Arabidopsis Research Roundup: August 27th

The Arabdopsis Research Roundup broadens its remit this week. As well as including three original research papers, which look at casparian strip formation, light and hormone signaling, we also highlight an important viewpoint article that aims to set standards for synthetic biology parts. In addition we include a meeting report from a plant synthetic biology summer school and interviews with plant scientists at the JIC, Caroline Dean and Anne Osbourn.

Kamiya T, Borghi M, Wang P, Danku JM, Kalmbach L, Hosmani PS, Naseer S, Fujiwara T, Geldner N, Salt DE (2015) The MYB36 transcription factor orchestrates Casparian strip formation Proc Natl Acad Sci USA Open Access

GARNet Advisory Board Chairman David Salt (Aberdeen) leads this international collaboration that looks at the (relatively) poorly understood Casparian strip (CS), a lignin-based filter that lies in root endodermal cells. Formation of the CS is initiated by Casparian strip domain proteins (CASPs) that recruit other proteins, which begin the process of lignin deposition. In this study the authors look upstream this process and identify the transcription factor MYB36 that directly regulates expression of CASPs and is essential for CS formation. Ectopic expression of MYB36 in root cortical tissues is sufficient to stimulate expression of CASP1-GFP and subsequent deposit a CS-like structure in the cell wall of cortex cells. These results have implications for the design of future experiments that aim to control how nutrients are taken up by the plant as even though myb36 mutants have a ‘root-defect’, they also have changes to their leaf ionome.

Sadanandom A, Ádám É, Orosa B, Viczián A, Klose C, Zhang C, Josse EM, Kozma-Bognár L, Nagy F (2015) SUMOylation of phytochrome-B negatively regulates light-induced signaling in Arabidopsis thaliana Proc Natl Acad Sci USA Open Access

Ari Sadanandom (Durham) and Ferenc Nagy (Edinburgh) are the leaders of this study that investigates the precise function of the PhyB photoreceptor protein. PhyB interacts with a wide range of downstream signaling partners including the PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR (PIF) transcription factors. The small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) peptide is conjugated to larger proteins to bring about a variety of signaling outcomes. In this case the authors find that SUMO is preferentially attached to the C-term of PhyB under red light conditions, a relationship that occurs in a diurnal pattern. SUMOylation of PhyB prevents interaction with PIF5 whilst the OVERLY TOLERANT TO SALT 1 (OTS1) protein likely de-SUMOlyates PhyB in vivo. Altered levels of PhyB SUMOylation cause distinct light-responsive phenotypes and as such this paper adds another level of regulation to the already complex known network that controls light signaling.

Schuster C, Gaillochet C, Lohmann JU (2015) Arabidopsis HECATE genes function in phytohormone control during gynoecium development Development. Open Access

Christopher Schuster who is now a postdoc based at the Sainsbury lab in Cambridge is the lead author on this investigation into the role of the HECATE (HEC) family of bHLH transcription factors on fruit development in Arabidopsis. During this process HEC proteins are involved in the response to both the phytohormones auxin and cytokinin, the authors proposing that HEC1 plays an essential role in Arabidopsis gynoecium formation.

Patron N et al (2015) Standards for plant synthetic biology: a common syntax for exchange of DNA parts New Phytologist Open Access

Carmichael RE, Boyce A, Matthewman C Patron N (2015) An introduction to synthetic biology in plant systems New Phytologist Open Access

Although not strictly based on Arabdopsis work, there are a couple of articles in New Phytologist that have broad relevance to plant scientists who are interested in plant synthetic biology. In the first of these Nicola Patron (The Sainsbury Laboratory) leads a wide consortium that aims to set parameters for the standardisation of parts in plant synthetic biology. It is hoped that as the principles of synbio are used more widley in the plant sciences that the proposals in this paper will serve as a useful guide to standidise part production. GARNet has recently written a blog post on this topic.
The associated meeting report looks at the use of plant synthetic biology in a teaching context with a synopsis of the ERASynBio summer school hosted by John Innes Centre. In this event, young researchers from a range of backgrounds were introduced to the power and potential of plant synthetic biology through a diverse course of lectures, practical session and group projects.


Vicente C (2015) An interview with Caroline Dean Development Open Access

An interview with Anne Osbourn (2015) New Phytologist <a href="http://dx.doi acheter″ onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘outbound-article’, ‘’, ‘ ‘]);” target=”_blank”> Open Access

These are interviews with eminent female plant molecular biologists who both work at the John Innes Centre. Caroline Dean’s lab focuses on the epigenetic mechanisms that regulate vernalisation whilst Anne Osbourn is interested in using synthetic biology approaches to engineer metabolic pathways for the production of novel compounds.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: August 5th

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup bucks the recent trend of featuring large consortium-led studies as it contains four studies each from a single UK Institution. Matthew Jones (Essex) looks at the link between photosynthesis, the circadian clock and blue-light signaling whilst Miriam Gifford (Warwick) uses cell sorting to more precisely define the plants response to an oomycete pathogen. Elsewhere Peter Eastmond (Rothamstead) looks at lipid metabolism and Keith Lindsey (Durham) leads a theorectical study on the effectiveness of methods for modelling hormone crosstalk in the root.

Litthauer S, Battle M, Lawson T, Jones MA (2015) Phototropins Maintain Robust Circadian Oscillation of PSII Operating Efficiency Under Blue Light Plant J.

Matt Jones is a Leuverhulme Research Fellow at the University of Essex and this study is his first output as a group leader. It investigates the affect of the circadian clock on the operating efficiency of photosystem II (PSII). Previous this efficiency had been shown to be controlled by transcriptional feedback loops within the nucleus. However this study shows that in blue light it is maintained by phototropin receptors, which do not influence the nucleus. The novel imaging methodology used in this study highlight differences between the modulation of circadian outputs in distinct subcellular compartments.

Coker TL, Cevik V, Beynon JL, Gifford ML (2015) Spatial dissection of the Arabidopsis thaliana transcriptional response to downy mildew using Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting Front Plant Sci.

Miriam Gifford leads this study from the University of Warwick that looks at the transcriptional response of Arabidopsis to downy mildew infection. The Gifford lab are experts in analysis of transcriptional data from microarrays. This study uses FACS-sorted cells infected with the biotrophic oomycete pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis in an attempt to focus-in on infected cells without the diluting effects of non-infected cells within the same tissue. Almost 300 transcripts were differentially expressed between haustoriated and non-haustoriated cells and this technique uncovered novel genes that had previously not been implicated in playing a role in this pathogen response.

Craddock CP, Adams N, Bryant FM, Kurup S, Eastmond PJ (2015) Regulation of endomembrane biogenesis in Arabidopsis by PHOSPATIDIC ACID HYDROLASE Plant Signal Behav.

This study was wholly undertaken at Rothamsted Research led by Peter Eastmond. They investigate the coordination of lipid biosynthesis by focussing on the activity of two different enzymes, PHOSPHATIDIC ACID PHOSPHOHYDROLASE (PAH) and PHOSPHOCHOLINE CYTIDYLYLTRANSFERASE (CCT). These enzymes participate in a feedback loop to control the biosynthesis of phosphaticylcholine (PC) and phosphatidic acid (PA), which is linked to biogenesis of the endoplasmic reticulum. This work offers a clue that PAH activity may require phosphorylation even though this data is not yet clear.

Simon Moore, Xiaoxian Zhang, Junli Liu & Keith Lindsey (2015) Some fundamental aspects of modelling auxin patterning in the context of auxin-ethylene-cytokinin crosstalk Plant Signalling and Behaviour

In this manuscript Keith Lindsey and colleagues from Durham University use the paradigm of root-tip auxin-ethylene-cytokinin signaling to discuss the effectiveness of linking experimental data, reaction kinetics and spatiotemporal modelling to dissect hormonal crosstalk. The authors agree that the integration of kinetic equations with spatial root structure can produce powerful models for assessing the crosstalk of multiple hormone interactions in a spatiotemporal manner. Finally the authors come up with key recommendations to be considered when developing models for spatiotemporal hormonal crosstalk in the Arabidopsis root

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