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  • geraintparry
  • GARNet Coordinator @ Cardiff University. Past lecturer in Plant Science and genetics. Researcher into plant nuclear transport and regulation of auxin signalling.
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Arabidopsis Research Roundup: December 8th.

This weeks Research Roundup begins with two papers from the University of Edinburgh on very different topics of Arabidopsis research. Firstly Alistair McCormick and Sofirtios Tsaftaris introduce a new low-cost phenotyping platform whilst Gerben Ooijen’s group has analysed the role of SUMOylation in the control of the circadian clock. The next three papers each involve wide UK collaborations and either look at plant nutrient composition (Nottingham, Dundee, York), the role of N-end rule pathway in the control of seed storage mobilisation (Rothamsted, Nottingham, Oxford, Birmingham, Cambridge) or the development of a new tool for the study of phloem sieve elements (Leeds, Rothamsted, Cambridge, Newcastle). The penultimate paper from Daniel Zilbermann (JIC) highlights the global mechanisms of methyltransferase function in Arabidopsis and mice whilst the final paper from Alexandre Ruban (QMUL) and co-authors continues his groups work to unpick the specifics of NPQ.


Dobrescu A, Scorza LCT, Tsaftaris SA, McCormick AJ (2017) A “Do-It-Yourself” phenotyping system: measuring growth and morphology throughout the diel cycle in rosette shaped plants. Plant Methods. doi: 10.1186/s13007-017-0247-6

Open Access

University of Edinburgh colleagues Alistair McCormick and Sofirtios Tsaftaris lead this work that presents a low cost phenotyping system for the analysis of the growth rate and phenotypic characteristics of Arabidopsis thaliana rosettes. The software that they have developed allows the accurate segmentation of multiple rosettes within a single image and overall offers a straightforward solution for automated phenotyping across a range of growth environments.


Hansen LL, van den Burg HA, van Ooijen G (2017) Sumoylation Contributes to Timekeeping and Temperature Compensation of the Plant Circadian Clock. J Biol Rhythms. doi: 10.1177/0748730417737633

Gerben van Ooijen (University of Edinburgh) is the corresponding author of this work that has identified SUMOylation as a novel mechanism of regulating circadian clock genes in Arabidopsis. Plants with defects in sumoylation have altered circadian periods that exhibit incorrect temperature compensation. Overall these results indicate that sumoylation importantly buffers clock function in response to changing temperatures.


Alcock TD, Havlickova L, He Z, Bancroft I, White PJ, Broadley MR, Graham NS (2017) Identification of Candidate Genes for Calcium and Magnesium Accumulation in Brassica napus L. by Association Genetics. Front Plant Sci. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.01968

Open Access

Neil Graham and Martin Broadley (University of Nottingham) are the corresponding authors of this study that has taken advantage of the Brassica napus Associative Transcriptomes RIPR diversity panel developed by Ian Bancroft’s lab in York. Novel loci involved with an altered response to calcium and magnesium were identified in B.napus before mineral composition was analysed in Arabidopsis mutants defective in orthologous genes. The analysed plants exhibited alteration in mineral composition, meaning that the associated Brassica loci might be targets for future breeding strategies aimed at improving plant nutrient compositions.


Zhang H, Gannon L, Hassall KL, Deery MJ, Gibbs DJ, Holdsworth MJ, van der Hoorn RAL, Lilley KS, Theodoulou FL (2017) N-terminomics reveals control of Arabidopsis seed storage proteins and proteases by the Arg/N-end rule pathway. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.14909

Freddie Theodoulou (Rothamsted Research) is the corresponding author of this research that involved a collaboration with colleagues in Cambridge, Birmingham, Nottingham and Oxford. They have performed a proteomic analysis on etiolated seedlings to identify those proteins designated for degradation by the N-end rule pathway. They analysed prt6 mutant plants that lack the function of the E3 ligase PROTEOLYSIS6 (PRT6) and discovered that N-terminal peptides from 45 protein groups were upregulated in this mutant, corresponding to the equivalent downregulation of several known N-end rule proteases. Overall the authors show that PRT6 plays an important role in the regulation of seed storage mobilisation in young seedlings and is therefore a possible future target to manipulate the plant responses to adverse environmental conditions. Dr Kirsty Hassall, a statistician at Rothamsted, is an author on this paper and in the latest edition of the GARNish newsletter explains how she interacts with plant scientists during her work.


Torode TA, O’Neill RE, Marcus SE, Cornuault V, Pose-Albacete S, Lauder RP, Kracun SK, Gro Rydahl M, Andersen MCF, Willats WGT, Braybrook SA, Townsend BJ, Clausen MH, Knox JP (2017) Branched pectic galactan in phloem-sieve-element cell walls: implications for cell mechanics. Plant Physiol. doi: 10.1104/pp.17.01568 Open Access

Paul Knox (University of Leeds) is the corresponding author of this study that includes contributions from researchers at SLCU, Newcastle and Rothamsted. This work is based around the development of a monoclonal antibody, LM26 that is able to recognize a β-1,6-galactosyl substitution of β-1,4-galactan. LM26 has allowed the identification of this unusual branched galactan that is specific to phloem elements and the authors hope that it can be a useful tool in future studies on the biology of phloem elements


Lyons DB, Zilberman D (2017) DDM1 and Lsh remodelers allow methylation of DNA wrapped in nucleosomes. Elife. doi: 10.7554/eLife.30674 Open Access

Daniel Zilberman has recently moved to the John Innes Centre and is the lead author of this work that was conducted when he was working in US. This research is a cross-kingdom analysis showing that nucleosome-free DNA is the preferred target for methyltransferases in both Arabidopsis and mice, and that nucleosomes appear to be a barrier to the function of these enzymes. Furthermore they demonstrate that linker-specific methylation that is usually absent in Arabidopsis can be introduced by removal of histone H1. This shows that flowering plants still possess this ability despite its loss, during the evolution of H1, over a billion years ago.


Tutkus M, Chmeliov J, Rutkauskas D, Ruban AV, Valkunas L (2017) Influence of the Carotenoid Composition on the Conformational Dynamics of Photosynthetic Light-Harvesting Complexes. J Phys Chem Lett. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.7b02634

Alexandre Ruban (QMUL) is a co-author on this study that investigates the role that carotenoid composition plays in the control of Non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), a mechanism that protects the photosynthetic apparatus from light-damage. Arabidopsis mutants with differing carotenoid compositions were analysed for the dynamics of the conformation switches that occur during NPQ. Interestingly they show that LHCII has robust function  that is resistant to different carotenoid concentrations.

Devin O’Connor talks to GARNet

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Published on: November 30, 2017

Devin O’Connor discusses auxin, PINs and protein instrinic qualities during our discussion of his recent eLife paper entitled ‘Cross-species functional diversity within the PIN auxin efflux protein family’.
https://elifesciences.org/articles/31804
https://www.slcu.cam.ac.uk/research/oconnor-group

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: Nov 24th

The week’s UK Arabidopsis research roundup includes seven papers from groups who work on a range of topics.

Firstly Antony Dodd (Bristol) investigates the role of sugar signaling during hypocotyl elongation and provides an audio description of this groups work. Secondly Mike Holdsworth (Nottingham) leads a paper that demonstrates the importance of the N-rule pathway in the response to abiotic stresses. Thirdly are a set of papers that have developed models on three different topics. Mike Blatt’s group at Glasgow University has a cross-scale model that is applied to stomatal opening whilst Stan Maree and Veronica Griensien (JIC) use modeling to predict how the topology of pavement cells is determined. Finally Arabidopsis is used as an example that fits a model that investigates how critical mutation rate (CMR) changes with population size. In the sixth paper Lorraine Williams and colleagues (University of Southampton) investigate the function of a rice transport protein involved in manganese tolerance by expressing it in Arabidopsis. The final paper from Jerzy Paszkowski (SLCU) outlines a novel screening strategy for retrotransposons and the identification of an ecotype specific element.


Simon NM, Kusakina J, Fernández-López Á, Chembath A, Belbin FE, Dodd AN (2017) The energy-signalling hub SnRK1 is important for sucrose-induced hypocotyl elongation. Plant Physiol. doi: 10.1104/pp.17.01395

Open Access

This UK-wide collaboration is led by Anthony Dodd at the University of Bristol and has looked at the factors that control hypocotyl elongation in response to sugar signalling. This response is integrated through the sugar-signalling hub, SnRK1 and is regulated by trehalose-6-phosphate (Tre6P). They also integrate hormone signalling and the influence of diurnal rhythms into the control of this process, importantly showing that the ubiquitous sugar regulator hexokinase is not involved in this process.

Antony kindly provides an audio description of this research that can be found on YouTube or on the GARNet iTunes channel. Please subscribe!


Vicente J, Mendiondo GM, Movahedi M, Peirats-Llobet M, Juan YT, Shen YY, Dambire C, Smart K, Rodriguez PL, Charng YY, Gray JE, Holdsworth MJ (2017) The Cys-Arg/N-End Rule Pathway Is a General Sensor of Abiotic Stress in Flowering Plants. Current Biology doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.09.006

Open Access

Mike Holdsworth (University of Nottingham) is the corresponding author of this collaboration with colleagues from Sheffield, Spain and Taiwan that investigates how the N-rule degradation pathway acts a sensor of general abiotic stress in both Arabidopsis and Barley. These responses are integrated through degradation of the group VII Ethylene Response Factor transcription factors (ERFVIIs) family via direct and indirect pathways. In addition they link ERFVII activity with chromatin-remodeling ATPase BRAHMA providing evidence for a single mechanism that links the responses to a number of environmental signals.


Wang Y, Hills A, Vialet-Chabrand SR, Papanatsiou M, Griffiths H, Rogers S, Lawson T, Lew V, Blatt MR (2017) Unexpected Connections between Humidity and Ion Transport Discovered using a Model to Bridge Guard Cell-to-Leaf Scales. Plant Cell. doi: 10.1105/tpc.17.00694

Open Access

Mike Blatt (University of Glasgow) leads this collaboration with researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Essex. They have developed the OnGuard2 quantitative systems platform that integrates numerous parameters that control guard cell dynamics across many scales including at molecular, cellular, tissue and canopy levels. They experimentally demonstrate that OnGuard2 faithfully reproduces the kinetics of real stomatal movement and therefore that this modeling is able to bridge the micro-macro divide.


Carter R, Sánchez-Corrales YE, Hartley M, Grieneisen VA, Marée AFM (2017) Pavement cells and the topology puzzle. Development. doi: 10.1242/dev.157073

Stan Maree and Veronica Griensien (John Innes Centre) lead this study that has looked at the patterning of 50000 Arabidopsis pavement cells to understand the topological signatures that exist in this population. They have developed a heuristic cellular division rule to produce a model that can reproduce their observations by predicting how these cells divide. They confirmed their model by tracking 800 mitotic events, allowing them to conclude that distinct topology is not a direct consequence of the jigsaw-like shape of the cells, but rather owes itself to life-history-driven process, with limited impact from cell surface mechanics.


Aston E, Channon A, Belavkin RV, Gifford DR, Krašovec R, Knight CG (2017) Critical Mutation Rate has an Exponential Dependence on Population Size for Eukaryotic-length Genomes with Crossover. Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-14628-x

Open Access

In this study a team of computational biologists from Keele, Middlesex and Manchester have used Arabidopsis as an exemplar to understand how critical mutation rate (CMR) provides insights into the shift between survival-of-the-fittest and survival of individuals with greater mutational robustness. They have produced a simulation for these parameters that predicts outcomes for a range of biological organisms, showing that CMR decreases with reduced population size. They suggest that the model can be used to understand the conservation strategies exhibited in populations that are approaching extinction.


Farthing EC, Menguer PK, Fett JP, Williams LE (2017) OsMTP11 is localised at the Golgi and contributes to Mn tolerance. Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-15324-6
Lorraine Williams (University of Southampton) and her colleagues have identified a transporter protein from rice, OsMTP11 that is involved in mangenase tolerance. They show that heterologous expression of this protein is able to rescue the manganese sensitive phenotype of Arabidopsis mtp11-3 knockouts. They show that OsMTP11 localises to the Golgi and have also conducted site directed mutagenesis to identify key residues that are important for the function of this protein.


Griffiths J, Catoni M, Iwasaki M, Paszkowski J (2017) Sequence-independent identification of active LTR retrotransposons in Arabidopsis. Mol Plant. doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2017.10.012

Open Access

Jerzy Paszkowski (SLCU) leads this single-figure short manuscript that has characterised the population of retrotransposons in Arabidopsis. They develop a novel cost-effective screening strategy that allows them to identify sequences found on extrachromosomal DNA (ecDNA), which includes a retroelement found in Lansberg erecta but not in the reference genome ecotype Col-0.

Anthony Dodd talks to GARNet

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Published on: November 24, 2017

Anthony Dodd (Universit of Bristol) talks to GARNet about a recent paper published in Plant Physiology entitled ‘The energy-signalling hub SnRK1 is important for sucrose-induced hypocotyl elongation‘.

iGEM 2017

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Published on: November 17, 2017

The giant jamboree that marks the end of the 2017 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition was again held in Boston, USA in mid November. This unique event brings together up to 3000 students who present, demonstrate and discuss the novel research projects that they have worked on for the past year. These synthetic biology projects can be on any conceivable (safe) topic and are usually supported by academic institutions who, along with a range of sponsors, supply teams with up to £50K to fund the research, registration costs and transport.
The overall number of iGEM teams continues to rise with 295 having their entries finally accepted in 2017. Perhaps notably, 2017 is the first in which the number of Chinese teams was greater than those from the host nation. The number of UK teams has remained static over the past three years, with the identity of competing institutes often changing, no doubt caused by the high financial cost and time commitment needed to support projects and to send a group of students to Boston. Only Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Kent, Oxford, Sheffield, UCL and Warwick have supported teams in each of the past 4 years since the final jamboree moved to Boston.


The number of projects entered in the ‘Environment Track’ again increased this year and it was notable at this jamboree that there was an increased focus on ideas that involve plant science. Although this hasn’t translated into a significant increase in the number of projects that are actually working WITH a plant synbio chassis, there is certainly an increased focus on finding solutions to global and local challenges that use plant-derived solutions. An example of this is from WashU St Louis whose project’s ultimate goal was to improve plant resistance to damaging UV-B radiation. Although they discussed a possible collaboration with the Cardiff_Wales team who were using transient tobacco expression system as their experimental chassis, their work did not progress further than characterizing their gene circuit in E.coli, which provided resistance to UV-B in that system. This type of project was more common than ever before, where bacterial synthetic biology was used as a starting point to tackle global problems that might ultimately involve plant science.


However it was again pleasing to learn about some outstanding plant synbio projects. The plant synthetic biology lab in Valencia led by Diego Orzaez again excelled in this area, building hardware to monitor changes in plant growth in response to stress, a PlantLabCo software tool and also developing a root-expressed red-light sensor. Information about each of the Valencia projects from the past 4 years can be found here.

Arguably the most impressive plant project, and eventually winner of the Plant Synthetic Biology track, was from the UESTC-China team who had generated stably transformed tobacco plants expressing three biosynthetic enzymes. This Phytoremediation-based project was designed to remove the industrial atmospheric pollutant TCP. Lab experiments showed that transgenic leaf extracts were able to convert TCP to glycerol, demonstrating clear proof of concept. However during questioning the challenge of this (and many other) iGEM project was clear; the issue of scalability. How many tobacco plants would be needed to effectively reduce pollutants and where would these plants be grown? These questions were beyond the scope of this project and yet due to the required extra investment and future research time needed to provide satisfactory solutions they might remain forever unanswered.
Elsewhere it was great to learn about the project from SECA-NZ who had managed to stably transform Arabidopsis plants with a frost-responsive gene from an Arctic plant, not an insubstantial task for a 6-month project!!


iGEM is a fantastic breeding group for innovative, with the competition allowing students to gain research and project management skills that set them on the path to careers in research or entrepreneurship. Synbiobeta is a partner sponsor of the event and during his final address iGEM president Randy Rettberg encouraged iGEMers to go out and ‘find the money’. iGEM also very strongly encourage responsible innovation so hopefully these messages can be successfully interwoven in future projects that the iGEM students will develop.



With UK synthetic biology heavyweights Imperial College (the 2016 overall winners) and Cambridge University absent from the 2017 competition, the UK community looked to others to pick up their slack….and they did so with some significant success! University teams from Exeter (overgrad Environment, Applied Design), Glasgow (undergrad, Food and Nutrition), Oxford (undergraduate Diagnostics), Edinburgh (overgrad Therapeutics) and Kent (undergrad Poster) all won ‘Track awards’ whilst Newcastle OG, Edinburgh UG, Manchester OG and Cardiff UG were also nominated for awards. This strong showing is only possible due to the matched funding that many teams receive from the BBSRC, SEB, Welcome Trust and Society of Microbiology.


iGEM is what it is, a tremendous international melting pot of ideas that is a fantastic experience to all those who participate. The competitive element can be challenging to assess with all teams judged equally with no consideration as to the level of institutional support, available financial resources, team size or length of project. Winning a medal or prize is ultimately a test of those parameters that might sit outside the actual research project so each team should take pride in what they have achieved within the limits of their ambition.

 

The experiences gained by being involved in a nine-month (or more) multi faceted research project that culminates in a global conference are not found easily elsewhere!

Andrew Fleming talks to GARNet

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Published on: November 2, 2017

Andrew Fleming (University of Sheffield) talks to GARNet about a recent paper published in Current Biology entitled ‘Stomatal Opening Involves Polar, Not Radial, Stiffening Of Guard Cells’.

http://www.cell.com/current-biology/references/S0960-9822(17)3101

Andrew also talked to GARNet last year about a paper about stomatal evolution: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvRfzJwKEqo&t=68s

Andrew mentioned the excellent Plant Probes resource during the talk.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: November 1st.

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Published on: November 1, 2017

This weeks Research Roundup includes three research and two methods papers. Firstly is work from the O’Connor and Leyser groups at SLCU that investigates the diversity of function in PIN auxin transporters between monocots and dicots. Secondly research from the Kover lab at the University of Bath has characterised the photosynthetic contribution of the inflorescence stem whilst the third paper is from the Bill Finch-Savage at the University of Warwick and looks at the effect of temperature on seed dormancy. Finally are two methods paper from the University of Warwick and Leeds that introduce protocols for the imaging of either the endoplasmic reticulum or the ultrastructure of pollen tubes.


O’Connor DL, Elton S, Ticchiarelli F, Hsia MM, Vogel JP, Leyser O (2017) Cross-species functional diversity within the PIN auxin efflux protein family. Elife. doi: 10.7554/eLife.31804

Open Access

Devin O’Connor and Ottoline Leyser (SLCU) lead this research that bridges the divide between a model dicot (Arabidopsis) and a model monocot (Brachypodium)as they investigate mechanisms of auxin transport, focussed on the PIN protein family. Arabidopsis lacks a clade of PIN proteins (termed Sister-of-PIN1 (SoPIN1) that are found in other plant species. They show that Brachypodium sopin1 mutants have inflorescence defects similar to Arabidopsis pin1 mutants, a similarity of function that is confirmed by the ability of soPIN1 to rescue the phenotype of null Atpin1 plants. However Brachy PIN1 is only able to rescue a less severe Atpin1 mutant. Overall they demonstrate that PIN1 functional specificity is determined by membrane and tissue-level accumulation and transport activity. As this paper is published in Elife, the journal provides reviewer comments and in this case they show that this manuscript was initially rejected. However the authors persisted and provided a reworked manuscript that convincing the reviewers that this study was appropriate for publication in Elife. An excellent lesson in persistence!


Gnan S, Marsh T, Kover PX (2017) Inflorescence photosynthetic contribution to fitness releases Arabidopsis thaliana plants from trade-off constraints on early flowering PLoS One doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185835

Open Access

In this study from Paula Kover’s lab at the University of Bath they investigate how the photosynthetic capacity of the Arabidopsis influoresence influences the time of flowering in a range of accessions. Interestingly after plants had flowering the authors removed rosette leaves to assess the ability of the influoresence to support future plant growth. Surprisingly there was a wide variation in general fitness following leaf removal, ranging from a growth reduction of 65% to no observed loss in fitness. These changes are due to both the differencies in the flowering time and in the number of lateral branches. This can explain how early flowering accessions can maintain fitness despite reduced vegetative growth.


Huang Z, Footitt S, Tang A, Finch-Savage WE (2017) Predicted global warming scenarios impact on the mother plant to alter seed dormancy and germination behavior in Arabidopsis Plant Cell Environ. doi: 10.1111/pce.13082

William Finch-Savage (University of Warwick) leads this investigation into the effect of temperature on seed development and dormancy. They used specially designed polyethylene tunnels that allowed in vivo variations in temperature and light conditions. Perhaps unsurprisingly they showed that temperature plays a significant role in future seed development with lower temperatures promoting dormancy but higher temperatures reduced dormancy that subsequently alters the timing of future life cycles, which has consequences for the species fitness.


Dzimitrowicz N, Breeze E, Frigerio L (2018) Long-Term Imaging of Endoplasmic Reticulum Morphology in Embryos During Seed Germination. Methods Mol Biol. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7389-7_6

Lorenzo Frigerio (University of Warwick) leads this methods paper that describes the imaging of the endoplasmic reticulum over long periods during seed germination.


Ndinyanka Fabrice T, Kaech A, Barmettler G, Eichenberger C, Knox JP, Grossniklaus U, Ringli C (2017) Efficient preparation of Arabidopsis pollen tubes for ultrastructural analysis using chemical and cryo-fixation. BMC Plant Biol. doi: 10.1186/s12870-017-1136-x

Paul Knox (University of Leeds) is a co-author on this methods paper that outlines the necessary steps for efficient preparation of pollen tubes for subsequent ultrastructural analysis.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: October 23rd

Different aspects of plant cell wall biology dominant the first few papers of this weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup. Firstly Andrew Fleming (University of Sheffield) and colleagues identify that a specific type of cell wall stiffening is important in control of stomatal opening. Secondly are two papers from the lab of Paul Dupree (University of Cambridge) that investigate the role that xylan modifications play in the formation of the cell wall. Finally in this broad area John Runions (Oxford Brookes) and colleagues show that attachment to the cell wall is critical for correct function of the dynamic actin filament network. Elsewhere Jerry Roberts (CPIB) leads a study that looks at proteins that control floral development. Next the group of Alexander Jones  at SLCU has developed an exciting new tool that allows for in vivo visualization of the plant hormone GA. Finally the lab of Phil Wigge (also at SLCU) further expands their work that dissects the signaling pathways that controlling the response to temperature.


Carter R, Woolfenden H, Baillie A, Amsbury S, Carroll S, Healicon E, Sovatzoglou S, Braybrook S, Gray JE, Hobbs J, Morris RJ, Fleming AJ (2017) Stomatal Opening Involves Polar, Not Radial, Stiffening Of Guard Cells. Curr Biol. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.08.006 Open Access

This broad UK collaboration is led by Andrew Fleming at the University of Sheffield and looks into the factors that control stiffening of cell walls in stomatal guard cells. They use Atomic Force Microscopy to show that stiffening of the polar regions of guard cell walls pins down these ends of cells during stomatal opening. This study provides exciting new insights into the importance of cell wall dynamics on stomatal opening and likely has significant agronomic importance.


Grantham NJ, Wurman-Rodrich J, Terrett OM, Lyczakowski JJ, Stott K, Iuga D, Simmons TJ, Durand-Tardif M, Brown SP, Dupree R, Busse-Wicher M, Dupree P (2017) An even pattern of xylan substitution is critical for interaction with cellulose in plant cell walls. Nat Plants doi: 10.1038/s41477-017-0030-8

Lyczakowski JJ,,, Wicher KB,, Terrett OM, Faria-Blanc N, Yu X, Brown D,, Krogh KBRM, Dupree P,,, Busse-Wicher M (2017) Removal of glucuronic acid from xylan is a strategy to improve the conversion of plant biomass to sugars for bioenergy. Biotechnol Biofuels. doi: 10.1186/s13068-017-0902-1

Open Access

Paul Dupree (University of Cambridge) is involved in two papers that investigate the chemical decorations that adorn components of the plant cell wall. In the first paper they demonstrate that the incorrect addition of acetyl esters onto xylan prevents the formation of the secondary cell wall due to a reduced interaction between xylan and cellulose microfibrils. They undertake a genetic study to show that the ESKIMO1/XOAT1/TBL29, a xylan-specific O-acetyltransferase is responsive for correct attachment of acetyl esters to xylan.

In the second paper they show that a reduction in the attachment of the acetyl ester glucuronic acid to xylan allows increased isolation of ethanol following saccharification. This has enormous potential significance in ongoing attempts to generate lignocellulose biomass that is more amenable to conversion into potential biofuels.


Tolmie F, Poulet A, McKenna J, Sassmann S, Graumann K, Deeks M, Runions J (2017) The cell wall of Arabidopsis thaliana influences actin network dynamics. J Exp Bot. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erx269.
This collaboration between Oxford Brookes and Exeter Universities looks in details at the Arabidopsis actin filament network using a set of novel imaging tools. In addition they show that the network is distributed when the link to the cell wall is disrupted. As might be expected this also effects the function of the network as evidenced by changes in Golgi body motility.


González-Carranza ZH, Zhang X, Peters JL, Boltz V, Szecsi J, Bendahmane M, Roberts JA (2017) HAWAIIAN SKIRT controls size and floral organ number by modulating CUC1 and CUC2 expression. PLoS One.

doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185106 Open Access

Jerry Roberts (CPIB, Nottingham) leads a collaboration with Dutch and French colleagues to investigate the role of the F-box gene HAWAIIAN SKIRT in control of flower development. This protein acts by interacting with the CUC-SHAPED COTYLEDON 1 (CUC1) and CUC2 transcription factors to restrict petal size by altering cell proliferation and mitotic growth.


Rizza A, Walia A, Lanquar V, Frommer WB, Jones AM (2017) In vivo gibberellin gradients visualized in rapidly elongating tissues. Nat Plants. doi: 10.1038/s41477-017-0021-9

Free with the link: rdcu.be/wnOh

Alexander Jones (SLCU) collaborates with Wolf Frommers’ lab in Stanford to develop a novel tool to analyse the plant hormone gibberellin in planta. This optogenetic biosensor protein allowed them to show that GA levels correlate with cell length in hypocotyl and root tissues. GA levels are dependent on PIF signalling in a relationship that controls rapid tissue elongation in reponse to favourable environmental conditions. We’re pleased to announce that Alexander will be speaking at next September’s GARNet2018: A Plant Science Showcase at the University of York.


Cortijo S, Charoensawan V, Brestovitsky A, Buning R, Ravarani C, Rhodes D, van Noort J, Jaeger KE, Wigge PA (2017) Transcriptional regulation of the ambient temperature response by H2A.Z-nucleosomes and HSF1 transcription factors in Arabidopsis. Molecular Plant doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2017.08.014

Open Access

Phil Wigge (SLCU) leads this work that investigates how the temperature responsive histone variant H2A.Z interacts with heat shock transcription factors (HSFs). They find that the activity of HSFs is able to evict H2A.Z histones yet at non-inducible temperatures these heat responsive genes show an over-representation of H2A.Z-nucleosomes. They demonstrate that this relationship allows plants to be primed to rapidly response to temperature change whilst preventing leaky transcription in times of low temperature.

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