in English.

The organisers have kept student registration cheap at $350 for early bird registration. However be aware that on February 1st his deadline is early in the year. Abstract submission for an oral presentation is on March 1st. General registration ends on May 1st.

International attendees require a VISA to enter China so make sure you apply early to your home consulant. More information on this can be found here: http://icar2019.arabidopsisresearch.org/visa.html 

Look out for an upcoming annoucement from GARNet about travel studentship for UK-based PhD students to attend this meeting.

GARNet Research Roundup: November 22nd 2018

This GARNet Research Roundup begins with two studies from the University of Sheffield. First is research from Jurriaan Ton’s lab that looks at the interaction between CO2 concentration, the soil microbiome and plant growth. The second paper from Matt Davey and Peter Quick looks at the effect of cold acclimation on freezing tolerance in Arabidpsis lyrata.

The third study includes authors from Dundee and Durham and also looks at an impact of altered CO2 concentrations, in this case on nitrogen assimilation.

The next paper looks at the role of a GA signaling module on endosperm expansion during seed germination and includes authors from Nottingham and Birmingham.

The fifth paper includes Richard Morris at the JIC as a co-author and looks at the relationship between calcium signaling and changes in cellular pH. The penultimate study features co-authors from Warwick and Exeter in work that looks at the role of 3′-O-β-D-ribofuranosyladenosine during plant immunity. Finally is a paper that includes Steve Long from Lancaster and characterises the rubisco-chaperone BSD2.


Williams A, Pétriacq P, Beerling DJ, Cotton TEA, Ton J (2018) Impacts of Atmospheric CO(2) and Soil Nutritional Value on Plant Responses to Rhizosphere Colonization by Soil Bacteria. Front Plant Sci. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01493

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2018.01493/full

Open Access

Alex Williams is the lead author of this paper and works with Jurriaan Ton at the University of Sheffield. The impact of the soil rhizosphere on plant growth is emerging as an important growth determinant. In this paper the authors assess the role of altered [CO2] and soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) concentration in the colonisation of Arabidopsis roots by two different bacteria. Firstly they showed that altered [CO2] did not change the growth dynamics of the saprophytic bacteria Pseudomonas putida KT2440 and was independent of soil C or N. In contrast growth of the rhizobacterial strain Pseudomonas simiae WCS417 was sensitive to both changing [CO2] and soil composition. These results show the importance of the interaction between atmospheric CO2 and soil nutritional status during plant interactions with soil bacteria.


Davey MP, Palmer BG, Armitage E, Vergeer P, Kunin WE, Woodward FI, Quick WP (2018) Natural variation in tolerance to sub-zero temperatures among populations of Arabidopsis lyrata ssp. petraea. BMC Plant Biol. doi: 10.1186/s12870-018-1513-0

Open Access

Matthew Davey, now working in Cambridge, collaborated with Peter Quick at the University of Sheffield on this research that looks at the tolerance of Arabidopsis lyrata to freezing. They showed that populations from locations with colder winter climates were better able to survive subzero temperatures, particular when they have been acclimated at near zero for longer periods. This demonstrates that the adaptation of plants to cold temperatures allows them to better survive freezing, although surprisingly this effect is lessened when this acclimation period does not occur.


Andrews M, Condron LM, Kemp PD, Topping JF, Lindsey K, Hodge S, Raven JA (2018) Effects of elevated atmospheric [CO2] on nitrogen (N) assimilation and growth of C3 vascular plants will be similar regardless of N-form assimilated. J Exp Bot. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ery371

This UK-New Zealand collaboration is led by Mitchell Andrews and looks at the effect of elevated [CO2] on the nitrogen (N) assimilation when the plant is exposed to a variety of different N-sources. They show that in C3 plants the overall N assimilated will be the same whether the plant is under ammonium (NH4+) nutrition or under nitrate (NO3-) nutrition. These results are contrary to previous results that suggest elevated [CO2] reduces plant growth under NO3- nutrition.


Sánchez-Montesino R, Bouza-Morcillo L, Marquez J, Ghita M, Duran-Nebreda S, Gómez L, Holdsworth MJ, Bassel G, Oñate-Sánchez L (2018) A regulatory module controlling GA-mediated endosperm cell expansion is critical for seed germination in Arabidopsis. Mol Plant. doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2018.10.009 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1674205218303356

Open Access

This Spanish-led project includes authors from the Universites of Nottingham and Birmingham. They look at the influence of a GA signalling module on endosperm cell separation, which is essential for Arabidopsis seed germination. They show the NAC transcription factors NAC25 and NAC1L control expression of the EXPANSION2 gene and that the GA signalling component RGL2 has a controlling influence by repressing this activity.


Behera S, Xu Z, Luoni L, Bonza C, Doccula FG, DeMichelis MI, Morris RJ, Schwarzländer M, Costa A (2018) Cellular Ca2+ signals generate defined pH signatures in plants. Plant Cell. doi: 10.1105/tpc.18.00655

Open Access

Richard Morris (John Innes Centre) is a co-author on this Italian-led study that investigates the role of Calcium ions in cell signalling. They use a set of genetically-encoded fluorescent sensors to visualise a link between Ca2+ signaling and changes in pH. If this link is maintained across all cell types it might represent an extra layer of complexity and control of cellular signal transduction.


Drenichev MS, Bennett M, Novikov RA, Mansfield J, Smirnoff N, Grant M, Mikhailov S (2018) A role for 3′-O-β-D-ribofuranosyladenosine in altering plant immunity. Phytochemistry. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2018.10.016

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031942218301997?via%3Dihub

This Russian-led study includes UK-based researchers Mark Bennett, Murray Grant, Nick Smirnoff and John Mansfield as co-authors. They show that the natural disaccharide nucleoside, 3′-O-β-D-ribofuranosyladenosine accumulated in plants infected with the bacterial pathogen P. syringae. Perhaps surprisingly the application of this nucleoside to the plant doesn’t effect bacterial multiplication, indicating that adds a significant metabolic burden to plants already battling new infections.


Conlan B, Birch R, Kelso C, Holland S, De Souza AP, Long SP, Beck JL, Whitney SM (2018) BSD2 is a Rubisco specific assembly chaperone, forms intermediary hetero-oligomeric complexes and is non-limiting to growth in tobacco. Plant Cell Environ. doi: 10.1111/pce.13473

Steve Long is a Professor at Lancaster Environment Centre and is a co-author on this Australia-led study that characterizes the role of the Rubisco chaperone BSD2 during Rubisco biogenesis. These results suggest this is the sole role of BSD2 and its activity is non-limiting to tobacco growth.

GARNet2018: A Plant Science Showcase

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Published on: November 20, 2018

GARNet2018: A Plant Science Showcase

University of York: September 18th-19th

Meeting Website: https://garnet2018.weebly.com/

The biannual GARNet meeting was hosted by GARNet committee member Andrea Harper in the Ron Cooke Hub at the University of York. The aim of this two-day meeting was to showcase current technology and expertise both in UK and international plant science. To that end the GARNet Advisory Committee developed a program that included a mix of early career researchers and more established faculty. In order to support ECRs the meeting included fifteen two-minute flash talks that allowed delegates to introduce their posters before the official poster session. Added to the 10 speakers selected from submitted abstracts, the meeting gave opportunities for 25 registered delegates to present their work in a short talk.

The meeting was split into five sessions and was introduced by the GARNet chairman Jim Murray who highlighted GARNet achievements over the past four years and our plans for the future[1]. The first session was entitled ‘Large Scale Biology’ and was highlighted by Cristiane Calixto from the James Hutton Institute who provided an exciting, enthusiastic talk about their development of a new annotation for the Arabidopsis genome that provides additional support for alternatively spliced variants. In particular they are interested in plant responses to cold temperature as highlighted in a recent publication in The Plant Cell[2].

Cristiane confirmed that all of the data they have produced is freely available to the community which dovetailed nicely with the next presentation provided by Professor Andrew Millar who gave an introduction to the principles and benefits of open data in a talk entitled ‘Being more Open by Being more Productive’. Professor Millar’s talk is available online at the GARNet YouTube page[3]. In addition to this formal talk Andrew also hosted a lunchtime discussion session in which attendees gave their personal and institutional experiences of using and providing open data.


Tom Bennett presenting his thought-provoking work

Lucia Strader from Washington University in St Louis provided the opening talk in the second session that was entitled ‘Innovations in Hormone Signaling’ where she gave an overview of her group’s discoveries of novel aspects of the auxin response. Tom Bennett (University of Leeds) also gave a thought-provoking talk about the ways in which plants decide the number of flowers and branches that it ultimately forms.
Branching was the theme of the keynote talk that was provided by Ottoline Leyser who, as a previous GARNet PI and academic at the University of York , returned ‘home’ to give an overview of her group’s work on the hormone signals that control the growth of lateral buds.

The highlight of Session III: Interacting with the environment was a talk by Richard Buggs from Kew Science and QMUL that updated his current work that aims to tackle the progression of Ash Dieback. He started his talk with an amended quote from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina that promoted the importance of model organisms and in particular Arabidopsis:

‘….in getting to know thoroughly one’s plant species, one gets to know all plant better than if one knew thousands of them….’.

Richard’s talk was really enthusiastic and highlighted why he has been such an excellent advocate for ash dieback research in the UK and beyond.


The incredible tools for wheat research presented by Cristobal Uauy

Contrary to some thoughts, GARNet activities support more than just research in Arabidopsis and Session IV: Out of Arabidopsis highlighted the great UK research occurring in Wheat and Brassica. Cristobal Uauy (John Innes Centre) and colleagues in the global wheat community have produced a remarkable set of genomic, mutant and phenotyping resources. These new tools are now establishing wheat as a viable model to conduct both mutant studies and the type of cell and molecular biology analysis previously only possible in more accessible genetic models[4]. Also working at the John Innes Centre, Rachel Wells is the project coordinator of the BBSRC-sponsored BRAVO project that aims to improve reliability, yield and quality in Brassica oilseed crops and includes a broad consortium of UK researchers[5].

George Bassel (University of Birmingham) chaired the final session that was broadly titled ‘Novel methods in Cell Biology and Imaging’ and also presented an exciting talk on his work that aims to quantify the factors that control interactions between cells and allow them to arrange into organs. The final plenary was provided by Minako Ueda who travelled from Nagoya for the meeting. Minako excitedly presented her outstanding live images of the events that occur during zygote formation and early embryogenesis. It was a fitting end to a meeting that was characterised throughout by excellent science.


The approximately 80 delegates who attended the meeting included a majority of people from Northern universities; Leeds, York and Edinburgh. Very few delegates travelled from major plant science centres in the south of the UK. It is unclear whether the schedule was not of interest or whether researchers didn’t want to venture too far north! However this geographic distribution of delegates does highlight the importance of GARNet arranging events all around the UK.

Following the meeting we circulated a survey to delegates. Although only 19 delegates asked the questions it showed the majority very much enjoyed the meeting. However some aspects of the meeting weren’t perfect especially with the scheduling and arrangement of the second poster session. As ever we will learn from these less-than-optimal aspects of the meeting!

Thanks to SEB, British Society of Plant Pathology, the High Value Compounds from Plants Network and all our other sponsors for their support[6].


[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s44swqdW4sM

[2] http://www.plantcell.org/content/30/7/1424

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbuiXBH00Lw&t=150s

[4] http://www.wheat-training.com/

[5] https://www.jic.ac.uk/bravo/

[6] https://garnet2018.weebly.com/sponsors.html

GARNet Research Roundup: November 1st 2018

This week’s GARNet research roundup again features papers on a variety of topics. First is work from the University of Leeds that investigates the physical properties of callose:cellulose hydrogels and the implication for cell wall formation. Second is work from the University of York that assesses the role of the HSP90.2 protein in control of the circadian clock. The third paper features GARNet committee member Sarah McKim and looks at the genetic control of petal number whilst the next paper from the Universities of Warwick and Glasgow includes a proteomic analysis of different types of secretory vesicles.

The next two papers look at different aspects of hormone signaling. Firstly Alistair Hetherington from the University of Bristol is a co-author on a study that looks at the role of the BIG protein whilst Simon Turner’s lab in Manchester investigates the role of ABA in xylem fibre formation.

The penultimate paper includes Lindsey Turnbull from the University of Oxford and looks at the stability of epialleles across 5 generations of selection. Finally is a paper that includes researchers from TSL in Norwich who have contributed to a phosphoproteomic screen to identify phosphorylated amino acids that influence the defence response.


Abou-Saleh R, Hernandez-Gomez M, Amsbury S, Paniagua C, Bourdon M, Miyashima S, Helariutta Y, Fuller M, Budtova T, Connell SD, Ries ME, Benitez-Alfonso Y (2018) Interactions between callose and cellulose revealed through the analysis of biopolymer mixtures. Nature Communications DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-06820-y

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-06820-y

Open Access
Radwa Abou-Saleh is lead author on this work from Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso’s lab at the University of Leeds. (1,3)-β-glucans such as callose play an important role in plant development yet their physical properties are largely unknown. This study analyses a set of callose:cellulose hydrogel mixtures as a proxy for different cell wall conditions. They show that callose:cellulose hydrogels are more elastic than those composed of only cellulose, providing evidence that the interactions between cellulose and callose are important for the structural features of cell walls.


Davis AM, Ronald J, Ma Z, Wilkinson AJ, Philippou K, Shindo T, Queitsch C, Davis SJ (2018) HSP90 Contributes To Entrainment of the Arabidopsis Circadian Clock via the Morning Loop. Genetics. doi: 10.1534/genetics.118.301586

http://www.genetics.org/content/early/2018/10/18/genetics.118.301586.long

Open Access
Amanda Davies is the first author on this study from Seth Davies’ lab at the University of York in which they assess the role of the molecular chaperone HSP90.2 on function of the circadian clock. The show hsp90.2-3 mutant plants have a lengthened circadian period with a specific defect in the morning. This data allows the authors to better understand the pathway through which HSP90.2 functions to entrain the circadian clock.


Monniaux M, Pieper B, McKim SM, Routier-Kierzkowska AL, Kierzkowski D, Smith RS, Hay A. The role of APETALA1 in petal number robustness. Elife. doi: 10.7554/eLife.39399

https://elifesciences.org/articles/39399

Open Access
GARNet committee member Sarah McKim is a co-author on this paper, that is led by Marie Monniaux, which includes research from her time at the University of Oxford. This work from the Hay lab in Cologne compares petal number in Arabidopsis thaliana, in which the number is invariant, and Cardamine hirsute, in which it varies. They show that petal number robustness can be attributed to the activity of the APETALA1 (AP1) floral regulator and that AP1 masks the activity of several genes in Arabidopsis but not in Cardamine.


Waghmare S, Lileikyte E, Karnik RA, Goodman JK, Blatt MR, Jones AME (2018) SNAREs SYNTAXIN OF PLANTS 121 (SYP121) and SYP122 mediate the secretion of distinct cargo subsets . Plant Physiol. doi: 10.1104/pp.18.00832

http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/early/2018/10/23/pp.18.00832.long

Open Access

This collaboration between the Universities of Glasgow and Warwick is led by Sakharam Waghmare, who works with Mike Blatt in Glasgow. This study uses proteomic approaches to characterise the secretory cargos within vesicles decorated with either of the SNARE proteins SYNTAXIN OF PLANTS 121 (SYP121) or SYP122. Genetic analysis suggests that SYP121 and SYP122 have redundant functions but this new research is able to identify cargo proteins that are either contained within both types of vesicle or that are specific to one or the other.


Zhang RX, Ge S, He J, Li S, Hao Y, Du H, Liu Z, Cheng R, Feng YQ, Xiong L, Li C, Hetherington AM, Liang YK (2018) BIG regulates stomatal immunity and jasmonate production in Arabidopsis. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.15568

Alistair Hetherington is a co-author on this China-based study led by Ruo‐Xi Zhang from Wuhan. This work adds to some recent interest in the BIG protein; in this study showing that it is involved in the interaction between JA and ethylene signaling during stress responses. In a complex set of interactions they show that the BIG protein differently alters opposing arms of the JA signaling pathway providing additional evidence that this protein is a key regulator of plant hormone signaling, albeit by a set of as yet unknown mechanisms.


Campbell L, Etchells JP, Cooper M, Kumar M, Turner SR. An essential role for Abscisic acid in the regulation of xylem fibre differentiation. Development. doi: 10.1242/dev.161992

This work from Simon Turner’s lab at the University of Manchester is led by Liam Campbell and identifies a novel role for ABA in the formation of xylem fibres during secondary thickening of the Arabidopsis hypocotyl. The action of ABA doesn’t alter the xylem:phloem ratio but rather the activity focuses on the formation of fibres within the already defined xylem tissue.


Schmid MW, Heichinger C, Coman Schmid D, Guthörl D, Gagliardini V, Bruggmann R, Aluri S, Aquino C, Schmid B, Turnbull LA, Grossniklaus U (2018) Contribution of epigenetic variation to adaptation in Arabidopsis. Nat Commun. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06932-5

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-06932-5

Open Access
Lindsey Turnbull (University of Oxford) is a co-author on this paper from Ueli Grossniklaus’ group in Zurich. Marc Schmid is lead author of the study that investigates the inheritance of Arabidopsis epialleles over 5 generations during conditions of simulated selection. The authors show that variations in methylation state are subject to selection and do indeed contribute to adaptive responses


Kadota Y, Liebrand TWH, Goto Y, Sklenar J, Derbyshire P, Menke FLH, Torres MA, Molina A, Zipfel C, Coaker G, Shirasu K (2018) Quantitative phosphoproteomic analysis reveals common regulatory mechanisms between effector- and PAMP-triggered immunity in plants. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.15523

Members of Cyril Zipfel’s group at The Sainsbury lab in Norwich are co-authors on this paper led by Yasuhiro Kadota from the RIKEN in Yokohama. They use a phosphoproteomic screen to identify a set of newly identified phosphorylation sites on membrane-associated proteins involved in effector-triggered immunity (ETI). Some of these phosphosites overlap with those known to be important for pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP)-triggered immunity (PTI), indicating a convergence of signaling control of both these pathways to certain key residues.

GARNet Research Roundup: October 19th 2018

This edition of the GARNet research roundup includes six papers that look at different areas of plant biology. Firstly is a Belgian-led study with co-authors from Nottingham that introduces adaptive Xerobranching, a cereal-root response that can be mimicked in Arabidopsis by modulating ABA signaling. Second is study from Juriaan Ton’s lab in Sheffield that investigates the extent of DNA methylation during transgenerational acquired disease resistance. Third is paper from the John Innes Centre that places the DET1/COP1-PIF4 signaling module as a key determinant of the plants decision to allocate resources toward growth or defence.

The fourth paper is from Siobhan Braybrook’s (now ex-) lab at SLCU and provides an extensive dataset of the shape of leaf pavement cells across plant lineages. The penultimate paper is from a group at the University of Birmingham investigating the role of TOPII in the removal of damaging chromosome interlocks that occur during meiosis. The final paper returns to the ABA signalling with a study from Rothamsted Research that looks at the impact of the N-end rule on the different growth responses that occur during seed germination.


https://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdfExtended/S0960-9822(18)31004-2

Orman-Ligeza B, Morris EC, Parizot B, Lavigne T, Babé A, Ligeza A, Klein S, Sturrock C, Xuan W, Novák O, Ljung K, Fernandez MA, Rodriguez PL, Dodd IC, De Smet I, Chaumont F, Batoko H, Périlleux C, Lynch JP, Bennett MJ, Beeckman T, Draye X (2018) The Xerobranching Response Represses Lateral Root Formation When Roots Are Not in Contact with Water. Current Biology. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.07.074

Open Access

Emily Morris and Beata Orman-Ligeza are co-authors on this Belgian-led study that includes authors from the Universities of Nottingham and Lancaster. They introduce a new adaptive response termed xerobranching that defines the repression of root branching when a root tip is not in contact with wet soil. This response occurs in cereal roots but can be mimicked in Arabidopsis by treatment with ABA as the authors show that the response is dependent on the PYR/PYL/RCAR-dependent signaling pathway. This response allows roots to respond to the realistically varied microclimate encountered through the soil and offers another excellent example of how using both cereals and Arabidopsis can provide answers that would not be possible from a single experimental system.


Stassen JHM, López A, Jain R, Pascual-Pardo D, Luna E, Smith LM, Ton J (2018) The relationship between transgenerational acquired resistance and global DNA methylation in Arabidopsis. Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-32448-5

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-32448-5

Open Access

Joost Stassen and Ana Lopez are the lead authors of this study from Juriaan Ton’s lab in Sheffield that continues their work on mechanisms that explain transgenerational acquired resistance (TAR). TAR occurs in the progeny of heavily diseased plants and in this study they investigate the extent of DNA methylation in generations following exposure to pathogens. They find that the extent of TAR-induced methylation was in direct proportion to the number of previous generations that had been exposed to disease. The majority of this methylation was in the CG context in gene bodies and clearly shows that methylation is an important component of molecular changes that occur during TAR.


Gangappa SN, Kumar SV (2018) DET1 and COP1 Modulate the Coordination of Growth and Immunity in Response to Key Seasonal Signals in Arabidopsis. Cell Rep. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.08.096

https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(18)31415-3

Open Access

Sreeramaiah Gangappa performed this work with Vinod Kumar at the John Innes Centre in which they investigate the molecular pathways that regulate the environmental signals that feed into the balance decision between growth and defense responses. They show that De-Etiolated 1 (DET1) and Constitutive Photomorphogenic 1 (COP1) negatively regulate immunity during favourable growth conditions and that this response is coordinated through the PIF4 transcription factor. These findings lead the authors to conclude that the DET1/COP1-PIF4 module is a key determinant of the different growth requirements that are necessary to response to either environment and disease.


Vőfély RV, Gallagher J, Pisano GD, Bartlett M, Braybrook SA (2018) Of puzzles and pavements: a quantitative exploration of leaf epidermal cell shape. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.15461

Open Access

https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/nph.15461

Work from Siobhan Braybrook’s lab features in the Research Roundup for the second consecutive edition, this time led by Roza Vofely at the Sainsbury Lab Cambridge University (SLCU). In this study they have investigated the shape of leaf epidermal pavement cells from a remarkable 278 plant taxa in order to ascertain whether certain lineages are characterized by different cell shapes and whether the presence of an undulating cell wall is common, as in both maize and Arabidopsis. Interestingly they found that these primary examples were the exception as strongly undulating cell walls were unusual. They found that different lineages were characterised by similar levels of undulation and the authors conclude that this study sets a quantitative benchmark on which future experiments can be based that aim to understand the underlying factors that control pavement cell shape.


Martinez-Garcia M, Schubert V, Osman K, Darbyshire A, Sanchez-Moran E, Franklin FCH (2018) TOPII and chromosome movement help remove interlocks between entangled chromosomes during meiosis. J Cell Biol. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201803019

Open Access
Marina Martinez‐Garcia is the lead author on this work conducted during her time working with Eugenio Sanchez-Moran and Chris Franklin at the University of Birmingham. Normal meiosis requires a lack of structural interlocks between entangled chromosomes that can result from inevitable collisions in an area so packed with nucleic acid. In this paper the authors confirm a previously developed hypothesis that topoisomerase II (TOPII) is needed to remove interlocks. However it is not the only determinant of the number of interlocks as in Arabidopsis mutants in which chromosome movement is reduced, interlocks occur irrespective of the presence of TOPII.


Zhang H, Gannon L, Jones PD, Rundle CA, Hassall KL, Gibbs DJ, Holdsworth MJ, Theodoulou FL (2018) Genetic interactions between ABA signalling and the Arg/N-end rule pathway during Arabidopsis seedling establishment. Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-33630-5

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-33630-5

Open Access

Hongtao Zhang is the lead author of this work from the lab of Freddie Theodoulou at Rothamsted Research that investigates the role of the PROTEOLYSIS6 (PRT6) N-recognin E3 ligase in the ABA response. PRT6 regulated degradation of Group VII of the Ethylene Response Factor superfamily (ERFVIIs) controls both sugar sensitivity and oil body breakdown in germinating Arabidopsis seedlings. They found that the former but not the latter response was enhanced by ABA signaling components when the ERFVIIs were stabilised. The authors conclude that during seed germination the N-end rule controls multiple layers of regulation, both in an ABA dependent and independent manner

GARNet Research Roundup: October 10th 2018

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Published on: October 10, 2018

This edition of the GARNet research roundup begins with a paper from Jose Gutierrez-Marcos’ lab in Warwick that investigates the functional significance of inherited epigenetics marks in clonally propagated plants. Second is work from Sara Simonini and Lars Ostergaard (John Innes Centre) that defines a domain in the ETTIN protein important for the auxin response. Next is work from SLCU from Siobhan Braybrook and Henrik Jonsson that experimentally defines and models the role of cell wall composition in anisotropic hypocotyl growth. The fourth paper is from Jonathan Jones’ lab (TSL, Norwich) that adds to our understanding of the activity of the RRS1-R-RPS4 NLR immune complex.

The final three papers are each from the University of Edinburgh and look at different aspects of the relationship between light quality and the circadian clock. First is a paper from Karen Halliday’s lab that investigates the role of PHYA; next Andrew Millar is a co-author on a manuscript that looks at control of FT expression during seasonally realistic conditions. Finally Ference Nagy and Mirela Domijan (University of Liverpool) co-author a paper that assesses the role of HY5 in the response to blue-light.


Wibowo A, Becker C, Durr J, Price J, Spaepen S, Hilton S, Putra H, Papareddy R, Saintain Q, Harvey S, Bending GD, Schulze-Lefert P, Weigel D, Gutierrez-Marcos J (2018) Partial maintenance of organ-specific epigenetic marks during plant asexual reproduction leads to heritable phenotypic variation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A doi: 10.1073/pnas.1805371115

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/09/06/1805371115.long

Open Access
Anjar Wibowo and Claude Becker are first authors on this UK-German collaboration from the labs of Jose Gutierrez-Marcos (University of Warwick) and Detlef Weigel (Max Planck Institutem, Tübingen). In this work they clonally propagate Arabidopsis and show that organ-specific epigenetic marks are maintained across generations. Interestingly these changes are then maintained through multiple rounds of sexual reproduction. These epigenetic marks provide heritable molecular and physiological phenotypes that can alter the response to pathogens, allowing progeny to maintain a beneficial epigenome that was generated in their parents.


Simonini S, Mas PJ, Mas CMVS, Østergaard L, Hart DJ (2018) Auxin sensing is a property of an unstructured domain in the Auxin Response Factor ETTIN of Arabidopsis thaliana. Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-31634-9

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-31634-9

Open Access

This UK-France collaboration is led by Sara Simonini from the John Innes Centre and continues the Ostergaard lab’s work on the role of the auxin response factor ETTIN in the auxin response. In this paper they analyse the C-terminal ETT specific domain (ES domain) across plant lineages, showing that it does not directly bind auxin but could functional response to a dose response of auxin in a Y2H assay. Understanding more about this ES domain will increase our understanding of auxin sensing by ETTIN and more broadly about auxin-dependent gene regulation.


Bou Daher F, Chen Y, Bozorg B, Clough J, Jönsson H, Braybrook SA. Anisotropic growth is achieved through the additive mechanical effect of material anisotropy and elastic asymmetry. Elife.  doi: 10.7554/eLife.38161

https://elifesciences.org/articles/38161

Open Access

Firas Bou Daher is the first author on work from Siobhan Braybrook’s lab conducted both in the Sainsbury Lab Cambridge University and at its new home in California. In this work they look at anisotropic growth in the Arabidopsis hypocotyl and the relationship between cellulose orientation and pectin deposition in the control of this process. They provide experimental evidence that growth parameters are influenced by pectin biochemistry in processes that begin immediately after germination.


Ma Y, Guo H, Hu L, Martinez PP, Moschou PN, Cevik V, Ding P, Duxbury Z, Sarris PF, Jones JDG (2018) Distinct modes of derepression of an Arabidopsis immune receptor complex by two different bacterial effectors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1811858115

Yan Ma and Hailong Guo are lead authors on this study from Jonathan Jones’ lab at The Sainsbury Lab, Norwich. They perform a detailed examination of the RRS1-R-RPS4 NLR protein complex, which is necessary to respond to at the bacterial effectors, AvrRps4 and PopP2. Deletion of a WRKY transcription factor domain in the RRS1-R protein causes constitutive activation of the defense response, indicating that this domain maintains the complex in an inactive state in the absence of pathogens. Indeed AvrRps4 does interact with this WRKY domain but interestingly PopP2 activation requires interaction with a longer C-terminal extension of RRS1-R. This demonstrates that although these bacterial effectors are recognised by the same complex the interactions occurs in a subtly but functionally distinct ways.


Seaton DD, Toledo-Ortiz G, Ganpudi A, Kubota A, Imaizumi T, Halliday KJ (2018) Dawn and photoperiod sensing by phytochrome A. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1803398115

Open Access

This research from Karen Halliday’s lab in Edinburgh is led by Daniel Seaton and provided a detailed assessment of the role of phytochrome A (phyA) in photoperiod sensing, which is defined as the relationship between the circadian clock and external light signals. They show that PHYA activity, controlled by the transcription factors, PIF4 and PIF5, is a key regulator of morning activity, particularly in short photoperiods. PHYA protein accumulates during the night and responds to light by promoting a burst of gene expression that prepares the plant for the upcoming daylight and places this light receptor as a key detector of dawn.


Song YH, Kubota A, Kwon MS, Covington MF, Lee N, Taagen ER, Laboy Cintrón D, Hwang DY, Akiyama R, Hodge SK, Huang H, Nguyen NH, Nusinow DA, Millar AJ, Shimizu KK, Imaizumi T (2018) Molecular basis of flowering under natural long-day conditions in Arabidopsis. Nat Plants. doi: 10.1038/s41477-018-0253-3

Andrew Millar is a co-author on this US-led paper that investigates the circadian regulation of the Arabidopsis florigen gene FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) within an annual context, showing that during the spring FT shows a morning peak is absent in their usual lab experiments. By adjusting growth-room conditions to mimic natural seasonal variations they show that phytochrome A and EARLY FLOWERING 3 regulate morning FT expression by stabilizing the CONSTANS protein. This manuscript highlights the importance of providing seasonal-specific conditions in order to understand field-relevant regulation of plant growth.


Hajdu A, Dobos O, Domijan M, Bálint B, Nagy I, Nagy F, Kozma-Bognár L. ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL 5 mediates blue light signalling to the Arabidopsis circadian clock (2018) Plant J. doi: 10.1111/tpj.14106

Ferenc Nagy (University of Edinburgh) is a co-author on this Hungarian-led study that looks the effect of light quality on the function of the key signaling hub transcription factor ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL 5 (HY5). They show that hy5 mutants show shorter period rhythms in blue but not in red light or darkness. Even though the pattern and level of HY5 alters its binding to downstream promotor elements, subsequent gene expression is only altered in a few genes. In collaboration with Mirela Domijan (University of Liverpool) https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/mathematical-sciences/staff/mirela-domijan/ they model this response to suggest that clock feedback mechanisms mask HY5-induced changes. Ultimately they show that HY5 is important in decoding the blue:red mix of white light and that it at least partially informs activity of the circadian oscillator.

High Value Chemicals from Plants Annual Meeting 2018

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Published on: October 3, 2018
Naomi Nakayama discusses plant cell factories

The final annual meeting in Phase I of the BBSRC-funded HVCfP NIBB network was held on October 1st in the delightful Royal College of Physicians, close to Regents Park in London. This single day meeting was a byte-size mix of invited talks and those provided by researchers who had received Proof of Concept (PoC) or Business Interaction Voucher (BIV) funding from the network.

From a GARNet perspective it was gratifying to hear presentations that included preliminary work conducted in Arabidopsis, demonstrating the importance of model organisms in the development of ideas that can lead to industrial biotechnology projects. Naomi Nakayama from the University of Edinburgh described her labs work aimed at optimising use of Arabidopsis cell cultures as well as in developing plant stem cells as ‘single cell factories’. Secondly Peter Eastmond from Rothamsted Research described the initial characterisation of the Sugar Dependent1 hydrolase enzyme that they are now developing as a potential industrial biocatalyst.


Paul Fraser from RHUL and Mike Roberts from Lancaster University introduced very different research projects that both use tomato plants. Long-term establishment of RIL lines have allowed the Fraser lab to identify tomato plants with increased levels of B-carotene in the fruit. This project has similarity to other attempts at vitamin A biofortification yet takes advantage of many years expertise working specifically with this plant. These B-carotene fortified lines are now ready for the field and should be particularly important in regions with high food insecurity and vitamin A deficiency.

Mike Roberts has a nascent industrial collaboration with greenhouse tomato producer APS Salads. Their soil-free growth of tomatoes generates a large amount of waste biomass, which is currently used for a variety of applications that rely on downstream anaerobic decomposition. It is known that mechanical disruption of plant tissue causes the release of protective defence chemicals so the Roberts lab have used HVCfP BIV funding to investigate whether macerated tomato waste has protective anti-pathogen properties. The initial characterisation of liquid fractions taken from the waste pipeline have given promising protective effects indicating that the mechanical disruption of the tissue generates an as-yet-unknown defense-promoting compound.

Michael Marsden discusses co-products, not plant waste.

On a related note, Michael Marsden provided an invited talk and asked delegates to re-think the idea of ‘plant waste’. His company AB Connect labels waste as ‘co-products’ and it was extremely informative to learn about all the possible uses of crop co-products across a range of industries. However there certainly remains additional potential in this area as technologies continue to develop for degradation of cellulosic material and improvement of manufacturing pipelines.


Sweet smelling success story of Oxford BioTrans.

Jason King from Oxford Biotrans provided the opening invited talk that was a real success story of activities that have taken place since he last presented at the 2015 annual HVCfP meeting. Their main product is the grapefruit flavour nootkatone that they produce from oranges using patented P450 enzymes. This industrial project was recently highlighted as a success story by the BBSRC. Oxford BioTrans are now investigating options for producing a range of other products using their set of novel P450s. Pleasingly Jason King reported that they have not had significant difficulties in obtaining funding for this project both from national funding bodies and local angel investors.


The afternoon invited speakers provided a different perspective on some wider issues surrounding the research environment. Kelly Vere is working with the Science Council on the establishment of the Technicians Committment, which is an initiative to provide recognition for the vital yet often underappreciated support provided by technical staff in higher education. Over 50 universities have signed up to the charter and many are taking steps to provide this extra support.


Alison Prendiville (University of the Arts London) and Sebastian Fuller (St George’s, University of London) described their involvement with the EU-funded Pharma-Factory project. This involves the input of numerous stakeholders associated with the use of the products generated by plant-based biofactories. These include potential patients, clinicians, regulators and researchers. They described how they are using the process of co-design to create partnerships that take into account stakeholder priorities in order to facilitate new methods of knowledge exchange. Intuitively it seems that this type of project might be challenging for bench scientists to fully appreciate so it will be interesting to observe where this project leads and to learn about their conclusions.


Due to the obvious links between the GARNet community and the type of PoC/BIV projects funded by the HVCfP network, the GARNet coordinator has attended and participated in a number of HVCfP events over the past four years. Although this annual meeting only highlighted a small set of supported projects it seems clear that the HVCfP network has succeeded in bringing together academics and industrial partners as well as supporting research in its early stages.

The decision regarding Phase II of the NIBBs will be announced over the next month so hopefully this plant-based network will gain follow-on funding to continue the progress they have made during Phase I.

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