GARNet Research Roundup: April 29th 2019

This edition of the GARNet research roundup features fundamental plant science research conducted in a range of experimental organisms. Firstly Liam Dolan’s lab in Oxford looks at the function of bHLHs proteins in cell differentiation across land plant evolution. Secondly Anthony Hall’s group at the Earlham Institute have identified a novel RecQ helicase involved in work exclusively conducted in wheat. Thirdly researchers from Nottingham work with Arabidopsis to characterise an EXPANSIN protein essential for lateral root development.

The fourth paper is the first of two that look at germination and uses a new model, Aethionema arabicum, to study the role of light in seed dormancy. This work includes research from Royal Holloway. The second ‘dormancy’ paper is from Peter Eastmond’s lab at Rothamsted and further characterises the DOG1 gene in Arabidopsis. The penultimate paper includes co-authors from Warwick and Leeds and introduces a novel chemical inhibitor of auxin transport. The final paper from researchers in Birmingham introduces the 3DCellAtlas Meristem, a powerful tool for cellular annotation of the shoot apical meristem.

Bonnot C, Hetherington AJ, Champion C, Breuninger H, Kelly S, Dolan L (2019) Neofunctionalisation of basic helix loop helix proteins occurred when embryophytes colonised the land. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.15829

Clemence Bonnot is lead author on this study from Liam Dolan’s lab at the University of Oxford in which the authors assess the role of ROOT HAIR DEFECTIVE SIX-LIKE (RSL) genes during evolution of plant development. They look at the function of a member of this bHLH transcription factor family called CbbHLHVIII identified in the charophyceaen alga Chara braunii. This gene is expressed at specific morphologically important regions in the algae and cannot rescue the function of related RSL genes in Marchantia or Arabidopsis. This suggests that the function of RSL proteins in cell differentiation has evolved by neofunctionalisation through land plant lineages.

Gardiner LJ, Wingen LU, Bailey P, Joynson R, Brabbs T, Wright J, Higgins JD, Hall N, Griffiths S, Clavijo BJ, Hall A (2019) Analysis of the recombination landscape of hexaploid bread wheat reveals genes controlling recombination and gene conversion frequency. Genome Biol. 20(1):69. doi: 10.1186/s13059-019-1675-6

Open Access

Laura Gardiner and Anthony Hall lead this work that was conducted at the Earlham Institute and uses a bespoke set of bioinformatic tools that allow fundamental questions to be asked in hexaploid wheat. They looked at crossover and gene conversion frequencies in 13 recombinant inbred mapping populations and were able to identity an important QTL and confirm functionality for a novel RecQ helicase gene. This gene does not exist in Arabidopsis and therefore this discovery-motivated research needed to be conducted in wheat. They hope that this identification will provide future opportunities to tackle the challenge of linkage drag when attempting to develop new crops varieties.

Ramakrishna P, Ruiz Duarte P, Rance GA, Schubert M, Vordermaier V, Vu LD, Murphy E, Vilches Barro A, Swarup K, Moirangthem K, Jørgensen B, van de Cotte B, Goh T, Lin Z, Voβ U, Beeckman T, Bennett MJ, Gevaert K, Maizel A, De Smet I (2019) EXPANSIN A1-mediated radial swelling of pericycle cells positions anticlinal cell divisions during lateral root initiation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Apr 3. pii: 201820882. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1820882116

Open Access

This pan-European study is led by Priya Ramakrishna at the University of Nottingham and includes co-authors from the UK, Belgium, Germany and Denmark. The authors look at the lateral root development and characterise the function of the EXPANSIN A1 protein. This protein influences the physical changes in the cell wall that are needed to enable the asymmetry cell divisions that define the location of a new lateral root. Plants lacking EXPA1 function do not properly form lateral roots and are unable to correctly respond to an inductive auxin signal. This clearly demonstrates an important requirement for the activity of genes that transmit cell signals into the physical relationships that exist between cells.

Mérai Z, Graeber K, Wilhelmsson P, Ullrich KK, Arshad W, Grosche C, Tarkowská D, Turečková V, Strnad M, Rensing SA, Leubner-Metzger G, Scheid OM (2019) Aethionema arabicum: a novel model plant to study the light control of seed germination. J Exp Bot. pii: erz146. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erz146

Open Access

This paper includes authors from the UK, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic including Kai Graeber and Gerhard Leubner-Metzger at Royal Holloway. They introduce the Brassica Aethionema arabicum as a new model to investigate the mechanism of germination inhibition by light as they have identified accessions that are either light-sensitive or light-neutral. In contrast germination in Arabidopsis is stimulated by light. Transcriptome analysis of Aethionema arabicum accessions reveal expression changes in key hormone-regulated genes. Overall they show that largely the same module of molecular components are involved in control of of seed dormancy irrespective of the effect of light on germination. Therefore any phenotypic changes likely result from changes in the activity organisms-specific of these genes.

Bryant FM, Hughes D, Hassani-Pak K, Eastmond PJ (2019) Basic LEUCINE ZIPPER TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR 67 transactivates DELAY OF GERMINATION 1 to establish primary seed dormancy in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. pii: tpc.00892.2018. doi: 10.1105/tpc.18.00892

Open Access

Fiona Bryant is lead author on this research from Rothamsted Research that investigates the factors that control expression of the DOG1 gene, which is a key regulator of seed dormancy. They show that LEUCINE ZIPPER TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR67 (bZIP67) regulates DOG1 expression and have uncovered a mechanism that describes the temperature-dependent regulation of DOG1 expression. Finally they identity a molecular change that explains known allelic difference in DOG1 function, which informs different levels of dormancy in different accessions.

Oochi A, Hajny J, Fukui K, Nakao Y, Gallei M, Quareshy M, Takahashi K, Kinoshita T, Harborough SR, Kepinski S, Kasahara H, Napier RM, Friml J, Hayashi KI (2019) Pinstatic acid promotes auxin transport by inhibiting PIN internalization. Plant Physiol. 2019 Apr 1. pii: pp.00201.2019. doi: 10.1104/pp.19.00201

Open Access

This Japanese-led study includes co-authors from the Universities of Warwick and Leeds and describes the identification of a novel positive chemical modulator of auxin cellular efflux. This aptly named PInStatic Acid (PISA) prevents PIN protein internalization yet does not impact the SCFTIR1/AFB signaling cascade. Therefore the authors hope that PISA will be a useful tool for unpicking the cellular mechanisms that control auxin transport.

Montenegro-Johnson T, Strauss S, Jackson MDB, Walker L, Smith RS, Bassel GW. (2019) 3D Cell Atlas Meristem: a tool for the global cellular annotation of shoot apical meristems. Plant Methods. 15:33. doi: 10.1186/s13007-019-0413-0

Open Access

Thomas Montenegro-Johnson, Soeren Strauss, Matthew Jackson and Liam Walker lead this methods paper that was prepared following research that took place at the University of Birmingham and the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne. They describe the 3DCellAtlas Meristem, a tool allows the complete cellular annotation of cells within a shoot apical meristem (SAM), which they have successfully tested in both Arabidopsis and tomato. The authors state that ‘this provides a rapid and robust means to perform comprehensive cellular annotation of SAMs and digital single cell analyses, including cell geometry and gene expression’.

GARNet Research Roundup: November 1st 2018

This week’s GARNet research roundup again features papers on a variety of topics. First is work from the University of Leeds that investigates the physical properties of callose:cellulose hydrogels and the implication for cell wall formation. Second is work from the University of York that assesses the role of the HSP90.2 protein in control of the circadian clock. The third paper features GARNet committee member Sarah McKim and looks at the genetic control of petal number whilst the next paper from the Universities of Warwick and Glasgow includes a proteomic analysis of different types of secretory vesicles.

The next two papers look at different aspects of hormone signaling. Firstly Alistair Hetherington from the University of Bristol is a co-author on a study that looks at the role of the BIG protein whilst Simon Turner’s lab in Manchester investigates the role of ABA in xylem fibre formation.

The penultimate paper includes Lindsey Turnbull from the University of Oxford and looks at the stability of epialleles across 5 generations of selection. Finally is a paper that includes researchers from TSL in Norwich who have contributed to a phosphoproteomic screen to identify phosphorylated amino acids that influence the defence response.

Abou-Saleh R, Hernandez-Gomez M, Amsbury S, Paniagua C, Bourdon M, Miyashima S, Helariutta Y, Fuller M, Budtova T, Connell SD, Ries ME, Benitez-Alfonso Y (2018) Interactions between callose and cellulose revealed through the analysis of biopolymer mixtures. Nature Communications DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-06820-y

Open Access
Radwa Abou-Saleh is lead author on this work from Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso’s lab at the University of Leeds. (1,3)-β-glucans such as callose play an important role in plant development yet their physical properties are largely unknown. This study analyses a set of callose:cellulose hydrogel mixtures as a proxy for different cell wall conditions. They show that callose:cellulose hydrogels are more elastic than those composed of only cellulose, providing evidence that the interactions between cellulose and callose are important for the structural features of cell walls.

Davis AM, Ronald J, Ma Z, Wilkinson AJ, Philippou K, Shindo T, Queitsch C, Davis SJ (2018) HSP90 Contributes To Entrainment of the Arabidopsis Circadian Clock via the Morning Loop. Genetics. doi: 10.1534/genetics.118.301586

Open Access
Amanda Davies is the first author on this study from Seth Davies’ lab at the University of York in which they assess the role of the molecular chaperone HSP90.2 on function of the circadian clock. The show hsp90.2-3 mutant plants have a lengthened circadian period with a specific defect in the morning. This data allows the authors to better understand the pathway through which HSP90.2 functions to entrain the circadian clock.

Monniaux M, Pieper B, McKim SM, Routier-Kierzkowska AL, Kierzkowski D, Smith RS, Hay A. The role of APETALA1 in petal number robustness. Elife. doi: 10.7554/eLife.39399

Open Access
GARNet committee member Sarah McKim is a co-author on this paper, that is led by Marie Monniaux, which includes research from her time at the University of Oxford. This work from the Hay lab in Cologne compares petal number in Arabidopsis thaliana, in which the number is invariant, and Cardamine hirsute, in which it varies. They show that petal number robustness can be attributed to the activity of the APETALA1 (AP1) floral regulator and that AP1 masks the activity of several genes in Arabidopsis but not in Cardamine.

Waghmare S, Lileikyte E, Karnik RA, Goodman JK, Blatt MR, Jones AME (2018) SNAREs SYNTAXIN OF PLANTS 121 (SYP121) and SYP122 mediate the secretion of distinct cargo subsets . Plant Physiol. doi: 10.1104/pp.18.00832

Open Access

This collaboration between the Universities of Glasgow and Warwick is led by Sakharam Waghmare, who works with Mike Blatt in Glasgow. This study uses proteomic approaches to characterise the secretory cargos within vesicles decorated with either of the SNARE proteins SYNTAXIN OF PLANTS 121 (SYP121) or SYP122. Genetic analysis suggests that SYP121 and SYP122 have redundant functions but this new research is able to identify cargo proteins that are either contained within both types of vesicle or that are specific to one or the other.

Zhang RX, Ge S, He J, Li S, Hao Y, Du H, Liu Z, Cheng R, Feng YQ, Xiong L, Li C, Hetherington AM, Liang YK (2018) BIG regulates stomatal immunity and jasmonate production in Arabidopsis. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.15568

Alistair Hetherington is a co-author on this China-based study led by Ruo‐Xi Zhang from Wuhan. This work adds to some recent interest in the BIG protein; in this study showing that it is involved in the interaction between JA and ethylene signaling during stress responses. In a complex set of interactions they show that the BIG protein differently alters opposing arms of the JA signaling pathway providing additional evidence that this protein is a key regulator of plant hormone signaling, albeit by a set of as yet unknown mechanisms.

Campbell L, Etchells JP, Cooper M, Kumar M, Turner SR. An essential role for Abscisic acid in the regulation of xylem fibre differentiation. Development. doi: 10.1242/dev.161992

This work from Simon Turner’s lab at the University of Manchester is led by Liam Campbell and identifies a novel role for ABA in the formation of xylem fibres during secondary thickening of the Arabidopsis hypocotyl. The action of ABA doesn’t alter the xylem:phloem ratio but rather the activity focuses on the formation of fibres within the already defined xylem tissue.

Schmid MW, Heichinger C, Coman Schmid D, Guthörl D, Gagliardini V, Bruggmann R, Aluri S, Aquino C, Schmid B, Turnbull LA, Grossniklaus U (2018) Contribution of epigenetic variation to adaptation in Arabidopsis. Nat Commun. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06932-5

Open Access
Lindsey Turnbull (University of Oxford) is a co-author on this paper from Ueli Grossniklaus’ group in Zurich. Marc Schmid is lead author of the study that investigates the inheritance of Arabidopsis epialleles over 5 generations during conditions of simulated selection. The authors show that variations in methylation state are subject to selection and do indeed contribute to adaptive responses

Kadota Y, Liebrand TWH, Goto Y, Sklenar J, Derbyshire P, Menke FLH, Torres MA, Molina A, Zipfel C, Coaker G, Shirasu K (2018) Quantitative phosphoproteomic analysis reveals common regulatory mechanisms between effector- and PAMP-triggered immunity in plants. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.15523

Members of Cyril Zipfel’s group at The Sainsbury lab in Norwich are co-authors on this paper led by Yasuhiro Kadota from the RIKEN in Yokohama. They use a phosphoproteomic screen to identify a set of newly identified phosphorylation sites on membrane-associated proteins involved in effector-triggered immunity (ETI). Some of these phosphosites overlap with those known to be important for pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP)-triggered immunity (PTI), indicating a convergence of signaling control of both these pathways to certain key residues.

GARNet Research Roundup: June 4th

This weeks GARNet Research Roundup begins with a paper from researchers at the University of Dundee, James Hutton Institute, Durham University and the University of Glasgow that characterises a functional role for alternative splicing during the cold response. Second is a paper from Newcastle University that investigates the role of the OXI1 kinase during aphid predation. Third is a paper that includes University of Bristol co-authors that looks at strigolactone signaling in moss whilst the fourth paper from researchers at Leeds and QMUL studies the role of ascorbate during photosynthesis. The final paper from Warwick and York uses gene expression data from pathogen-infected plants to generate a model for predicting a strategy for synthetic engineering of the defence response.

Calixto CPG, Guo W, James AB, Tzioutziou NA, Entizne JC, Panter PE, Knight H, Nimmo H, Zhang R, Brown JWS (2018) Rapid and dynamic alternative splicing impacts the Arabidopsis cold response transcriptome. Plant Cell doi: 10.1105/tpc.18.00177.

Open Access

Cristiane Calixto and Wenbin Guo work with John Brown at University of Dundee and the James Hutton Institute and in this large-scale biology paper they characterise the role of alternative splicing (AS) during a stress response. RNAseq was performed on plants exposed to cold stress and they showed that hundreds of genes undergo AS just a few hours after temperature decrease and that this response is sensitive to small changes. The authors propose that AS is a mechanism to fine-tune changes in thermo-plasticity of gene expression and in addition they investigate the activity of the novel splicing factor U2B”-LIKE.

Christiane will discuss this research at the upcoming GARNet2018 meeting held at the University of York in September 2018.

Shoala T, Edwards MG, Knight MR, Gatehouse AMR. OXI1 kinase plays a key role in resistance of Arabidopsis towards aphids (Myzus persicae) (2018) Transgenic Res. doi: 10.1007/s11248-018-0078-x.

Open Access

This work is led by Tahsin Shoala in the lab of Angharad Gatehouse at Newcastle University and demonstrates a novel role for MAPK cascades in resistance to aphid predation. They investigate mutants in OXI1 kinase, a gene that activates MAPK signaling and demonstrate a reduction in the aphid population build-up. Furthermore they show that the effect of OXI works through a mechanism that involves callose deposition, demonstrated as oxi1 mutants lack the upregulation of a set of β-1,3-glucanase genes following predation.

Lopez-Obando M, de Villiers R, Hoffmann B, Ma L, de Saint Germain A, Kossmann J, Coudert Y, Harrison CJ, Rameau C, Hills P, Bonhomme S (2018) Physcomitrella patens MAX2 characterization suggests an ancient role for this F-box protein in photomorphogenesis rather than strigolactone signalling. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.15214

GARNet committee member Jill Harrison is a co-author on this paper that is led by Mauricio Lopez‐Obando working at Université Paris-Saclay. In Physcomitrella patens development they investigate the role of the moss ortholog of the Arabidopsis strigolactone signaling mutant MAX2. Previous work had shown that moss does response to SL signaing but they find that although Ppmax2 mutants showed defects in early development and photomorphogenesis they do not show changes in the SL response. Fascinatingly this indicates that the molecular components that control SL signaling have diverged in vascular plants and seemingly co-opted a role for MAX2 that was previously not required in mosses.

Plumb W, Townsend AJ, Rasool B, Alomrani S, Razak N, Karpinska B, Ruban AV, Foyer CH. Ascorbate-mediated regulation of growth, photoprotection and photoinhibition in Arabidopsis thaliana (2018) J Exp Bot. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ery170

William Plumb (Leeds) and Alexandra Townsend (QMUL) are the lead authors on this study that investigates the importance of ascorbate during photosynthesis. In this work they analysed the growth of ascorbate synthesis mutants that are smaller and have less biomass than wildtype plants. However these plants have normal levels of non-photoinhibiton, allowing the authors to conclude that ascorbate is needed for growth but not photoprotection.

Foo M, Gherman I, Zhang P, Bates DG, Denby K (2018) A Framework for Engineering Stress Resilient Plants using Genetic Feedback Control and Regulatory Network Rewiring. ACS Synth Biol. doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.8b00037
Mathias Foo and Iulia Gherman (University of Warwick) are lead authors on work that analyses gene expression data taken from Botrytis cinerea-infected Arabidopsis. They have identified a network of genes involved in the defence response. They validate their model against previously obtained time series data and then perturb the model in two differences ways, focused on the transcription factor CHE. This analysis demonstrates the potential of combining feedback control theory with synthetic engineering in order to generate plants that are resistant to biotic stress.

GARNet Research Roundup: April 11th 2018

This weeks GARNet research roundup begins with a microscopy-based study led by Lorenzo Frigerio from the University of Warwick that investigates the origin of Protein Storage Vacuoles. The second paper from John Doonan at Aberystwyth University looks at how differential splicing of cyclin-dependent Kinase G1 effects the thermosensory response. Reiner van de Hoorn from Oxford leads the next paper that characterises the use of activity-based protein profiling (ABPP) to identify novel α-glycosidases in model and non-model plants. Simon McQueen-Mason from York is corresponding author of the next paper that identified a new QTL from Brachypodium that is involved in cell wall formation. The fifth paper is led by Anthony Dodd from Bristol and characterises the role of the SnRK1 complex in hypocotyl elongation whilst the penultimate manuscript from Julia Davies’s lab in Cambridge performs patch clamp analysis of dorn1 mutant plants. The final paper from Brendan Davies at the University of Leeds characterises the SMG kinase, a gene that is lacking from the Arabidopsis genome, in Physcomitrella patens.

Feeney M, Kittelmann M, Menassa R, Hawes C, Frigerio L. Protein storage vacuoles originate from remodelled pre-existing vacuoles in Arabidopsis thaliana (2018) Plant Physiol. 2018 Mar 19. pii: pp.00010.2018. doi: 10.1104/pp.18.00010 Open Access

This collaboration between the Universities of Warwick and Oxford Brookes is led by Lorenzo Frigerio and Chris Hawes. They have investigated the origin of seed Protein Storage Vacuoles (PSV) using a two-pronged approach using confocal and immunoelectron microscopy. They looked at embryo development as well as in leaf cells that have been reprogrammed for embryonic cell fate by overexpression of the LEAFY COTYLEDON2 TF. These studies indicate that PSVs are formed following the reprogramming of pre-existing embryonic vacuole (EV) rather than from de novo assembly.

Cavallari N, Nibau C, Fuchs A, Dadarou D, Barta A, Doonan JH. The Cyclin Dependent Kinase G group defines a thermo-sensitive alternative splicing circuit modulating the expression of Arabidopsis ATU2AF65A (2018) Plant J. doi: 10.1111/tpj.13914 Open Access

John Doonan (Aberystwyth University) is the corresponding author on this UK-Austrian collaboration that presents the role of the cyclin-dependent Kinase G1 (CDKG1) in thermosensing in Arabidopsis. Ambient temperature change causes altered gene expression of the spliceosome component, ATU2AF65A. Interestingly the CDKG1 gene is differentially spliced and to produces two protein isoforms that are both needed to complement the expression of ATU2AF65A across a temperature range. This alternative splicing is dependent on CDKG2 and CYCLIN L1 and is a novel control mechanism in the temperature control response.

Husaini AM, Morimoto K, Chandrasekar B, Kelly S, Kaschani F, Palmero D, Jiang J, Kaiser M, Ahrazem O, Overkleeft HS, van der Hoorn RAL (2018) Multiplex fluorescent, activity-based protein profiling identifies active α-glycosidases and other hydrolases in plants. Plant Physiol. pii: pp.00250.2018. doi: 10.1104/pp.18.00250 Open Access

Renier Van de Hoorn (University of Oxford) leads this pan-european study that uses novel cyclophellitol aziridine probes that label α-glycosidase enzymes. They identified two novel α-glycosidases in Arabidopsis as well as using the technique in non-model saffron crocus. Finally they showed that this multiplex fluorescent labelling in combination with probes for serine hydrolases and cysteine proteases can be used to identify changes in hydrolase activity in response to pathogen infection.

Whitehead C, Ostos Garrido FJ, Reymond M, Simister R, Distelfeld A, Atienza SG, Piston F, Gomez LD, McQueen-Mason SJ (2018) A glycosyl transferase family 43 protein involved in xylan biosynthesis is associated with straw digestibility in Brachypodium distachyon. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.15089 Open Access

Simon McQueen-Mason (University of York) leads this study that use QTL mapping to identify a gene in Bracypodium that is involved in cell wall architecture, which might then be a target to develop plants with improved cellulose digestibility. This glycosyl transferase family (GT) 43 protein is an orthologue of Arabidopsis IRX14, which is involved in xylan biosynthesis. When RNAi was used to reduce expression of this gene the resulting plants showed increased digestibility, indicating that this BdGT43A will be a good target for future breeding plans.

Wang L, Wilkins KA, Davies JM (2018) Arabidopsis DORN1 extracellular ATP receptor; activation of plasma membrane K(+) -and Ca(2+) -permeable conductances New Phytol. 2018 Mar 25. doi: 10.1111/nph.15111. Open Access

This letter to New Phytologist from the lab of Julia Davis (University of Cambridge) outlines some experiments to determine whether the DORN1 plasma membrane receptor is responsible for transmitting a signal from extracellular ATP (eATP). They performed patch clamp analysis on isolated protoplasts and showed that DORN1 is involved in the activation of Ca+ and K+ pumps by eATP as, in contrast to wildtype, dorn1 mutant protoplast showed no voltage changes after incubation with eATP.

Simon NML, Sawkins E, Dodd AN. Involvement of the SnRK1 subunit KIN10 in sucrose-induced hypocotyl elongation (2018) Plant Signal Behav. 27:1-9. doi: 10.1080/15592324.2018.1457913.

Anthony Dodd (University of Bristol) is the corresponding author of this follow-on study from one that previously featured on the GARNet YouTube channel. This study measures sucrose-induced hypocotyl elongation in two T-DNA mutants of the SnRK1 subunit KIN10 gene. These mutants had altered responses to sucrose leading to the hypothesis that the SnRK1 complex suppresses hypocotyl elongation in the presence of external sugar.

Lloyd JPB, Lang D, Zimmer AD, Causier B, Reski R, Davies B (2018) The loss of SMG1 causes defects in quality control pathways in Physcomitrella patens. Nucleic Acids Res. doi: 10.1093/nar/gky225 Open Access

Brendan Davis (University of Leeds) is the corresponding author on research that investigates the role of the SMG1 kinase during nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) in the moss Physcomitrella patens. This kinase plays a critical role in animals but as it is not present in Arabidopsis, its function is not well studied in plants. However moss smg mutants show expression changes in genes involved in a variety of processes indicating that NMD is a common control mechanism in moss. In addition these plants have increased susceptibility to DNA damage, which suggests that the SMG1 kinase is a key player in quality control mechanisms in plants.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: March 2nd.

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Published on: March 2, 2018

The first two papers in this weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup investigate different aspects of the plants response to temperature fluctuations. Firstly Lars Ostergaard (JIC) looks at the influence of temperature in the control of fruit dehiscence whilst Phil Wigge (SLCU) investigates crosstalk between chloroplast and nuclear signaling.

The third paper from Ian Henderson (University of Cambridge) studies the genetic elements that control rates of meiotic recombination. The next paper from the University of Leeds looks at the potential of using MET1 in the induction of novel epi-alleles whilst the penultimate paper includes the GARNet PI Jim Murray (Cardiff University) as a co-author and defines the role of CYCD7;1 in guard cell formation.

The final paper focusses on an enzyme involved in chlorophyll biosynthesis and includes Guy Hanke (QMUL) as a co-author.

Li XR, Deb J, Kumar SV, Østergaard L (2018) Temperature Modulates Tissue-Specification Program to Control Fruit Dehiscence in Brassicaceae. Molecular Plant doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2018.01.003 Open Access

Lars Ostergaard (John Innes Centre) is the corresponding author that continues his groups work on the function of the INDEHISCENT protein, on this occasion looking at its involvement in the link between temperature and fruit dehiscence. They show that fruit valve margin development is accelerated at higher temperatures, facilitated by the activity of IND. This activity is associated with the changes in the induction dynamics of the known thermosensory histone H2A.Z and demonstrate a molecular framework for the response to changing temperature during fruit ripening.

Dickinson PJ, Kumar M, Martinho C, Yoo SJ, Lan H, Artavanis G, Charoensawan V, Schöttler MA, Bock R, Jaeger KE, Wigge PA (2018) Chloroplast Signaling Gates Thermotolerance in Arabidopsis. Cell Rep. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.01.054 Open Access

Phil Wigge (SLCU) is the corresponding author on this study of the link between light-induced chloroplast signaling and thermotolerance. A forward genetic screen allowed the authors to identify two genes that demonstrated a key role for chloroplast signaling in controlling the activity of heat shock factors (HSFs), which enable the plant to cope with temperature variations. Subsequently they show that altering the binding activities of the HSFA1a protein can mimic heat shock response independent of any changes in temperature.

Serra H, Lambing C, Griffin CH, Topp SD, Nageswaran DC, Underwood CJ, Ziolkowski PA, Séguéla-Arnaud M, Fernandes JB,, Mercier R, Henderson IR (2018) Massive crossover elevation via combination of HEI10 and recq4a recq4b during Arabidopsis meiosis. PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1713071115

Ian Henderson (University of Cambridge) is the corresponding author on this collaboration with French colleagues in a study that investigates the factors that control recombination frequency in meiosis. During normal meiotic recombination the majority of double stranded breaks will not form crossovers (over 90%) so to increase this frequency they altered the active dosage of genetic elements that are either pro-crossover or anti-crossover control. This strategy results in a massive increase in crossovers and provides a genetic framework for increasing recombination, a strategy that can be critically important for increasing variation during crop breeding.

Brocklehurst S, Watson M, Carr IM, Out S, Heidmann I, Meyer P (2018) Induction of epigenetic variation in Arabidopsis by over-expression of DNA METHYLTRANSFERASE1 (MET1). PLoS One. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0192170 Open Access

This study from the University of Leeds is led by Peter Meyer and investigates how overexpression of the METHYLTRANSFERASE1 (MET1) gene might generate novel epi-alleles that result in altered gene expression. This strategy indeed generated novel epi-alleles that increased expression at loci encoding TEs, non-coding RNAs and protein coding genes. Importantly any altered expression can be transmitted to the next generation, independent of the presence of a MET1 expressing transgene. However the long term stability of these epi-alleles differs in an loci-specific manner.

Weimer AK, Matos JL, Sharma N, Patell F, Murray JAH, Dewitte W, Bergmann DC (2018) Lineage and stage-specific expressed CYCD7;1 coordinates the single symmetric division that creates stomatal guard cells. Development. doi: 10.1242/dev.160671

GARNet PI Jim Murray and Walter DeWitte (Cardiff University) are co-authors on this US-led study that adds complexity to our understanding of the molecular players that control guard cell specification. The authors show that the D-type cyclin CYCD7;1 is expressed during a short time window prior to the symmetry division that forms two guard cells. This activity is controlled by cell-type specific transcription factors acting in the appropriate time period.

Herbst J, Girke A, Hajirezaei MR, Hanke G, Grimm B (2018) Potential Roles of YCF54 and Ferredoxin-NADPH Reductase for Magnesium Protoporphyrin Monomethylester Cyclase. Plant J. doi: 10.1111/tpj.13869

Guy Hanke (QMUL) is a co-author on this German-led study that investigates an enzyme reactions that occur during chlorophyll biosynthesis. Specifically they showed that plants lacking the LCAA/YCF54 subunit of the enzyme MgProto monomethylester (MgProtoME) cyclase causes accumulation of MgProtoME and destabilization of the entire cyclase enzyme. This disrupts chlorophyll synthesis and negatively effects photosynthetic activity.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: January 23rd.

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup begins with two papers from Royal Hollaway University of London that investigate the factors that control leaf development in the dark and the control of PIN1 phosphorylation. Third is a paper from Bristol that demonstrates the translation of research from Arabidopsis into coriander with regard the control of the response to UV light. Next is research from the John Innes Centre that characterises the role of DNA methylation during meiosis in the male lineage.

Christine Foyer (Leeds) leads the next paper that defines the relationship between cold treatment and strigolactone signalling. The penultimate paper is led by Richard Napier from the University of Warwick and determines the parameters that define the substrates of the AUX1 protein whilst the final paper includes Cyril Zipfel (TSL) as a co-author and uses systems biology approaches to characterise the interactions between leucine-rich repeat receptor kinases (LRR-RKs).

Mohammed B, Farahi Bilooei S, Doczi R, Grove E, Railo S, Palme K, Ditengou FA, Bögre L, Lopez-Juez E (2017) Converging energy and hormonal signalling control meristem activity, leaf initiation and growth Plant Phys doi: 10.1104/pp.17.01730

Open Access

Enrique Lopez-Juez (RHUL) leads this collaboration with German and Hungarian colleagues that investigates the fundamental question; ‘Why don’t leaves grow in the dark’. They show that this response is influenced by both auxin transport and the plants energy sensing mechanisms. Interestingly when energy is provided via external sucrose, leaves develop differently in the dark than they do in the light indicating that multiple signaling pathways differentially influence this phenotype.

Enrique discusses this paper on the GARNet YouTube page.

Dory M, Hatzimasoura E, Kállai BM, Nagy SK, Jäger K, Darula Z, Nádai TV, Mészáros T, López-Juez E, Barnabás B, Palme K,,, Bögre L, Ditengou FA,,, Dóczi R (2017) Coevolving MAPK and PID phosphosites indicate an ancient environmental control of PIN auxin transporters in land plants. FEBS Lett. doi: 10.1002/1873-3468.12929

Laszlo Bogre and Enrique Lopez-Juez (RHUL) are co-authors on this Hungarian-led study that has discovered 3 conserved putative MAPK sites within the auxin transport protein PIN1. Phosphorylation of two of these sites causes partial loss of PIN1 membrane localization and therefore opposes the effect of the PINOID kinase, whose activity promotes PIN1 membrane localisation.

Fraser DP, Sharma A, Fletcher T, Budge S, Moncrieff C, Dodd AN, Franklin KA (2017) UV-B antagonises shade avoidance and increases levels of the flavonoid quercetin in coriander (Coriandrum sativum). Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-18073-8 Open Access

Keara Franklin and Anthony Dodd (University of Bristol) lead this collaboration between academic researchers and those in the company Vitacress. They translate research from Arabidopsis into Coriander that looks at the effect of UV-B on stem elongation and the interaction with flavonoid signaling. This work shows that alterations to the UV-B regime during growth of potted herbs might reduce deleterious effects caused by neighbour proximity.

Walker J, Gao H, Zhang J, Aldridge B, Vickers M, Higgins JD, Feng X (2017) Sexual-lineage-specific DNA methylation regulates meiosis in Arabidopsis. Nat Genet. doi: 10.1038/s41588-017-0008-5

Xiaoqi Feng (JIC) is the corresponding author on this collaboration with James Higgins from Leicester and they investigate the role of DNA methylation in the control of male meiosis. They demonstrate that RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) in the male lineage regulates gene expression in meiocytes and results in the mis-splicing of the MPS1/PRD2 transcipt, which causes aberrant alterations in spindle formation.

Cooper JW, Hu Y, Beyyoudh L, Yildiz Dasgan H, Kunert K, Beveridge CA, Foyer CH (2018) Strigolactones positively regulate chilling tolerance in pea and in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell Environ. doi: 10.1111/pce.13147

Christine Foyer (Leeds) is the corresponding author on this collaboration with Australian, Turkish and South African colleagues that looks into the role strigolactones play during chilling tolerance in both Arabidopsis and pea plants. Plants that have been chilled during the night have reduced biomass, which was not observed in either pea or Arabidopsis strigolactone mutants. This demonstrates a clear role for this hormone in this response and provides a potential target for the manipulation of plant growth under environmental conditions.

Hoyerova K, Hosek P, Quareshy M, Li J, Klima P, Kubes M,, Yemm AA, Neve P, Tripathi A, Bennett MJ, Napier RM (2017) Auxin molecular field maps define AUX1 selectivity: many auxin herbicides are not substrates. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.14950

Together with Czech co-authors Richard Napier (Warwick University) leads this investigation into the mode of action of the AUX1 auxin influx carrier and its substrate preferences. This work made use of a novel auxin accumulation assay and associated mathematical modeling to describe the parameters that make difference auxins to be good candidates for the AUX1 transport. Interesting they find that many commonly used auxinicide herbicides are poor substrates for AUX1 and the relevance of this finding for herbicide management strategies.

Smakowska-Luzan E et al (2018) An extracellular network of Arabidopsis leucine-rich repeat receptor kinases. Nature doi: 10.1038/nature25184

Cyril Zipfel (TSL) is a co-author on this US-European study that performs a systems-biology analysis on the possible interactions between extracellular domains of the leucine-rich repeat receptor kinases (LRR-RKs) gene family in Arabidopsis. Analysis of 40K potential interactions allows the generation of a LRR-based cell surface interaction network (CSI-LRR). This was used to discover previously uncharacterized interactions between LRR-RKs and to demonstrate that these interactions allow the translocation of extracellular signals in balanced and tightly regulated patterns.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: November 1st.

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Published on: November 1, 2017

This weeks Research Roundup includes three research and two methods papers. Firstly is work from the O’Connor and Leyser groups at SLCU that investigates the diversity of function in PIN auxin transporters between monocots and dicots. Secondly research from the Kover lab at the University of Bath has characterised the photosynthetic contribution of the inflorescence stem whilst the third paper is from the Bill Finch-Savage at the University of Warwick and looks at the effect of temperature on seed dormancy. Finally are two methods paper from the University of Warwick and Leeds that introduce protocols for the imaging of either the endoplasmic reticulum or the ultrastructure of pollen tubes.

O’Connor DL, Elton S, Ticchiarelli F, Hsia MM, Vogel JP, Leyser O (2017) Cross-species functional diversity within the PIN auxin efflux protein family. Elife. doi: 10.7554/eLife.31804

Open Access

Devin O’Connor and Ottoline Leyser (SLCU) lead this research that bridges the divide between a model dicot (Arabidopsis) and a model monocot (Brachypodium)as they investigate mechanisms of auxin transport, focussed on the PIN protein family. Arabidopsis lacks a clade of PIN proteins (termed Sister-of-PIN1 (SoPIN1) that are found in other plant species. They show that Brachypodium sopin1 mutants have inflorescence defects similar to Arabidopsis pin1 mutants, a similarity of function that is confirmed by the ability of soPIN1 to rescue the phenotype of null Atpin1 plants. However Brachy PIN1 is only able to rescue a less severe Atpin1 mutant. Overall they demonstrate that PIN1 functional specificity is determined by membrane and tissue-level accumulation and transport activity. As this paper is published in Elife, the journal provides reviewer comments and in this case they show that this manuscript was initially rejected. However the authors persisted and provided a reworked manuscript that convincing the reviewers that this study was appropriate for publication in Elife. An excellent lesson in persistence!

Gnan S, Marsh T, Kover PX (2017) Inflorescence photosynthetic contribution to fitness releases Arabidopsis thaliana plants from trade-off constraints on early flowering PLoS One doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185835

Open Access

In this study from Paula Kover’s lab at the University of Bath they investigate how the photosynthetic capacity of the Arabidopsis influoresence influences the time of flowering in a range of accessions. Interestingly after plants had flowering the authors removed rosette leaves to assess the ability of the influoresence to support future plant growth. Surprisingly there was a wide variation in general fitness following leaf removal, ranging from a growth reduction of 65% to no observed loss in fitness. These changes are due to both the differencies in the flowering time and in the number of lateral branches. This can explain how early flowering accessions can maintain fitness despite reduced vegetative growth.

Huang Z, Footitt S, Tang A, Finch-Savage WE (2017) Predicted global warming scenarios impact on the mother plant to alter seed dormancy and germination behavior in Arabidopsis Plant Cell Environ. doi: 10.1111/pce.13082

William Finch-Savage (University of Warwick) leads this investigation into the effect of temperature on seed development and dormancy. They used specially designed polyethylene tunnels that allowed in vivo variations in temperature and light conditions. Perhaps unsurprisingly they showed that temperature plays a significant role in future seed development with lower temperatures promoting dormancy but higher temperatures reduced dormancy that subsequently alters the timing of future life cycles, which has consequences for the species fitness.

Dzimitrowicz N, Breeze E, Frigerio L (2018) Long-Term Imaging of Endoplasmic Reticulum Morphology in Embryos During Seed Germination. Methods Mol Biol. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7389-7_6

Lorenzo Frigerio (University of Warwick) leads this methods paper that describes the imaging of the endoplasmic reticulum over long periods during seed germination.

Ndinyanka Fabrice T, Kaech A, Barmettler G, Eichenberger C, Knox JP, Grossniklaus U, Ringli C (2017) Efficient preparation of Arabidopsis pollen tubes for ultrastructural analysis using chemical and cryo-fixation. BMC Plant Biol. doi: 10.1186/s12870-017-1136-x

Paul Knox (University of Leeds) is a co-author on this methods paper that outlines the necessary steps for efficient preparation of pollen tubes for subsequent ultrastructural analysis.

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

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