Arabidopsis Research Roundup: August 19th

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup includes broad representation from Norwich Research Park with Caroline Dean, Enrico Coen and Cyril Zipfel each leading studies that focus respectively on the regulation of transcriptional state, auxin patterning that defines leaf shape or the molecular basis of the PAMP response.

Elsewhere Liam Dolan (Oxford) leads, and Malcolm Bennett (CPIB) is the principal UK contributor on studies that look into different aspects of the key molecular signals in either root hair or lateral root development.

Finally Richard Napier is a co-author on a study that better characterises the molecular basis of the well-used plant growth inhibitor MDCA.

Yang H, Howard M, Dean C (2016) Physical coupling of activation and derepression activities to maintain an active transcriptional state at FLC PNAS

Dame Caroline Dean and Martin Howard (JIC) lead this follow-on work from a paper highlighted in an ARR from the start of 2016. Here they use the FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) locus as a model to study the trans factors that control methylation state. They find a physical interaction between the H3K36 methyltransferase SDG8 (which promotes the active H3K36me3 mark) and the H3K27me3 demethylase ELF6 (which removes the silencing H3K27me3 mark). SDG8 also associated with RNA polymerase II and the PAF1 transcriptional regulatory complex. Therefore the authors suggest that the addition of active histone marks coincides with transcription at the locus whilst SDG8 and ELF6 exhibit co-dependent localisation to FLC chromatin. Therefore this interaction links activation and derepression and coordinates active transcription whilst preventing ectopic silencing.

Abley K, Sauret-Güeto S, Marée AF, Coen E (2016) Formation of polarity convergences underlying shoot outgrowths. Elife.

Open Access
Enrico Coen (JIC) is the corresponding author on this investigation that had generated models that predict locations of leaf outgrowth linked to auxin biosynthesis and transport. They use live imaging in wildtype and kanadi1kanadi2 mutants to show that the cellular polarity of the PIN1 auxin transporter is orientated so as to move auxin away from regions with high levels of biosynthesis. In turn, this moves auxin toward regions with high expression of AUX/LAX auxin importers. This data allows the generation of detailed models that describe the processes that control auxin-mediated tissue-patterning (and are impossible to describe in a single paragraph).

Couto D, Niebergall R, Liang X, Bücherl CA, Sklenar J, Macho AP, Ntoukakis V, Derbyshire P, Altenbach D, Maclean D, Robatzek S, Uhrig J, Menke F, Zhou JM, Zipfel C (2016) The Arabidopsis Protein Phosphatase PP2C38 Negatively Regulates the Central Immune Kinase BIK1 PLoS Pathog.

Open Access

Cyril Zipfel is the lead investigator on this study that links researchers at TSL with colleagues in China and Germany. The focus of this work is the cytoplasmic kinase BIK1, which is a target of several pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) that are involved in the defence response, and the novel protein phosphatase PP2C38, which acts as a negative regulator of BIK1. Under non-inductive conditions PP2C38 prevents BIK1 activity but following pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMP) perception, it is phosphorylated and dissociates from BIK1, allowing full activity. This study provides another layer of detail into the complex central immune response that allows plants to response to a vast array of pathogenic microorganisms.

Goh T, Toyokura K, Wells DM, Swarup K, Yamamoto M, Mimura T, Weijers D, Fukaki H, Laplaze L, Bennett MJ, Guyomarc’h S (2016) Quiescent center initiation in the Arabidopsis lateral root primordia is dependent on the SCARECROW transcription factor Development.

Open Access

Malcolm Bennett and Darren Wells (CPIB) are authors on this international collaboration that links UK, Japanese, French and Dutch researchers. The essential role of the central organizer center (the quiescent center, QC) is well known in primary root meristem development but its role during lateral root (LR) formation remained unclear. LR formation is characterised by biphasic growth that involves early morphogenesis from the central stele and subsequent LR meristem formation. This study uses 3D imaging to demonstrate that LR QC cells originate from outer cell layers of early primordial, in a SCARECROW (SCR) dependent manner. Perturbing SCR function causes incorrect formation of the LR QC and prevents wildtype LR patterning. The manuscript also contains some excellent videos of growing LRs that are very informative.
AUX1-YFPKim CM, Dolan L (2016) ROOT HAIR DEFECTIVE SIX-LIKE Class I Genes Promote Root Hair Development in the Grass Brachypodium distachyon PLoS Genet. Open Access

This study comes from Liam Dolan’s lab at the University of Oxford and moves their research focus on root hair development from Arabidopsis into the grass Brachypodium distachyon. ROOT HAIR DEFECTIVE SIX-LIKE (RSL) class I basic helix loop helix genes are expressed in cells that develop root hair fate in Arabidopsis and this study indentifies 3 RSl1 genes in Brachypodium which, when ecoptically expressed, are sufficient for the development of root hairs in all cell files. The function of these RSL proteins is conserved as the Brachypodium versions are able to restore a wildtype phenotype to root hair-less Arabidopsis mutants. Even though root hair patterning is significantly different in Brachypodium and Arabidopsis, this study shows the role of the RSL genes is conserved.
Steenackers WJ, Cesarino I, Klíma P, Quareshy M, Vanholme R, Corneillie S, Kumpf RP, Van de Wouwer D, Ljung K, Goeminne G, Novak O, Zažímalová E, Napier RM, Boerjan WA, Vanholme B (2016) The allelochemical MDCA inhibits lignification and affects auxin homeostasis. Plant Physiology

Open Access

Richard Napier (Warwick) is the UK PI on this pan-European study that investigates the molecular basis behind the physiological role of the compound phenylpropanoid 3,4-(methylenedioxy)cinnamic acid (MDCA), which inhibits the phenylpropanoid pathway, important in lignin formation. MDCA causes inhibition of primary root growth and increase proliferation of lateral roots, not through lignin perturbation but due to a disruption in auxin homeostasis. MS analysis demonstrates that MDCA causes overall changes in auxin biosynthesis, conjugation and catabolism, similar to changes observed in mutants involved in the phenylpropanoid pathways. These result link auxin and phenylpropanoid biosynthesis pathways and provide a new explanation for the well demonstrated phytotoxic properties of MDCA.

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.


Arabidopsis Research Roundup: January 29th

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup features a paper from David Baulcombe and Joe Ecker that further deciphers mechanisms of RNA silencing and is kindly discussed by postdoc Mat Lewsey in a short audio description. Elsewhere there are three studies that include researchers from CPIB in Nottingham. Leah Band contributes to a study that links environment sensing, cell death and auxin signaling whilst Ive De Smet leads a study that finds new proteins involved in cell division. Malcolm Bennett and John King take a modeling approach to describe auxin signaling via the GH3 protein family. Finally Frank Menke leads a study that provides more detail into Pattern Recognition Receptor (PRR) mediated immune signaling and then Jim Dunwell participates in a paper that describes a new method of analyzing GWAS data.

Lewsey MG, Hardcastle TJ, Melnyk CW, Molnar A, Valli A, Urich MA, Nery JR, Baulcombe DC, Ecker JR (2016) Mobile small RNAs regulate genome-wide DNA methylation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Open Access

Over the past few years RNA-mediated silencing has emerged a key mechanism for the control of gene expression. This study is a collaboration between the lab of Sir David Balcombe (Cambridge) and Joe Ecker at the SALK institute in California. Mat Lewsey, who is a British postdoc working with Professor Ecker, kindly provided a short audio description of the paper.

These groups have previously shown that sRNAs are highly mobile throughout the plant. This study shows that thousands of loci expressed in roots are dependent on mobile sRNAs generated from the shoot. They unpick the genetic basis of this response showing that it is largely dependent on the DOMAINS REARRANGED METHYLTRANSFERASES 1/2 (DRM1/DRM2) but not CHROMOMETHYLASE (CMT)2/3 DNA methyltransferases. They also show that mobile sRNAs are resposible for the silencing of TEs that are found in gene-rich regions, although this is not a physiologically important response in Arabidopsis, which contains a relatively small amount of transposon tissue. Interestingly they a show that sRNAs generated from different Arabidopsis ecotypes are able to move across graft junctions and can cause methylation in usually unmethylated regions.

PNASpicXuan W, Band LR, Kumpf RP, Van Damme D, Parizot B, De Rop G, Opdenacker D, Möller BK, Skorzinski N, Njo MF, De Rybel B, Audenaert D, Nowack MK, Vanneste S, Beeckman T (2016) Cyclic programmed cell death stimulates hormone signaling and root development in Arabidopsis. Science . 351(6271):384-7

This study is led by Tom Beeckman from Gent University and features Leah Band from CPIB in Nottingham. They reveal an exciting relationship between cell death in root cap cells and hormone signaling. The root cap is a protective tissue that overlies the Arabidopsis root tip and might be considered as an ‘inactive’ tissue. However this study shows that an auxin signal released from root cap cells sets the spacing of lateral organs along the root. As root cap cells move up the root they undergo programmed cell death, which in turn releases a pulse of auxin and establishes a pattern of lateral root formation. The authors suggest that this relationship might integrate external soil conditions so that lateral roots will develop to optimise uptake of water and nutrients. It is well known that an auxin signal simulates lateral root formation but this study provides an explanation as to the genesis of this signal and its integration with external environmental factors.

Yue K, Sandal P, Williams EL, Murphy E, Stes E, Nikonorova N, Ramakrishna P, Czyzewicz N, Montero-Morales L, Kumpf R, Lin Z, van de Cotte B, Iqbal M, Van Bel M, Van De Slijke E, Meyer MR, Gadeyne A, Zipfel C, De Jaeger G, Van Montagu M, Van Damme D, Gevaert K, Rao AG, Beeckman T, De Smet I (2016) PP2A-3 interacts with ACR4 and regulates formative cell division in the Arabidopsis root. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.

This broad collaboration between US-UK and Belgian researchers is led by Tom Beeckman and Ive De Smet, who works at CPIB in Nottingham. In addition it includes a contribution from Cyril Zipfel at TSL. This study aimed to identify proteins that interact with the plasma membrane-localized receptor kinase ARABIDOPSIS CRINKLY 4 (ACR4), which plays a role in the control of cell division in the Arabidopsis root. They find that PROTEIN PHOSPHATASE 2A-3 (PP2A-3), a catalytic subunit of PP2A holoenzymes interacts with ACR4 and has a previous uncharacterised role in control of formative cell divisions. The authors show that the biochemical network that links ACR4 and PP2A-3 is regulated by phosphorylation.

Mellor N, Bennett MJ, King JR (2016) GH3-Mediated Auxin Conjugation Can Result in Either Transient or Oscillatory Transcriptional Auxin Responses. Bull Math Biol.

This paper led by Professor Malcolm Bennett and John King from CPIB is an example of the growing number of multi-disciplinary interactions between biologists and mathematicians. Here a model is developed that interrogates auxin signaling and homeostasis through the GH3 gene family. This includes a parameter that considers auxin transport via the LAX3 influx protein, which, together with the activity of GH3 proteins can facilitate a positive feedback loop that allows cells to response to excess auxin.

Mithoe SC, Ludwig C, Pel MJ, Cucinotta M, Casartelli A, Mbengue M, Sklenar J, Derbyshire P, Robatzek S, Pieterse CM, Aebersold R, Menke FL (2016) Attenuation of pattern recognition receptor signaling is mediated by a MAP kinase kinase kinase. EMBO Rep. Open Access

Frank Menke (TSL, Norwich) is the leader on this collaboration between UK, Dutch and Swiss researchers that investigates innate immunity signaling mediated via Pattern Recognition Receptors (PRRs). Tight control of this signalling is very important to prevent spurious activation of the immune response. These authors find that the differentially phosphorylated MKKK7 can interact with the FLS2 protein, which is key in the perception of bacterial flagellin. In turn MKKK7 attenuates the signalling of a downstream MAPK that contributes to defence-related gene expression. Therefore the show that the FLS2-MKKK7 signaling module is critical for control of innate immunity.

Wang SB, Feng JY, Ren WL, Huang B, Zhou L, Wen YJ, Zhang J, Dunwell JM, Xu S, Zhang YM (2016) Improving power and accuracy of genome-wide association studies via a multi-locus mixed linear model methodology. Sci Rep. Open Access

Professor Jim Dunwell (Reading) is a UK contributor to this largely Chinese publication that introduces a new method to analysis GWAS-style data. They propose an analysis based on random-SNP-effect MLM (RMLM) and a multi-locus RMLM (MRMLM) and using stimulations show that their new method can be powerful than conventional types of analysis. To test the method they analysed flowering time traits in Arabidopsis and detected more genes that were involved in the process.

For those interested in different-types of GWAS analysis, Professor David Salt introduced another new method during a recent ARR.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: January 8th

For the inaugural Arabidopsis Research Roundup of 2016 we feature the final publications of UK researchers from 2015. Martin Howard kindly provides an audio description of a paper that looks at a fundamental aspect of transcriptional regulation, through the lense of the FLC gene, whilst his co-author Caroline Dean on that paper is an author on another manuscript that investigates RNA stability in the same FLC locus. Katja Graumann leads a paper that looks into gene expression at the periphery of the nucleus whilst Ian Colbeck looks at the effect of silver nanoparticles on plant growth. Ari Sadanandom is the UK lead of a study that investigates of SUMOylation and Ian Fricker looks at the role of a cytochrome P450 on the defence response. Finally Liam Dolan is involved in a comparative analysis of the genes involved in tip growth in the cells of plants and moss.

Wu Z, Ietswaart R, Liu F, Yang H, Howard M, Dean C (2015) Quantitative regulation of FLC via coordinated transcriptional initiation and elongation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Open Access

Martin Howard and Caroline Dean lead this study that comes out of the John Innes Centre and is the result of the same collaboration that featured in an ARR earlier in 2015. In this study they investigate the mechanisms that control the quantitative regulation of gene expression by focusing on the complex regulation of the FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC). FLC expression is controlled by a chromatin silencing mechanism involving alternative polyadenylation of antisense transcripts. However they surprisingly show that the amount of RNA Polymerase II occupancy at FLC does not coincide very well with levels of FLC transcription. They used modeling to predict that there is a tight coordination between transcriptional initiation and elongation, which was validated by detailed measurements of the levels of FLC intronic RNA. Variation within initiation and elongation rates were significantly different and was coincident with changes in H3K36me3 and H3K4me2 levels in the FLC gene. The authors propose that chromatin state can influence transcriptional initiation and elongation rates and may be a general mechanism for quantitative gene regulation in a chromatin context.

Martin Howard kindly provides an audio description of this paper and wider aspects of transcriptional regulation.

Wu Z, Zhu D, Lin X, Miao J, Gu L, Deng X, Yang Q, Sun K, Zhu D, Cao X, Tsuge T, Dean C, Aoyama T, Gu H, Qu LJ (2015) RNA-binding proteins At RZ-1B and At RZ-1C play a critical role in regulation of pre-mRNA splicing and gene expression during Arabidopsis development Plant Cell

This study investigates a set of previously mysterious RNA-binding proteins and is led by Chinese researchers with a UK contribution from Caroline Dean (JIC). They look at two Arabidopsis proteins, AtRZ-1B and At RZ-1C that have RNA-binding domains and are localised to the mysterious nuclear speckles. In addition these proteins physically interact with a range of serine/arginine-rich (SR) proteins and disrupting this binding causes a range of growth phenotypes that are similar to that observed in At rz-1b/At rz-1c double mutants. These include delayed seed germination, reduced stature, and serrated leaves and on the cellular level this is accompanied by defective splicing and global changes in gene expression. Interestingly AtRz-1C directly effects the expression of the floral repressor FLC, which links this work with other research in the Dean lab. Overall this highlights the important role of At RZ-1B/1C in RNA splicing and the link to many developmental phenotypes.

Smith S, Galinha C, Desset S, Tolmie F, Evans D, Tatout C, Graumann K (2015) Marker gene tethering by nucleoporins affects gene expression in plants. Nucleus.

Expression of Seh1-LacI-YFP at the nuclear periphery. From
Expression of Seh1-LacI-YFP at the nuclear periphery. From

Katja Graumann and David Evans (Oxford Brookes) are the lead academics on this collaboration with the lab of Christophe Tatout from Clermont Ferrand in France. They are attempting to answer a long standing question in the field of the biology of the nucleus; whether genes that are located close to nuclear pore complexes have increased gene expression. They used the Lac Operator/ Lac Repressor (LacI-LacO) system to assess changes in gene expression when a loci is tethered to the NPC by attaching the LacI domain to the nucleoporins Seh1 or NUP50a. The Seh1 clones localised to the nuclear periphery and showed higher RNA and protein expression of Luc. When this interaction at the periphery was distributed, the higher levels of expression were abolished. The authors therefore show that association with the nuclear periphery is important for the regulation of gene expression.

Sosan A, Svistunenko D, Straltsova D, Tsiurkina K, Smolich I, Lawson T, Subramaniam S, Golovko V, Anderson D, Sokolik A, Colbeck I, Demidchik V (2015) Engineered silver nanoparticles are sensed at the plasma membrane and dramatically modify physiology of Arabidopsis thaliana plants. Plant Journal

Ian Colbeck (Essex) is the UK lead on this study that involves a collaboration between researchers in New Zealand, Belarus and Russia and focuses on the effect of silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) on the growth of Arabidopsis seedlings. This type of nanoparticle is used for many difference applications so worries exist about the safety of their use. This study looks at the effect of Ag NPs on Arabidopsis root elongation and leaf expansion, both of which were inhibited at over [300mg/l] Ag NPs. In addition there were reductions of photosynthetic efficiency and accumulation of silver in plant tissues. They also showed that these particles altered the influx and efflux of metal ions whilst, although they were unable to catalyse hydroxyl radical generation, they did directly oxidise the major plant antioxidant, L-ascorbic acid. Overall the authors show that silver nanoparticles induce classical stress signalling responses but also illicit specific detrimental effects at the plasma membrane. At the whole plant level this study provides a worrying example for the role of Ag NPs on whole plant growth, even though the concentrations used in food preparation might be lower.

Crozet P, Margalha L, Butowt R, Fernandes N, Elias A, Orosa B, Tomanov K, Teige M, Bachmair A, Sadanandom A, Baena-González E (2015) SUMOylation represses SnRK1 signaling in Arabidopsis. Plant Journal

This pan-European study features researchers from Portugal, Austria and the UK’s Durham University, led by Ari Sadanandom. They investigate the role of the SnRK1 protein kinase, which is a key enzyme for modulating the plant stress response. This paper adds detail to the cellular mechanisms that regulate SnRK1 and they show that SnRK1 is SUMOylated by the SIZ1 E3 SUMO ligase. SnRK1 is ubiquitinated and degraded in a SIZ1-dependent manner that is lacking in siz1 mutants. Interestingly only active SnRK1 is degraded as the inactive SnRK1 protein is stable but can be easily degraded upon SUMOylation. Finally they show that SnRK1 is involved in a negative feedback loop wherein it controls its own SUMOylation and degradation that, in wildtype cells, prevents a potentially detrimental stress response.

Fuchs R, Kopischke M, Klapprodt C, Hause G, Meyer AJ, Schwarzländer M, Fricker MD, Lipka V (2015) Immobilized subpopulations of leaf epidermal mitochondria mediate PEN2-dependent pathogen entry control in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell

Mark Fricker (Oxford) is the UK research lead on this study that investigates the role of the atypical myrosinase PEN2 in the response to pathogen attack. PEN2 is targeted to both peroxisomes and mitochondria and can also form homo-oligomer complexes. PEN2 localised to mitochondria are immobilized following fungal invasion and this accompanies mitochondrial arrest. The substrate for PEN2 is produced by the cytochrome P450 monooxygenase CYP81F2, which is localized to the ER and moves toward immobilized mitochondria. The critical function of PEN2 in that organelle was confirmed by the result that showed exclusive mitochondria targeting could rescue pen2 mutant phenotypes. The authors show by live-cell imaging that arrested mitochondria in domains of plant-microbe interaction exhibit a pathogen-induced redox imbalance that may lead to production of intracellular signals.

Ortiz-Ramírez C, Hernandez-Coronado M, Thamm A, Catarino B, Wang M, Dolan L, Feijó JA, Becker JD (2015) A transcriptome atlas of Physcomitrella patens provides insights into the evolution and development of land plants. Mol Plant.

Liam Dolan (Oxford) is an author on this study that is led from Portugal and is an investigation of the transcriptome of the model moss Physcomitrella patens throughout its life cycle. They also compare transcriptomes from P.patens and Arabidopsis, allowing the authors to identify transcription factors that are expressed in tip growing cells. Interestingly they identified differences in expression patterns that might account for the differences between tip growth in moss and the Arabidopsis root hairs, an area that is the expertise of the Dolan lab.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: November 25th

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup contains four papers each with a different focus. Firstly is a large-scale investigation that attempts to define the transcriptional changes that occur in response to bacterial infection. Second is a study that investigates a newly proposed role for the chloroplast chaperone Hsp93. Thirdly is another piece of work that also involves University of Oxford researchers and investigates the genetic networks that control leaf morphology. Finally is an updated plant-specific protocol for the commonly used technique of Chromatin Immunoprecipitation.

Lewis LA, Polanski K, de Torres-Zabala M, Jayaraman S, Bowden L, Moore J, Penfold CA, Jenkins DJ, Hill C, Baxter L, Kulasekaran S, Truman W, Littlejohn G, Prusinska J, Mead A, Steinbrenner J, Hickman R, Rand D, Wild DL, Ott S, Buchanan-Wollaston V, Smirnoff N, Beynon J, Denby K, Grant M (2015) Transcriptional Dynamics Driving MAMP-Triggered Immunity and Pathogen Effector-Mediated Immunosuppression in Arabidopsis Leaves Following Infection with Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato DC3000 Plant Cell. Open Access

This ‘Large Scale Biology’ publication is a collaboration between the Universities of Exeter and Warwick, led by Murray Grant and current GARNet Advisory board member Katherine Denby. This study investigates the transcriptional changes that occur over a long time course in response to infection by the pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato DC3000. The authors aim to differentiate between the changes associated with endogenous microbial-associated molecular pattern (MAMP)-triggered immunity (MTI) and those orchestrated by pathogen effectors. The responses to pathogenic and non-pathogenic P.syringae were compared and using novel computational analysis, it was shown that the majority of gene expression changes that contribute to disease or defense responses occurred within 6hour post-infection, well before pathogen multiplication. Broadly it was found that chloroplast-associated genes are suppressed by a MAMP-triggered response, presumably to restrict nutrient availability. Ultimately this manuscript identified specific promotor elements that are involved in either the MTI response or utilised by the infecting bacteria.

Corresponding author Professor Murray Grant kindly takes ten minutes to discuss the finding of this paper and the community resource that it represents. He also discusses another paper involving the Jasmonate response that resulted from this dataset and was recently highlighted in the Research Roundup. Interview end at 11m10s.

Flores-Pérez Ú1, Bédard J1, Tanabe N2, Lymperopoulos P2, Clarke AK3, Jarvis P (2015) Functional analysis of the Hsp93/ClpC chaperone at the chloroplast envelope Plant Physiology. Open Access

Paul Jarvis (Oxford) is the corresponding author on this study in which his lab collaborates with Swedish researchers to investigate the role of the Hsp93/ClpC chaperone protein in protein import into the chloroplast. This recently postulated role for this protein has not yet been experimental tested so they generated a hsp93[P-] mutant that lacked a functional ClpP-binding motif (PBM), which confers the already determined role for Hsp93 in proteolysis that occurs in the chloroplast stroma. The hsp93[P-] mutant localises to the chloroplast envelope and associates with TIC transport machinery but was unable to complement the phenotypes of a hsp93 null mutant. This showed that the PBM domain was essential for its function. Expression of the Hsp93[P-] mutant in the hsp93 null background did not improve protein import so the authors concluded that these results do not confirm this newly postulated role for the protein and they suggest that its functional role occurs immediately after its substrate had been transported into the chloroplast.

Rast-Somssich MI, Broholm S, Jenkins H, Canales C, Vlad D, Kwantes M, Bilsborough G, Dello Ioio R, Ewing RM, Laufs P, Huijser P, Ohno C, Heisler MG, Hay A, Tsiantis M (2015) Alternate wiring of a KNOXI genetic network underlies differences in leaf development of A. thaliana and C. hirsuta Genes Dev. 29(22):2391-404 Open Access

The study includes researchers from Oxford and Southampton Universities in collaboration with those from Italy, France and Germany in work that is led by Angela Hay and Miltos Tsiantis, who were both previously based in Oxford. This is familiar territory for this group as they compare leaf development between Arabidopsis, which has simple leaves, and the related , Cardamine hirsuta, which has dissected leaves. In this new work they transfer the SHOOTMERISTEMLESS (STM) and BREVIPEDICELLUS (BP) homeobox genes between the two species and investigate their ability to modify leaf form. In Cardamine, expression of BP is controlled by crosstalk between the microRNA164A (MIR164A)/ChCUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON (ChCUC) module and ChASYMMETRIC LEAVES1 (ChAS1) gene. However this regulatory network does not function in Arabidopsis and therefore leads to the establishment of differing regulatory networks that the authors propose are responsible for the alterations in organ geometry.

Posé D, Yant L (2016) DNA-Binding Factor Target Identification by Chromatin Immunoprecipitation (ChIP) in Plants Methods Mol Biol. 1363:25-35.

Levi Yant is a new member of faculty at the John Innes Centre and is the lead author on this paper that introduces an updated protocol for Chromatin Immunoprecipitation in Plants (ChIP). They have used this technique in his lab to identify target genes for a number of transcriptional regulators that are involved in Arabidopsis floral development.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: October 12th

Tags: No Tags
Comments: No Comments
Published on: October 11, 2015

The Arabidopsis Research Roundup is ‘defense-focused’ this week. We present three papers that highlight different aspects of plant immunity, two of which result from UK-US-China collaborations. Firstly a team from the Sainsbury Lab, Norwich looks at two molecular mechanisms that control stomatal closure. There are then two studies that involve University of Exeter researchers that investigate either the role of plant hormones in the response to bacterial pathogens or the role that the physical barrier of the cell wall plays in the prevention of infection. Next a group of JIC researchers present a Large Scale Biology investigation of microtubule interacting proteins. Finally a study from QMUL looks at the interaction between NPQ and photoinhibition in controlling the activity of Photosystem II.

Gou M, Zhang Z, Zhang N, Huang Q, Monaghan J, Yang H, Shi Z, Zipfel C, Hua J (2015) Opposing effects on two phases of defense responses from concerted actions of HSC70 and BON1 in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol.

GARNet Advisory Board Member Cyril Zipfel is the UK lead on this US-China-UK collaboration that looks at two aspects of the plant immune response that are regulated by the same proteins, albeit in an antagonistic way. The heat shock protein HSC70 and the calcium binding protein BON1 both are involved in stomatal closure, the formers effect mediated by the SNC1 protein and the latter (BON1) via the activitation of SGT1 that in turn inhibits HSC70. These new functions demonstrate opposing roles for HSC80 and BON1 in the immune response and further highlight the complexity of the signaling pathways that ultimately feed into the gross phenotypic change of stomatal closure.

de Torres Zabala M, Zhai B, Jayaraman S, Eleftheriadou G, Winsbury R, Yang R, Truman W, Tang S, Smirnoff N, Grant M (2015) Novel JAZ co-operativity and unexpected JA dynamics underpin Arabidopsis defence responses to Pseudomonas syringae infection New Phytol.

This is another UK-USA-China collaboration led by Murray Grant at the University of Exeter, in which the role of the plant hormones is assessed in the response to bacterial pathogens. The defence response is mediated by both the hormones salicylic acid (SA) and jasmonic acid (JA) which antagnise many of each others activity. Pathogens have been shown to produce a JA-mimic cornatine (COR) in order to stall SA-mediated effects. In this study the authors use a systems-biology based approach that involved targeted hormone profiling, high-temporal-resolution micro-array analysis, reverse genetics and mRNA-seq to introduce a complex network of regulation that involves JAZ proteins, which are repressors of the JA signal. In short they show that JAZ5 and JAZ10 specifically co-operate to inhibit pathogen growth by restricting COR cytotoxicity by novel mechanisms, which do not involve previously well-defined signaling proteins.

Marcos R, Izquierdo Y, Vellosillo T, Kulasekaran S, Cascón T, Hamberg M, Castresana C (2015) 9-Lipoxygenase-derived oxylipins activate brassinosteroid signaling to promote cell wall-based defense and limit pathogen infection Plant Physiol.

This work was performed in Madrid under the supervision of Carmen Castresana but includes the work of Satish Kulasekaran who is now at the Exeter. The focus of the work is the oxylipins, which are oxygenated lipid derivatives that regulate plant development and immunity. Using a variety of noxy mutants (non-responding to oxylipins) they show that the effect of the oxylipins is mediated via changes in the cell wall and this is signalled via the Brassinosteriod response pathway. Suspectibility to bacterial and fungal infection was enhanced in noxy mutants but plants were resistance when BR signalling was switched on. Therefore this manuscript introduces an important interaction between the oxylipins and BR signalling and helps to clarify their role in modulating plant defense.

Derbyshire P, Ménard D, Green P, Saalbach G, Buschmann H, Lloyd CW, Pesquet E (2015) Proteomic Analysis of Microtubule Interacting Proteins over the Course of Xylem Tracheary Element Formation in Arabidopsis Plant Cell.

The experiments in this Large Scale Biology paper were performed in the lab of Clive Lloyd (John Innes Centre) which included the work of Eduoard Pesquet, who now has his own lab in Sweden. They looked the microtubule patterning that defines the nature of tracheary element (TEs) thickening in plant vascular tissues. They used Arabidopsis cell suspension culture to isolate microtubule interacting proteins present during TE differentiation. One protein of interest was CELLULOSE SYNTHASE-INTERACTING PROTEIN1, associated with primary wall synthesis, which was enriched during secondary cell wall formation of TEs. The authors knocked-down the expression of some of their identified proteins and indeed showed that they were important for this differentiation. A take-home message is that the proteins that interact with microtubules and link them to different metabolic compartments do indeed specifically vary during TE differentiation, regulating different aspects of cell wall patterning.

Giovagnetti V, Ruban AV (2015) Discerning the effects of photoinhibition and photoprotection on the rate of oxygen evolution in Arabidopsis leaves J Photochem Photobiol B.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup Regular Alexandre Ruban (QMUL) again looks at the mechanisms that lessen the amount of photoinhibition (when photosystem II is damaged by being exposed to too much light). An opposing response is Non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) of chlorophyll a fluorescence which serves to protect PSII from high light conditions. In this study they confirm that a recently devised procedure that aims to discern between the effect of NPQ and photoinhibition works well as a measurement for the efficiency of PSII activity.

Great British Success in ERA-CAPS

The ERA-CAPS funding call was a major EU initiative that was focused on plant sciences. Recently the second set of successfully funded projects were announced, even though the funding levels have not been confirmed. Amongst these twelve successful bids, eight feature UK plant scientists (including four from the JIC). These successful projects are highlighted below:
Project Name: DesignStarch, Designing starch: harnessing carbohydrate polymer synthesis in plants

The UK representative Rob Field is a biochemist based at the John Innes Centre. The objective of this project is to ‘gain a profound understanding of the regulation and control of the biophysical and biochemical processes involved in the formation of the complex polymeric structure that is the starch granule’, which will involve in vitro analysis of the enzymology of starch formation with the ultimate aim of transferring their findings back into plants.

EfectaWheat: An Effector- and Genomics-Assisted Pipeline for Necrotrophic Pathogen Resistance Breeding in Wheat

James Cockram (NIAB) is the project leader on this grant that proposes to investigate the economically important wheat leaf spot group (LSG) of necrotrophic pathogens. The project will use a range of techniques such as high-density genotyping, pathogen re-sequencing and advanced virulence diagnosis to deliver a genomics- and effector-based pipeline for the genetic dissection of LSG host-pathogen interactions across Europe.

EVOREPRO: Evolution of Sexual Reproduction in Plants

Both David Twell (Leicester) and Jose Gutierrez-Marcos (Warwick) are included in this seven-group consortium that aims to investigate the origin of the mechanisms that predate double fertilization in plants. The project will take a comparative gene expression-based approach to investigate gametogenesis across Marchantia, Physcomitrella, Amborella, Arabidopsis and a range of crop species. The expected findings will allow the identification of specific mechanisms that are targeted by environmental stresses during sexual reproduction in crops and will assist in the selection of stress-resistant cultivars.

INTREPID: Investigating Triticeae Epigenomes for Domestication

GARNet advisory board member Anthony Hall (Liverpool) leads this group which includes long time collaborator Mike Bevan (JIC). This project will look at variations in the epigenome across eight diverse wheat lines with the aim of determined how epigenetic marks are re-set and stabilized during the formation of new wheat hybrids and how they might influence gene expression.

MAQBAT: Mechanistic Analysis of Quantitative Disease Resistance in Brassicas by Associative Transcriptomics

John Innes Centre scientist Chris Ridout leads this six PI consortium that will look at pathogen resistance in Brassica napus, where diseases are a major limiting factor in growth success. Almost 200 lines of B.napus will be screened against a range of specific and general pathogens in the aim of discovering important disease resistance loci. One proposed aspect of the work will look at the role of glucosinolates in both disease resistace and seed quality. The project also includes UK B.napus expert Bruce Fitt (Hertfordshore).

PHYTOCAL: Phytochrome Control of Resource Allocation and Growth in Arabidopsis and in Brassicaceae crops

Karen Halliday (Edinburgh) leads this three-PI group that will investigate the link between phytochrome signaling and resource allocation in both Arabidopsis and B.rapa. One aim of the project will be to build models that predict the dual action of phytochrome and photosynthesis on resource management and biomass production.

RegulaTomE: Regulating Tomato quality through Expression

Cathie Martin (JIB) leads this largest successful consortium of 8 labs that aim to link transcriptional regulation of metabolic pathways with tomato quality. Loci contributing to abiotic stress tolerance will also be identified toward the combined goals of obtaining more nutritious, stable and sustainable crops. The project will lead to regulatory gene identification (an important advance in terms of fundamental understanding), and provide new tools for metabolic engineering of fruit quality.

SOURSI: Simultaneous manipulation of source and sink metabolism for improved crop yield

Lee Sweetlove (Oxford) leads this group that aims to understand the linkages between source and sink tissues in the assimilation of carbon and nitrogen. The project claims to implement a metabolic engineering strategy of unprecedented scale in plants exploiting the new technique of biolistic combinatorial co-transformation.

All-expenses-paid networking in Thailand, Mexico, Brazil or Turkey …

Categories: funding, plant pathogens
Comments: No Comments
Published on: October 28, 2014
Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 13.28.28
Plaza de Guanajuato, Mexico. By Jose Carlos Soto.

Do you fancy an all-expenses-paid trip to a meeting where you can present your work, network with senior researchers in your field, get inspired and eat good food in the sun? If you’re a UK-based early career researcher (of any nationality), it might be closer than you think.

And if the days of your ‘early career’ are past, applications are still being accepted for funding to run similar events.

There are four Researcher Links workshops open for applications at the moment:


«page 1 of 4

Follow Me
February 2017
« Jan    

Welcome , today is Monday, February 20, 2017