Arabidopsis Research Roundup: February 24th

Just three papers in this weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup and they each cover fundamental aspects of the hormone and environmental control of gene expression. First Keith Lindsey provides an audio description of work that aims to dissect the complex hormonal regulation of root growth while secondly, Nick Harberd is involved in a study that investigates the HY5 shoot-root signaling protein. Finally Ian Graham leads a study into factors that regulate seed dormancy.

Rowe JH, Topping JF, Liu J, Lindsey K (2016) Abscisic acid regulates root growth under osmotic stress conditions via an interacting hormonal network with cytokinin, ethylene and auxin New Phytol. 10.1111/nph.13882 Open Access
Keith Lindsey (Durham) is the corresponding author for this study that investigates the complex hormonal network that regulates the Arabidopsis root response to osmotic stress. The effect of ABA, cytokinin and ethylene on auxin transport are assessed through changes in the dynamics of PIN protein expression. Unsurprisingly they discover a wide range of effects transmitted via crosstalk between these four hormones and that these effects act in a tissue specific manner, as the expression of PIN1 (in the vascular tissue) and PIN2 (in the lateral root cap and epidermis) are altered in different ways. Ultimately the authors conclude that the classic ‘stress hormone’ ABA regulates the root response to drought together with auxin, ethylene and cytokinin in a complex signaling network.

Keith has kindly supplied a brief audio description of this work.

Chen X, Yao Q, Gao X, Jiang C, Harberd NP, Fu X (2016) Shoot-to-Root Mobile Transcription Factor HY5 Coordinates Plant Carbon and Nitrogen Acquisition
GARNet committee member Nick Harberd (Oxford) is the UK representative on this Chinese-led study that investigates the mode of action of the mobile transcription factor ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL5 (HY5). It has been long known that HY5, a bZIP TF, regulates growth responses to light and in this study the authors demonstrate that HY5 controls light-regulated root growth and nitrate uptake. Remarkably, HY5 from the shoot can activate root-derived HY5, in turn switching on the nitrate transporter NRT2.1. This response involves a mechanism that senses carbon:nitrogen balance across different light conditions, thus placing HY5 as a key regulator in the whole-plant response to changing environmental conditions.

Dave A, Vaistij FE, Gilday AD, Penfield SD, Graham IA (2016) Regulation of Arabidopsis thaliana seed dormancy and germination by 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid Journal of Experimental Botany Open Access

This paper results from a collaboration between the labs of Ian Graham (CNAP, York) and Steve Penfield (John Innes Centre) and features an investigation into factors that regulate seed germination. Previously it was known that oxylipin 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid (OPDA) acts together with ABA to regulate germination but this study elucidates that OPDA specifically acts via the ABI5 and RGL2 hormone-regulated proteins. Furthermore the OPDA-ABA signal also acts via another dormancy promoting factor, MOTHER-OF-FT-AND-TFL1 (MFT). Therefore maintenance of dormancy in Arabidopsis seedlings is regulated by ABA and MFT promoting the accumulation of OPDA, highlighting this as a critical control point in this complex process.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: December 9th.

This December 9th Arabidopsis Research Roundup includes four rather different studies. Firstly we include an excellent audio description from David Salt about a new type of GWAS analysis that his lab was involved in developing. This allowed identification of new genetic loci involved in molybdenum signalling. Secondly Isabelle Carre’s group from Warwick presents a study into the interactions that define the functioning of the circadian clock. Thirdly Mike Blatt leads a study that models stomatal opening and finally we include an investigation of the DOG1 gene, that includes a contribution from Fuquan Liu.

Forsberg SK, Andreatta ME, Huang XY, Danku J, Salt DE, Carlborg Ö (2015) The Multi-allelic Genetic Architecture of a Variance-Heterogeneity Locus for Molybdenum Concentration in Leaves Acts as a Source of Unexplained Additive Genetic Variance PLoS Genet. e1005648. Open Access.

Current GARNet Chairman David Salt (Aberdeen) is the UK lead on this collaboration with the lab of Orjan Carlborg from Uppsala in Sweden. The novelty of this paper is in the development of a new technique to measure Genome-Wide Association using the variance in SNP differences instead of using the mean. Professor Salt explained this vGWA technique in the attached audio-file, which is especially useful for people not so familiar with GWAS. Using this vGWA technique the authors were able to re-analyse an old dataset to gain additional understanding of how certain genetic loci are regulated to explain differences in the production of the essential nutrient molybdenum. Overall this paper introduces an analysis technique that can hopefully be used by other members of the community to analyse/re-analyse their data with increased rigour.

This is the 10minute audio file where David explains the paper:

Adams S, Manfield I, Stockley P, Carré IA (2015) Revised Morning Loops of the Arabidopsis Circadian Clock Based on Analyses of Direct Regulatory Interactions. PLoS One.10(12):e0143943. 10.1371/journal.pone.0143943 Open Access

This collaboration between the Universities of Warwick and Leeds is led by Isabelle Carré and investigates the Arabidopsis circadian clock. They analysed the in vivo interactions of the LATE ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL (LHY) protein with promotors of other clock components. This uncovered a novel regulatory loop between LHY and the CIRCADIAN CLOCK ASSOCIATED-1 (CCA1) gene. Furthermore they show LHY acts as a repressor of all other clock components, clearly placing this protein as a key regulatory component of the Arabidopsis clock.

Minguet-Parramona C, Wang Y, Hills A, Vialet-Chabrand S, Griffiths H, Rogers S, Lawson T, Lew V, Blatt MR (2015) An optimal frequency in Ca2+ oscillations for stomatal closure is an emergent property of ion transport in guard cells. Plant Physiol. Open Access

Mike Blatt is the corresponding author for this collaboration between Glasgow, Cambridge and Essex Universities. There are a good number of UK researchers who investigate the factors that regulate stomatal opening and this study looks at the role of calcium oscillations in this process. They have used the Arabidopsis OnGuard model that faithfully reproduces the optimum 10minute period of Ca2+ oscillation in guard cells. They used experimentally derived kinetics to describe the activity of ion transporters in the plasma membrane and tonoplast. Overall they discovered that the calcium oscillations are actually a by-product of the ion transport that determines stomatal aperature and not the overall controlling factor.

Cyrek M, Fedak H, Ciesielski A, Guo Y, Śliwa A, Brzeźniak L, Krzyczmonik K, Pietras Z, Liu F, Kaczanowski S, Swiezewski S (2015) Seed dormancy in Arabidopsis thaliana is controlled by alternative polyadenylation of DOG1 Plant Physiol.

Fuquan Liu (Queens, Belfast) is the UK contributor to this Polish-led study focused on the DOG1 gene, which is a key regulator of Arabidopsis seed dormancy. Previously it had been shown that the C-terminus of DOG1 is not conserved in many other plant species. The DOG1 transcript is alternatively polyadenylated and the authors show that Arabidopsis mutants that lack current 3’ RNA processing also show defects in seed dormancy. The shorter version of DOG1 is able to rescue the dog1 phenotype, which allows the authors to propose that DOG1 is a key regulator of seed dormancy and that the phenotypes of RNA processing mutants are linked to the incorrect processing of this specific mRNA species.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: November 13th.

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup presents a wide range of topics from researchers across the UK. Firstly we highlight a study that documents the early stages of a potential biotechnological/synthetic biology approach to improve higher plant photosynthesis using algal components. Corresponding author Alistair McCormick also takes five minutes to discuss this work. Secondly a team based mostly at Bath introduces the function of the PAT14 gene, which is involved in S-palmitoylation. Thirdly is a study that successfully transfers SI components between evolutionary diverged plant species and the final paper documents research that adds additional complexity to the signalling pathway that responses to strigolactones.

Atkinson N, Feike D, Mackinder LC, Meyer MT, Griffiths H, Jonikas MC, Smith AM, McCormick AJ (2015) Introducing an algal carbon-concentrating mechanism into higher plants: location and incorporation of key components. Plant Biotechnol J. Open Access

This work results from a collaborative effort between the four groups that make up the Combining Algal and Plant Photosynthesis (CAPP) consortium and include Howard Griffiths (Cambridge), Martin Jonikas (Carnegie Institute for Science), Alison Smith (JIC) and Alistair McCormick (Edinburgh). Here they attempt to express in higher plants a range of algal proteins that are involved in carbon-concentrating mechanisms (CCM). They initially confirmed the intracellular locations of ten algal CCM components and showed that these locations were largely conserved when the proteins were expressed transiently in tobacco or stably in Arabidopsis. Although the expression of these CCMs components in Arabidopsis didn’t enhance growth, the authors suggest that stacking of multiple CCM proteins might be needed to confer an increase in productivity.

Alistair takes five minutes to discuss this paper here:

Li Y, Scott RJ, Doughty J, Grant M, Qi B (2015) Protein S-acyltransferase 14: a specific role for palmitoylation in leaf senescence in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology Open Access

This Southwest-based study is led by Baoxiu Qi from the Plant-Lab at Bath University with input from Murray Grant (Exeter). They investigate Protein S-Acyl Transferase (PATs) protein, which are multi-pass transmembrane proteins that catalyze S-acylation (commonly known as S-palmitoylation). This process both confers correct protein localisation and is involved in signalling. These are 24 PATs in Arabidopsis and this study focuses on the novel PAT14, which they show has its predicted enzymatic role. Pat14 mutant plants show accelerated senescence that is associated with SA, but not JA or ABA-signaling. Therefore the authors suggest that AtPAT14 plays a pivotal role in regulating senescence via SA pathways and that this is the first published linkage between palmitoylation and leaf senescence.

Lin Z1, Eaves DJ1, Sanchez-Moran E1, Franklin FC1, Franklin-Tong VE1 (2015) The Papaver rhoeas S determinants confer self-incompatibility to Arabidopsis thaliana in planta Science 350(6261):684-7 http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/​10.1126/science.aad2983

University of Birmingham researchers led by Noni Franklin- Tong publish this study in Science in which they transfer the elements that confer self-incompatibility (SI) in Papever rhoeas (Poppy) to Arabidopsis. They find that Arabidopsis pistils that express the self-determinant PrsS protein reject pollen that expresses the PrpS protein. This leads to a robust SI response in these plants, demonstrating that these two components are sufficient for the establishment of this interaction. Poppy and Arabidopsis are evolutionarily separated by 140million years so the authors suggest that the successful transfer of SI determinants between these divergent species will have potential utility in future crop production strategies.

Soundappan I, Bennett T, Morffy N, Liang Y, Stanga JP, Abbas A, Leyser O, Nelson DC (2015) SMAX1-LIKE/D53 Family Members Enable Distinct MAX2-Dependent Responses to Strigolactones and Karrikins in Arabidopsis The Plant Cell

Ottoline Leyser (SLCU) is the UK lead on this US-UK collaboration that investigates the plant response to butenolide signals, namely the plant hormone strigolactones and smoke-derived karrikins. It is known that these molecules are perceived by the F-box protein MORE AXILLARY GROWTH2 (MAX2) and that the Arabidopsis SUPPRESSOR OF MAX2 1 (SMAX1) protein acts downstream of this perception. This study documents an extensive genetic study that shows that the activity of the SMAX1-LIKE genes, SMXL6, SMXL7, and SMXL8 promote shoot branching. smxl6,7,8 mutant plants suppress several strigolactone-related phenotypes in max2, that focus on the response to auxin but not on germination or hypocotyl elongation responses, which are only suppressed in smax1 mutants. On a molecular level these responses are controlled by the MAX2-dependant degradation of the SMAX1/SMXL proteins, which result in changes in gene expression. Therefore this shows that the diversity of SMAX1/SMXL proteins allows the signaling pathway that responses to butenolide signals to bifurcate downstream of the initial perception.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: Sept 29th

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup includes papers, from Glasgow and Oxford, that look at a plants response to different abiotic stresses and uncover control mechanisms that might have potential as targets for future genetic modification or gene-editing strategies. In addition there is a study from Leeds that uncovers a novel molecular mechanism in the DNA repair pathway and finally an international group of researchers with a UK lead at Kings College use infrared microspectroscopy to investigate internal cellular structures

Ji H, Wang Y, Cloix C, Li K, Jenkins GI, Wang S, Shang Z, Shi Y, Yang S, Li X (2015) The Arabidopsis RCC1 Family Protein TCF1 Regulates Freezing Tolerance and Cold Acclimation through Modulating Lignin Biosynthesis PLoS Genetics 11(9):e1005471

Gareth Jenkins (Glasgow) is the UK lead representative on this Chinese-led study into the role of the ‘Tolerant to Chilling and Freezing 1’ (TCF1) protein. This protein is induced by the cold to move to the nucleus where it interacts with histones H3 and H4, specifically at the BLUE-COPPER-BINDING PROTEIN (BCB) locus, which is involved in lignin biosynthesis. Loss of TCF1 causes changes in the positive histone mark H3K4me2 as well as the negative mark H3K27me3, resulting in reduced lignin content and enhanced freezing tolerance. This growth phenotype was recapitulated in other mutants that have reduced level of lignin. Therefore the authors suggest that TCF controls a CBF-independent signaling pathway that reacts to cold conditions by causing cell wall remodeling. In tcf mutants this pathway does not function correctly and the plants are more tolerant to freezing conditions. This marks either TCF or the genes downstream of it as potential targets for genetic modification to develop cold-resistant plants. The associated figure is taken from PLoS Genetics.


Ling Q1, Jarvis P (2015) Regulation of Chloroplast Protein Import by the Ubiquitin E3 Ligase SP1 Is Important for Stress Tolerance in Plants Current Biology.

Paul Jarvis (Oxford) is an expert on the mechanisms that control protein import into the chloroplast and this study looks at the interaction of the TOC translocon apparatus with ubiquitin-proteasome system. The chloroplast envelope-localised E3 ubiquitin-ligase SUPPRESSOR OF PPI1 LOCUS1 (SP1) was previously known to regulate levels of TOC and so control protein import and impact the composition of the chloroplast proteome. This study is expanded to show that SP1 plays an important role in the response to abiotic stress with sp1 mutants being hypersensitive to salt, osmotic, and oxidative stresses whereas the opposite is true in SP1 OX plants. They uncover the molecular mechanism to this response by showing SP1 facilitates the depletion of the TOC apparatus, subsequently reducing the import of photosynthetic apparatus components which attenuates photosynthesis and reduced the production of potentially damaging reactive compounds in the chloroplast. The authors show that chloroplast protein import is responsive to environmental cues and this modulation of this process might open up new avenues of research for improving stress tolerance in crops.

Waterworth WM, Drury GE, Blundell-Hunter G, West CE (2015) Arabidopsis TAF1 is an MRE11-interacting protein required for resistance to genotoxic stress and viability of the male gametophyte The Plant Journal

Christopher West (Leeds) is the research lead on this investigation into the essential function of double strand breaks (DSBs) during recombination. These DSBs are repaired by the endonuclease MRE11 and this work demonstrates an interaction with the histone acetyltransferase TAF1, which is an essential gene in Arabidopsis. The remainder of the paper uses genetic and phenotypic analysis to show that TAF1 is important for gamete viability in an effect that is dosage dependent. Taf mutants are more sensitive to genotoxic stresses thus showing that the TAF1 protein has a specific role in the DNA damage response. This provides new insights into the molecular mechanisms of the DNA damage response in plants.

Warren FJ , Perston BB, Galindez-Najera SP, Edwards CH, Powell PO, Mandalari G, Campbell GM, Butterworth PJ, Ellis PR (2015) Infrared microspectroscopic imaging of plant tissues: spectral visualisation of wheat kernel and Arabidopsis leaf microstructure. Plant Journal

This international study was led by <a href=" recherche cialis.aspx” onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘outbound-article’, ‘’, ‘Peter Ellis’]);” target=”_blank”>Peter Ellis (Kings College) and includes a variety of labs not usually connected with Arabidopsis work but rather are interested in the interaction between the plant cell wall and the human gut. They used Infrared microspectroscopy as a tool to investigate the microstructure of wheat kernels and Arabidopsis leaves. This technique was able to discern structures such as starch granules and protein bodies within cells. Stimulated digestion on the wheat tissues showed that digestion promotes a loss of starch as might be predicted. This article might be of interest to plant scientists who are interested in use of infrared spectroscopy.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: August 12th

The UK Arabidopsis Research Roundup this week includes a couple of EVO-DEVO-type studies that compare processes within different organisms (Physcomitrella and Cardamine) to those occurring in Arabidopsis. These include the evolution of both hormone signaling and leaf development. Elsewhere a cell-biological focused study looks at the factors that control formation of plasmodesmata whilst another manuscript investigates the details of a plants mechanism to avoid photoinhibition.

Yasumura Y1, Pierik R2, Kelly S3, Sakuta M4, Voesenek LA5, Harberd NP (2015) An Ancestral Role for Constitutive Triple Response 1 (CTR1) Proteins in Both Ethylene and Abscisic Acid Signaling Plant Physiology

GARNet Advisory Board Member Nick Harberd leads this study that investigates the evolution of the CONSTITUTIVE TRIPLE RESPONSE 1 (CTR1) protein, which has known to be involved in ethylene signalling for two decades. CTR1 is compared between mosses, lycophytes and angiosperms, showing that PpCTR1 from moss Physcomitrella patens has the same function and the Arabidopsis equivalent, indicating that this signaling pathway predates the land plant lineage. However PpCTR1 is also involved in ABA signaling, which is not the case with AtCTR1 and may be explained by the presence of an AtCTR1 homolog in angiosperms. The authors state that this work provides new insights into the molecular events that contributed to the adaptive evolution of regulatory mechanisms across plant species

Kirsten Knox, Pengwei Wang, Verena Kriechbaumer, Jens Tilsner, Lorenzo Frigerio, Imogen Sparkes, Chris Hawes, Karl Oparka (2015) Putting the Squeeze on Plasmodesmata: A Role for Reticulons in Primary Plasmodesmata Formation Plant Physiology

This study is led by Karl Oparka (Edinburgh) and Chris Hawes (Oxford Brookes) as well as including PIs from Exeter (Sparkes), Warwick (<a href="http://www2.warwick cialis professional 20” onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘outbound-article’, ‘’, ‘Frigerio’]);” target=”_blank”>Frigerio) and St Andrews (Tilsner). The manuscript investigates formation of plasmodesmata (PD), which are known to form from endoplasmic reticulum (ER) via an intermediant termed the desmotubule. Members of the Reticulon (RTNLB) family of ER-tubulating proteins are found in the PD proteome are are associated with developing PD following cell division. The authors use super-resolution imaging to show that RTNLB6 colocalises with desmotubules. The mobility of these RTNLB proteins was show, using FRAP, to vary dependent on their positioning within a developing cell plate. Mutant studies show that RTNLB proteins act as important regulators of the formation of PDs and the authors discuss the wider potential roles of these proteins in this process.

Ware MA, Giovagnetti V, Belgio E, Ruban AV (2015) PsbS protein modulates non-photochemical chlorophyll fluorescence quenching in membranes depleted of photosystems J Photochem Photobiol B

Alexander Ruban (QMUL) continues a fine run of recent publications with this study that investigates plants that express increased levels of the photosynthetic PsbS protein, in the context of a subsequent increase in levels of non-photochemical fluorescence quenching (NPQ). In these PsbS overexpressors, there is increased amplitude of the irreversible NPQ component, qI, which likely results from aggregation of the LHCII antenna complex. Use of freeze-fracture electron microscopy show that quenched thylakoids have 3x more aggregated LHCII particles compared to those that are dark-adapted. Overall, these results demonstrate the importance of this LHCII aggregation in the NPQ mechanism whilst showing that structure of the PSII supercomplex plays no role in formation in process of quenching.

Cartolano M, Pieper B, Lempe J, Tattersall A, Huijser P, Tresch A, Darrah PR, Hay A, Tsiantis M (2015) Heterochrony underpins natural variation in Cardamine hirsuta leaf form Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Aug 4.

The study is a continuation of many years of work led by Miltos Tsiantis (who maintains links with Oxford University), aimed at increasing the understanding of how different morphological patterns develop. They compare leaf patterning in Arabidopsis (which has a simple leaf) and in the related plant, Cardamine (that has a complex leaf). They have identified a novel QTL from Cardamine that shows that age-dependent progression of leaf form underlies variation in this trait within species. Interestingly the QTL mapped to a cis-acting region controlling expression of the floral regulator FLC. Genotypes expressing low levels of FLC show early flowering and accelerated changes in leaf form, including faster leaflet production. These findings link reproductive timing with leaf development and the authors speculate that this may help to optimize resource allocation to the next generation.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: July 11th

A couple of weeks since the last update as it’s been quiet for UK Arabidopsis Research publications. However we now see a variety of publications that address some important questions in different signaling pathways. Firstly a multinational collaboration performs a genome-wide analysis of DELLA binding, followed by two studies looking different aspects of light signaling, specifically the link with the production of protective carotenoids and also with the tight control of protein degradation. Elsewhere there is the description of a systems biology approach developed to aid the definition of signaling pathways in non-model organisms and finally a commentary piece about some work on Arabidopsis Arenosa.


Genome Wide Binding Site Analysis Reveals Transcriptional Coactivation of Cytokinin-Responsive Genes by DELLA Proteins (2015) Marín-de la Rosa N, Pfeiffer A, Hill K, Locascio A, Bhalerao RP, Miskolczi P, Grønlund AL, Wanchoo-Kohli A, Thomas SG, Bennett MJ, Lohmann JU, Blázquez MA, Alabadí D PLoS Genet. 11(7):e1005337.

The Centre for Integrative Biology in Nottingham and Rothamstead Plant Science partner with groups from Sweden, Germany, Spain and Saudi Arabia in this truly international collaboration. They investigate the role of DELLA proteins in the relay of environmental cues to multiple transcriptional circuits. The primary experimentation in this study uses ChIP-Seq to analyse the DNA-binding sites of one DELLA protein. Perhaps as expected the DELLA protein binds multiple promotor regions yet with a particular enrichment in regions upstream of cytokinin-regulated genes, where they interact with type-B ARABIDOPSIS RESPONSE REGULATOR (ARR) proteins. The biological relevance of this mechanism is underpinned by the requirement for both DELLAs and B-type ARRs in the control of root growth and photomorphogenesis.


Regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis by shade relies on specific subsets of antagonistic transcription factors and co-factors (2015) Bou-Torrent J, Toledo-Ortiz G, Ortiz-Alcaide M, Cifuentes-Esquivel N, Halliday KJ, Martinez-Garcia JF, Rodriguez-Concepcion M Plant Physiol.

Karen Halliday at the University of Edinburgh is part of this UK-Spanish team that studied the regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis via a light signaling module formed by PIF1 and HY5. In shade conditions, PIF proteins signal for a decrease in carotenoid accumulation, thus saving the plant unneeded energy consumption. The PIF1 response focusses on the phytoene synthase (PSY) biosynthetic gene and is antagonised by the PAR1 transcriptional co-factor. However this is not a universal response carried out by known antagonisers of PIF1 function, demonstrating that carotenoid biosynthesis is finely regulated by a precise subset of regulatory proteins.


High-level expression and phosphorylation of phytochrome B modulates flowering time in Arabidopsis (2015) Hajdu A, Ádám É, Sheerin DJ, Dobos O, Bernula P, Hiltbrunner A,, Kozma-Bognár L, Nagy F Plant Journal

Professor Ferenc Nagy has dual appointments in Edinburgh and in Hungary and this output results from work performed in Hungary. This study looks at control of flowering via phytochrome B signalling, which has been previously shown to rely on the degradation of the CONSTANS (CO) protein that in turn delays flowering by attenuating FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) expression. Therefore phyB mutants show accelerated flowering, yet this is unexpectedly also true following PHYB overexpression. The novelty of this study comes from showing that PHYB overexpression induces FT without affecting CO transcription but rather acts by causing accumulation of the CO protein, due to an affect on a COP1-ubiquitin ligase complex. This article adds further detail to the already complex relationship between light signaling, the circadian clock, protein degradation and de novo transcription in the control of flowering in Arabidopsis.


Inferring orthologous gene regulatory networks using interspecies data fusion (2015) Penfold CA, Millar JB, Wild DL. Bioinformatics. 31(12):i97-i105.

This study was led by David Wild from Warwick Systems Biology Centre. The authors have used two related Bayesian approaches to network inference that allow Gene Regulatory Networks (GRN) to be jointly inferred in, or leveraged between, several related species, for example between Arabidopsis and related crop species. Inferring gene function is achieved with more accuracy when GRNs are compared between species rather than attempting to use stand alone inference. The manuscript uses data from the yeast S.pombe but the broader principles could be applied to other experimental systems.


The High Life: Alpine Dwarfism in Arabidopsis (2015) Bomblies K Plant Physiol. 168(3):767.

This commentary piece about high altitude growth of Arabidopsis aernosa is the first published work from Kristen Bomblies since she moved her lab to the John Innes Centre from Havard (together with the lab of Levi Yant). Having these two talented young researchers relocate to the UK is be great for UK plant science so I sure everyone in the community wishes them all the best. Watch Kristen talk about her work at a New Phytologist conference from 2014.

Levi Yant also has two postdoctoral posts currently available in his lab.


COPO 2015 Meeting

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Published on: June 25, 2015

COPO has big plans…. and if it is to be truly successful and benefit the plant community there needs to be a cultural change! That’s the simple if revolutionary message that came out of the recent COPO meeting held at TGAC on June 23rd-24th.

So the uninitiated will be asking: ‘What is COPO?‘ The answer is the Collaborative Open Plant Omics group which was funded by a BBSRC BBR grant in 2014. This is a >£1m collaboration between The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC), University of Oxford, the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL) and the University of Warwick.

This workshop was to introduce the aims of COPO to a range of stakeholders, from curators of available data repositories to experimentalists who are generating large datasets. By the end of the 2-day session it was hoped that everyone would gain an understanding of what COPO can offer the community with regard facilitating the sharing of large datasets.

White Board Discussions

The workshop was led by Rob Davey (TGAC) and Ruth Bastow (GPC, GARNet, Warwick). Rob kicked off the meeting by describing the aims of COPO which included asking ‘What are the barriers for you and your data and how can COPO facilitate access to the workflows used to analyse data’.

Subsequently a range of stakeholders introduced the fantastic tools that are out there for repositing data of many different types. These included David Salt (University of Aberdeen, Ionomics), Elizabeth Arnaud (Montpellier, CropOntology), David Marshall (James Hutton Institute, Germinate: Plant Genetic Resources), Esther Kabore (INRA, Wheat Data Repository) Reza Salek (EMBL, Metabolights), and finally Tomasz Zielinski (Edinburgh, BioDare) who made the telling observation that ‘data Management is a user interface/user experience problem NOT a software engineering/ data modelling problem’. Many researchers are often reluctant to take the time and effort required to submit their data to an appropriate repository in a reasonable manner, for any number of opaque reasons. However the take-home message from the early talks was very positive as there are a large number of data platforms available for people to use and benefit from. One of the challenges for COPO is to not only to help convince people to use these resources but encourage them to share data in a standardised manner.

Following a useful coffee break it was time for researchers to explain the data they are producing and the challenges for their analysis. Miriam Gifford (Warwick) discussed her generation of transcriptomic data, Christine Sambles (Exeter) talked about developing a workflow for metabolomics data and TGAC group leader Ksenia Krasileva introduced her work on wheat functional genomics. Ksenia also highlighted a new portal for communication between data generators and data users called Grassroot Genomics.

The final three talks of the day highlighted the amount of data that can be produced in different sets of biological experiments. Ji Zhou (TGAC) and Chris Rawlings (Rothamstead) introduced cutting-edge field phenotyping technologies that use large imagers to capture visible and spectral aspects of plant growth. Workshop attendee Professor Peter Murray-Rust summed it up with a tweet: ‘Blown away by the crop monitoring equipment at Rothamstead’. On an opposite end of the spectrum Jim Murray (Cardiff) showed a single fluorescent image of a zebrafish taken on a light-sheet microscope that weighed in at an impressive 23Tb of data. Overall these talks served to highlight the vast amounts of data that can be produced and provided the second take-home message of the day that ‘Getting data is NOT the issue, making any sense of it IS the challenge’……


The task of second day discussions was to make sense of what had been presented the previous day and identify the best opportunities for COPO to impact on the process of data sharing. A lively first hour of debate included Dr Philippe Rocca-Serra (COPO Co-PI from Oxford) presenting a somewhat sobering eight slides of ‘Pain Points’ that he had taken out of the previous days presentations! However it was refreshing to observe that the challenge of the task was not underestimated and being tackled with realistic planning.

Pain Points!

Later in the morning discussions turned more specific with a white-board brainstorming session that was divided into ‘Data Collection’.Data Storage’ and ‘Data Analysis’ sections. Most progress was made in the first two sections with a long list of storage repositories identified that bridged the breath of biological data and with which COPO could potentially interact.

It was felt that successful interactions would be predicated on some level of data standardisation so perhaps the most effective initial use of the COPO resources would be to develop a workflow for standard data collection. This would hopefully make experimentalists think about the format of their data submission as they are planning and generating the data. The consensus was that attaching these standards to legacy-data might be a difficult task but that for future data generation, COPO could influence data sharing at this level.


Ultimately it is clear that plant science has the same generic problems as many other disciplines and the greatest challenge is to change the ‘culture’ of sharing data. The most obvious and direct way to promote this change will be via the funders and publishers. Some progress has been made in this arena with a recent shift towards open access publication in the REF process, and it would only take another small additional step to make it a requirement to share data in any REF-returnable publications. So I hope that those with greater power and influence than me, are reading the GARNet blog!

Regardless of the pace of cultural change, the feeling in the meeting was that the COPO mandate is to encourage data sharing whilst moving to a position to effectively interact with the data that is shared. There is plenty of work to do but at the end of this exploratory workshop the COPO organisers had plenty to think about regarding the direction of the project. Watch their space!

Storify of tweets from the meeting

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Welcome , today is Monday, March 27, 2017