Arabidopsis Research Roundup: October 5th

After a brief hiatus the UK Arabidopsis Research Roundup returns with eight papers that focus on different aspects of Arabidopsis cell biology.

Firstly GARNet PI Jim Murray leads a study that performs a genome-wide analysis of sub-nucleosomal particles whilst Phil Wigge’s lab at SLCU conducts a more focused study on G-box regulatory sequences.

Thirdly Veronica Grieneisen (JIC) and co-workers have modelled the process of boron transport in the root, revealing exciting insights into how traffic jams might form.

Fourthly is a large scale biology paper led by Miriam Gifford (University of Warwick) that looks at the temporal and spatial expression patterns that control lateral root development.

Next Alexander Ruban (QMUL) investigates how low-light acclimated plants respond to high light.

The sixth and seventh studies are led by Alison Baker (Leeds) or Bill Davies (Lancaster) and look at phosphate or hormone signaling respectively.

Finally Gareth Jenkins (University of Glasgow) compares the UV-B signaling module in lower plants with that in Arabidopsis.


Pass DA, Sornay E, Marchbank A, Crawford MR, Paszkiewicz K, Kent NA, Murray JAH (2017) Genome-wide chromatin mapping with size resolution reveals a dynamic sub-nucleosomal landscape in Arabidopsis. PLoS Genet. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006988

Open Access

GARNet PI Jim Murray is the corresponding author on this study that performs a whole-genome scan of sub-nucleosomal particles (subNSPs) that have been identified using differential micrococcal nuclease (MNase) digestion. They link the position of subNSPs with RNAseq data taken from plants grown in different light conditions. They show that this new technique is able to discriminate regulatory regions that have been obscured by previous experimental procedures and therefore represents a very useful experimental method.


Ezer D, Shepherd SJ, Brestovitsky A, Dickinson P, Cortijo S, Charoensawan V, Box MS, Biswas S, Jaeger K, Wigge PA (2017) The G-box transcriptional regulatory code in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol. 10.1104/pp.17.01086

Open Access

Phil Wigge (SLCU) is the corresponding author of this study that investigates the sequence elements that are linked to the conserved G-box regulatory motifs. They identify a set of bZIP and bHLH transcription factors that predict the expression of genes downstream of perfect G-boxes. In addition they have developed a website that provide visualisations of the G-box regulatory network (araboxcis.org).


Sotta N, Duncan S, Tanaka M, Takafumi S, Marée AF, Fujiwara T, Grieneisen VA (2017) Rapid transporter regulation prevents substrate flow traffic jams in boron transport. Elife. doi: 10.7554/eLife.27038

Open Access

Veronica Grieneisen (JIC) is the lead author on this detailed analysis of the regulatory circuits that are established during boron uptake in Arabidopsis roots. They used mathematical modelling to show that during boron uptake, swift regulation of transport activity is needed to prevent toxic accumulation of the metal. This system has analogy to the way in which traffic jams of nutrient flow might form and has relevance for regulatory systems outside of plant science. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170905104358.htm


Walker L, Boddington C, Jenkins D, Wang Y, Grønlund JT, Hulsmans J, Kumar S, Patel D, Moore JD, Carter A, Samavedam S, Bomono G, Hersh DS, Coruzzi GM, Burroughs NJ, Gifford ML (2017) Root architecture shaping by the environment is orchestrated by dynamic gene expression in space and time. Plant Cell. doi: 10.1105/tpc.16.00961

Open Access

Miriam Gifford (University of Warwick) leads this broad consortium that has taken a systems biology approach to better define the environmental factors that control dynamic root architecture. They track transcriptional responses during lateral root development in remarkable detail, looking at individual transcripts. They confirm the idea that the activity of a gene is not simply a function of its amino acid sequence but rather the temporal and spatial regulation of its expression.


Tian Y, Sacharz J, Ware MA, Zhang H, Ruban AV (2017) Effects of periodic photoinhibitory light exposure on physiology and productivity of Arabidopsis plants grown under low light. J Exp Bot. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erx213. Open Access

Alexander Ruban (QMUL) is the corresponding author on this collaboration with Chinese colleagues that examined the effect of high-light stress on low-light acclimated Arabidopsis plants. Initially these plants showed significant photo-inhibition but that they recovered rapidly and after 2 weeks of treatment there was no change in photosynthetic yield. In addition high light acclimated plants showed accelerated reproductive phase change that coincided with higher seed yield.


Qi W, Manfield IW, Muench SP, Baker A (2017) AtSPX1 affects the AtPHR1 -DNA binding equilibrium by binding monomeric AtPHR1 in solution. Biochem J. doi: 10.1042/BCJ20170522 Open Access

Alison Baker (University of Leeds) leads this research that focusses on the binding of the Phosphate Starvation Response 1 (PHR1) transcription factor to regulatory P1BS DNA sequences. They show a tandem P1BS sequence is bound more strongly than a single P1BS site. Ultimately they demonstrate tight regulation of phosphate signaling both by the concentration of phosphate as well as the activity of the interacting SPX protein.


Li X, Chen L, Forde BG, Davies WJ (2017) The Biphasic Root Growth Response to Abscisic Acid in Arabidopsis Involves Interaction with Ethylene and Auxin Signalling Pathways. Front Plant Sci. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.01493 Open Access

Bill Davies and Brian Forde (Lancaster University) lead this work that investigates the effect on ethylene and auxin on the biphasic response to ABA during root elongation. They used a range of hormone signalling mutants to show that the response to high ABA is via both ethylene and auzin signalling. In contrast the response to low ABA does not require ethylene signalling.


Soriano G, Cloix C, Heilmann M, Núñez-Olivera E, Martínez-Abaigar J, Jenkins GI (2017) Evolutionary conservation of structure and function of the UVR8 photoreceptor from the liverwort Marchantia polymorpha and the moss Physcomitrella patens. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.14767

Gareth Jenkins (University of Glasgow) is the corresponding author of this work that looks at the role of the UVR8 UV-B receptor in lower plants. They expressed the versions of UVR8 from a moss or a liverwort in Arabidopsis and showed that although there appears to be differences in the regulation of this protein, the mechanism of UV-B signaling is evolutionarily conserved

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: March 31st.

This bumper edition of the Arabidopsis Research Roundup includes a wide range of research topics. Firstly Mike Roberts leads a study that adds another layer of complexity to our understanding of the factors that control seed dormancy. Secondly a paper from Ottoline Leyser’s lab at SLCU provides more details regarding the role of BRC1 during shoot branching. Next is a paper that continues David Salt’s collaborative work that aims to understand how the root endodermal barrier influences nutrient uptake. Fourthly is work from Bristol that looks at the interaction between viral infection, the structure of the leaf surface and the polarization of reflected light. The fifth paper features a wide collaboration from the Sainsbury lab in Norwich and aims to more fully understand the factors that lead to non-host infection by Phytophthora infestans. The penultimate paper looks at the interaction of aldolase enzymes with the plant actin cytoskeleton and the final paper brings us full circle back to seed dormancy where researchers from University of Warwick investigate the link between this complex growth response and the circadian clock.

Singh P, Dave A, Vaistij FE, Worrall D, Holroyd GH, Wells JG, Kaminski F, Graham IA, Roberts MR (2017) Jasmonic acid-dependent regulation of seed dormancy following maternal herbivory in Arabidopsis. New Phytol http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1111/nph.14525

Taken from: http://www.snakesandspiders.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/red-spider-mite-control.jpg

Open Access

Mike Roberts (University of Lancaster) kindly provides an audio description of this paper on the GARNet YouTube channel, explaining that, in collaboration with Ian Graham at the University of York, they have identified a new control mechanism that links jasmonic acid, herbivory and seed dormancy. ABA and GA are known to be important hormones in the control of seed dormancy but this study adds complexity to this story by showing that following herbivory (or leaf wounding), the level of JA increases within Arabidopsis seeds. Perhaps counter-intuitively, in the following generation this leads to a reduction in dormancy, causing seed to germinate sooner than those from non-predated parents. The authors show that this is due to an increase in JA within seeds that importantly also alters sensitivity to ABA. Unlike transgenerational defence priming that acts through a epigenetic mechanism and persists for multiple generations , this study shows that the JA effect on seeds is a more direct response. Ultimately the mechanism in which parents prepare their offspring for subsequent generations is a complex trade off between multiple sources of predation and pathogenesis, environmental factors as well as through the effect of interacting hormone signaling pathways.


Seale M, Bennett T, Leyser O (2017) BRC1 expression regulates bud activation potential, but is not necessary or sufficient for bud growth inhibition in Arabidopsis. Development http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1242/dev.145649 Open Access

This is the latest contribution from Ottoline Leyser’s lab that looks into the hormonal control of shoot branching. A key determinant of this process is the transcription factor, BRANCHED1 (BRC1) yet this study shows that under certain conditions, in this case with varied amount of strigolactone, the controlling effect of BRC1 expression levels can be mitigated. The authors provide evidence for a mechanism for branching control that involves the coordinated activity of BRC1 and an auxin-transport mechanism, both of which are influenced by a separate strigolactone-mediated signaling pathway.


Li B, Kamiya T, Kalmbach L, Yamagami M, Yamaguchi K, Shigenobu S, Sawa S, Danku JM, Salt DE, Geldner N, Fujiwara T (2017) Role of LOTR1 in Nutrient Transport through Organization of Spatial Distribution of Root Endodermal Barriers. Current Biology

http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1016/j.cub.2017.01.030

Former GARNet chairman David Salt is a co-author on this paper that is lead by Japanese and Swiss colleagues and continues his work on the development of the casparian strip. These rings of lignin polymers are deposited within root endodermal cells and play a key role in the movement of water and nutrients into the vascular tissue. Suberin lamellae have a similar function and surround endodermal cells, likely acting as a barrier to apoplastic movement. This paper documents the identification of the Tolkienesquely-named LOTR1, which is essential for casparian strip formation. Lotr1 mutants show disrupted casparian strips, ectopic suberization and reduced calcium accumulation in the shoot. Further analysis demonstrates that it is this suberized layer substitutes for the CS in regions of lateral root emergence. Utliamtely they show that the relationship between suberization of the endodermal layer is a key determinant of calcium movement into the root and then around the rest of the plant.


Maxwell DJ, Partridge JC, Roberts NW, Boonham N, Foster GD (2017) The effects of surface structure mutations in Arabidopsis thaliana on the polarization of reflections from virus-infected leaves. PLoS One

http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1371/journal.pone.0174014.g003 Open Access

Gary Foster (University of Bristol) leads this study that continues his labs work on the effect that viral infection has on light polarization when reflected off leaves. This attribute is important to attract insect predators, which in turn increase the possibility of successful viral transmission. Light polarization is affected by structures on the leaf surface such as trichomes or the makeup of the waxy cuticle. Here the authors show that the cer5 wax synthesis mutant alters the polarization of light following infection with Turnip vein clearing virus (TVCV) but not following infection with Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV). The paper provides no mechanism for this difference but the authors do show that leaf viral titre is equivalent in these mutants and therefore speculate that these changes might influence transmission of each virus by a different insect carrier that in turn responses to different patterns of polarized light.


Prince DC, Rallapalli G, Xu D, Schoonbeek HJ, Çevik V,, Asai S,, Kemen E,, Cruz-Mireles N, Kemen A,, Belhaj K, Schornack S,, Kamoun S, Holub EB, Halkier BA, Jones JD (2017) Albugo-imposed changes to tryptophan-derived antimicrobial metabolite biosynthesis may contribute to suppression of non-host resistance to Phytophthora infestans in Arabidopsis thaliana. BMC Biol. 

http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1186/s12915-017-0360-z  Open Access

This paper is a wide collaboration that features many colleagues from the Sainsbury lab in Norwich. Wildtype Arabidopsis plants are suspectible to Phytophthora infestans only after earlier infection with Albugo laibachii yet the molecular explanation of this complex interaction between plant and microbes remained opaque. This study demonstrates that Albugo infection alters the levels of a set of tryptophan-derived antimicrobial compounds, which were then found to be relevant for infection with P.infestans. This shows that these antimicrobial compounds might be key for the general maintenance of non-host resistance and might provide important information to aid future strategies to improve food security by reducing biomass loss due to plant pathogens.


Garagounis C, Kostaki KI, Hawkins TJ, Cummins I, Fricker MD, Hussey PJ, Hetherington AM2, Sweetlove LJ (2017) Microcompartmentation of cytosolic aldolase by interaction with the actin cytoskeleton in Arabidopsis. J Exp Bot.

http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1093/jxb/erx015

This collaboration between the Universities of Oxford, Bristol and Durham looks into the functional role that molecular microcompartments play in the workings of a cell. Animal models have shown that certain aldolase enzymes are able to function as actin-bundling proteins and so this study focuses on a major plant cytosolic aldolase, FBA8, which is predicted to have two actin binding sites. Although the authors could not detect co-localisation of FBA8-RFP with the actin cytoskeleton they provide in vitro evidence that FBA8 can functionally interact with F-actin. In addition in fba8 mutants there is altered arrangement of actin filaments in guard cells that concomitantly results in a reduced rate of stomatal closure. Therefore these findings leads the authors to propose that FBA8 is able to subtly interact with actin in vivo, evidenced by some FRET-FLIM experiments, and that this may modulate actin dependent cell responses.


Footitt S, Ölcer-Footitt H, Hambidge AJ, Finch-Savage WE (2017) A laboratory simulation of Arabidopsis seed dormancy cycling provides new insight into its regulation by clock genes and the dormancy-related genes DOG1, MFT, CIPK23 and PHYA. Plant Cell Environ http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1111/pce.12940

William Savage-Finch (University of Warwick) is the corresponding author on this paper that investigates mechanisms that control seed dormancy, which has been built from the analysis of a variety of genetic and environmental factors. They test their predictions by testing a range of mutants in both known dormancy related genes and in the function of the circadian clock. This provides a link between the circadian cycle and the daily variation in the level of seed dormancy in Arabidopsis.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: August 21st.

There are a wide array of topics included in this weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup, ranging from studies on stomatal density, thylakoid transport, metabolic flux analysis, mutant detection and root development. We feature unlinked studies from three researchers from the University of Oxford Plant Science (Paul Jarvis, Lee Sweetlove and Nick Harberd), whilst the papers from Julie Gray and Brian Forde share the broad theme that investigates different mechanisms that might be used to improve nitrogen uptake, either by modifying the expression of a single gene involved in root development or by altering stomatal density.

Hepworth C, Doheny-Adams T, Hunt L, Cameron DD, Gray JE (2015) Manipulating stomatal density enhances drought tolerance without deleterious effect on nutrient uptake New Phytol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nph.13598

Julie Gray (University of Sheffield) is an expert on both stomatal biology and on the potential for manipulating stomatal density to improve crop production. In this study drought tolerance and soil water retention were measured in four Arabidopsis mutants with defects in epidermal patterning and stomatal density. Nutrient uptake was measured by mass flow of 15N. Plants with less stomata had reduced transpiration and were drought-tolerant yet interestingly showed little reduction in shoot N concentrations, especially when water availability is restricted. In contrast, plants with extra stomata could take up more N except when access to water was reduced. Therefore the authors show that by altering stomatal density they can generate plants that are drought resistance yet maintain nutrient uptake or generate plants with enhancing nutrient uptake is conditions with plentiful water.

Trösch R, Töpel M, Flores-Pérez Ú, Jarvis P (2015) Genetic and Physical Interaction Studies Reveal Functional Similarities between ALB3 and ALB4 in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1104/pp.15.00376

This German, Swedish and UK collaboration is led by Paul Jarvis at the University of Oxford and broadly investigates thylakoid protein targeting. The ALB3 complex has previously been shown to target light harvesting complex proteins (LHCP) to the thylakoid. A related Arabidopsis protein, ALB4, had been proposed to interact not the LHCPs but rather with the ATP synthase complex. However this study shows that ALB3 and ALB4 have some overlapping roles in addition to their specific functions and that they can engage with a similar set of interactor proteins to bring their substrates to the thylakoid membrane.

Cheung CY, Ratcliffe RG, Sweetlove LJ (2015) A method of accounting for enzyme costs in flux balance analysis reveals alternative pathways and metabolite stores in an illuminated Arabidopsis leaf Plant Physiol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1104/pp.15.00880

Lee Sweetlove (Oxford University) leads this study that looks at the Flux Balance Analysis (FBA) of plant metabolism across several metabolic pathways by attaching ‘flux weighting factors’ to allow for the variable intrinsic cost of supporting each flux. This model has been applied to the Arabidopsis leaf exposed to different light regimes to explore the flexibility of the network in meeting its metabolic requirements. The authors discover interesting trade-offs between use of different carbon storage forms and in the variable consumption of ATP and NADPH by different metabolic pathways.

Belfield EJ, Brown C, Gan X, Jiang C, Baban D, Mithani A, Mott R, Ragoussis J, Harberd NP (2014) Microarray-based optimization to detect genomic deletion mutations Genom Data Dec;2:53-54 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gdata.2014.04.005

GARNet Advisory Board member Nick Harberd (Oxford University) leads this short communication that highlights the development of a tool for detection of genomic deletion mutants in Arabidopsis. Using a NimbleGen whole genome custom tiling array they successfully identify five mutants with deletion ranging from 4bp to 5kb and therefore introduce a powerful tool for analysing this type of genetic lesion in Arabidopsis and other plant species with well-constructed genomes.

Yu C, Liu Y, Zhang A, Su S, Yan A, Huang L, Ali I, Liu Y, Forde BG, Gan Y (2015) MADS-box Transcription Factor OsMADS25 Regulates Root Development through Affection of Nitrate Accumulation in Rice PLoS One http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0135196

Brian Forde (Lancaster University) is the UK lead on this Chinese collaboration that focuses on nitrate accumulation and how it regulates root development in rice. This occurs via a MADS-box transcription factor OsMADS25 that, when overexpressed in Arabidopsis, promotes primary and lateral root development. Altered expression of this gene also affects root development in transgenic rice and includes significant changes in nitrate accumulation. Therefore this gene might prove to be an important target for future attempts to improve plant growth in regions with altered nitrate concentrations.

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