GARNet Research Roundup: December 7th 2018

The first four papers in this GARNet Research Roundup includes research from Norwich Research Park. Firstly members of Jonathan Jones’ lab have identified a new Avr gene from Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis. Secondly Anne Osbourn’s lab characterises two novel arabinosyltransferases that are involved in the plant defence response. Thirdly Cathie Martin’s group is involved in a study that investigates the biosynthesis of the metabolite ubiquinone. Finally in research from NRP is from Silke Robatzek’s lab, where they use a novel quantitative imaging system to characterise stomatal mutants.

The next two papers arise from work at SLCU, firstly looking at the possible role of a novel transposon family during gene-shuffling and secondly a paper that investigates the structure of an important component of the strigolactone signaling pathway.

The seventh paper from Peter Eastmond’s lab at Rothamsted Research identifies a novel gene involved in seed oil composition. The penultimate paper is from Peter Unwin at the University of Leeds and assesses the cell wall composition of ‘giant’ root cells induced by nematode Meloidogyne spp. Finally is a methods paper that describes how microCT imaging can be used to measure different leaf parameters.

Asai S, Furzer O, Cavik V, Kim DS, Ishaque N, Goritschnig S, Staskawicz B, Shirasu K, Jones JDG (2018) A downy mildew effector evades recognition by polymorphism of expression and subcellular localization. Nature Communications doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07469-3

Open Access

Shuta Asai from Jonathan Jones’ lab at The Sainsbury Lab, Norwich is the lead-author on this study that looks at co-evolution of host and pathogen resistance genes. The relationship between Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis (Hpa) and Arabidopsis is defined by the gene-for-gene model of host Resistance (R) genes and pathogen Avirulence (AVR) genes. In this study the authors identify the HaRxL103Emoy2 AVR gene that is recognised by the R gene RPP4 and how this resistance is broken by altered expression or cellular localization.

Louveau T, Orme A, Pfalzgraf H, Stephenson M, Melton RE, Saalbach G, Hemmings  AM, Leveau A, Rejzek M, Vickerstaff RJ, Langdon T, Field R, Osbourn AE (2018) Analysis of two new arabinosyltransferases belonging to the carbohydrate-active enzyme (CAZY) glycosyl transferase family 1 provides insights into disease resistance and sugar donor specificity. Plant Cell. doi: 10.1105/tpc.18.00641

Open Access

This research from the John Innes Centre, East Maling and Aberystwyth University is led by Thomas Louveau and Anne Osbourn and characterises two new arabinosyltransferases from oat and soybean. These enzymes are involved in the production of saponins that are involved in defence responses. These enzymes normally transfer arabinose to their substrates but through targeted mutations the authors modified one of them to instead transfer glucose. This study provides insights into the specifics of ‘sugar-donation’ and has identified potential novel targets for manipulating defence responses in two crop species.

Soubeyrand E, Johnson TS, Latimer S, Block A, Kim J, Colquhoun TA, Butelli E,  Martin C, Wilson MA, Basset G (2018) The Peroxidative Cleavage of Kaempferol Contributes to the Biosynthesis of the Benzenoid Moiety of Ubiquinone in Plants. Plant Cell. 2018 Nov 14. pii: tpc.00688.2018. doi: 10.1105/tpc.18.00688

Open Access

This US-led study includes members of Cathie Martin’s lab at the John Innes Centre as co-authors in which they investigate the flavonoid-biosynthesis pathway, in particular the land-plant-specific synthesis of ubiquinone. They used Arabidopsis and tomato mutants to dissect the ubiquinone biosynthesis pathway, revealing that the B-ring of the specalised metabolite kaempferol is incorporated into the primary metabolite ubiquinone.

Bourdais G, McLachlan DH, Rickett LM, Zhou J, Siwoszek A, Häweker H, Hartley M, Kuhn H, Morris RJ, MacLean D, Robatzek S (2018) The use of quantitative imaging to investigate regulators of membrane trafficking in Arabidopsis stomatal closure. Traffic. doi: 10.1111/tra.12625

This work from both Norwich Research Park and the University of Bristol is led by Gildas Bourdais and describes a high-throughput quantitative imaging, reverse genetic screen to characterize known stomatal mutants on the basis of their effect on the endomembrane system. This screen allowed them to precisely define the point in the signaling pathway at which each mutant was affected, providing a genetic framework for the control of stomatal closure. This image-based tool should be a valuable addition to future studies that aim to use quantitative image analysis.

Catoni M, Jonesman T, Cerruti E, Paszkowski J (2018) Mobilization of Pack-CACTA transposons in Arabidopsis suggests the mechanism of gene shuffling (2018) Nucleic Acids Res. doi: 10.1093/nar/gky1196

Open Access

This work was performed at SLCU in Jerzy Paszkowski’s lab by current University of Birmingham lecturer Marco Catoni and analyses the genomic impact of the mobilisation of Pack-TYPE transposons. They track the movement of these transposons over multiple generations, showing that they can insert into genic regions and that their subsequent incomplete excisions can cause deleterious effect on gene function. Over evolutionary time the action of this type of mobile element might therefore importantly influence gene shuffling.

Shabek N, Ticchiarelli F, Mao H, Hinds TR, Leyser O, Zheng N (2018) Structural plasticity of D3-D14 ubiquitin ligase in strigolactone signalling. Nature. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0743-5

Nitzan Shabek is the lead author on his US-led paper that includes Fabrizio Ticchiarelli and Ottoline Leyser from SLCU as co-authors. This paper reveals the structure of the interaction between the Arabidopsis α/β hydrolase D14 and the D3 F-box protein, which is important for multiple aspects of strigolactone signaling. They show that structural plasticity of the D3 C-terminal α-helix, which can switch between two different forms, enables the interaction between D14 and the D53 repressor protein. Providing insight into these specific interactions is key to increasing understanding of how the D14-D3 complex influences strigolactone signaling.

Menard GN, Bryant FM, Kelly AA, Craddock CP, Lavagi I, Hassani-Pak K, Kurup S, Eastmond PJ (2018) Natural variation in acyl editing is a determinant of seed storage oil composition. Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-35136-6

Open Access

This work is led from Rothamsted Research with Guillaume Menard as first author and uses the Arabidopsis MAGIC population to identify novel genetic loci involved in seed oil composition. They identified multiple QTLs associated with the quantity of the major very long chain fatty acid species 11-eicosenoic acid (20:1), showing that the enzyme LYSOPHOSPHATIDYLCHOLINE ACYLTRANSFERASE 2 (LPCAT2), which is involved in the acyl-editing pathway, was the primary QTL. Subsequently they show LPCAT2 expression was key for varying seed 20:1 content and that natural variation in the capacity for acyl editing is an important determinant of oil content.

Bozbuga R, Lilley CJ, Knox JP, Urwin PE (2018) Host-specific signatures of the cell  wall changes induced by the plant parasitic nematode, Meloidogyne incognita (2018). Sci  Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-35529-7

Open Access

Refik Bozbuga at the University of Leeds is first author on this study that investigates the cell wall composition of nutrient-supplying ‘giant cells’ that are induced in roots following infection with Meloidogyne spp nematodes. They analysed the cell walls of giant cells from three species (Arabidopsis, maize and aduki bean) as well as using a set of Arabidopsis mutants to characterise the possible cell wall components that might influence infection rates.

Mathers AW, Hepworth C, Baillie AL, Sloan J, Jones H, Lundgren M, Fleming AJ,  Mooney SJ, Sturrock CJ (2018) Investigating the microstructure of plant leaves in 3D with lab-based X-ray computed tomography. Plant Methods. doi:  10.1186/s13007-018-0367-7

Open Access
This paper from the Universities of Nottingham, Sheffield and Lancaster provides a methodology that uses a microCT image pipeline to measure leaf intercellular airspace and to provide quantitative data on descriptors of leaf cellular architecture. They measured 6 different plant species, showing that this 3D method generates an improved dataset when compared to traditional 2D methods of measurement.

GARNet Research Roundup: October 19th 2018

This edition of the GARNet research roundup includes six papers that look at different areas of plant biology. Firstly is a Belgian-led study with co-authors from Nottingham that introduces adaptive Xerobranching, a cereal-root response that can be mimicked in Arabidopsis by modulating ABA signaling. Second is study from Juriaan Ton’s lab in Sheffield that investigates the extent of DNA methylation during transgenerational acquired disease resistance. Third is paper from the John Innes Centre that places the DET1/COP1-PIF4 signaling module as a key determinant of the plants decision to allocate resources toward growth or defence.

The fourth paper is from Siobhan Braybrook’s (now ex-) lab at SLCU and provides an extensive dataset of the shape of leaf pavement cells across plant lineages. The penultimate paper is from a group at the University of Birmingham investigating the role of TOPII in the removal of damaging chromosome interlocks that occur during meiosis. The final paper returns to the ABA signalling with a study from Rothamsted Research that looks at the impact of the N-end rule on the different growth responses that occur during seed germination.

Orman-Ligeza B, Morris EC, Parizot B, Lavigne T, Babé A, Ligeza A, Klein S, Sturrock C, Xuan W, Novák O, Ljung K, Fernandez MA, Rodriguez PL, Dodd IC, De Smet I, Chaumont F, Batoko H, Périlleux C, Lynch JP, Bennett MJ, Beeckman T, Draye X (2018) The Xerobranching Response Represses Lateral Root Formation When Roots Are Not in Contact with Water. Current Biology. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.07.074

Open Access

Emily Morris and Beata Orman-Ligeza are co-authors on this Belgian-led study that includes authors from the Universities of Nottingham and Lancaster. They introduce a new adaptive response termed xerobranching that defines the repression of root branching when a root tip is not in contact with wet soil. This response occurs in cereal roots but can be mimicked in Arabidopsis by treatment with ABA as the authors show that the response is dependent on the PYR/PYL/RCAR-dependent signaling pathway. This response allows roots to respond to the realistically varied microclimate encountered through the soil and offers another excellent example of how using both cereals and Arabidopsis can provide answers that would not be possible from a single experimental system.

Stassen JHM, López A, Jain R, Pascual-Pardo D, Luna E, Smith LM, Ton J (2018) The relationship between transgenerational acquired resistance and global DNA methylation in Arabidopsis. Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-32448-5

Open Access

Joost Stassen and Ana Lopez are the lead authors of this study from Juriaan Ton’s lab in Sheffield that continues their work on mechanisms that explain transgenerational acquired resistance (TAR). TAR occurs in the progeny of heavily diseased plants and in this study they investigate the extent of DNA methylation in generations following exposure to pathogens. They find that the extent of TAR-induced methylation was in direct proportion to the number of previous generations that had been exposed to disease. The majority of this methylation was in the CG context in gene bodies and clearly shows that methylation is an important component of molecular changes that occur during TAR.

Gangappa SN, Kumar SV (2018) DET1 and COP1 Modulate the Coordination of Growth and Immunity in Response to Key Seasonal Signals in Arabidopsis. Cell Rep. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.08.096

Open Access

Sreeramaiah Gangappa performed this work with Vinod Kumar at the John Innes Centre in which they investigate the molecular pathways that regulate the environmental signals that feed into the balance decision between growth and defense responses. They show that De-Etiolated 1 (DET1) and Constitutive Photomorphogenic 1 (COP1) negatively regulate immunity during favourable growth conditions and that this response is coordinated through the PIF4 transcription factor. These findings lead the authors to conclude that the DET1/COP1-PIF4 module is a key determinant of the different growth requirements that are necessary to response to either environment and disease.

Vőfély RV, Gallagher J, Pisano GD, Bartlett M, Braybrook SA (2018) Of puzzles and pavements: a quantitative exploration of leaf epidermal cell shape. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.15461

Open Access

Work from Siobhan Braybrook’s lab features in the Research Roundup for the second consecutive edition, this time led by Roza Vofely at the Sainsbury Lab Cambridge University (SLCU). In this study they have investigated the shape of leaf epidermal pavement cells from a remarkable 278 plant taxa in order to ascertain whether certain lineages are characterized by different cell shapes and whether the presence of an undulating cell wall is common, as in both maize and Arabidopsis. Interestingly they found that these primary examples were the exception as strongly undulating cell walls were unusual. They found that different lineages were characterised by similar levels of undulation and the authors conclude that this study sets a quantitative benchmark on which future experiments can be based that aim to understand the underlying factors that control pavement cell shape.

Martinez-Garcia M, Schubert V, Osman K, Darbyshire A, Sanchez-Moran E, Franklin FCH (2018) TOPII and chromosome movement help remove interlocks between entangled chromosomes during meiosis. J Cell Biol. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201803019

Open Access
Marina Martinez‐Garcia is the lead author on this work conducted during her time working with Eugenio Sanchez-Moran and Chris Franklin at the University of Birmingham. Normal meiosis requires a lack of structural interlocks between entangled chromosomes that can result from inevitable collisions in an area so packed with nucleic acid. In this paper the authors confirm a previously developed hypothesis that topoisomerase II (TOPII) is needed to remove interlocks. However it is not the only determinant of the number of interlocks as in Arabidopsis mutants in which chromosome movement is reduced, interlocks occur irrespective of the presence of TOPII.

Zhang H, Gannon L, Jones PD, Rundle CA, Hassall KL, Gibbs DJ, Holdsworth MJ, Theodoulou FL (2018) Genetic interactions between ABA signalling and the Arg/N-end rule pathway during Arabidopsis seedling establishment. Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-33630-5

Open Access

Hongtao Zhang is the lead author of this work from the lab of Freddie Theodoulou at Rothamsted Research that investigates the role of the PROTEOLYSIS6 (PRT6) N-recognin E3 ligase in the ABA response. PRT6 regulated degradation of Group VII of the Ethylene Response Factor superfamily (ERFVIIs) controls both sugar sensitivity and oil body breakdown in germinating Arabidopsis seedlings. They found that the former but not the latter response was enhanced by ABA signaling components when the ERFVIIs were stabilised. The authors conclude that during seed germination the N-end rule controls multiple layers of regulation, both in an ABA dependent and independent manner

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: January 10th 2018

This Arabidopsis Research Roundup covers the final papers of 2017 and the first of this new year. The initial paper is led by researchers in Bristol and characterises how the multifaceted BIG protein influences stomatal dynamics in response to altered CO2. Second is a manuscript from SLCU that for the first time in plants demonstrates nuclear sequestration of cell cycle regulated mRNAs.

Next is a paper from Rothamsted that describes a role for the hormone GA during floral development. David Salt (Nottingham) is then a co-author on a manuscript that has determined a role for the CTL protein in ion homeostasis.

Seth Davies from York is the lead author on the next study that investigates a link between metabolism and the circadian clock. The sixth paper looks at genes involved in the control of autophagy and features Patrick Gallois (Manchester) as a co-author.

There are three papers from researchers working on Norwich Research Park with Cyril Zipfel (TSL) involved in a study that looks at vacuolar trafficking of BR signaling components. Janneke Balk leads a study that characterises enzymes involved in biosynthesis of metal co-factors whilst the final NRP-based paper from Nick Pullen and Steven Penfield (John Innes Centre) describes the Leaf-GP open software for automated plant phenotyping.

The penultimate paper uses a set of PlantProbes (developed by Paul Knox at Leeds) to study pollen development whilst the final paper from Keith Lindsey (Durham) describes the application of a Bayesian statistical methodology to model the parameters that control a hormone signaling network.

He J, Zhang RX, Peng K, Tagliavia C, Li S, Xue S, Liu A, Hu H,, Zhang J, Hubbard KE,, Held K, McAinsh MR, Gray JE, Kudla J, Schroeder JI, Liang YK, Hetherington AM (2018) The BIG protein distinguishes the process of CO2 -induced stomatal closure from the inhibition of stomatal opening by CO2. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.14957 Open Access

Alistair Hetherington (University of Bristol) leads this UK-USA-China collaboration that has characterised a role for the mysterious BIG protein during stomatal closure in response to altered CO2 concentration. Interestingly BIG mutants do not show a defect in stomatal opening in response to altered CO2, allowing the dissection of this complex response through the activity of this protein. It remains to be determined exactly how the BIG protein influences this process.

Yang W, Wightman R, Meyerowitz EM (2017) Cell Cycle Control by Nuclear Sequestration of CDC20 and CDH1 mRNA in Plant Stem Cells. Mol Cell. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2017.11.008

Elliott Meyerowitz (SLCU) is the corresponding author of this research that provides the first characterisation in plants of nuclear sequestration of mRNAs from developmental important genes. The authors show that Arabidopsis anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) coactivator genes CDC20 and CCS52B are confined to the nucleus in prophase, preventing translation of the cognate proteins until metaphase, which appears to protect cyclins from degradation at an inappropriate phase of the cell cycle

Plackett ARG, Powers SJ, Phillips AL, Wilson ZA, Hedden P, Thomas SG4 (2017) The early inflorescence of Arabidopsis thaliana demonstrates positional effects in floral organ growth and meristem patterning. Plant Reprod. doi: 10.1007/s00497-017-0320-3

This study is led from Rothamsted Research and includes Zoe Wilson from the University of Nottingham. They perform a systematic analysis of early floral organ initiation across the Arabidopsis inflorescence, discovering that both GA-dependent and independent stages are important for this process, albeit via the activity of presently unknown factors.

Gao YQ, Chen JG, Chen ZR An D, Lv QY, Han ML, Wang YL, Salt DE, Chao DY (2017) A new vesicle trafficking regulator CTL1 plays a crucial role in ion homeostasis. PLoS Biol. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2002978

Open Access

David Salt (University of Nottingham) is a co-author on this Chinese-led investigation into the role of the vesicle trafficking regulator choline transporter (CTL) during the control of ionome homeostasis. Using ctl1 mutants they show that this function is required for the action of certain ion transporters as well as during plasmodesmata (PD) development. This study provides novel insights into the role of vesicular transport in the control of ion homeostasis and how the location of these ions might alter vesicle activity.

Sánchez-Villarreal A, Davis AM, Davis SJ (2017) AKIN10 Activity as a Cellular Link Between Metabolism and Circadian-Clock Entrainment in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Plant Signal Behav. doi: 10.1080/15592324.2017.1411448

Seth Davies (University of York) is the corresponding author on this study demonstrating that overexpression of the AKIN10 subunit of the SnRK1 complex results in increased period length of the circadian clock. The authors postulate about the possible links between metabolic rate and function of the clock, allowing them to present a model of action that features each of the central regulatory elements.

Havé M, Balliau T, Cottyn-Boitte B, Dérond E, Cueff G, Soulay F, Lornac A, Reichman P, Dissmeyer N, Avice JC, Gallois P, Rajjou L, Zivy M, Masclaux-Daubresse C (2017) Increase of proteasome and papain-like cysteine protease activities in autophagy mutants: backup compensatory effect or pro cell-death effect? J Exp Bot. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erx482

Open Access
This study is led by French researchers and includes Patrick Gallois (University of Manchester) as a co-author. The work focuses on the role of the ATG genes during autophagy, the key process that controls nutrient recycling during senescence. In atg5 mutants they show that different sets of proteases are misregulated, suggestive of a complex relationship between the enzymes involved in nutrient remobilization.

Liu Q, Vain T, Viotti C, Doyle SM, Tarkowská D, Novák O, Zipfel C, Sitbon F, Robert S, Hofius D (2017) Vacuole Integrity Maintained by DUF300 Proteins Is Required for Brassinosteroid Signaling Regulation. Mol Plant. doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2017.12.015

Cyril Zipfel (TSL) is a member of this Pan-European consortium that investigates the role of the vacuolar proteins, LAZARUS1 (LAZ1) and LAZ1 HOMOLOG1 (LAZ1H1) on the cellular cycling of BR-signaling components. Plants with mutations in laz1 and laz1h1 show increased BAK1 accumulation at the tonoplast as well as enhanced BRI1 trafficking and degradation. These DUF300 proteins appear to play a specific role in BR signalling as other vacuolar-associated proteins are not involved in this process.

Kruse I, Maclean A, Hill L, Balk J (2017) Genetic dissection of cyclic pyranopterin monophosphate biosynthesis in plant mitochondria. Biochem J. doi: 10.1042/BCJ20170559 Open Access

Janneke Balk (John Innes Centre) leads this study that has identified novel alleles in mitochondrial enzymes that are involved in the biosynthesis of metal cofactors. Analysis of these enzyme mutant reveals that they show deficiencies in the synthesis of cyclic pyranopterin monophosphate (cPMP), revealing fresh insights into the metabolic processes involving this key intermediate.

Zhou J, Applegate C, Alonso AD, Reynolds D, Orford S, Mackiewicz M, Griffiths S, Penfield S, Pullen N (2017) Leaf-GP: an open and automated software application for measuring growth phenotypes for arabidopsis and wheat. Plant Methods. doi: 10.1186/s13007-017-0266-3

Open Access

Nick Pullen and Steve Penfield (John Innes Centre) introduce this new software tool for the automated measurement of plant phenotypes. This Leaf-GP software is open access and has the sophistication to discriminate between different aspects of both Arabidopsis and greenhouse growth wheat.

This paper is back of a special issue of Plant Methods that is based on the use of Computer Vision in Plant Phenotyping.

Ndinyanka Fabrice T, Vogler H, Draeger C, Munglani G, Gupta S, Herger AG, Knox JP, Grossniklaus U, Ringli C (2017) LRX Proteins play a crucial role in pollen grain and pollen tube cell wall development. Plant Physiol. doi: 10.1104/pp.17.01374

Open Access

This Swiss-led study looks into the role of LRX proteins during cell wall formation and how they affect pollen germination and pollen tube formation. The authors took advantage of the molecular tools produced by Paul Knox (University of Leeds) as part of his Plant Probes project.

Vernon I, Liu J, Goldstein M, Rowe J, Topping J, Lindsey K (2017) Bayesian uncertainty analysis for complex systems biology models: emulation, global parameter searches and evaluation of gene functions. BMC Syst Biol. doi: 10.1186/s12918-017-0484-3 Open Access

Keith Lindsey (University of Durham) leads this paper that applies a Bayesian statistical methodology to analyse a model of hormonal crosstalk in the Arabidopsis root. They show that this technique can provide new insight into the behavior of models and enables the identification of new interesting rate parameters.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: September 6th

This largest ever Arabidopsis Research Roundup (ARR) includes 6 papers from Norwich Research Park (NRP), including three featuring Cyril Zipfel (TSL) as a co-author on papers that investigate different aspects of plant immune signaling. Elsewhere on the NRP site Veronica Grieneisen (JIC) is a co-author on a study that defines the root auxin maximum whilst Dale Sanders and Saskia Hogenhout lead a paper that defines a method for the analysis of calcium signaling. Finally Robert Sablowski’s group at the JIC investigates the role of the DELLA proteins during meristem development.

Elsewhere investigators from Kew Gardens and Bangor University have used nanopore sequencing for the facile characterisation of field populations of Arabidopsis. Similarly Seth Davies (University of York) is part of a collaboration that looks how alterations in the circadian clock might affect plant fitness.

Verena Kriechbaumer (Oxford Brookes) leads a phylogenetic study into the conservation of auxin biosynthesis genes whilst Hilary Rodgers (Cardiff University) is a co-author on a Chinese-led study that looks into role of cadmium on the Arabidopsis cell cycle.

This ARR is full of examples of UK researchers involved in global collaborations. This includes Cambridge researchers involved in a proteomic analysis of microsomes, Justin Goodrich from the University of Edinburgh as part of a US-led study that defines the regulation of the PRC2 complex and Katherine Denby (University of York) as a member of a consortium that has performed a network analysis of jasmonic acid signaling.

Finally are two studies in which the research takes place within a single institution. Malcolm Hawksford (Rothamsted Research) looks at the effect of wheat transcription factors in the response to the heavy metal zinc whilst Emily Larson and Mike Blatt (University of Glasgow) investigate the role of clathrin on plant vesicular transport.

D’Ambrosio JM, Couto D, Fabro G, Scuffi D, Lamattina L, Munnik T, Andersson MX, Alvarez ME, Zipfel C, Laxalt AM (2017) PLC2 Regulates MAMP-Triggered Immunity by Modulating ROS Production in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol 10.1104/pp.17.00173

This Argentinian-led study includes Cyril Zipfel (TSL) as a co-author on this work that uses miRNA-mediated gene silencing to assess the role of the phosphoinositide-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC) in plant immune signaling.

Imkampe J, Halter T, Huang S, Schulze S, Mazzotta S, Schmidt N, Manstretta R, Postel S, Wierzba M, Yang Y, vanDongen WM, Stahl M, Zipfel C, Goshe MB, Clouse S, de Vries SC, Tax F, Wang X, Kemmerling B (2017) The Arabidopsis Leucine-rich Repeat Receptor Kinase BIR3 Negatively Regulates BAK1 Receptor Complex Formation and Stabilizes BAK1. Plant Cell. 10.1105/tpc.17.00376

Cyril Zipfel (TSL) is a co-author on this global collaboration that further defines the role of the BAK1 receptor in hormone and immune signaling through its interaction with two LRR-RK proteins (BIR2 and BIR3).

Singh V, Perraki A, Kim SY, Shrivastava S, Lee JH, Zhao Y, Schwessinger B, Oh MH, Marshall-Colon A, Zipfel C, Huber SC (2017) Tyrosine-610 in the Receptor Kinase BAK1 Does Not Play a Major Role in Brassinosteroid Signaling or Innate Immunity. Front Plant Sci. 10.3389/fpls.2017.01273

Cyril Zipfel (TSL) is a co-author on this US-led manuscript that again looks into the role of the BRI1-ASSOCIATED KINASE1 (BAK1) on plant immune signaling. Importantly they show that the phosphorylation of tyrosine-610 is actually not necessary for this proteins role in brassinosteroid or immune signaling

Di Mambro R, De Ruvo M,,, Pacifici E, Salvi E, Sozzani R, Benfey PN,, Busch W, Novak O, Ljung K, Di Paola L, Marée AFM, Costantino P, Grieneisen VA, Sabatini S (2017) Auxin minimum triggers the developmental switch from cell division to cell differentiation in the Arabidopsis root. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 10.1073/pnas.1705833114

Veronica Grieneisen (JIC) is a co-corresponding author on this work with Sabrina Sabatini from the University of Rome. They define the auxin minimum, a newly characterised determinat of root patterning that delineates the separation of root division and the differentiation zones. This is defined by the interaction between cytokinin and auxin signaling cascades.

Veronica discusses this paper on the GARNet YouTube channel:

Vincent TR, Canham J, Toyota M, Avramova M, Mugford ST, Gilroy S, Miller AJ, Hogenhout S, Sanders D (2017) Real-time In Vivo Recording of Arabidopsis Calcium Signals During Insect Feeding Using a Fluorescent Biosensor. J Vis Exp. 10.3791/56142

Dale Sanders and GARNet committee member Saskia Hogenhout (JIC) lead this study that describes an imaging technique that allows for the real time assessment of calcium dynamics using a fluorescently tagged sensor.

Serrano-Mislata A, Bencivenga S, Bush M, Schiessl K, Boden S, Sablowski R (2017) DELLA genes restrict inflorescence meristem function independently of plant height. Nature Plants. 10.1038/s41477-017-0003-y

Robert Sablowski (JIC) leads this paper that investigates the role of DELLA proteins in the control of cell cycle regulators and how this impacts meristem size in both barley and Arabidopsis. Read more about it on the John Innes Centre website.

Parker J, Helmstetter AJ, Devey D, Wilkinson T, Papadopulos AST (2017) Field-based species identification of closely-related plants using real-time nanopore sequencing. Sci Rep. 10.1038/s41598-017-08461-5 Open Access

This investigation led by researchers at Kew Gardens and at the Bangor University use Real Time Nanopore Sequencing (RTnS) that allows for rapid species identification in the field and that combining RTnS and laboratory-based high-throughput sequencing leads to a significant improvement in genome assembly.

Rubin MJ, Brock MT, Davis AM, German ZM, Knapp M, Welch SM, Harmer SL, Maloof JN7, Davis SJ, Weinig C (2017) Circadian rhythms vary over the growing season and correlate with fitness components. Mol Ecol. 10.1111/mec.14287 Open Access

Seth Davies (University of York) is a co-author on this US-led work that conducts a study of field-growth Arabidopsis to evaluate the contribution of the circadian clock toward survival and fecundity. They show that variation in clock function correlates with growth performance in a natural environment.

Poulet A, Kriechbaumer V (2017) Bioinformatics Analysis of Phylogeny and Transcription of TAA/YUC Auxin Biosynthetic Genes. Int J Mol Sci. 10.3390/ijms18081791 Open Access

The paper from Oxford Brookes University provides a phylogenetic analysis of TAA/TAR (tryptophan aminotransferase related) and YUCCA proteins that are involved in auxin biosynthesis. In addition they provide tissue and cell-specific information about the function of these proteins and that their function is conserved in lower plant species.

Cui W, Wang H, Song J, Cao X, Rogers HJ, Francis D, Jia C, Sun L, Hou M, Yang Y, Tai P, Liu W (2017) Cell cycle arrest mediated by Cd-induced DNA damage in Arabidopsis root tips. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2017.07.074 Open Access

Hilary Rodgers (Cardiff University) is a co-author on this Chinese-led study that looks into the effect of cadmium treatment on the regulation of the cell cycle and DNA damage repair. They show that different cadmium concentrations effect different phases of the cell cycle.

Alqurashi M, Thomas L, Gehring C, Marondedze C (2017) A Microsomal Proteomics View of H₂O₂- and ABA-Dependent Responses. Proteomes. 10.3390/proteomes5030022 Open Access

This international collaboration includes members of the Cambridge Centre for Proteomics and conducts a quantitative analysis of the Arabidopsis microsomal proteome following treatment with hydrogen peroxide or ABA. Perhaps unsurprisingly a high number of proteins characterized as ‘responsing to stress’ were found upregulated following treatment with H2O2 or ABA.

Xiao J, Jin R, Yu X, Shen M, Wagner JD, Pai A, Song C, Zhuang M, Klasfeld S, He C, Santos AM, Helliwell C, Pruneda-Paz JL, Kay SA, Lin X, Cui S, Garcia MF, Clarenz O, Goodrich J, Zhang X, Austin RS,, Bonasio R, Wagner D (2017) Cis and trans determinants of epigenetic silencing by Polycomb repressive complex 2 in Arabidopsis. Nature Genet 10.1038/ng.3937

Justin Goodrich (University of Edinburgh) is a co-author on this US-led study that looks into the role of Polycomb response element (PREs) in directing the placement of the Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) via their interaction with a newly identified transcription factors. Justin has recently discussed a paper on a similar topic on the GARNet YouTube channel.

Hickman R, van Verk MC, Van Dijken AJH, Pereira Mendes M, Vroegop-Vos IA, Caarls L, Steenbergen M, Van Der Nagel I, Wesselink GJ, Jironkin A, Talbot A, Rhodes J, de Vries M, Schuurink RC, Denby K, Pieterse CMJ, Van Wees SCM (2017) Architecture and Dynamics of the Jasmonic Acid Gene Regulatory Network. The Plant Cell 10.1105/tpc.16.00958 Open Access

GARNet committee member Katherine Denby (University of York) is a member of this large consortium of researchers who have performed a network analysis on the dynamics of jasmonic acid signaling

Evens NP, Buchner P, Williams LE, Hawkesford MJ (2017) The role of ZIP transporters and group F bZIP transcription factors in the Zn-deficiency response of wheat (Triticum aestivum) Plant J. 10.1111/tpj.13655 Open Access

Malcolm Hawkesford (Rothamsted Research) leads this study that investigate a set of wheat bZIP transcription factors and ZIP transporters that are involved in the uptake and transport of zinc. As part of this work they use Arabidopsis to test the conserved function of these wheat proteins.

Larson ER, Van Zelm E, Roux C, Marion-Poll A, Blatt MR (2017) Clathrin Heavy Chain subunits coordinate endo- and exocytic traffic and affect stomatal movement. Plant Physiol. 10.1104/pp.17.00970 Open Access

Mike Blatt and Emily Larson (University of Glasgow) are the co-corresponding authors on this study that looks into the role of clathrin heavy chain on vesicular transport in Arabidopsis. They looked at clathrin mutants to show that the protein plays an unsurprisingly important role in both endo- and exocytosis.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: December 29th

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Published on: December 28, 2016

The final Research Roundup of 2016 includes two papers that take different strategies toward the ultimate aim of crop improvement and use Arabidopsis as a tool for their initial discoveries. Firstly Christine Raines (University of Essex) uses a transgenic approach to upregulate enzymes of the calvin cycle while researchers from Rothamstead and Oxford use a chemical intervention strategy. Both of these strategies are successful in increasing yield.

Second are a set of back-to-back papers featuring Xiaoqi Feng (JIC) that investigate DNA methylation patterns in both male and female gametes.

Finally Henrik Jonsson (SLCU) leads a paper that precisely defines the parameters that are important in determining the relationship between cell size, location and cytokinesis.


Simkin AJ, Lopez-Calcagno PE, Davey PA, Headland LR, Lawson T, Timm S, Bauwe H, Raines CA (2016) Simultaneous stimulation of the SBPase, FBP aldolase and the photorespiratory GDC-H protein increases CO2 assimilation, vegetative biomass and seed yield in Arabidopsis. Plant Biotechnol J

Open Access
GARNet Committee Member Christine Raines leads this UK-German study that alters the amounts of three calvin cycle enzymes and assesses the subsequent change in photosynthetic rate in Arabidopsis plants. These enzymes sedoheptulose 1,7-bisphosphatase (SBPase), fructose 1,6-bisphophate aldolase (FBPA) and the glycine decarboxylase H-protein (GDC-H) were overexpressed either individually or together and each plant shows an increase in the quantum efficiency of photosystem II. This results in improved CO2 fixation and a concomitant increase in leaf area and biomass. Overall the authors have shown that this transgenic gene stacking approach can have potential for improving plant productivity.

Griffiths CA, Sagar R, Geng Y, Primavesi LF, Patel MK, Passarelli MK, Gilmore IS, Steven RT, Bunch J,, Paul MJ, Davis BG (2016) Chemical intervention in plant sugar signalling increases yield and resilience. Nature

This study is a collaboration between Rothamstead Research and the University of Oxford and has been featured in a recent Nature podcast. This paper outlines a chemical intervention strategy to improve crop productivity and includes some fundamental work performed in Arabidopsis. They used a ”signaling-precursor concept” to design and synthesise a plant permeable version of Trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P), which could readily be uptaken and activated by sunlight in planta. Addition of T6P to wheat increases grain yield whilst when applied to leaf tissue it improves recovery from drought stress. This is an exciting test case to show the potential of chemical intervention yet the authors are rightly cautious when considering the general use of the compound given the variability of field conditions.

Hsieh PH, He S,, Buttress T, Gao H, Couchman M, Fischer RL, Zilberman D, Feng X (2016) Arabidopsis male sexual lineage exhibits more robust maintenance of CG methylation than somatic tissues. PNAS

Xiaoqi Feng (John Innes Centre) is the corresponding author on this study that investigates the transgenerational maintenance of methylation through the male germline. They undertook the challenging purification of Arabidopsis pollen sperm and vegetative cells from both wildtype plants and plants that contains mutations within different DNA methytransferases. They show that background methylation is equivalent in sperm, vegetative and somatic cells but that specific CG methylation is higher in pollen sperm and vegetative cells than in somatic cells. The authors suggest that this allows more accurate inheritance of methylation patterns across successive generations.

Park K, Kim MY, Vickers M, Park JS, Hyun Y, Okamoto T, Zilberman D, Fischer RL, Feng X, Choi Y, Scholten S (2016) DNA demethylation is initiated in the central cells of Arabidopsis and rice. PNAS

In this second of back-to-back papers, Xiaoqi Feng is a co-author on an international study that looks into the role of the DEMETER DNA demethylase on the control of gene expression in the endosperm. This tissue results from the fusion of a male pollen sperm cell and the female central cell and is associated with significant demethylation. This study documents the first genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation in the female central cell in Arabidopsis. They show that DNA demethylation requires DEMETER function but that it is likely not associated with the downregulation of the MET1 methytransferase. Therefore the authors suggest that characteristic endospermal DNA demethylation occurs through locus-specific activity.

Willis L,, Refahi Y, Wightman R, Landrein B, Teles J, Huang KC,, Meyerowitz EM,,, Jönsson H (2016) Cell size and growth regulation in the Arabidopsis thaliana apical stem cell niche. PNAS

Henrik Jonsson (Sainsbury Lab Cambridge) is the corresponding author on this UK-US collaboration that uses a 4D imaging pipeline to track the growth of epidermal cells in the Arabidopsis shoot apical meristem (SAM). They suggest that neither cell size or cell age are determinants for progression to cytokinesis, which is also independent of cell contact topologies and the cell position within the SAM. However they find that a more complex mix of parameters determine the constraints on determination of cell size. Following cell division they also show that a smaller daughter cell will grow at a faster rather than its larger sister, a finding that the authors suggest challenges present models of growth regulation.Jonsson

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: August 8th

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

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

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

Jurriaan kindly provides a comprehensive description of this work:

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: April 14th

This week Arabidopsis Research Roundup contains two studies that originate at the University of Birmingham. Firstly George Bassel kindly provides an audio description of a study that looks at the processes regulating seed germination. Secondly Juliet Coates leads an investigation into the function of evolutionarily conserved ARABIDILLO proteins. Elsewhere is a University of Edinburgh study into the tissue-specificity of PhyA responses and lastly an investigation of the phytotoxic effects of Cerium nanoparticles.

Nieuwland J, Stamm P, Wen B, Randall RS, Murray JA, Bassel GW (2016) Re-induction of the cell cycle in the Arabidopsis post-embryonic root meristem is ABA-insensitive, GA-dependent and repressed by KRP6. Sci Rep. Open AccessRootTip

George Bassel (Birmingham), GARNet PI Jim Murray (Cardiff) and Jeroen Nieuwland (South Wales) are the leaders of this study that investigates the activation of the root meristem during germination, a process that requires de novo GA synthesis. Using hormone applications and genetic analysis the authors show that root meristem can begin elongation independent of germination, which is defined as occurring following both testa rupture and radicle protrusion. KRP6 is a cell cycle regulator and partially represses activation of the cell cycle by GA so krp6 mutants germinate more rapidly. Overall this study concludes that the cell cycle can uncouple the interactions of GA and ABA that act to conclude germination and promote root meristem elongation.

George Bassel kindly provides a short audio description of this paper.

Moody LA, Saidi Y, Gibbs DJ, Choudhary A, Holloway D, Vesty EF, Bansal KK, Bradshaw SJ, Coates JC (2016) An ancient and conserved function for Armadillo-related proteins in the control of spore and seed germination by abscisic acid. New Phytol. Open Access

This study comes exclusively from the University of Birmingham and is led by Juliet Coates. This group investigates the role of Armadillo-related ARABIDILLO proteins on branching processes across plant species. In the moss Physcomitrella patens these proteins are linked to the action of the hormone ABA on spore germination, which converges with a role for the proteins in Arabidopsis seed germination. Importantly both P.patens and Selaginella moellendorffii ARABIDILLO proteins are able to substitute for native proteins in Arabidopsis, demonstrating their conserved function. The authors conclude that these proteins were co-opted into the regulation of both sporophytic and gametophytic processes early in plant evolution.

Kirchenbauer D, Viczián A, Ádám É, Hegedűs Z, Klose C, Leppert M, Hiltbrunner A, Kircher S, Schäfer E, Nagy F (2016) Characterization of photomorphogenic responses and signaling cascades controlled by phytochrome-A expressed in different tissues. New Phytologist . Open Access

Ferenc Nagy (Edinburgh) is the corresponding author of this Hungaro-German study that focuses on how phytochrome responses are mediated in a tissue-specific manner. Considering that phyA is expressed throughout plant tissues it remained a mystery as to how the PhyA responses are able to control plant development. This study used tissue-specific promotors to drive PHYA production in a variety of tissues and discovered that expression in a limited number of tissues is able to regulate flowering time and root growth. In addition they find evidence for the intercellular movement of PhyA. The authors conclude that the PhyA response is partly controlled by a mix of tissue-specific expression and the regulation of key downstream factors in a tissue-autonomous cell activity.

Yang X, Pan H, Wang P, Zhao FJ (2016) Particle-specific toxicity and bioavailability of cerium oxide (CeO2) nanoparticles to Arabidopsis thaliana J Hazard Mater.

GraphThis Sino-UK-Australian study is led by Fang-Jie Zhao at Rothamstead Research. They investigate the uptake and phytotoxicity of commonly used (in consumer products) cerium oxide nanoparticles (CeO2-NPs) into Arabidopsis. At high concentrations the NP component, but not the Ce ions, were shown to have toxic effects on plant growth. These CeO2-NPs were taken up and translocated to the shoot where they aggregate in needle-like particles. This movement was independent of the type or concentation of Ce. The authors suggest this represents important information for the environmental considerations linked to the use and disposal of this type of NPs.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: April 1st.

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup contains an eclectic mix of investigations. Firstly is a study from Peter Unwin that investigates the molecular factors that control interactions between plants and nematode parasites. Secondly is a study led by John Christie that investigates the factors that control hypocotyl curvature. Thirdly is a fascinating proof-of-concept synbio-style study from Rothamstead Research where an algal gene is transferred into Arabidopsis in the hope of developing a phytomediation-based solution to heavy metal contamination. Fourthly is a study from David Bass that catalogues protist species that feed on leaf-microorganisms whilst finally John Carr heads a study that compares RNA-dependent RNA polymerases from Arabidopsis and Potato.

Eves-van den Akker S, Lilley CJ, Yusup HB, Jones JT, Urwin PE (2016) Functional C-terminally encoded plant peptide (CEP) hormone domains evolved de novo in the plant parasite Rotylenchulus reniformis. Mol Plant Pathol.

This study is a collaboration between researchers at the Universities of Dundee and Leeds, led by Peter Unwin. The focus of the paper is the interaction of Plant-Parasitic Nematodes (PPNs) with their plant hosts. PPNs stimulate redifferentiation of vascular tissues to form ‘feeding structures’ that benefit the parasite. This process is mediated by a diverse family of effector proteins termed C-terminally Encoded Peptide plant hormone mimics (CEPs). This study investigates the CEPs from the nematode Rotylenchulus reniformis and suggests that these peptides evolved de novo in this organism. They show that the activity of a synthetic peptide corresponding to RrCEPs causes a reduction in primary root elongation whilst upregulating a set of genes including the nitrate transporter AtNRT2.1. The authors propose that CEPs evolved in R. reniformis to allow sustained biotrophy by upregulating a specific set of feeding-responsive genes and by limiting the size of the feeding site produced. This study represents an exciting introduction to a currently under-researched area within plant-pathogen interactions.

Sullivan S, Hart JE, Rasch P, Walker CH, Christie JM (2016) Phytochrome A Mediates Blue-Light Enhancement of Second-Positive Phototropism in Arabidopsis. Front Plant Sci. 7:290 Open AccessFrontiersPHOT1

John Christie (Glasgow) is the corresponding author on this investigation into the role of the blue-light receptor phototropin 1 (phot1) during hypocotyl phototropism. Curvature of this organ is enhanced by treatment by red-light mediated by the phytochromeA receptor. However this study shows that pre-treatment with blue-light can also enhance this hypocotyl curvature although this did not occur at higher light intensities. In addition phototropic enhancement was also lacking when PHOT1 is expressed only in the hypocotyl epidermis. Therefore the study shows that the phyA impact on phot1 signaling is restricted to low light intensities and in tissues other than the epidermis.

Zhong Tang, Yanling Lv, Fei Chen, Wenwen Zhang, Barry P. Rosen, and Fang-Jie Zhao (2016) Arsenic Methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana Expressing an Algal Arsenite Methyltransferase Gene Increases Arsenic Phytotoxicity J. Agric. Food Chem. Open Access ArsM

This synthetic biology-focused study is led by Fang-Jie Zhao at Rothamstead Research. The authors take an algal gene (arsM) that allows the transformation of inorganic arsenic to a more volatile methylated version. The biological activity of this enzyme was successfully transferred to two different Arabidopsis ecotypes. However interestingly these transgenic plants became more sensitive to arsenic in growth media suggesting that the new methylated arsenic intermediate is more phytotoxic than inorganic arsenic. Therefore this study demonstrates a negative consequence of this project that attempted to engineer arsenic tolerance in plants. Once again this demonstrates that nature rarely acts predictably and any great ideas usually need to be tested in vivo.

Ploch S, Rose L, Bass D, Bonkowski M (2016) High Diversity Revealed in Leaf Associated Protists (Rhizaria: Cercozoa) of Brassicaceae J Eukaryot Microbiol.

After a fantastic opening line in the abstract, ‘The largest biological surface on earth is formed by plant leaves’, this study includes the work of David Bass from the Natural History Museum in London. They investigate the abundance of protists that associate with leaf-inhabiting microorganisms, the “phyllosphere microbiome“. Their findings demonstrate that protists should be considered an important part of the diversity of plant-interacting microbial organisms.

Hunter LJ, Brockington SF, Murphy AM, Pate AE, Gruden K, MacFarlane SA, Palukaitis P, Carr JP (2016) RNA-dependent RNA polymerase 1 in potato (Solanum tuberosum) and its relationship to other plant RNA-dependent RNA polymerases Sci Rep. 6:23082 Open Access

John Carr (Cambridge) is the UK-lead on this collaboration with Slovenian and Korean researchers. They primarily investigate the role of the RDR1 RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RDRs) in potato. In Arabidopsis the RDR1 gene contributes to basal viral resistance but potato plants deficient in StRDR1 do not show altered susceptibility to three different plant viruses. In addition they perform a phylogenetic analysis on the RDR genes and identify a novel RDR7 gene that is only found in Rosids (but not Arabidopsis.

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