Arabidopsis Research Roundup: July 18th

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Published on: July 18, 2017

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup includes four studies from around the UK. Firstly is a systems-level study of the drought response that includes Alessandra Devoto from RHUL as a co-author. Secondly Anne Osbourn’s group at the JIC investigates sesterterpenoid biosynthesis across plant species. Thirdly Paul Jarvis from Oxford University adds to this groups portfolio of research on the mechanisms that control thylakoid import. Finally Patrick Gallois (University of Manchester) provides further insight into the regulation of programmed cell death.

Kim JM, To TK et al (2017) Acetate-mediated novel survival strategy against drought in plants Nature Plants http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1038/nplants.2017.97

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Alessandra Devoto (Royal Holloway) is a co-author of this study led by Jong-Myong Kim, Mototaki Seki (RIKEN, Yokohama) and Taiko Kim Ko (University of Toyko) that investigates the system-wide alterations that plants make in response to drought stress. They demonstrate that the histone deacetylase HDA6 is the primary regulator of an epigenetic switch that leads to a metabolic flux conversion from glycolysis into acetate synthesis. This in turn stimulates the jasmonate signaling pathway that causes increased drought tolerance. Importantly the authors show that this critical survival response is evolutionarily conserved through monocots and dicots.

Huang AC, Kautsar SA, Hong YJ, Medema MH, Bond AD, Tantillo DJ, Osbourn A (2017) Unearthing a sesterterpene biosynthetic repertoire in the Brassicaceae through genome mining reveals convergent evolution. PNAS http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1073/pnas.1705567114

Open Access

Anne Osbourn (JIC) leads this study in which her group works with collaborators from Cambridge, Wageningen and UC Davis to perform a cross-species genome-wide analysis of sesterterpenoid biosynthesis. They use a novel search algorithm to identify paired enzymatic components that comprise sesterterpene synthases (STS). These enzymes were transiently overexpressed in tobacco leaves, resulting in the formation of fungal-like sesterterpenes, suggestive of convergent evolution of plant and fungal STS. This study illuminates possible future strategies for the beneficial use of sesterterpenes through metabolic and protein engineering

Bédard J, Trösch R, Wu F, Ling Q, Flores-Pérez Ú, Töpel M, Nawaz F, Jarvis P (2017) New Suppressors of the Chloroplast Protein Import Mutant tic40 Reveal a Genetic Link between Protein Import and Thylakoid Biogenesis. Plant Cell. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1105/tpc.16.00962 Open Access

Paul Jarvis (Oxford University) leads this global collaboration that focuses on the chloroplast protein import protein Tic40. A suppressor screen identified two novel regulators of Tic40, ALB4 and STIC2 that they postulate are involved in the thylakoid targeting of a subset of proteins and that their influence becomes more important in the absence of Tic40.

Cai YM, Yu J, Ge Y, Mironov A, Gallois P (2017) Two proteases with caspase-3-like activity, cathepsin B and proteasome, antagonistically control ER-stress-induced programmed cell death in Arabidopsis. New Phytol.

http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1111/nph.14676 Open Access

Patrick Gallois is the corresponding author on this study that originates at the University of Manchester. They attempt to establish a role for cathepsin B and proteasome subunit PBA1 in the control of programmed cell death (PCD) and whether their functions interest with those of caspase-3. They reveal a complex system of regulation where aspects of PCD are differentially impacted by each of these proteins. They propose the role of cathepsin B might occur late in PCD following tonoplast rupture.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: March 17th

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Published on: March 17, 2017

This weeks UK Arabidopsis Research Roundup includes three papers featuring researchers from the University of Nottingham as well as manuscripts from Leeds, Lancaster, QMUL and The Sainsburys Lab in Norwich

Firstly Stefan Kepinski (Leeds) leads a study that investigates how Gravitropic Set Point Angle (GSA) is controlled in response to different growth factors. Secondly are two Methods papers featuring researchers from CPIB in Nottingham, the first of which is in collaboration with Lancaster University and introduces the Microphentron, which is an automated phenotyping platform that can be used for chemical biology screens. The second paper describes a non-destructive method for imaging floral tissues using CT scanning.

Ranjan Swarup is also a member of CPIB and in the next paper he has collaborated with French colleagues to investigate the role of SHR on root development in rice.

The fourth paper includes Cyril Zipfel as a co-author and investigates the role of damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) in the response to pathogen attack whereas this weeks final paper is from the lab of Alexander Ruban (QMUL) and discovers the phenotypic consequences of persistent damage to PSII by photoinhibition.

Suruchi Roychoudhry, Martin Kieffer, Marta Del Bianco, Che-Yang Liao, Dolf Weijers Stefan Kepinski (2017) The developmental and environmental regulation of gravitropic setpoint angle in Arabidopsis and bean Scientific Reports

Open Access

Stefan Kepinski (University of Leeds) leads this study that involves a collaboration with Dolf Weijers from Wageningen University. They investigate the role of both auxin and environmental factors in determining gravitropic set point angle (GSA), which is a measure of the growth of lateral organs away from primary shoots and roots. They show that nitrogen and phosphorous deficiency causes opposing effects on lateral root GSA, each of which are auxin-dependent. This contrasts with previous findings from work using bean adventitious roots. They find that these differences are maintained when Arabidopsis and bean roots are treated with different auxin concentrations. Latterly they also look at the effect of different light conditions on shoot GSA and put these findings into the context of potentially altering crop growth.

Stefan takes some time to discuss this paper for the GARNet YouTube Channel.

Burrell T, Fozard S, Holroyd GH, French AP, Pound MP, Bigley CJ, James Taylor C, Forde BG (2017) The Microphenotron: a robotic miniaturized plant phenotyping platform with diverse applications in chemical biology. Plant Methods Open Access

This methods paper is a collaboration between the Universities of Lancaster and Nottingham led by Brian Forde that describes the Microphenotron. This device has been developed to facilitate chemical biology screens on in vivo plant tissues. This allows for the automated screening of either dicot or monocot roots or aerial tissues that have been grown on media infused with whichever chemical is relevant for the intended expriments. In situ GUS screening is also possible allowing for researchers to integrate information about growth and gene expression. The use of ‘Phytostrips’ in a 96-well format allows for high-throughput screening that is aligned with AutoRoot automated image analysis software to provide a rapid and facile method for undertaking small scale phenotypic screens. The Microphenotron facility is housed at the Lancester University, who are extremely open to collaboration so please get in contact if you are interested in using the facility.

Tracy SR, Gómez JF, Sturrock CJ, Wilson ZA, Ferguson AC (2017) Non-destructive determination of floral staging in cereals using X-ray micro computed tomography (µCT) Plant Methods. Open Access

Alison Ferguson is the corresponding author on this methods paper that includes GARNet committee member Zoe Wilson and Saoirse Tracy from Dublin. They have developed a technique using X-ray µCT scanning to image developing flowers in Arabidopsis and barley plants, taking advantage of the excellent Hounsfield facility at the University of Nottingham. They show that the technique can be hugely beneficial for plant phenotyping by providing a non-destructive method of analyzing live floral development and how this can response to changes in the growth environment. Members of the Hounsfield facility are happy to discuss any potential collaborative work and future access to these type of facilities will hopefully be improved through the UKs involvement in the pan-european EMPHASIS project.

Henry S, Dievart A, Fanchon D, Pauluzzi G, Meynard D, Swarup R, Wu S, Lee CM, Gallagher K, Périn C (2017) SHR overexpression induces the formation of supernumerary cell layers with cortex cell identity in rice. Dev Biol.

Ranjan Swarup (CPIB) is a co-author on this study that includes French and US researchers. Previously they had shown that expression of rice SHORTROOT (OsSHR) genes could compliment the Arabidopsis shr mutant. In this study they show that overexpression of OsSHR and AtSHR in rice roots causes growth of wider, shorter roots that have an increased number of cortical cell layers. This demonstrates that the mechanisms that control the differentiation of cortical cell layers is conserved throughout land plants, with SHR being a key determinant in this process.

de Azevedo Souza C, Li S, Lin AZ, Boutrot F, Grossmann G, Zipfel C, Somerville S (2017) Cellulose-derived oligomers act as damage-associated molecular patterns and trigger defense-like responses. Plant Physiol.

Cyril Zipfel (The Sainsbury Lab) is a co-author on this study from the lab of Shauna Somerville in California that focuses on the concept of damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). These can be defined as cell wall breakdown components and stimulate the same defence responses as more fully characterised pathogen- or microbe-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). Intuitively this makes sense as during infection many pathogens will cause cell wall breakdown. The authors show that cellulose-derived oligomers trigger a signalling response similar to that caused by oligogalacturonides or chito-oligomers but that lacks an increase in ROS or in callose deposition. These results confirm that cellulose-derived signals feed into the plants mechanism for cell wall scanning and acts synergistically with other signals that result from pathogen attack.

Tian Y, Ungerer P, Zhang H, Ruban AV (2017) Direct impact of the sustained decline in the photosystem II efficiency upon plant productivity at different developmental stages. J Plant Physiol.

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Alexander Ruban (QMUL) leads this Sino-UK collaboration that investigates how the photoinhibiton of photosystem II impacts overall plant growth. In this study they use lincomycin to block chloroplast protein synthesis, which prevents the plant from restoring PSII function after photoinhibitory damage. Treated plants accumulate less starch and showed reduced above-ground biomass. This leads to a decrease in seed yield. Perhaps unsurprisingly this research shows that restoring the full function of PSII after photoinhibition to key to maintaining normally functioning electron transport rate that leads into metabolic production and growth rate.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: March 6th.

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Published on: March 6, 2017

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup includes four papers that focus on different aspects of plant cell biology. Firstly Ian Henderson’s research group in Cambridge defines the role of a critical component that determines crossover frequency in plants and other eukaryotes. Secondly Karl Oparka (Edinburgh) leads a broad collaboration that defines the mechanism of unloading of solutes and macromolecules from the root phloem. Thirdly Keith Lindsey (Durham) has developed a model that describes how auxin patterns the Arabidopsis root. Finally Mike Blatt (Glasgow) is part of a group that uses Arabidopsis as a framework for the study of ABA-signaling during stomatal movement in ferns.

Ziolkowski PA, Underwood CJ, Lambing C, Martinez-Garcia M, Lawrence EJ, Ziolkowska L, Griffin C, Choi K, Franklin FC, Martienssen RA, Henderson IR (2017) Natural variation and dosage of the HEI10 meiotic E3 ligase control Arabidopsis crossover recombination. Genes Dev


Open Access

GARNet committee member Ian Henderson (University of Cambridge) leads this work that features collaborators from the UK, US and Poland. They use an experimental technique that allows facile analysis of recombination rates alongside a study of Arabidopsis natural variation to isolate a QTL that is critical for maintaining the correct number of crossovers during meiosis. This HEI10 gene codes for an E3 ligase (the targets of which are currently unknown) whose copy number is a key component in the control of recombination rate. Hei10 mutants have less crossovers whilst plants with extra copies of HEI10 have an increased number, especially in sub-telomeric regions of the genome. HEI10 is a highly conserved protein, demonstrating its important role to ensure appropriate levels of recombination throughout the evolution of eukaryotes.

Ian kindly takes ten minutes to discuss this paper with GARNet on our YouTube Channel.

Ross-Elliott TJ, Jensen KH, Haaning KS, Wager BM, Knoblauch J, Howell AH, Mullendore DL, Monteith AG, Paultre D, Yan D, Otero-Perez S, Bourdon M, Sager R, Lee JY, Helariutta Y, Knoblauch M, Oparka KJ (2017) Phloem unloading in Arabidopsis roots is convective and regulated by the phloem-pole pericycle. Elife.


Open Access

Karl Oparka (University of Edinburgh) is the corresponding author of this study that includes researchers from the UK, US and Denmark. Movement of solutes and macromolecules through the plant phloem is key for the correct distribution of nutrients allowing for optimal growth. In this paper they discover that unloading of molecules from the phloem occurs via a set of specialized funnel plasmodesmata that link the phloem to adjacent pericycle cells. Remarkably they find that whereas solutes are constantly unloaded, larger proteins are released through these plasmodesmata in discrete pulses, which they describe as ‘batch unloading’. Overall this study provides evidence of a major role for the phloem-pericycle cells in the process of moving essential nutrients from the phloem into surrounding tissues.

Moore S, Liu J, Zhang X, Lindsey K (2017) A recovery principle provides insight into auxin pattern control in the Arabidopsis root. Sci Rep. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1038/srep43004

Open Access

The work comes from the lab of Keith Lindsey (University of Durham) and developes a data-driven model that predicts the role of auxin patterning in the recovery of an Arabidopsis root following a perturbation of polar auxin transport. They demonstrate three main principles that define the role of auxin influx and efflux carriers in this process and also provide experimental validation for their predictions.

Cai S, Chen G, Wang Y, Huang Y, Marchant B, Wang Y, Yang Q, Dai F, Hills A, Franks PJ, Nevo E, Soltis D, Soltis P, Sessa E, Wolf PG, Xue D, Zhang G, Pogson BJ, Blatt MR, Chen ZH (2017)

Evolutionary Conservation of ABA Signaling for Stomatal Closure in Ferns Plant Physiol


Open Access

Mike Blatt (University of Glasgow) is a co-author on this global study that looks into the evolution of ABA-signaling in the control of stomatal closure. Although this study is focused on this process in ferns they build their findings on the analysis of transcriptional networks from Arabidopsis. Ultimately they find that the evolution of ABA-controlled guard cells movements are important in the adaptation of ferns to a terrestrial environment.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: February 20th

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Published on: February 19, 2017

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup begins with two papers that look at endogenous and exogenous causes of cell proliferation. Firstly Mike Bevan (JIC) leads a team that looks into the role of controlled protein degradation in this process whilst secondly, Peter Etchells from Durham is a co-author on a study that investigates how nematode pathogens stimulate cell proliferation at the site of infection.

Thirdly is work featuring Cyril Zipfel and colleagues from TSL that looks at how autophosphorylation controls the activity of calcium dependent protein kinases. Fourthly is a broad collaboration led by Richard Mott (UCL) that uses genomic structural variation to identify novel loci. Next Simon Turner from the University of Manchester phylogenetically defines the RALK peptide lineages across plant species. Finally researchers at the University of York conduct a structural analysis of the Arabidopsis AtGSTF2 glutathione transferase.

Dong H, Dumenil J, Lu FH, Na L, Vanhaeren H, Naumann C, Klecker M, Prior R, Smith C, McKenzie N, Saalbach G, Chen L, Xia T, Gonzalez N, Seguela M, Inze D, Dissmeyer N, Li Y, Bevan MW (2017) Ubiquitylation activates a peptidase that promotes cleavage and destabilization of its activating E3 ligases and diverse growth regulatory proteins to limit cell proliferation in Arabidopsis.

Genes Dev. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1101/gad.292235.116

Open Access

Mike Bevan (John Innes Centre) is the corresponding author of this study that also includes researchers from labs in Belgium, Germany and China. They investigate a fundamental determinant of organ shape, the pattern of cell proliferation that leads to final cell size. They show that two RING E3 ligases activate the DA1 peptidase that in turn affects the stabilization and activity of a range of other proteins including the transcription factors TEOSINTE BRANCED 1/CYCLOIDEA/PCF 15 (TCP15) and TCP22. Overall this results in continued cell proliferation and repression of endoreduplication, which ultimately serves to regulate the timing of the transition from cell proliferation to organ differentiation.

Mike discusses the science surrounding this paper on the GARNet YouTube channel.

Guo X,, Wang J, Gardner M, Fukuda H, Kondo Y, Etchells JP, Wang X, Mitchum MG. Identification of cyst nematode B-type CLE peptides and modulation of the vascular stem cell pathway for feeding cell formation. PLoS Pathog. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1006142

Open Access

Peter Etchells (University of Durham) is a co-author on this US-led study that looks at the effect of nematode-delivered CLE-like peptides on cell growth and how that impacts parasitism. This study has identified a new class of peptides from nematodes that are similar to the plant B-type CLE-like peptide TDIF (tracheary element differentiation inhibitory factor). They show that the nematodes alter the activity of the TDIF-TDR (TDIF receptor)-WOX4 signaling module during infection, whose endogenous function acts during procambial meristem cell proliferation. A variety of mutants involved in this process show reduced infection and leading to the hypothesis that WOX4 is a potential target for nematode CLEs. When exogenous nematode CLE peptides are added to Arabidopsis roots they cause massive cell proliferation. This demonstrates that this response is clearly important for the establishment of nematode infection, usually in cambial cell files.

Bender KW, Blackburn RK, Monaghan J, Derbyshire P, Menke FL, Zipfel C, Goshe MB, Zielinski RE, Huber SC (2017) Autophosphorylation-based calcium (Ca2+) sensitivity priming and Ca2+/Calmodulin inhibition of Arabidopsis thaliana Ca2+-dependent protein kinase 28 (CPK28) J Biol Chem.


Cyril Zipfel (The Sainsbury Lab) features for a second consecutive week on the Arabidopsis research roundup, this time as a co-author in a study that investigates the role of autophosphorylation in the regulation of calcium (Ca2+) dependent protein kinases (CPKs). In addition they evaluated the role of Calmodulin (CaM) on the activity of CPKs, something that had been previously overlooked. Indeed they show that CPK28 is a CaM-binding protein and that autophosphorylation causes increased activity, especially in low Ca2+ concentrations. Therefore this research provides a mechanistic insight into how a cell might respond to low levels of Ca2+.

Imprialou M, Kahles A, Steffen JG, Osborne EJ, Gan X, Lempe J, Bhomra A, Belfield E, Visscher A, Greenhalgh R, Harberd NP, Goram R, Hein J, Robert-Seilaniantz A, Jones J, Stegle O, Kover P, Tsiantis M, Nordborg M, Rätsch G, Clark RM, Mott R Genomic Rearrangements in Arabidopsis Considered as Quantitative Traits. Genetics. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1534/genetics.116.192823

Open Access

Richard Mott (UCL) is corresponding author on this paper includes authors from throughout the UK, Europe and the US. They provide a new analysis of Arabidopsis populations that relies on the genome structural variation. They treat these structural variants as quantitative traits and subsequently map genetically in the same way as in a gene expression study. When a structural variant locus is linked to a genotype at a distant locus then it is designated as a site of transposition. Remarkably they show 25% of the structural variants can be assigned to the transposition events. This method of assessing structural variant loci is amendable to sequencing at low-coverage and this study identified loci that might be involved in germination and resistant to pathogens. Overall they find that genes within structural variants are more likely to be silenced and that this novel analysis technique is particularly useful when mapping transposition events.

Campbell L, Turner SR1(2017) A Comprehensive Analysis of RALF Proteins in Green Plants Suggests There Are Two Distinct Functional Groups. Front Plant Sci. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.3389/fpls.2017.00037

Open Access

This study from the lab of Simon Turner (University of Manchester) analyse Rapid Alkalinization Factor (RALFs) cysteine-rich peptides from across 51 plant species. They infer that these plant RALFs originate from four major clades in which the majority of the variation exists in the mature peptide sequence, indicative of clade-specific activities. Clade IV accounts for a third of the total peptides yet these lack a number of sequence features thought to be important for RALF function, which leads the authors to speculate that this clade should be thought of as containing RALF-related peptides instead of regular RALFs. Further experimental work is needed in order to define the true nature of the functional relationship between Clades I-III and Clade IV.

Ahmad L, Rylott EL, Bruce NC, Edwards R, Grogan G (2016) Structural evidence for Arabidopsis glutathione transferase AtGSTF2 functioning as a transporter of small organic ligands. FEBS Open Bio. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1002/2211-5463.12168

Open Access

This paper links plant science and structural biology in a study that was undertaken at the University of York. Plant Glutathione transferases (GSTs) have multiple roles including in the detoxification of xenobiotics as well as in various non-catalytic roles. In this work the structure of the Arabidopsis AtGSTF2 is revealed in tandem with a variety of non-catalytic partners including indole-3-aldehyde, camalexin, the flavonoid quercetrin and its non-rhamnosylated analogue quercetin. These are thought to bind to AtGSTF2 by hydrophobic interactions at either one or two symmetrical binding sites. The authors speculate that this non-catalytic binding might have a possible role in ligand transport.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: August 26th

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Published on: August 26, 2016

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup includes three papers across a wide range of topics. Firstly is a widely-reported study, described here with an audio description by Nik Cunniffe and Sanjie Ziang, of the evolutionary relationship between viral infection, pollinator attraction, plant fertility and miRNA-regulated gene expression. Secondly, Gordon Simpson is a co-author on a paper that has elucidated the crystal structure of the FPA proteins and finally Gareth Jenkins leads an investigation into the relationship between UV light, the UVR8 protein and histone modifications.

Groen SC, Jiang S, Murphy AM, Cunniffe NJ, Westwood JH, Davey MP, Bruce TJ, Caulfield JC, Furzer OJ, Reed A, Robinson SI, Miller E, Davis CN, Pickett JA, Whitney HM, Glover BJ, Carr JP (2016) Virus Infection of Plants Alters Pollinator Preference: A Payback for Susceptible Hosts? PLoS Pathog. 12(8):e1005790


Open Access
This pan-UK collaboration is led by John Carr, Beverly Glover and Nik Cunniffe at the University of Cambridge and has received wide attention in the general press. Nik Cunniffe also kindly provides an audio description of this work that looked into the effect of viral infection on the attraction of pollinators. The authors used GC-MS to look at the volatiles produced in virally infected Arabidopsis and tomato plants, showing that infection can alter the foraging behavior of bumblebees. Mutational analysis of both cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) and Arabidopsis showed that the microRNA pathway is involved in regulating the emission of these pollinator-perceivable volatiles. When virus-infected tomato plants were not pollinated there was a clear reduction in seed yield, indicating that the plant requires the volatile production following viral infection to attract pollinators, leading to reproductive success. Importantly the authors model the possible trade-off between viral infection and reproductive success in the wild, which might oppose the strong selective pressure for the establishment of disease-resistance genes. The authors speculate that this is a co-beneficial relationship for both virus and plant.

Nick Cunniffe and Sanjie Jiang kindly provide an audio description of this work.


Zhang Y, Rataj K, Simpson GG, Tong L (2016) Crystal Structure of the SPOC Domain of the Arabidopsis Flowering Regulator FPA PLoS One 11(8):e0160694


Open Access

Gordon Simpson (University of Dundee) in a co-author on this US-led study that has elucidated the crystal structure of the SPOC domain of the FPA floral regulator protein. FPA contains a N-terminal RNA recognition motif and a C-terminal SPEN paralog and ortholog C-terminal (SPOC) domain. This SPOC domain is highly conserved throughout plant species and this crystal structure is an important development in our understanding of the regulation of RNA 3’-end formation and how much the plant SPOC domains compare with an equivalent from metazoans.


Velanis CN, Herzyk P, Jenkins GI (2016) Regulation of transcription by the Arabidopsis UVR8 photoreceptor involves a specific histone modification Plant Mol Biol.


Open Access

Gareth Jenkins (Glasgow) leads this study that continues his groups work on the Arabidopsis UVR8 photoreceptor. They show that UV-B exposure increases histone lysine acetylation on UVR8-regulated genes in a UVR8 dependent manner. In fact all of the histone enrichments throughout the genome following UV-B required UVR8 activity. However the authors could find no direct interaction between UVR8 and the known enzymes involved in light-mediated histone modification indicating that UVR8 either interacts with a novel set of proteins or the UVR8 effect is mediated via a currently unknown signaling intermediate.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: August 8th

This weeks Arabidopsis Roundup contains a wide breadth of UK research. Firstly the lab of Jurriaan Ton undertakes a global analysis into the role of methylation in the immune response. Jurriaan kindly provides a short audio description of this work. Secondly Dame Caroline Dean’s lab further add to our understanding of the vernalisation response in Arabidopsis. Thirdly is work from Rothamstead that evaluates the fatty acid composition of the seed aleurone while fourthly is a study from Durham and Oxford Brookes that introduces a novel regulator of autophagy. Finally is a study that adds clarity to the phenotypic effects resulting from ascorbic acid deficiency.

López Sánchez A, H M Stassen J, Furci L, Smith LM, Ton J (2016) The role of DNA (de)methylation in immune responsiveness of Arabidopsis Plant Journal Open Access

Jurriaan Ton is the corresponding for study from the University of Sheffield that looks into the role of reversible methylation on the Arabidopsis immune response. Methylation is a well known regulator of gene expression and in this research the authors attempt to interrogate its effect on the immune response. Hypo-methylated mutants are more resistant, whilst hyper-methylated mutants are more suspectible to the biotrophic pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis (Hpa). Downstream gene expression changes in these methylation mutants focus at the level of cell-wall modification and salicylic acid (SA)-responses. Oppositely the hypo-methylated mutant nrpe1 is more suspective to the necrotrophic pathogen Plectosphaerella cucumerina whilst the hyper-methylated ros1 mutant is resistant to this organism. The Ton-lab has been involved in the discovery of the exciting phenomon of transgenerational acquired resistance, and both nrpe1 and ros1 fail to develop this response against Hpa. Global gene expression shows that either NRPE1 or ROS1 influence about 50% of the gene expression changes that occur following Hpa infection. Finally since less than 15% of genes with altered gene expression reside close to NRPE1 or ROS1, the authors are able to propose that much of this regulation is due to methylation effects that act in trans- throughout the genome.

Jurriaan kindly provides a comprehensive description of this work:

Qüesta JI, Song J, Geraldo N, An H, Dean C (2016) Arabidopsis transcriptional repressor VAL1 triggers Polycomb silencing at FLC during vernalization Science. 353(6298):485-8


Dame Caroline Dean (John Innes Centre) is the lead author of this manuscript that builds upon the portfolio of work from her lab aimed at characterising the vernalization response. This work again uses the FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) gene as a model to study the factors that allow gene-silencing mediated by Polycomb silencing complexes. The authors find that a single intragenic point mutation prevents nucleation of the homeodomain-Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PHD-PRC2) to this region, a process that involves the transcriptional repressor VAL1. In the wildtype FLC locus the localisation of VAL1 promotes transcriptional silencing through histone deacylation through interaction with the conserved apoptosis- and splicing-associated protein (ASAP) complex. This study adds an additional layer of molecular complexity to the process of regulating the FLC locus and provides insight into the important role for primary sequence-specific targeting during gene silencing.

Bryant F, Munoz-Azcarate O, Kelly AA, Beaudoin F, Kurup S, Eastmond PJ (2016) Acyl carrier protein DESATURASE 2 and 3 are responsible for making omega-7 fatty acids in the aleurone Plant Physiology Open Access

Peter Eastmond (Rothamstead) leads this work that investigates the components that determine seed fatty acid content. Specifically Omega-7 monounsaturated fatty acids (ω-7s) are enriched in the aleurone of Arabidopsis seeds so this study used a Multiparent Advanced Generation Inter-Cross population to identify a QTL linked to ω-7 content that includes the ACYL-ACYL CARRIER PROTEIN DESATURASE1 (AAD1) and AAD3 genes. AAD family members possess both stearoyl- and palmitoyl-ACP Δ9 desaturase activity and aad3 mutants show a significant reduction in ω-7 content, which is common with mutants in other AAD family members. In addition the authors show that the FATTY ACID ELONGASE1 protein is required for accumulation of long-chain ω-7s in the aleurone. Overall this research provides new insight into the pathway that produces ω-7s in the aleurone, indicating that these genes might represent a target for future strategies to alter seed fatty acid content.

Wang P, Richardson C, Hawes C, Hussey PJ.(2016) Arabidopsis NAP1 Regulates the Formation of Autophagosomes Current Biology


This is collaborative effort between the labs of Patrick Hussey (Durham) and Chris Hawes (Oxford Brookes) investigates the role of the NAP1 protein, which is a member of the SCAR/WAVE complex, on the formation of autophagosomes. These organelles are induced by certain stress conditions and fewer are produced in nap1 mutants after starvation stress. This also corresponds to wildtype NAP1 localisation. Concomitantly nap1 mutants, as well as mutants of other members of SCAR/WAVE complex, are more suspectible to nitrogen starvation and is less tolerant to salt stress. The best characterised role of the SCAR/WAVE complex is during ARP2/3-mediated actin nucleation yet this study demonstrates an addition function as a regulatory of autophagy.

Lim B, Smirnoff N, Cobbett CS, Golz JF (2016) Ascorbate-Deficient vtc2 Mutants in Arabidopsis Do Not Exhibit Decreased Growth Front Plant Sci. 7:1025 Open Access

Nick Smirnoff (Exeter) is a co-author on the Australian-led research into Arabidopsis vtc mutants, which have a significant reduction in ascorbate-acid levels. Ascorbate is synthesized via the L-galactose pathway, the first enzyme of which is encoded by the paralogs VITAMIN C2 (VTC2) and VTC5. This study characterises the growth of a vtc2 T-DNA mutant that has a 30% reduction in ascorbate levels. Surprisingly this does not result in any signficant phenotypic and they suggest that a previously characterised growth reduction in other vtc2 mutant alleles is likely due to unknown genetic lesions.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: July 27th

Each of the papers in this Arabidopsis Research Roundup involves the response to different stimuli. Giles Johnson at Manchester provides an audio description of work that has discovered a novel mechanism of cold sensing whilst Gordon Simpson and John Brown from Dundee are contributors to work that has interrogated the sugar signaling pathway. Finally is a study from Warwick that has identified novel loci involved in ABA signaling and seed vigour.

Dyson BC, Miller MA, Feil R, Rattray N, Bowsher C, Goodacre R, Lunn JE, Johnson GN (2016) FUM2, a cytosolic fumarase, is essential for acclimation to low temperature in Arabidopsis thaliana Plant Physiology

Open Access


Giles Johnson (Manchester) is the corresponding author on this UK-German collaboration that looks at the mechanisms by which plants sense the low temperatures that cause significant phenotypic changes. GC-MS showed that fumarate is a key component in the cold tolerance response and that the activity of the FUM2 enzyme is responsible for accumulation of fumaric acid. Plants that lack FUM2 activity show significant alteration in gene expression and metabolite profile following a cold treatment and in particularly are unable to acclimate photosynthesis at lower temperatures. Therefore this study introduces a novel component of the temperature sensing apparatus, which might have broad significance for attempts to develop crops with an improved cold response.

Giles kindly provides an audio description of this work, which includes an overview into cold acclimation of photosynthesis. This includes an excellent ‘stress-ball’ analogy! (Apologies for pen-clicks :/).


Carvalho RF, Szakonyi D, Simpson CG, Barbosa IC, Brown JW, Baena-González E, Duque P (2016) The Arabidopsis SR45 Splicing Factor, a Negative Regulator of Sugar Signaling, Modulates SNF1-Related Protein Kinase 1 (SnRK1) Stability The Plant Cell


Gordon Simpson and John Brown (James Hutton Institute) are contributors to this Portuguese-led study that investigates the role of the SR45 splicing factor in sugar signaling. In sr45-1 mutants they show that glucose-feeding causes increased levels of the energy-sensing SNF1-Related Protein Kinase 1 (SnRK1) yet without increasing its gene expression. Concomitantly the hypersensitivity of sr45-1 mutants is rescued in plants with reduced levels of SnRK1. The authors discovered that the mechanistic link between these genes involves SR45-1 regulating the alternative splicing of the 5PTase13 gene, which encodes an inositol polyphosphate 5-phosphatase that interacts with SnRK1 in vivo. In wildtype plants 5PTase13 modulates proteasomal-mediated degradation of SnRK1 and therefore a perturbation of this process in sr45-1 explains this defect in sugar-sensing.

Morris K, Barker GC, Walley PG, Lynn JR, Finch-Savage WE (2016) Trait to gene analysis reveals that allelic variation in three genes determines seed vigour. New Phytol. Open Access

Bill Finch-Savage is the corresponding author on this study from the Warwick University that uses Brassica oleracea natural variation to identify novel loci involved in seed vigour. The discovered QTL was termed Speed of Germination (SOG1) and contained two genes, BoLCVIG2, a homologue of the alternative-splicing regulator (AtPTB1) and BoLCVIG1, which has unknown function. Transfer of these alleles into Arabdopsis causes alterations in seed germination, which is also observed in mutants of the equivalent Arabidopsis genes (At3g01060, At3g01150). Furthermore an additional discovered QTL encodes the Reduced ABscisic Acid 1 (RABA1) gene, which influences ABA content and seed vigour. Therefore this mapping strategy has discovered three genes that promote seed vigour resulting from alterations in ABA content and sensitivity.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: July 19th

There are six papers in this weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup. Two of these include research on the stomatal patterning gene TMM. Firstly a White Rose consortium investigates the ancestral basis of stomatal patterning, whilst a Glasgow-based study investigates the relationship between patterning and the dynamics of guard cell opening. The GARNet committee is represented by work from Cardiff that looks at the relationship between seed size and shoot branching and also from Cambridge in research that studies meiotic recombination in genomic regions important for pathogen defense. Finally are two studies that look into aspects of root and shoot patterning and include co-authors from CPIB in Nottingham or the John Innes Centre.

Caine R, Chater CC, Kamisugi Y, Cuming AC, Beerling DJ, Gray JE, Fleming AJ (2016) An ancestral stomatal patterning module revealed in the non-vascular land plant Physcomitrella patens Development Open Access

This study is a collaboration between labs in Sheffield and Leeds, led by Andrew Fleming (Sheffield). They investigate the role that the signalling module comprised of Epidermal Patterning Factors (EPFs), ERECTA and TMM play during the evolution of stomatal patterning. This module is known to play an important role in Arabidopsis and in this study the authors show that the moss Physcomitrella patens contains homologs of each of the genes and that they perform the same function. When P.paten versions of these genes are transferred to equivalent Arabidopsis mutants they show conserved function demonstrating that this module is an example of an ancestral patterning system.

Andrew Fleming provides a brief audio description of this manuscript:

Papanatsiou M, Amtmann A, Blatt MR (2016) Stomatal spacing facilitates guard cell ion transport independent of the epidermal solute reservoir. Plant Physiol. Open Access

Mike Blatt and Anna Amtmann (University of Glasgow) are the co-supervisors for this study into the relationshop between ion transport in stomatal guard cells and their physical positioning within a leaf. They used a genetic approach to assess the effect of stomatal clustering, showing that too many mouths (tmm) mutant plants have reduced stomatal movements associated with alterations in K+ channel gating and coincident with a surprising reduction in the level of K+ ions in guard cells. These results underline the importance of stomatal spacing in this process but do not provide a full explanation into the alteration in K+ ion dynamics.

Sornay E, Dewitte W, Murray JAH (2016) Seed size plasticity in response to embryonic lethality conferred by ectopic CYCD activation is dependent on plant architecture Plant Signaling and Behaviour e1192741 Open Access


This research comes from the lab of GARNet PI Jim Murray (Cardiff) and investigates cell proliferation and growth within a developing seed. They previously have shown that targeting of D-type cyclin CYCD7;1 to the central cell and early endosperm can trigger nuclear divisions and ovule abortion, which leads to a smaller number of larger seed. In this study they show that development of larger seed in transgenic plants is influenced by the architecture of the mother, as plants with increased side branches, caused by pruning of the main stem, do not generate this phenotype. This is indicative of a close relationship between the amount of resources allocated to different parts of the plant and that a transgenic effect was altered by a different plant morphology. This should provide an important insight into future work that aims to define the effect of any particular transgenic alteration.

Choi K, Reinhard C, Serra H, Ziolkowski PA,, Underwood CJ,, Zhao X, Hardcastle TJ, Yelina NE, Griffin C, Jackson M, Mézard C, McVean G, Copenhaver GP,, Henderson IR (2016) Recombination Rate Heterogeneity within Arabidopsis Disease Resistance Genes. PLoS Genet. 12(7):e1006179. Open Access

GARNet advisory board member Ian Henderson (Cambridge) is the corresponding author of this study that involves contributions from the UK, US, Poland and France. They investigate genomic regions that show increased meiotic recombination, which is predicted to occur coincident with genes involved in pathogen defence given their requirement to adapt to new external challenges. This study focuses on NBS-LRR domain proteins that tend to physically cluster in the Arabidopsis genome. Interesting they discovered both hot and coldspots for meiotic recombination that associate with NBS-LRR clusters, the later often correlating with structural heterozygosity. In a more detailed dissection of 1000 crossovers in the RESISTANCE TO ALBUGO CANDIDA1 (RAC1) R hotspot, they discovered higher recombination frequencies associating with known sequence motifs important for the pathogen response, which were influenced by ecotype-specific factors. Ultimately the authors note that there is a complex relationship between regions of meiotic recombination, structural heterozygosity and the evolutionary pressures that occurs with host-pathogen relationships.

Orman-Ligeza B, Parizot B, de Rycke R, Fernandez A, Himschoot E, Van Breusegem F, Bennett MJ, Périlleux C, Beeckman T, Draye X (2016) RBOH-mediated ROS production facilitates lateral root emergence in Arabidopsis. Development Open Access


 Malcolm Bennett (CPIB) is the sole UK-based co-author on this study led by Belgian collaborators and investigates the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in auxin-regulated lateral root (LR) formation. They show that ROS can reactivate LR primordia and pre-branch sites, resulting in increased LR numbers. This occurs in both wildtype and in auxin mutants that have reduced numbers due to changes in auxin-mediated cell wall remodeling. ROS is deposited in the apoplast of emerging LR cells in a pattern that is coincident with the expression of the RESPIRATORY BURST OXIDASE HOMOLOGS (RBOH) genes. Concomitantly the altered expression of RBOH was shown to affect the development and emergence of LRs. This adds a further level of complexity to the current understanding of the signaling factors that converge to facilitate LR growth.


Shi B,, Zhang C, Tian C, Wang J,, Wang Q,, Xu T,, Xu Y, Ohno C, Sablowski R, Heisler MG, Theres K, Wang Y, Jiao Y (2016) Two-Step Regulation of a Meristematic Cell Population Acting in Shoot Branching in Arabidopsis. PLoS Genet. Open Access

This Chinese-led study includes Robert Sablowski (JIC) as a co-author and studies the factors that influence the development of axillary meristems. They use innovative live imaging to show that SHOOT MERISTEMLESS (STM) is continuously expressed and that this dependent on a leaf axil auxin minimum. Once STM expression is lost then the axil is unable to form a meristem even if STM is switched back later in development, indicating that cells undergo an irreversible developmental commitment. The expression domain of STM is under cell-type specific control of REVOLUTA (REV) DNA binding. Overall this study demonstrates that meristematic competence and initiation is dependent on differing levels of the key regulator STM.

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