Arabidopsis Research Roundup: October 5th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open Access

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

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

Open Access

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

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

Open Access

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

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

Open Access

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: August 23rd

There is a bumper crop of papers in this weeks UK Arabidopsis Research Roundup! First up is a remarkable piece of work from George Bassel’s (University of Birmingham) lab that defines the network of cellular interactions that occur in the hypocotyl. Second and third are papers from the JIC in which Lars Ostergaard’s group uncovers the extent of the ETTIN signaling network and Caroline Dean‘s and Martin Howard’s labs provide evidence for a two step progression toward stable gene silencing following vernalisation at the FLC locus. Fourthly is a study that includes members of Alex Webb’s group (University of Cambridge) as co-authors that investigates the link between the circadian clock and night time starch metabolism. Fifth is a paper from Christine Foyer (University of Leeds) that looks at the effect of commonly used inhibitors on cellular redox state and gene expression. The next paper includes Phillip Carella (SLCU) as a co-author and looks at the role of classic flowering time genes on the phenomenon of Age-Related Resistance and finally Lee Sweetlove’s (University of Oxford) lab has published a methods paper for the analysis of photorespiration in non-photosynthetic tissues.

Jackson MD, Xu H, Duran-Nebreda S, Stamm P, Bassel GW (2017) Topological analysis of multicellular complexity in the plant hypocotyl. Elife http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.7554/eLife.26023

Open Access

George Bassel (University of Birmingham) is the corresponding author on this work that provides fantastic images of the plant hypocotyl taken as part of an analysis on the cell growth dynamics in this organ. They show that Arabidopsis epidermal atrichoblast cells demonstrate a reduced path length that coincides with preferential movement of small molecules through these cells. They analysis this process in various mutants showing which gene activities were necessary for the construction of this pattern. In addition they compared topological features in Arabidopsis, Poppy and Foxglove, showing that cell interactions and path length determinants differ between these organisms. Overall this manuscript defines the network principles that control complex organ construction as well as a function for higher order patterning.

Simonini S, Bencivenga S, Trick M, Ostergaard L (2017) Auxin-Induced Modulation of ETTIN Activity Orchestrates Gene Expression in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 10.1105/tpc.17.00389

Open Access

Last year Lars Ostergaard (JIC) discussed a paper from his lab on the GARNet YouTube channel in which they defined a new auxin-signaling paradigm that involved the non-canoical Auxin Response Factor ETTIN. This follow up to that study investigates the genetic network controlled by ETTIN activity and defines a range of developmental processes dependent on ETTIN auxin sensing. Furthermore by looking at direct ETTIN targets they suggest that this protein acts as a central node for the coordination of auxin signaling in the shoot. Finally their analysis of the effect of auxin on interactions between ETTIN and other transcription factors indicates that these are important factors in the diverse set of growth process controlled by auxin.

Yang H, Berry S, Olsson TSG, Hartley M, Howard M, Dean C (2017) Distinct phases of Polycomb silencing to hold epigenetic memory of cold in Arabidopsis. Science 10.1126/science.aan1121

This is another manuscript resulting from the extremely fruitful collaboration between the labs of Caroline Dean and Martin Howard at the John Innes Centre. This paper again focuses on the FLC locus and provides evidence for a new mechanism that defines how the binding of a subset of PRC2 factors nucleates a small region (<500bp) of chromatin at the FLC TSS, causing an increase in the repressive H3K27me2 histone mark. This metastable region serves as the seed for the development of stable epigenetic marks across the length of the locus through the activity of other distinct Polycomb factors. This occurs after a cold treatment and causes the spread of H3K27me2 repression. The novelty of this work is in the distinct temporal separation of phases of silencing, which ultimately result in the repression of FLC expression after a prolonged cold treatment.

Seki M, Ohara T, Hearn TJ, Frank A, da Silva VCH, Caldana C, Webb AAR, Satake A (2017) Adjustment of the Arabidopsis circadian oscillator by sugar signalling dictates the regulation of starch metabolism. Sci Rep. 10.1038/s41598-017-08325-y

Open Access

Research from Alex Webb’s group at the University of Cambridge features in the ARR for the second consecutive week, again on a similar topic. On this occasion they collaborate with Japanese colleagues to investigate the role of the circadian clock on determining the nighttime usage rate of starch that has accumulated during the day. They used a phase oscillator model to explain the link between the speed of the clock, starch breakdown and the maintenance of sucrose homeostasis. In addition they use Arabidopsis sugar response mutants to show that the circadian clock measures amount of cellular sucrose, which then controls the dynamics of starch breakdown.

Karpinska B, Alomrani SO, Foyer CH (2017) Inhibitor-induced oxidation of the nucleus and cytosol in Arabidopsis thaliana: implications for organelle to nucleus retrograde signalling. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 10.1098/rstb.2016.0392 Open Access

Christine Foyer (University of Leeds) is the corresponding author on this paper that looks at the effect of cellular oxidation on retrograde signaling between chloroplasts, mitochondria and the nucleus. They use a novel in vivo redox reporter to measure the effect of commonly used organelle inhibitors on cellular redox state. They discovered that these inhibitors cause a variety of effects on redox state and gene expression, which differed dependent on cell type. Researchers should be aware of these effects when they are drawing conclusions from their own experiments using these inhibitors.

Wilson DC, Kempthorne CJ, Carella P, Liscombe DK, Cameron R (2017) Age-Related Resistance in Arabidopsis thaliana Involves the MADS-domain Transcription Factor SHORT VEGETATIVE PHASE and Direct Action of Salicylic Acid on Pseudomonas syringae. Mol Plant Microbe Interact 10.1094/MPMI-07-17-0172-R

Phillip Carella is a Research Fellow at SLCU and this work from this previous lab in Canada investigates Arabidopsis Age-Related Resistance (ARR), a process that requires SA accumulation, which is then thought to act as an antimicrobial agent. The ARR response is lacking in plants containing a mutation in for the SHORT VEGETATIVE PHASE (SVP) gene. These svp plants have reduced SA, thought to be due to uncoupled overactivity of the SUPPRESSOR OF OVEREXPRESSION OF CO 1 gene. Overall this study shows that the flowering time gene SVP plays a complementary role in the control of SA accumulation, which confers ARR to older plants.

Fernie AR, Bauwe H, Sweetlove LJ (2017) Investigating the Role of the Photorespiratory Pathway in Non-photosynthetic Tissues. Methods Mol Biol 10.1007/978-1-4939-7225-8_15

Lee Sweetlove (University of Oxford) describes a protocol for evaluating the role of the photorespiration on the control of growth in non-photosynthetic tissues. This can be scaled for use in both Arabidopsis and in larger plants.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: July 3rd.

The Arabidopsis Research Roundup returns this week with selection of publications from institutions across the UK. Firstly George Bassel (Birmingham) leads a study that investigates the integration of inductive signals in the embryonic root. Secondly a group from the Oxford Brookes plant science group look into the literal linkages between the golgi apparatus and ER. Thirdly John Christie (Glasgow) and co-workers define a new variant of the phototropin receptor. Next Caroline Dean and Martin Howard (John Innes Centre) collaborate on work that defines the relationship between FLC, COOLAIR and cell size. The fifth paper is led by members of SLCU and investigates the regulatory influence of the Evening Complex of the circadian clock. The penultimate paper features work from Alison Smith’s group at the JIC that looks at dynamics of starch accumulation and degradation. Lastly is research from NIAB that defines the pathogeniticity of novel UK isolates of the fungal pathogen Verticillium longisporum.

Topham AT, Taylor RE, Yan D, Nambara E, Johnston IG, Bassel GW (2017) Temperature variability is integrated by a spatially embedded decision-making center to break dormancy in Arabidopsis seeds. PNAS


Open Access

George Bassel (University of Birmingham) leads this study that identifies a decision making centre in the embryonic root that is defined by the intimate interaction between the hormones abscisic acid (ABA) and gibberellin (GA). The activity of this ‘decision centre’ is linked to both hormone transport and changes in temperature, the overall output of which is the decision to promotes seed germination or to delay until more favourable environmental conditions.

George discusses this paper on the GARNet YouTube channel.

Osterrieder A, Sparkes IA, Botchway SW, Ward A, Ketelaar T, de Ruijter N, Hawes C (2017) Stacks off tracks: a role for the golgin AtCASP in plant endoplasmic reticulum-Golgi apparatus tethering. J Exp Bot. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1093/jxb/erx167

Open Access

Anne Osterrieder and Chris Hawes (Oxford Brookes University) continue their work that looks at  the cellular dynamics of the golgi apparatus with this study that identifies the AtCASP protein as a important component that tethers the golgi to the ER. They use live-cell imaging to visualise golgi formation in cells that have different levels of AtCASP, allowing the authors to confirm that ER-golgi tethering is disrupted without the activity of this protein.

Petersen J, Inoue SI, Kelly SM, Sullivan S, Kinoshita T, Christie JM (2017) Functional Characterization of a Constitutively Active Kinase Variant of Arabidopsis Phototropin 1

J Biol Chem. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1074/jbc.M117.799643

Open Access

John Christie (University of Glasgow) collaborates with Japanese colleagues to identify a novel variant of the phototropin receptor. Study of this variant allows a greater understanding regarding the mode of action of this protein under different light conditions, as controlled by phosphorylation.

Ietswaart R, Rosa S, Wu Z, Dean C, Howard M (2017) Cell-Size-Dependent Transcription of FLC and Its Antisense Long Non-coding RNA COOLAIR Explain Cell-to-Cell Expression Variation. Cell Syst. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1016/j.cels.2017.05.010

Open Access

Martin Howard and Caroline Dean (John Innes Centre) again collaborate on research that analyses the mode of regulation of FLC. They dissect RNA dynamics of FLC expression by single molecule in situ RNA fluorescence, showing that this is dependent on the presence of the antisense COOLAIR regulatory DNA. In the absence of COOLAIR they show FLC expression has a linear relationship with cell size but in the presence of the antisense transcript, FLC expression decreases with cell size. Overall they demonstrate FLC expression is tightly dependent on the presence of the antisense COOLAIR transcript.

Ezer D, Jung JH, Lan H, Biswas S, Gregoire L, Box MS, Charoensawan V,, Cortijo S, Lai X,, Stöckle D, Zubieta C, Jaeger KE, Wigge PA (2017) The evening complex coordinates environmental and endogenous signals in Arabidopsis. Nat Plants.


Free to view with this URL.

Phil Wigge and Katja Jaeger (SLCU) lead this study that investigates how the evening complex of the circadian clock coordinates the expression of numerous important growth regulators. This genome wide regulation is determined by temperature and concides with the binding of phytochrome B, which provides a cellularly mechanism of this level of environmental control.

Fernandez O, Ishihara H, George GM, Mengin V, Flis A, Sumner D, Arrivault S, Feil R, Lunn JE, Zeeman SC, Smith AM, Stitt M (2017) Foliar starch turnover occurs in long days and in falling light at the end of the day. Plant Physiol. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1104/pp.17.00601

Open Access

On this paper Alison Smith (John Innes Centre) is a co-corresponding author together with Mark Stitt from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam. They continue their work to investigate the dynamics of starch metabolism in Arabidopsis leaves. Broadly they show the rate of starch accumulation corresponds to the photosynthetic rate whilst degradation is linked to correct functioning of the circadian clock. They investigate this process in more detail by determining how the rate of starch degradation alters dependent on the time after dawn.

Depotter J, Rodriguez-Moreno L, Thomma BP, Wood T (2017) The emerging British Verticillium longisporum population consists of aggressive Brassica pathogens. Phytopathology http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1094/PHYTO-05-17-0184-R

Tom Wood (NIAB) is the corresponding author of this study that characterises four new UK isolates of the fungal pathogen Verticillium longisporum. The pathogenticity of V.longisporum was tested on Arabidopsis alongside three other Brassica crops. They demonstrate that the UK isolates were unusually aggressive yet this was not consistent across all Brassica cultivars with different fungal lineages showing different effects on oil seed rape, cabbage or cauliflower.

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

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