GARNet Research Roundup: October 17th 2019

This edition of the GARNet Research Roundup includes a superb selection of papers by scientists from across the UK. First is work from the Spoel lab in Edinburgh that characterizes the fine-tuning of NPR1 activity during the plant immune response. Second is work from SLCU and the University of Helsinki that is an extensive investigation into the molecular basis of cambial development. Next is research from Nottingham that looks at the importance of soil macro-structures during the growth of wheat roots.

Fourth are three papers that highlight the breadth of research occurring at the John Innes Centre. The first paper is from Enrico Coen’s lab that applies their expertise in computational modeling to leaf development in the carnivorous plant Utricularia gibba. Second is work from Saskia Hogenhout’s lab that looks at immunity to infection by Phytoplasma pathogens. Last is work from Lars Ostergaard’s lab that characterises the role of Auxin Binding promoter elements in floral development.

The seventh paper from Bristol and Glasgow looks at shade avoidance signaling via PIF5, COP1 and UVR8 whilst the eighth paper, which is from Rothamsted, demonstrates how metabolic engineering in Arabidopsis seeds can result in a high proportion of human milk fat substitute. The next paper is from the University of Durham and investigates how the composition of the Arabidopsis cell wall impacts freezing tolerance. The first author of this paper, Dr Paige Panter discusses the paper on the GARNet community podcast.

The tenth paper is from Julia Davies’s lab at the University of Cambridge and introduces an uncharacterised response to extracellular ATP signals in Arabidopsis roots. The next paper is from Mike Blatt’s group at University of Glasgow and characterises a new interaction between vesicular transport and ion channels. The penultimate entry includes co-authors from the JIC on a Chinese-led study that demonstrates improved seed vigour in wheat through overexpression of a NAC transcription factor. Finally are two methods papers taken from a special journal issue on ‘Plant Meiosis’.


Skelly MJ, Furniss JJ, Grey HL, Wong KW, Spoel SH (2019) Dynamic ubiquitination determines transcriptional activity of the plant immune coactivator NPR1. Elife. doi: 10.7554/eLife.47005
Open Access

Michael Skelly is lead author on this paper from the lab of current GARNet chair Steven Spoel. In it they investigate the mechanisms that fine-tune the function of NPR1, a key player in the plant immune response. Progressive ubiquitination of NPR1 by an E3 ligase causes both its interaction with target genes and its subsequent degradation by an E4 ligase. This latter occurrence is opposed by the deubiquitinase activity of UBP6/7, setting up a complex regulatory environment that allows the plant to rapidly response to pathogen attack.


Zhang J, Eswaran G, Alonso-Serra J, Kucukoglu M, Xiang J, Yang W, Elo A, Nieminen K, Damén T, Joung JG, Yun JY, Lee JH, Ragni L, Barbier de Reuille P, Ahnert SE, Lee JY, Mähönen AP, Helariutta Y (2019) Transcriptional regulatory framework for vascular cambium development in Arabidopsis roots. Nat Plants. doi: 10.1038/s41477-019-0522-9

This pan-European-Korean collaboration has Jing Zhang from the University of Helsinki and the Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge as first author. They use cambium cell-specific transcript profiling and follow-on network analysis to discover 62 new transcription factors involved in cambial development in Arabidopsis. This information was used to engineer plants with increased radial growth through ectopic cambial activity as well as to generate plants with no cambial activity. This understanding provides a platform for possible future improvements in production of woody biomass.


Atkinson JA, Hawkesford MJ, Whalley WR, Zhou H, Mooney SJ (2019) Soil strength influences wheat root interactions with soil macropores. Plant Cell Environ. doi: 10.1111/pce.13659
This work is led from the University of Nottingham by John Atkinson and Sacha Mooney. They use X-ray Computed Tomography to investigate a trait called trematotropism, which applies to the ability of deep rooting plants to search out macropores and avoid densely packed soil. They show root colonisation of macropores is an important adaptive trait and that strategies should be put in place to increase these structures within the natural soil environment.


Lee KJI, Bushell C, Koide Y, Fozard JA, Piao C, Yu M, Newman J, Whitewoods C, Avondo J, Kennaway R, Marée AFM, Cui M, Coen E (2019) Shaping of a three-dimensional carnivorous trap through modulation of a planar growth mechanism. PLoS Biol. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000427
Open Access

https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000427

Karen Lee, Claire Bushell and Yohei Koide are co-first authors on this work led by Enrico Coen at the John Innes Centre and Minlong Cui at the Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in China. This study uses 3D imaging, cellular and clonal analysis, combined with computational modelling to analyse the development of cup-shaped traps of the carnivorous plant Utricularia gibba. They identify growth ansiotrophies that result in the final leave shape that develops from an initial near-spherical form. These processes have some similarities to the polar growth seen in Arabidopsis leaves. Overall they show that ‘simple modulations of a common growth framework underlie the shaping of a diverse range of morphologies’.


Pecher P, Moro G, Canale MC, Capdevielle S, Singh A, MacLean A, Sugio A, Kuo CH, Lopes JRS, Hogenhout SA (2019) Phytoplasma SAP11 effector destabilization of TCP transcription factors differentially impact development and defence of Arabidopsis versus maize. PLoS Pathog. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008035
Open Access

This work from Saskia Hogenhout’s lab at the John Innes Centre is led by Pascal Pecher and Gabriele Moro. They look at the effect of SAP11 effectors from Phytoplasma species that infect either Arabidopsis or maize. They demonstrate that although both related versions of SAP11 destabilise plant TCP transcription factors, their modes of action have significant differences. Please look out for Saskia discussing this paper on the GARNet Community podcast next week.


Kuhn A, Runciman B, Tasker-Brown W, Østergaard L 92019) Two Auxin Response Elements Fine-Tune PINOID Expression During Gynoecium Development in Arabidopsis thaliana. Biomolecules. doi: 10.3390/biom9100526
Open Access

Andre Kuhn is first author of this research from Lars Østergaard’s lab at the John Innes Centre. They functional characterise two Auxin-responsive Elements (AuxRE) within the promotor of the PINOID gene, which are bound by the ETITIN/ARF3 Auxin Response Factor. Alteration of this AuxRE causes phenotypic changes during flower development demonstrating that even with a complex regulatory environment, small changes to cis-elements can have significant developmental consequences.


Sharma A, Sharma B, Hayes S, Kerner K, Hoecker U, Jenkins GI, Franklin KA (2019) UVR8 disrupts stabilisation of PIF5 by COP1 to inhibit plant stem elongation in sunlight. Nat Commun. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-12369-1
Open Access

Ashutosh Sharma is first author of this UK-Spanish-Germany collaboration led by Keara Franklin at University of Bristol. They have characterised the interaction between three significant molecular players that function during the shade avoidance response in Arabidopsis; PIF5, UVR8 and COP1. In shaded conditions, UVR8 indirectly promotes rapid degradation of PIF5 through their interactions with the E3 ubiquitin ligase COP1.


van Erp H, Bryant FM, Martin-Moreno J, Michaelson LV, Bhutada G, Eastmond PJ (2019) Engineering the stereoisomeric structure of seed oil to mimic human milk fat. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1907915116

Open Access

Harrie Van Arp and Peter Eastmond at Rothamsted Research lead this extremely translational study in which they have modified the metabolic pathway for triacylglycerol (TAG) biosynthesis. By modifying the location of one biosynthesis enzyme and removing the activity of another, the fats produced in these Arabidopsis seeds are enriched to contain TAGs that are similar to those found in human milk. They propose that this technology could be used to develop a source of plant-derived human milk fat substitute.


Panter PE, Kent O, Dale M, Smith SJ, Skipsey M, Thorlby G, Cummins I, Ramsay N, Begum RA, Sanhueza D, Fry SC, Knight MR, Knight H (2019) MUR1-mediated cell-wall fucosylation is required for freezing tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.16209

Paige Panter led this work as part of her PhD at the University of Durham in the lab of Heather Knight. They characterise the role of the MUR1 protein in the control of cell wall fucosylation and how this contributes to plant freezing tolerance. Paige discusses this paper and the long history of MUR1 on the GARNet Community podcast. Please check it out!


Wang L, Stacey G, Leblanc-Fournier N, Legué V, Moulia B, Davies JM (2019) Early Extracellular ATP Signaling in Arabidopsis Root Epidermis: A Multi-Conductance Process. Front Plant Sci. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01064.

Open Access

The UK-French collaboration is led by Limin Wang from Julia Davies’s lab in Cambridge. They use patch clamp electrophysiology to identify previously uncharacterized channel conductances that respond to extracellular ATP across the root elongation zone epidermal plasma membrane.


Waghmare S, Lefoulon C, Zhang B, Lileikyte E, Donald NA, Blatt MR (2019) K+ channel-SEC11 binding exchange regulates SNARE assembly for secretory traffic. Plant Physiol. doi: 10.1104/pp.19.00919

Open Access

This work from Mike Blatt’s lab in Glasgow is led by Sakharam Waghmare. They look at the interaction between SNARE proteins, which are involved in vesicular fusion and K+ channels, which help control turgor pressure during cell expansion. Through combining analysis of protein-protein interactions and electrophysiological measurement they have found that this interaction requires the activity of the regulatory protein SEC11.


Li W, He X, Chen Y, Jing Y, Shen C, Yang J, Teng W, Zhao X, Hu W, Hu M, Li H, Miller AJ, Tong Y (2019) A wheat transcription factor positively sets seed vigour by regulating the grain nitrate signal. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.16234
Wenjing Li is first author of this Chinese study that includes Yi Chen and Anthony Miller from the John Innes Centre as co-authors. This research shows that seed vigour and nitrate accumulation in wheat is regulated by the TaNAC2 transcriptions factor through its control of the TaNRT2.5 nitrate transporter. The authors suggest that both genes could be used as potential future targets to increase grain yield and nitrogen use efficiency.


The Special Issue of Methods in Molecular Biology on Plant Meiosis includes papers from the University of Cambridge, led by Christophe Lambing and the James Hutton Institute, led by Benoit Darrier.

Lambing C, Choi K, Blackwell AR, Henderson IR (2019) Chromatin Immunoprecipitation of Meiotically Expressed Proteins from Arabidopsis thaliana Flowers. Methods Mol Biol. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-9818-0_16
Darrier B, Arrieta M, Mittmann SU, Sourdille P, Ramsay L, Waugh R, Colas I (2019) Following the Formation of Synaptonemal Complex Formation in Wheat and Barley by High-Resolution Microscopy. Methods Mol Biol. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-9818-0_15

GARNet Research Roundup: July 26th 2019

This summer-time-reading bumper edition of the GARNet Research Roundup begins with two papers from the University of Sheffield that each use advanced imaging techniques. Firstly Andrew Fleming’s group leads a study on the link between stomatal function and mesophyll space morphology. Second is a study from Matthew Johnson’s group that looks at the dynamic arrangement of thylakoid stacks.

Next are two papers that include Alison Smith from the JIC as a corresponding author. The first also includes Vasilios Andriotis from the University of Newcastle and looks at the role of the plastidial pentose phosphate pathway during post-germination growth. Second uses a gene-editing strategy to generate potatoes with altered starch morphologies.

The fifth paper also looks at starch; researchers from Cambridge and Norwich are involved in a study that characterises the role of the LIKE SEX4 1 protein in starch degradation.

The sixth paper is from Aberystwyth University and identifies a transcription factor that alters secondary cell wall composition in Brachypodium and maize. Next is research from the University of Bath that looks at the role of a protein S-acyl transferase during seed germination.

The eighth and ninth papers are led by Spanish research groups and include contributions from UK-based co-authors in Cambridge and Nottingham, working on photoperiod perception or phosphate signaling respectively.

The tenth paper features work from Cardiff University and looks at the role of heterologous expression of the Arabidopsis WEE1 protein. The Bancroft lab from the University of York leads the next paper that investigates glucosinolate signaling in Brassica napus.

The final three manuscripts are methods papers. The first from Edinburgh introduces a new NanoLUC reporter whilst the other two include techniques involved in the investigation of light-regulated growth processes.


Lundgren MR, Mathers A, Baillie AL, Dunn J, Wilson MJ, Hunt L, Pajor R, Fradera-Soler M, Rolfe S, Osborne CP, Sturrock CJ, Gray JE, Mooney SJ, Fleming AJ (2019) Mesophyll porosity is modulated by the presence of functional stomata. Nat Commun. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-10826-5

Open Access

This UK-wide study is led from Andrew Fleming’s lab in Sheffield and includes Marjorie Lundgren as first author (now working in Lancaster). They use microCT imaging alongside more traditional measurements linked to analysis of gas exchange to show that mesophyll airspace formation is linked to stomatal function in both Arabidopsis and wheat. This allows the authors to propose that coordination of stomata and mesophyll airspace pattern underpins water use efficiency in crops.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-10826-5

Wood WH, Barnett SFH, Flannery S, Hunter CN, Johnson MP (2019) Dynamic thylakoid stacking is regulated by LHCII phosphorylation but not its interaction with photosystem I. Plant Physiol. doi: 10.1104/pp.19.00503

Open Access

William Wood is the first author on this study from the University of Sheffield that uses 3D structured illumination microscopy (3D-SIM) to look at the dynamics of thylakoid stacking in both Arabidopsis and spinach. They show that the processes they observe are dependent on light harvesting complex II phosphorylation.

http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/early/2019/06/11/pp.19.00503.long

Andriotis VME, Smith AM (2019) The plastidial pentose phosphate pathway is essential for postglobular embryo development in Arabidopsis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1908556116

Open Access

Vasilios Andriotis (now at the University of Newcastle) is the lead author of this work performed in Alison Smith’s lab at the JIC. They look at the role of the plastidial oxidative pentose phosphate pathway (OPPP) during embryo development. This involved demonstrating that production of ribose-5-phosphate (R5P), which in turn leads to synthesis of purine nucleotides, is a critical function of the OPPP.


Tuncel A, Corbin KR, Ahn-Jarvis J, Harris S, Hawkins E, Smedley MA, Harwood W, Warren FJ, Patron NJ, Smith AM (2019) Cas9-mediated mutagenesis of potato starch-branching enzymes generates a range of tuber starch phenotypes. Plant Biotechnol J. doi: 10.1111/pbi.13137

Open Access

Alison Smith and Nicola Patron who work in Norwich Research Park are corresponding authors of this study that includes Aytug Tuncel as first author. They have used Cas9-mediated gene editing to generate potato plants that have a range of different tuber starch structures. This shows that gene-editing techniques allows the transgene-free alteration to generate potentially healthier crops.


Schreier TB, Umhang M, Lee SK, Lue WL, Shen Z, Silver D, Graf A, Müller A, Eicke S, Stadler M, Seung D, Bischof S, Briggs SP, Kötting O, Moorhead GB, Chen J, Zeeman SC (2019) LIKE SEX4 1 acts as a β-amylase-binding scaffold on starch granules during starch degradation. Plant Cell. doi: 10.1105/tpc.19.00089

Open Access

Tina Schreier from the University of Cambridge is the first author on this international study led from Switzerland that also includes Alexander Graf and David Seung from the JIC as co-authors. This study defines a precise role for the LIKE SEX FOUR 1 (LSF1) protein that binds starch and is required for normal starch degradation. Through a variety of experiments they show that the glucan binding, rather than phosphatase activity, is required for LSF1 function during starch degradation.


Bhatia R, Dalton S, Roberts LA, Moron-Garcia OM, Iacono R, Kosik O, Gallagher JA, Bosch M (2019) Modified expression of ZmMYB167 in Brachypodium distachyon and Zea mays leads to increased cell wall lignin and phenolic content. Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-45225-9

Open Access

Rakesh Bhatia is the first author on this work from the lab of Maurice Bosch at Aberystwyth University. They overexpress the maize MYB transcription factor ZmMYB167 in both Brachypodium and maize. Both species show increased lignin content with Brachypodium but not maize showing a biomass deficit. This indicates that ZmMYB167 could be a useful molecular tool for the alteration of secondary cell wall biosynthesis.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-45225-9

Li Y, Xu J, Li G, Wan S, Batistic O, Sun M, Zhang Y, Scott R, Qi B (2019) Protein S-acyl Transferase 15 is Involved in Seed Triacylglycerol Catabolism during Early Seedling Growth in Arabidopsis (2019) J Exp Bot. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erz282

First author on this UK-Chinese collaboration is Yaxiao Li who works with Baoxiu Qi at the University of Bath. The authors characterise the function of Arabidopsis Protein Acyl Transferase 15, AtPAT15. This protein is involved in essential β-oxidation of triacylglycerols during post-germination growth.


Ramos-Sánchez JM, Triozzi PM, Alique D, Geng F, Gao M, Jaeger KE, Wigge PA, Allona I, Perales M (2019) LHY2 Integrates Night-Length Information to Determine Timing of Poplar Photoperiodic Growth. Curr Biol. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.06.003

Open Access

This Spanish-led study includes co-authors from the Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge and attempts to define the factors that control photoperiod perception in trees, using poplar as a model system. FLOWERING LOCUS T2 (FT2) has been previously shown to be involved in this process and this study builds on that work to show that night-length information is transmitted by the clock gene LATE ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL 2 (LHY2) and is able to control FT2 expression.

https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(19)30696-7?

Silva-Navas J, Conesa CM, Saez A, Navarro-Neila S, Garcia-Mina JM, Zamarreño AM, Baigorri R, Swarup R, Del Pozo JC (2019) Role of cis-zeatin in root responses to phosphate starvation. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.16020

Ranjan Swarup from the University of Nottingham is a co-author on this Spanish-led study that has Javier Silva-Navas as first author. Through analysis of dark-grown seedlings they have identified a set of new genes involved in root phosphate signaling. In addition they provide evidence of a links between cytokinin and phosphate signaling through modulation of the cell cycle.


Siciliano I, Lentz Grønlund A, Ševčíková H, Spadafora ND, Rafiei G, Francis D, Herbert RJ, Bitonti MB, Rogers HJ, Lipavská H (2019) Expression of Arabidopsis WEE1 in tobacco induces unexpected morphological and developmental changes. Sci Rep. 2019 Jun 18;9(1):8695. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-45015-3

Open Access

Ilario Siciliano leads this work that includes colleagues from Hilary Rogers’ lab at Cardiff University. The WEE1 protein regulates the cell cycle across eukaryote lineages. In this work they show that overexpression of AtWEE1 in tobacco causes precocious flowering and increased shoot morphogenesis of stem explants whilst in cell culture this WEE1 OX causes smaller cell sizes.


Kittipol V, He Z, Wang L, Doheny-Adams T, Langer S, Bancroft I (2019) Genetic architecture of glucosinolate variation in Brassica napus. J Plant Physiol. doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2019.06.001

Open Access

This study from the Bancroft lab at the University of York is led by Varanya Kittipol. Through use of Associative Transcriptomics (AT) across a diversity panel of 288 Brassica napus genotypes they are able to identify a set of genes involved in synthesis of glucosinate hydrolysis products.


Urquiza-García U, Millar AJ (2019). Expanding the bioluminescent reporter toolkit for plant science with NanoLUC. Plant Methods. doi: 10.1186/s13007-019-0454-4

Open Access

This study from the University of Edinburgh introduces NanoLUC, a new more stable luciferase-based reporter for use by the plant community.

The final two papers are methods papers that focus on different aspects of light-regulated growth. These are from the University of Southampton and University of York.

https://plantmethods.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13007-019-0454-4

Terry MJ, Kacprzak SM (2019) A Simple Method for Quantification of Protochlorophyllide in Etiolated Arabidopsis Seedlings. Methods Mol Biol. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-9612-4_14

Oakenfull RJ, Ronald J, Davis SJ (2019) Measuring Phytochrome-Dependent Light Input to the Plant Circadian Clock. Methods Mol Biol. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-9612-4_15

GARNet Research Roundup: July 5th 2019

This edition of the GARNet research roundup begins with a study from the University Leicester that investigates the rate of selection of genes expressed in Arabidopsis pollen.

The second and third papers focus on the function of members of the AP2 family of transcription factors. Sarah McKim’s lab in Dundee characterizes the role of APETALA2 during barley stem elongation whilst the other paper investigates the function of the Arabidopsis PUCHI gene and includes co-authors from the University of Nottingham.

The fourth paper is from Lars Ostergaard’s lab at the John Innes Centre and demonstrates the benefit of using models to understand developmental processes in crop plants. The next paper from the University of Glasgow investigates the plant response to low fluence rates of UV-B light.

The penultimate paper features authors from Oxford Brookes University and characterizes a novel LINC-KASH protein in maize whilst the final paper is from the University of Cambridge and investigates the novel function of two members of DUF579 family in methylation of glucuronic acid residues.


Harrison MC, Mallon EB, Twell D, Hammond RL (2019) Deleterious mutation accumulation in Arabidopsis thaliana pollen genes: a role for a recent relaxation of selection. Genome Biol Evol. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evz127

Open Access

This research from Hammond and Twell lab’s at the University of Leicester uses Arabidopsis to investigate the hypothesis that pollen genes evolve faster than sporophytic genes. This study is challenging to perform in Arabidopsis as for the past million years the plant has been self-compatible, which causes reduction in pollen competition, increased homozygosity and a dilution of masking in diploid expressed, sporophytic genes. This study has two main findings: firstly prior to becoming self-compatible pollen genes evolved faster than sporophytic genes. Secondly, since becoming self-compatible selection has relaxed causing higher polymorphism levels and a higher build-up of deleterious mutations.


Patil V, McDermott HI, McAllister T, Cummins M, Silva JC, Mollison E, Meikle R, Morris J, Hedley PE, Waugh R, Dockter C, Hansson M, McKim SM (2019) APETALA2 control of barley internode elongation. Development. doi: 10.1242/dev.170373

Open Access

Vrushali Patil leads his study from the lab of current GARNet committee member Sarah McKim at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee. They show that the APETALA2 (AP2) transcription factor is necessary for stem elongation in Barley. In addition they demonstrate that AP2 expression is controlled by the activity of the microRNA mi172 as well as jasmonate signaling.

https://dev.biologists.org/content/146/11/dev170373.long

Trinh DC, Lavenus J, Goh T, Boutté Y, Drogue Q, Vaissayre V, Tellier F, Lucas M, Voß U, Gantet P, Faure JD, Dussert S, Fukaki H, Bennett MJ, Laplaze L, Guyomarc’h S (2019) PUCHI regulates very long chain fatty acid biosynthesis during lateral root and callus formation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1906300116

Julien Lavenus, Ute Voß and Malcolm Bennett from University of Nottingham are co-authors on this French-led study that investigates the mechanism by which the AP2 family transcription factor PUCHI controls lateral root development. By performing a transcriptional analysis of developing lateral root cells they show that genes involved in very long chain fatty acid (VLCFA) biosynthesis enzymes are induced in a PUCHI dependent manner. Concomitantly they show puchi-1 mutant roots have reduced VLCFA content when compared with wildtype roots. They conclude that PUCHI regulates VLCFA biosynthesis as part of a pathway controlling cell proliferation during lateral root formation.


Stephenson P, Stacey N, Brüser M, Pullen N, Ilyas M, O’Neill C, Wells R, Østergaard L (2019) The power of model-to-crop translation illustrated by reducing seed loss from pod shatter in oilseed rape. Plant Reprod. doi: 10.1007/s00497-019-00374-9

Open Access

Pauline Stephenson and Lars Østergaard at the John Innes Centre lead this study in which they demonstrate that lessons learnt from understanding the genes involved in fruit ripening in Arabidopsis lead to an ability to adjust the pod-opening process in oilseed rape. They have combined two mutant alleles, first characterized in Arabidopsis, to develop OSR plants that have significantly increased yield. In addition they present a new software tool for the analysis of pod shatter data in other crops plants.


O’Hara A, Headland LR, Díaz-Ramos LA, Morales LO, Strid Å, Jenkins GI (2019) Regulation of Arabidopsis gene expression by low fluence rate UV-B independently of UVR8 and stress signaling. Photochem Photobiol Sci. doi: 10.1039/c9pp00151d

Open Access

This UK-Swedish collaboration is led by Andrew O’Hara from the Jenkins lab in the University of Glasgow. They continue the lab focus on the UV-B receptor UVR8, in this case performing a transcriptomic analysis of wildtype and uvr8 mutants grown under low UV-B fluence rates. They analyse one differentially expressed gene in more detail, the transcription factor ARABIDOPSIS NAC DOMAIN CONTAINING PROTEIN 13 (ANAC13), which was induced by UV-B but by the activity of any other photoreceptor.


Gumber HK, McKenna JF, Tolmie AF, Jalovec AM, Kartick AC, Graumann K, Bass HW (2019) MLKS2 is an ARM domain and F-actin-associated KASH protein that functions in stomatal complex development and meiotic chromosome segregation Nucleus. doi: 10.1080/19491034.2019.1629795

Open Access

Hardeep Gumber is first author on this US-led study that includes Joe KcKenna, Andrea Tolmie and Katja Graumann from Oxford Brookes as co-authors. They characterise the Maize LINC KASH AtSINE-like2 protein, MLKS2, whose targeting to the nuclear periphery requires its N-terminal armadillo repeats. Mutant mlks2 plants have pleiotropic plant phenotypes and on a nuclear level show defects in chromosome segregation and positioning. These findings support a model in which cytoplasmic actin is linked to chromatin through the LINC-KASH nuclear envelope network.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19491034.2019.1629795

Temple H, Mortimer JC, Tryfona T, Yu X, Lopez-Hernandez F, Sorieul M, Anders N, Dupree P (2019) Two members of the DUF579 family are responsible for arabinogalactan methylation in Arabidopsis. Plant Direct. doi: 10.1002/pld3.117

Open Access

Henry Temple is first author on this work from the University of Cambridge that characterizes two members of the DUF579 family (AGM1 and AGM2). These proteins are required for 4-O-methylation of glucuronic acid within highly glycosylated arabinogalactan proteins (AGPs).


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GARNet Research Roundup: June 12th 2019

In another big edition of the GARNet Research Roundup we cover many different areas of research that utilise a varied group of experimental organisms!

The first paper from the Feng lab at the John Innes Centre performs an assessment of the factors influencing heterochromatin activity in sperm companion cells. Second is work from the JIC and Cardiff University that looks at the role of an auxin minima during fruit valve margin differentiation.

The next two papers have authors from Edinburgh. Firstly the McCormick lab has developed a stereo-based 3D imaging system for plants while Steven Spoel is a co-author on a study that looks at the pathogen responsive gene NPR1.

Coming from across the M8 is a paper from the Christie lab in Glasgow that looks into using phototropin genes as potential targets for crop improvement.

The next paper is from Oxford Brookes University where they visualise the movement of protein nanodomain clusters within the plasma membrane. Elsewhere in Oxford is a paper from the van der Hoorn group that characterises the effect of a novel triazine herbicide.

Two papers from the University of Durham also identify and characterise the role of novel herbicides, in this case on the activity of inositol phosphorylceramide synthases.

The final five papers feature research that each use different experimental organisms. Firstly a paper from the Earlham Institute uses delayed fluorescence to investigate the circadian clock in wheat and OSR. Second is a paper from Warwick that assesses the role of nodulation during nitrogen uptake in Medicago. The next paper features the Yant lab at University of Nottingham looks at growth of two species of Arabidopsis in challenging environments.

The penultimate paper includes authors from the University of Oxford and provides a detailed analysis of the factors controlling leaf shape in Cardamine and Arabidopsis thaliana. The final paper uses the imaging facility at the Hounsfield facility in Nottingham to image the roots of date palms.


He S, Vickers M, Zhang J, Feng X (2019) Natural depletion of H1 in sex cells causes DNA demethylation, heterochromatin decondensation and transposon activation. Elife. doi: 10.7554/eLife.42530

Open Access

Lead author on his paper is Shengbo He from Xiaoqi Feng’s lab at the John Innes Centre. This work looks at activation of Transposable elements (TEs) in the sperm companion cell of Arabidopsis. This is catalyzed by the DEMETER-catalyzed DNA demethylation in regions depleted of histone H1, demonstrating a key role for H1 in determining heterochromatin activity.

https://elifesciences.org/articles/42530

Li XR, Vroomans RMA, Fox S, Grieneisen VA, Østergaard L, Marée AFM (2019) Systems Biology Approach Pinpoints Minimum Requirements for Auxin Distribution during Fruit Opening. Mol Plant. doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2019.05.003

Open Access

Xin-Ran Li and Renske Vroomans are co-lead authors on this work from the Ostergaard, Grieneisen and Maree labs from the John Innes Centre and (now) Cardiff University.They look at the role of an auxin minima in the control of valve margin differentiation in Arabidopsis fruit. They used a cycle of experimental-modeling to develop a model that predicts the maturation of the auxin minimum to ensure timely fruit opening and seed dispersal.


Bernotas G, Scorza LCT, Hansen MF, Hales IJ, Halliday KJ, Smith LN, Smith ML, McCormick AJ (2019) A photometric stereo-based 3D imaging system using computer vision and deep learning for tracking plant growth. Gigascience. doi: 10.1093/gigascience/giz056

Open Access

Gytis Bernotas from UWE and Livia Scorza from the McCormick lab at the University of Edinburgh lead this work that is the result of a 2+ year collaboration with the Melvyn Smith and others at the Computer Machine Vision (CMV) facility at UWE. The authors have developed hardware and software (including a deep neural network) to automate the 3D imaging and segmentation of rosettes and individual leaves using a photometric stereo approach.

https://academic.oup.com/gigascience/article/8/5/giz056/5498634

Chen J, Mohan R, Zhang Y, Li M, Chen H, Palmer IA, Chang M, Qi G, Spoel SH, Mengiste T, Wang D, Liu F, Fu ZQ (2019) NPR1 promotes its own and target gene expression in plant defense by recruiting CDK8. Plant Physiol. doi: 10.1104/pp.19.00124

GARNet chairman Steven Spoel is a co-author on this US-led study with Jian Chen as lead author. The paper investigates the interacting partners of NPR1 (NONEXPRESSER OF PR GENES 1), which is a master regulator of salicyclic signaling and therefore an important regulation of plant defense response.


Hart JE, Sullivan S, Hermanowicz P, Petersen J, Diaz-Ramos LA, Hoey DJ, Łabuz J, Christie JM (2019) Engineering the phototropin photocycle improves photoreceptor performance and plant biomass production. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1902915116

Open Access

Jaynee Hart is first author on this research from Christie lab at the University of Glasgow in which they target the phototropin blue light receptor as a candidate for crop improvement. They showed plants that engineered to have a slow-photocycling version of PHOT1 or PHOT2 had increased biomass under low light conditions, due to their increased sensitivity to low light.


McKenna JF, Rolfe DJ, Webb SED, Tolmie AF, Botchway SW, Martin-Fernandez ML, Hawes C, Runions J (2019) The cell wall regulates dynamics and size of plasma-membrane nanodomains in Arabidopsis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1819077116

Open Access

Joe McKenna from Oxford Brookes University leads this work that takes advantage of their superb imaging facilities to assess the dynamic regulation of specific protein clusters in the Arabidopsis plasma membrane. They show that the cytoskeleton (both actin and microtubule) and the cell wall play roles in the control of intra-PM moment of the pathogen receptor FLS2 and the auxin transporter PIN3.

https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/06/07/1819077116

Morimoto K, Cole KS, Kourelis J, Witt CH, Brown D, Krahn D, Stegmann M, Kaschani F, Kaiser M, Burton J, Mohammed S, Yamaguchi-Shinozaki K, Weerapana E, van der Hoorn RAL (2019) Triazine probes targeting ascorbate peroxidases in plants. Plant Physiol. doi: 10.1104/pp.19.00481

Open Access

Kyoko Morimoto is first author on this UK-German-Japanese collaboration led from the lab of GARNet committee member Renier van der Hoorn. They characterise the herbicidal effect of the small 1,3,5-triazine KSC-3 on ascorbate peroxidases (APXs) across a range of plant species.


Pinneh EC, Stoppel R, Knight H, Knight MR, Steel PG, Denny PW (2019) Expression levels of inositol phosphorylceramide synthase modulate plant responses to biotic and abiotic stress in Arabidopsis thaliana. PLoS One. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217087

Open Access

Pinneh EC, Mina JG, Stark MJR, Lindell SD, Luemmen P, Knight MR, Steel PG, Denny PW (2019) The identification of small molecule inhibitors of the plant inositol phosphorylceramide synthase which demonstrate herbicidal activity. Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-44544-1

Open Access

Elizabeth Pinneh leads these two papers from the Denny lab in Durham. In the first paper they use RNAseq data and analysis of overexpression transgenic lines to define the role of inositol phosphorylceramide synthase (IPCS) during abiotic and biotic stress responses.

Secondly they screened a panel of 11000 compounds for their activity against the AtIPCS2 in a yeast two-hybrid assay. Successful hits from the screen were confirmed with in vitro enzyme assays and in planta against Arabidopsis.


Rees H, Duncan S, Gould P, Wells R, Greenwood M, Brabbs T, Hall A (2019) A high-throughput delayed fluorescence method reveals underlying differences in the control of circadian rhythms in Triticum aestivum and Brassica napus. Plant Methods. doi: 10.1186/s13007-019-0436-6

Open Access

Hannah Rees from Anthony Hall’s lab at the Earlham Institute leads this methods paper that introduces the use of delayed fluorescence to investigate the circadian rhythms in wheat and oil seed rape.

https://plantmethods.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13007-019-0436-6

Lagunas B, Achom M, Bonyadi-Pour R, Pardal AJ, Richmond BL, Sergaki C, Vázquez S, Schäfer P, Ott S, Hammond J, Gifford ML (2019) Regulation of Resource Partitioning Coordinates Nitrogen and Rhizobia Responses and Autoregulation of Nodulation in Medicago truncatula. Mol Plant. doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2019.03.014

Open Access

Beatriz Lagunas is lead author on this paper from the University of Warwick that investigates the role of nodulation in actual nitrogen uptake by the roots of Medicago truncatula. They use integrated molecular and phenotypic analysis to determine that the respond to nitrogen flux are processed on a whole plant level through multiple developmental processes.

https://www.cell.com/molecular-plant/fulltext/S1674-2052(19)30127-3?

Preite V, Sailer C, Syllwasschy L, Bray S, Ahmadi H, Krämer U, Yant L (2019) Convergent evolution in Arabidopsis halleri and Arabidopsis arenosa on calamine metalliferous soils Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2018.0243

Open Access

Veronica Preite is first author on this UK-German collaboration led by Ute Kraemer and Levi Yant in Nottingham. They performed whole genome resequenced of 64 individuals of two Arabidopsis species that grow on calamine metalliferous sites (which have toxic levels of the zinc and cadmium). They revealed a modest amount of gene and network convergence in plants that have colonised these challenging environments.


Kierzkowski D, Runions A, Vuolo F, Strauss S, Lymbouridou R, Routier-Kierzkowska AL, Wilson-Sánchez D, Jenke H, Galinha C, Mosca G, Zhang Z, Canales C, Dello Ioio R, Huijser P, Smith RS, Tsiantis M (2019) A Growth-Based Framework for Leaf Shape Development and Diversity. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.05.011

Open Access

Claudia Canales and Carla Galinha from Oxford are co-authors on this German-led study from Miltos Tsiantis’ lab that performs a detailed dissection of the growth parameters that control differences in leaf-shape in Cardamine and Arabidopsis. They show critical roles for the SHOOTMERISTEMLESS and REDUCED COMPLEXITY homeobox proteins to define differences in shape determination.


Xiao T, Raygoza AA, Pérez JC, Kirschner G, Deng Y, Atkinson B, Sturrock C, Lube V, Wang JY, Lubineau G, Al-Babili S, Ramírez LAC, Bennett MJ, Blilou I (2019) Emergent Protective Organogenesis in Date Palms: A Morpho-devo-dynamic Adaptive Strategy During Early Development. Plant Cell. doi: 10.1105/tpc.19.00008

Open Access

Members of the Hounsfield CT Imaging Facility 
at the University of Nottingham are co-authors on this paper that is led by Tingting Xiao from KAUST in Saudi Arabia. The paper takes a detailed look at root morphology in Date Palm.

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 https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/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 https://genomebiology.biomedcentral.com/articles/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 https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/04/02/1820882116.long

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.

https://plantmethods.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13007-019-0413-0

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

https://academic.oup.com/jxb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jxb/erz146/5428144

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.

https://academic.oup.com/jxb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jxb/erz146/5428144

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 http://www.plantcell.org/content/early/2019/04/08/tpc.18.00892.long

Open Access

http://www.plantcell.org/content/early/2019/04/08/tpc.18.00892.long

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 http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/early/2019/04/01/pp.19.00201.long

Open Access

http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/early/2019/04/01/pp.19.00201.long

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

https://plantmethods.biomedcentral.com/articles/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’.

https://plantmethods.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13007-019-0413-0

GARNet Research Roundup: March 21st 2019

This edition of the GARNet research roundup begins with a study from the John Innes Centre that investigates the role of auxin in the control of fruit development in Capsella.

Auxin is also a central focus of the next paper that is from SLCU, in which the authors characterise the role of different types of auxin transport during shoot development. The third paper, also from Cambridge, identifies a new function for members of the DUF579 enzyme family. The final paper from Cambridge reports on an outstanding citizen science project that looks at how different temperature and light conditions influence the growth of spring onions.

The next paper is from the University of Glasgow and investigates the role of the SNARE protein complex during vesicle transport in Arabidopsis.

The final two papers include authors from the University of Nottingham. Firstly Anthony Bishopp leads research that defines determinants of vascular patterning across plant species. Finally Don Grierson is a co-author on work that has identified novel signaling components involved in the response to hypoxia in Persimmon and Arabidopsis.


Dong Y, Jantzen F, Stacey N, Łangowski Ł, Moubayidin L, Šimura J, Ljung K, Østergaard L (2019) Regulatory Diversification of INDEHISCENT in the Capsella Genus Directs Variation in Fruit Morphology. Curr Biol. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.01.057

Open Access

This research from Lars Ostergaard’s lab in the John Innes Centre is led by Yang Dong. The work is primarily conducted in Capsella and investigates the role of the INDEHISCENT (IND) protein in this plant, which has fruits that are morphologically distinct from those in Arabidopsis. Expression of CrIND controls fruit shape by influencing auxin biosynthesis leading to auxin accumulation in specific maxima that are localised to the fruit valves.

doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.01.057

van Rongen M, Bennett T, Ticchiarelli F, Leyser O (2019) Connective auxin transport contributes to strigolactone-mediated shoot branching control independent of the transcription factor BRC1. PLoS Genet. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008023

Open Access

Martin Van Rongen is the lead author on this research performed under the supervision of Ottoline Leyser at the Sainsbury Lab, Cambridge University. They investigate the hormonal signals that underpin the remarkable plasticity of shoot patterning, focusing on a genetic analysis of connective auxin transport (CAT), which moves the hormone across the stem (in contrast to up-down polar transport). Using multiple pin mutant plants, they show CAT is important in the regulation of strigolactone-mediated shoot branching. However shoot branching controlled by the BRANCHED1 transcription factor is reliant on the ABCB19 auxin export protein and is not significantly influenced by the activity of PIN proteins. Martin van Rongen discusses this paper on the GARNet YouTube channel.


Temple, H, Mortimer, JC, Tryfona, T, et al (2019) Two members of the DUF579 family are responsible for arabinogalactan methylation in Arabidopsis. Plant Direct. https://doi.org/10.1002/pld

Open Access

Henry Temple works with Paul Dupree at the University of Cambridge and leads this study that identifies a novel activity of two DUF579 enzymes in the methylation of glucuronic acid within highly glycosylated arabinogalactan proteins (AGPs). This differs from all other previously characterized DUF579 members that have been previously shown to methylate glucuronic acid within the cell wall component xylan.


Brestovitsky, A, Ezer, D (2019) A mass participatory experiment provides a rich temporal profile of temperature response in spring onions. Plant Direct. 2019; 3: 1– 11. https://doi.org/10.1002/pld3.126

Open Access

This citizen science project led by Anna Brestovitsky and Daphne Ezer was performed in collaboration with the BBC Terrific Scientific program. In this study primary school students from across the UK recorded the growth of spring onions over a two-week period, which was then cross-referenced with detailed hourly meteorological data. This allowed the authors to discern the effect of minute temperature and light changes on plant growth and perhaps more importantly demonstrated that even the youngest researchers, when involved a well-designed citizen science project, can yield very useful data.


Zhang B, Karnik RA, Alvim JC, Donald NA, Blatt MR (2019) Dual Sites for SEC11 on the SNARE SYP121 Implicate a Binding Exchange during Secretory Traffic. Plant Physiol. doi: 10.1104/pp.18.01315

Open Access

Ben Zhang and Rucha Karnik are first authors on this paper that continues Mike Blatt‘s lab’s study of SNARE proteins, which are involved in vesicle trafficking. This study defines a new amino acid motif within SNARE SYP121 that is needed for the binding of the SEC11 protein but is not involved in binding plasma membrane K+ channels. This motif is essential for assembly of the entire SNARE complex yet does not influence the interaction of SYP121 with the uptake of K+ ions.


Mellor N, Vaughan-Hirsch J, Kümpers BMC, Help-Rinta-Rahko H, Miyashima S, Mähönen AP, Campilho A, King JR, Bishopp A (2019) A core mechanism for specifying root vascular patterning can replicate the anatomical variation seen in diverse plant species. Development. doi: 10.1242/dev.172411

Open Access

Nathan Mellor is first author on this work led by the lab of Anthony Bishopp at the University of Nottingham. The primary accomplishment of this work is in the development of a mathematical model that is able to predict the role of auxin in the specification of vascular patterning during embryonic development. This model has been tested through experimental interrogation of both transgenic Arabidopsis plants and in a range of other species with different vascular development patterns. Importantly they show that a heterologous auxin input might not be as critical in vascular development when compared to growth patterns that arise from spatial constraints. The authors show that this model has broad relevance to define early vascular patterning across plant species.


Zhu QG, Gong Z, Huang J, Grierson D, Chen KS, Yin XR (2019) High-CO2/hypoxia-responsive transcription factors DkERF24 and DkWRKY1 interact and activate DkPDC2 promoter. Plant Physiol. doi: 10.1104/pp.18.01552

Open Access

Don Greirson is a co-author on this Chinese-led study that identifies a set of transcription factors from Persimmon ((Diospyros kaki). These TFs are involved in responses to high CO2 and the authors show that their Arabidopsis orthologs play a similar role. The authors introduce a new response module that may be important during this key environmental response.

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