Arabidopsis Research Roundup: July 19th

There are six papers in this weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup. Two of these include research on the stomatal patterning gene TMM. Firstly a White Rose consortium investigates the ancestral basis of stomatal patterning, whilst a Glasgow-based study investigates the relationship between patterning and the dynamics of guard cell opening. The GARNet committee is represented by work from Cardiff that looks at the relationship between seed size and shoot branching and also from Cambridge in research that studies meiotic recombination in genomic regions important for pathogen defense. Finally are two studies that look into aspects of root and shoot patterning and include co-authors from CPIB in Nottingham or the John Innes Centre.

Caine R, Chater CC, Kamisugi Y, Cuming AC, Beerling DJ, Gray JE, Fleming AJ (2016) An ancestral stomatal patterning module revealed in the non-vascular land plant Physcomitrella patens Development Open Access

This study is a collaboration between labs in Sheffield and Leeds, led by Andrew Fleming (Sheffield). They investigate the role that the signalling module comprised of Epidermal Patterning Factors (EPFs), ERECTA and TMM play during the evolution of stomatal patterning. This module is known to play an important role in Arabidopsis and in this study the authors show that the moss Physcomitrella patens contains homologs of each of the genes and that they perform the same function. When P.paten versions of these genes are transferred to equivalent Arabidopsis mutants they show conserved function demonstrating that this module is an example of an ancestral patterning system.

Andrew Fleming provides a brief audio description of this manuscript:

Papanatsiou M, Amtmann A, Blatt MR (2016) Stomatal spacing facilitates guard cell ion transport independent of the epidermal solute reservoir. Plant Physiol. Open Access

Mike Blatt and Anna Amtmann (University of Glasgow) are the co-supervisors for this study into the relationshop between ion transport in stomatal guard cells and their physical positioning within a leaf. They used a genetic approach to assess the effect of stomatal clustering, showing that too many mouths (tmm) mutant plants have reduced stomatal movements associated with alterations in K+ channel gating and coincident with a surprising reduction in the level of K+ ions in guard cells. These results underline the importance of stomatal spacing in this process but do not provide a full explanation into the alteration in K+ ion dynamics.

Sornay E, Dewitte W, Murray JAH (2016) Seed size plasticity in response to embryonic lethality conferred by ectopic CYCD activation is dependent on plant architecture Plant Signaling and Behaviour e1192741 Open Access


This research comes from the lab of GARNet PI Jim Murray (Cardiff) and investigates cell proliferation and growth within a developing seed. They previously have shown that targeting of D-type cyclin CYCD7;1 to the central cell and early endosperm can trigger nuclear divisions and ovule abortion, which leads to a smaller number of larger seed. In this study they show that development of larger seed in transgenic plants is influenced by the architecture of the mother, as plants with increased side branches, caused by pruning of the main stem, do not generate this phenotype. This is indicative of a close relationship between the amount of resources allocated to different parts of the plant and that a transgenic effect was altered by a different plant morphology. This should provide an important insight into future work that aims to define the effect of any particular transgenic alteration.

Choi K, Reinhard C, Serra H, Ziolkowski PA,, Underwood CJ,, Zhao X, Hardcastle TJ, Yelina NE, Griffin C, Jackson M, Mézard C, McVean G, Copenhaver GP,, Henderson IR (2016) Recombination Rate Heterogeneity within Arabidopsis Disease Resistance Genes. PLoS Genet. 12(7):e1006179. Open Access

GARNet advisory board member Ian Henderson (Cambridge) is the corresponding author of this study that involves contributions from the UK, US, Poland and France. They investigate genomic regions that show increased meiotic recombination, which is predicted to occur coincident with genes involved in pathogen defence given their requirement to adapt to new external challenges. This study focuses on NBS-LRR domain proteins that tend to physically cluster in the Arabidopsis genome. Interesting they discovered both hot and coldspots for meiotic recombination that associate with NBS-LRR clusters, the later often correlating with structural heterozygosity. In a more detailed dissection of 1000 crossovers in the RESISTANCE TO ALBUGO CANDIDA1 (RAC1) R hotspot, they discovered higher recombination frequencies associating with known sequence motifs important for the pathogen response, which were influenced by ecotype-specific factors. Ultimately the authors note that there is a complex relationship between regions of meiotic recombination, structural heterozygosity and the evolutionary pressures that occurs with host-pathogen relationships.

Orman-Ligeza B, Parizot B, de Rycke R, Fernandez A, Himschoot E, Van Breusegem F, Bennett MJ, Périlleux C, Beeckman T, Draye X (2016) RBOH-mediated ROS production facilitates lateral root emergence in Arabidopsis. Development Open Access


 Malcolm Bennett (CPIB) is the sole UK-based co-author on this study led by Belgian collaborators and investigates the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in auxin-regulated lateral root (LR) formation. They show that ROS can reactivate LR primordia and pre-branch sites, resulting in increased LR numbers. This occurs in both wildtype and in auxin mutants that have reduced numbers due to changes in auxin-mediated cell wall remodeling. ROS is deposited in the apoplast of emerging LR cells in a pattern that is coincident with the expression of the RESPIRATORY BURST OXIDASE HOMOLOGS (RBOH) genes. Concomitantly the altered expression of RBOH was shown to affect the development and emergence of LRs. This adds a further level of complexity to the current understanding of the signaling factors that converge to facilitate LR growth.


Shi B,, Zhang C, Tian C, Wang J,, Wang Q,, Xu T,, Xu Y, Ohno C, Sablowski R, Heisler MG, Theres K, Wang Y, Jiao Y (2016) Two-Step Regulation of a Meristematic Cell Population Acting in Shoot Branching in Arabidopsis. PLoS Genet. Open Access

This Chinese-led study includes Robert Sablowski (JIC) as a co-author and studies the factors that influence the development of axillary meristems. They use innovative live imaging to show that SHOOT MERISTEMLESS (STM) is continuously expressed and that this dependent on a leaf axil auxin minimum. Once STM expression is lost then the axil is unable to form a meristem even if STM is switched back later in development, indicating that cells undergo an irreversible developmental commitment. The expression domain of STM is under cell-type specific control of REVOLUTA (REV) DNA binding. Overall this study demonstrates that meristematic competence and initiation is dependent on differing levels of the key regulator STM.


Arabidopsis Research Roundup: February 9th

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Published on: February 9, 2016

It has been a quiet couple of weeks for newly published UK Arabidopsis Research but what might be lacking in quantity is made up for in quality! Firstly the PRESTA consortium use gene regulatory network analysis to identify a key component in the response to drought stress. Secondly is a paper featuring researchers from Rothamstead that identifies a new molecular participant in the control of RNA surveillance. Thirdly is a paper that investigates the function of aquaporins during lateral root emergence and includes researchers from Warwick and Nottingham. Finally is a study from Sheffield that investigates necrotropic and biotropic strategies employed by an ascomycete pathogen. It is also nice to observe that each of these papers are open access.

Bechtold U, Penfold CA, Jenkins DJ, Legaie R, Moore JD, Lawson T, Matthews JS, Vialet-Chabrand SR, Baxter L, Subramaniam S, Hickman R, Florance H, Sambles C, Salmon DL, Feil R, Bowden L, Hill C, Baker NR, Lunn JE, Finkenstadt B, Mead A, Buchanan-Wollaston V, Beynon JL, Rand DA, Wild DL, Denby KJ, Ott S, Smirnoff N, Mullineaux PM (2016) Time-series transcriptomics reveals that AGAMOUS-LIKE22 links primary metabolism to developmental processes in drought-stressed Arabidopsis Plant Cell http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/​10.​1105/​tpc.​15.​00910 Open Access

This Large Scale Biology article is the result of the PRESTA collaboration that is based at the Universities of Essex, Exeter and Warwick. The research plan of the PRESTA project is based upon the generation of large scale transcriptomic datasets and in this case they investigate changes in gene expression in plants subjected to drought stress. They identified over 1800 differentially expressed genes and the early changes coincided with a drop in carbon assimilation together with a late increase in foliar ABA content. Using Bayesian network modelling of differentially expressed transcription factors they identified the AGAMOUS-LIKE22 (AGL22) gene as a key component in this gene regulatory network. AGL22 had been previously found to play an important role in the change from vegetative to floral development but in this context it influences photosynthetic rates and lifetime water use.

Hématy K, Bellec Y, Podicheti R, Bouteiller N, Anne P, Morineau C, Haslam RP, Beaudoin F, Napier JA, Mockaitis K, Gagliardi D, Vaucheret H, Lange H, Faure JD (2016) The Zinc-Finger Protein SOP1 Is Required for a Subset of the Nuclear Exosome Functions in Arabidopsis PLoS Genetics 12(2):e1005817 Open Access

This Franco-US collaboration also includes a contribution from Johnathan Napier’s group at Rothamstead Research. They investigated the function of the essential Arabidopsis PASTICCINO2 (PAS2) gene by isolating three suppressors of pas2 mutants (termed sop mutants). PAS2 is involved in correct splicing so the sop mutants prevented degradation of mis-spliced pas2 mRNA species. The suppressor genes were either previously characterized as being involved with function of the exosome (SOP2/RRP4, SOP3/HEN2) or as a novel zinc-finger protein (SOP1) that colocalised with HEN2 in nucleoplasmic loci. The authors show additional evidence suggesting that the SOP proteins are involved in RNA quality control and introduce SOP1 as a novel component that is involved in nuclear RNA surveillance.

Reinhardt H, Hachez C, Bienert MD, Beebo A, Swarup K, Voss U, Bouhidel K, Frigerio L, Schjoerring JK, Bennett MJ, Chaumont F (2016) Tonoplast aquaporins facilitate lateral root emergence Plant Physiology. Open Access

This Belgian-led study includes lead-UK representation from Warwick (Lorenzo Frigerio)  and Nottingham (Malcolm Bennett) and investigates the role of tonoplast-localised aquaporin proteins during lateral root emergence. The AtTIP1;1, AtTIP1;2 and AtTIP2;1 are abundant aquaporin proteins and the triple tip mutant shows a reduction in lateral root (LR) number without having a shorter primary root. This effect is not due to a reduction of LR primordia but rather due to a defect in the elongation of emerging LR. The authors show that spatial and temporal variations of TIP isoform expression throughout the root correlates with the tip mutant phenotype. Surprisingly, native expression of TIP2:1, which is found only at the base of the LR, can restore wildtype LR emergence to the triple mutant, suggesting that aquaporin activity in this region is sufficient to set-off LR outgrowth.

Pétriacq P, Stassen JH, Ton J (2016) Spore density determines infection strategy by the plant-pathogenic fungus Plectosphaerella cucumerina Plant Physiology Open Access

Jurriaan Ton (Sheffield) is the lead researcher on this study that investigates the molecular factors that allow pathogens to switch between necrotropy and biotrophy, which elicit different response pathways within the infected plant. They used untargeted metabolomics to investigate the growth of the ascomycete pathogen Plectosphaerella cucumerina on Arabidopsis leaves. Higher spore densities activate a JA-dependent necrotropic defence response whilst lower spore numbers causes hemi-biotrophic SA-dependent responses. This change is reflected in the susceptibility of different Arabidopsis mutants to differing spore densities and allow the authors to conclude that P. cucumerina is able to gain an advantage over the host immunity by switching between different modes of infection.

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