Arabidopsis Research Roundup: August 1st

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Published on: August 1, 2017

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup has a tools-focus as it includes three papers that highlight new tools that are available to the plant science community. Silke Robatzek (TSL) leads research that has developed software for analysis of subcellular fluorescent markers whilst in a broadly similar area Mark Fricker (University of Oxford) is part of an international collaboration that characterises a tool that allows for analysis of intracellular ATP concentrations. Thirdly Phillip White (JHI) leads a consortium that has developed computer-assisted software to aid automated phenotyping. In the fourth paper Silke Robatzek again features as co-corresponding author with Richard Morris (JIC) in a study that mixes plant biology and computational analysis to model stomatal dynamics. Finally Christine Raines (University of Essex) leads research that has overexpressed a member of the photosynthetic apparatus that surprisingly results in plants with larger biomass and seed yield.

Faulkner C, Zhou J, Evrard A, Bourdais G, MacLean D, Häweker H, Eckes P, Robatzek S (2017) An automated quantitative image analysis tool for the identification of microtubule patterns in plants. Traffic. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1111/tra.12505 Open Access

This research from The Sainsbury lab, Norwich and John Innes Centre includes Silke Robatzek as corresponding author as well as new faculty member Christine Faulkner as lead author. This paper documents the development of CellArchitect, which is an image analysis tool to track the movement of subcellular microtubule markers obtained using con-focal microscopy. They validated CellArchifect by treating with a variety of chemicals that alter microtubule dynamics. In addition they show that this software can be used to track actin or ER markers and as such should have broad utility for cell biology researchers particularly those that are undertaking often laborious chemical biology screens.

De Col V,, Fuchs P, Nietzel T, Elsässer M, Voon CP, Candeo A, Seeliger I, Fricker MD, Grefen C, Møller IM, Bassi A, Lim BL,, Zancani M, Meyer AJ,, Costa A, Wagner S, Schwarzländer M (2017) ATP sensing in living plant cells reveals tissue gradients and stress dynamics of energy physiology. Elife. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.7554/eLife.26770 Open Access

Mark Fricker (University of Oxford) is part of this international collaboration that have used a novel technique for visualizing ATP levels using a fluorescent biosensor in vitro, within isolated mitochondria and within intact seedlings. They demonstrate differing ATP concentrations within tissues, highlighting root hair cells. Induced hypoxia shows that there is significant plasticity in the cellular ATP concentrations and that these can be successful monitored using the biosensor tool.

Dupuy LX, Wright G, Thompson JA, Taylor A, Dekeyser S, White CP, Thomas WTB, Nightingale M, Hammond JP, Graham NS, Thomas CL, Broadley MR, White PJ (2017) Accelerating root system phenotyping of seedlings through a computer-assisted processing pipeline. Plant Methods.

http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1186/s13007-017-0207-1 Open Access

Phillip White (James Hutton Institute) and collaborators at the University of Nottingham have developed this computer-assisted pipeline designed to facilitate the phenotyping of plant roots. This can be scaled up for plants of different sizes and thus has broad utility. This software rapidly extracts root traits from image data, a process that can be a bottleneck in the screening process. This software complements parallel attempts that have developed automated platforms for sample preparation and handling.

Woolfenden HC, Bourdais G, Kopischke M, Miedes E, Molina A, Robatzek S, Morris RJ (2017) A computational approach for inferring the cell wall properties that govern guard cell dynamics. Plant J. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1111/tpj.13640 Open Access

Richard Morris (John Innes Centre) and Silke Robatzek (The Sainsbury lab, Norwich) are the corresponding authors on this study in which they collaborate with Spanish colleagues. They investigate how different attributes of guard cell walls are responsible for the opening and closing of stomata. By considering the cell wall as a composite of a pectin rich matrix embedded within cellulose microfibrils they predict the movements that are responsible for stomatal dynamics. They validate their predictions using Arabidopsis mutants and they to show that stomatal opening/closing is brought about by a mix of hoop reinforcement and strain-stiffening resulting in anisotrophic growth.

Simkin AJ, McAusland L, Lawson T, Raines CA (2017) Over-expression of the RieskeFeS protein increases electron transport rates and biomass yield. Plant Physiol.

http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1104/pp.17.00622 Open Access

GARNet committee member Christine Raines (University of Essex) leads this study in which they have generated plants that overexpress the Rieske FeS protein (PetC), which is a component of the cytochrome b6f (cyt b6f) complex. These plants show equivalent increases in both proteins within the cytochrome b6f complex and more surprisingly within members of PSI and PSII. The mechanisms that explain these changes are currently unknown but these plants offer an exciting tool in order to study multiple aspects of photosynthetic biology. Perhaps more importantly these plants show increased biomass and seed yield indicating that manipulation of these proteins in crop plants might be important for developing higher yielding varieties.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: February 27th

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Published on: February 28, 2017

This weeks research roundup includes just three papers and includes a study from the University of Essex that looks at the growth response of Arabidopsis plants to ‘real-life’ fluctuations in light levels. Secondly is a very different type of study from the University of York that uses Arabidopsis as a model for the development of plants that are able to accumulate catalytically active and commercially viable levels of palladium. Finally is a Chinese-led study that includes Alan Marchant (University of Southampton) as a co-author and looks at the role of the ERF74-RbohD-ROS signaling module on the response to abiotics stress.

Vialet-Chabrand SR, Matthews JS, Simkin A, Raines CA, Lawson T (2017) Importance of fluctuations in light on plant photosynthetic acclimation Plant Physiol.

Open Access

Tracy Lawson and GARNet committee member Christine Raines from the University of Essex Photosynthesis Group lead this study that aims to understand how plants respond to variation in light levels that occur over an ‘average’ day. This contrasts with the conditions used in a ‘standard’ growth chamber and they show that plant growth is significantly altered when the light levels fluctuate, even though the total amount of light that the plant receives is the same. The ultimate conclusion of the study is that the growth of plants under ‘square wave growth conditions’ does not accurately reflect what might be observed in the field. This is significant given the importance of moving research from model organisms, usually grown under controlled conditions into crop species grown in the field.

Tracy Lawson kindly takes less than ten minutes to discuss the paper with GARNet on our YouTube channel.

Harumain ZA, Parker HL, Muñoz García A, Austin MJ, McElroy CR, Hunt AJ, Clark JH, Meech JA, Anderson CW, Ciacci L, Graedel TE, Bruce NC, Rylott EL (2017) Towards financially viable phytoextraction and production of plant-based palladium catalysts. Environ Sci Technol. 10.1021/acs.est.6b04821

Open Access

Elizabeth Rylott and Neil Bruce at the University of York lead this study that includes collaborators from the USA, Canada, Malaysia and New Zealand. They look into the options for phytoextraction of palladium, which forms nanoparticles in Arabidopsis roots. The metal taken from these roots had normal catalytic activity and could be obtained at up to 18g/kg dried tissue weight. These experiments were moved into mustard, miscanthus and sixteen willow species and although palladium can be taken up into the plant tissues, it could not be extracted at a level that would make it commercially viable. However the authors are confident that this is am important step toward attempts to develop field-suitable plants that can reduce the environmental impacts of palladium mining.

Yao Y,, He RJ, Xie QL,, Zhao XH,, Deng XM,, He JB,, Song L, He J, Marchant A, Chen XY,, Wu AM (2016) ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTOR 74 (ERF74) plays an essential role in controlling a respiratory burst oxidase homolog D (RbohD)-dependent mechanism in response to different stresses in Arabidopsis. New Phytol. 213(4):1667-1681.

Alan Marchant (University of Southampton) is a co-author on this Chinese-led study that focuses on the role of the ERF74 transcription factor from the ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTOR VII (ERF-VII) family in the response to abiotic stresses. The authors test the responses of plants with changed levels of ERF74, showing that they have altered responses to a range of stresses such as drought, light, heat and aluminum. erf74 mutants lack a typical reactive oxidative stress (ROS) burst due to low expression of the RESPIRATORY BURST OXIDASE HOMOLOG D (RbohD) protein. ERF74 directly interacts with the RbohD promotor and the paper shows that the whole ERF74-RbohD-ROS signaling module is activated in order for the plant to correctly response to a range of stresses, which each require maintenance of hydrogen peroxide homeostasis.

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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