Arabidopsis Research Roundup: February 20th

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Published on: February 19, 2017

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup begins with two papers that look at endogenous and exogenous causes of cell proliferation. Firstly Mike Bevan (JIC) leads a team that looks into the role of controlled protein degradation in this process whilst secondly, Peter Etchells from Durham is a co-author on a study that investigates how nematode pathogens stimulate cell proliferation at the site of infection.

Thirdly is work featuring Cyril Zipfel and colleagues from TSL that looks at how autophosphorylation controls the activity of calcium dependent protein kinases. Fourthly is a broad collaboration led by Richard Mott (UCL) that uses genomic structural variation to identify novel loci. Next Simon Turner from the University of Manchester phylogenetically defines the RALK peptide lineages across plant species. Finally researchers at the University of York conduct a structural analysis of the Arabidopsis AtGSTF2 glutathione transferase.

Dong H, Dumenil J, Lu FH, Na L, Vanhaeren H, Naumann C, Klecker M, Prior R, Smith C, McKenzie N, Saalbach G, Chen L, Xia T, Gonzalez N, Seguela M, Inze D, Dissmeyer N, Li Y, Bevan MW (2017) Ubiquitylation activates a peptidase that promotes cleavage and destabilization of its activating E3 ligases and diverse growth regulatory proteins to limit cell proliferation in Arabidopsis.

Genes Dev. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1101/gad.292235.116

Open Access

Mike Bevan (John Innes Centre) is the corresponding author of this study that also includes researchers from labs in Belgium, Germany and China. They investigate a fundamental determinant of organ shape, the pattern of cell proliferation that leads to final cell size. They show that two RING E3 ligases activate the DA1 peptidase that in turn affects the stabilization and activity of a range of other proteins including the transcription factors TEOSINTE BRANCED 1/CYCLOIDEA/PCF 15 (TCP15) and TCP22. Overall this results in continued cell proliferation and repression of endoreduplication, which ultimately serves to regulate the timing of the transition from cell proliferation to organ differentiation.

Mike discusses the science surrounding this paper on the GARNet YouTube channel.

Guo X,, Wang J, Gardner M, Fukuda H, Kondo Y, Etchells JP, Wang X, Mitchum MG. Identification of cyst nematode B-type CLE peptides and modulation of the vascular stem cell pathway for feeding cell formation. PLoS Pathog. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1006142

Open Access

Peter Etchells (University of Durham) is a co-author on this US-led study that looks at the effect of nematode-delivered CLE-like peptides on cell growth and how that impacts parasitism. This study has identified a new class of peptides from nematodes that are similar to the plant B-type CLE-like peptide TDIF (tracheary element differentiation inhibitory factor). They show that the nematodes alter the activity of the TDIF-TDR (TDIF receptor)-WOX4 signaling module during infection, whose endogenous function acts during procambial meristem cell proliferation. A variety of mutants involved in this process show reduced infection and leading to the hypothesis that WOX4 is a potential target for nematode CLEs. When exogenous nematode CLE peptides are added to Arabidopsis roots they cause massive cell proliferation. This demonstrates that this response is clearly important for the establishment of nematode infection, usually in cambial cell files.

Bender KW, Blackburn RK, Monaghan J, Derbyshire P, Menke FL, Zipfel C, Goshe MB, Zielinski RE, Huber SC (2017) Autophosphorylation-based calcium (Ca2+) sensitivity priming and Ca2+/Calmodulin inhibition of Arabidopsis thaliana Ca2+-dependent protein kinase 28 (CPK28) J Biol Chem.


Cyril Zipfel (The Sainsbury Lab) features for a second consecutive week on the Arabidopsis research roundup, this time as a co-author in a study that investigates the role of autophosphorylation in the regulation of calcium (Ca2+) dependent protein kinases (CPKs). In addition they evaluated the role of Calmodulin (CaM) on the activity of CPKs, something that had been previously overlooked. Indeed they show that CPK28 is a CaM-binding protein and that autophosphorylation causes increased activity, especially in low Ca2+ concentrations. Therefore this research provides a mechanistic insight into how a cell might respond to low levels of Ca2+.

Imprialou M, Kahles A, Steffen JG, Osborne EJ, Gan X, Lempe J, Bhomra A, Belfield E, Visscher A, Greenhalgh R, Harberd NP, Goram R, Hein J, Robert-Seilaniantz A, Jones J, Stegle O, Kover P, Tsiantis M, Nordborg M, Rätsch G, Clark RM, Mott R Genomic Rearrangements in Arabidopsis Considered as Quantitative Traits. Genetics. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1534/genetics.116.192823

Open Access

Richard Mott (UCL) is corresponding author on this paper includes authors from throughout the UK, Europe and the US. They provide a new analysis of Arabidopsis populations that relies on the genome structural variation. They treat these structural variants as quantitative traits and subsequently map genetically in the same way as in a gene expression study. When a structural variant locus is linked to a genotype at a distant locus then it is designated as a site of transposition. Remarkably they show 25% of the structural variants can be assigned to the transposition events. This method of assessing structural variant loci is amendable to sequencing at low-coverage and this study identified loci that might be involved in germination and resistant to pathogens. Overall they find that genes within structural variants are more likely to be silenced and that this novel analysis technique is particularly useful when mapping transposition events.

Campbell L, Turner SR1(2017) A Comprehensive Analysis of RALF Proteins in Green Plants Suggests There Are Two Distinct Functional Groups. Front Plant Sci. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.3389/fpls.2017.00037

Open Access

This study from the lab of Simon Turner (University of Manchester) analyse Rapid Alkalinization Factor (RALFs) cysteine-rich peptides from across 51 plant species. They infer that these plant RALFs originate from four major clades in which the majority of the variation exists in the mature peptide sequence, indicative of clade-specific activities. Clade IV accounts for a third of the total peptides yet these lack a number of sequence features thought to be important for RALF function, which leads the authors to speculate that this clade should be thought of as containing RALF-related peptides instead of regular RALFs. Further experimental work is needed in order to define the true nature of the functional relationship between Clades I-III and Clade IV.

Ahmad L, Rylott EL, Bruce NC, Edwards R, Grogan G (2016) Structural evidence for Arabidopsis glutathione transferase AtGSTF2 functioning as a transporter of small organic ligands. FEBS Open Bio. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1002/2211-5463.12168

Open Access

This paper links plant science and structural biology in a study that was undertaken at the University of York. Plant Glutathione transferases (GSTs) have multiple roles including in the detoxification of xenobiotics as well as in various non-catalytic roles. In this work the structure of the Arabidopsis AtGSTF2 is revealed in tandem with a variety of non-catalytic partners including indole-3-aldehyde, camalexin, the flavonoid quercetrin and its non-rhamnosylated analogue quercetin. These are thought to bind to AtGSTF2 by hydrophobic interactions at either one or two symmetrical binding sites. The authors speculate that this non-catalytic binding might have a possible role in ligand transport.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: January 17th

Todays Arabidopsis Research Roundup includes some excellent examples of UK labs engaged in collaborative work with researchers from around the globe. However first up is a study solely from the John Innes Centre, led by Vinod Kumar, that investigates the role of PIF4 during the thermosensory response. Secondly David Evans (Oxford Brookes University) is a co-author on a French-led study that has looked into the role of LINC complexes during interphase heterochromatin patterning. Thirdly is the description of the new PhenoTiki imaging tool that has come from the lab of Sotirios Tsaftaris in Edinburgh. Work from Paul Dupree (University of Cambridge) features in the ARR for the second consecutive week, this time with a study looking at the sugar composition of seed mucilage. The penultimate study is from the lab of Renier van der Hoorn (Oxford University) who investigates the role of Cys proteases during senescence and finally is a study from Seth Davis (University of York) that looks at the link between the circadian clock and the plants energy sensing mechanisms.

Gangappa SN, Berriri S, Kumar SV (2016) PIF4 Coordinates Thermosensory Growth and Immunity in Arabidopsis. Current Biology


Open Access
Vinod Kumar (John Innes Centre) leads this study that looks at the role of the PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR 4 (PIF4) transcription factor during the thermosensory response and its effect on plant architecture. They looked at the natural variation of PIF4, demonstrating the role of different varients on the balance between growth and immunity to pathogens. Pertubing PIF4-mediated effects result in temperature-resilient disease resistance. This study links with a paper highlighted in last weeks ARR from Kerry Franklin and co-authors that presented the role of UVR8 on the control of PIF4 heat responsive effects. These studies further confirm the important role of PIF4 in plant development in response to environmental change and biotic challenges.

Vinod discusses this paper and a related manuscript from next weeks ARR. Also available on the GARNet YouTube channel.

Poulet A, Duc C, Voisin M, Desset S, Tutois S, Vanrobays E, Benoit M, Evans DE, Probst AV, Tatout C (2017) The LINC complex contributes to heterochromatin organisation and transcriptional gene silencing in plants. J Cell Science.


Open Access

This study is led by Christophe Tatout from Clermond-Ferrand and includes David Evans and Axel Poulet (Oxford Brookes University) as co-authors. The paper focuses on the role of the nuclear envelope-localised LInker of Nucleoskeleton and Cytoskeleton (LINC) complex on nuclear morphology and interphase chromatin localisation. This work is underpinned by the use of novel 3D imaging tools to define where in the nucleus the chromatin is localised in both wildtype and linc mutant plants. This allows the authors to show that the LINC complex is necessary for proper heterchromatin organisation at the nuclear periphery, which might have broad implications for gene expression and transcriptional silencing.

Minervini M, Giuffrida MV, Perata P, Tsaftaris SA (2017) Phenotiki: An open software and hardware platform for affordable and easy image-based phenotyping of rosette-shaped plants. Plant J. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1111/tpj.13472

Open Access
This manuscript describes the PhenoTiki tool that is designed for the automated phenotyping of Arabidopsis rosettes, work which is led by Sofortios Tsaftaris (University of Edinburgh). PhenoTiki describes both the imaging software and also cheap-to-use off-the-shelf hardware that allows for facile imaging at reduced costs. The proof-of-concept study in the paper shows a comprehensive analysis from a range of parameters in 24 Arabidopsis rosettes from different genotypes. This data is compared favourably to more expensive methods of automated phenotyping so the authors hope PhenoTiki can be adopted as a low-cost method for image analysis. Full details can be found at

Saez-Aguayo S, Rautengarten C, Temple H, Sanhueza D, Ejsmentewicz T, Sandoval-Ibañez O, Doñas-Cofré DA, Parra-Rojas JP, Ebert B, Lehner A, Mollet JC, Dupree P, Scheller HV, Heazlewood JL, Reyes FC, Orellana A (2016) UUAT1 Is a Golgi-Localized UDP-Uronic Acid Transporter that Modulates the Polysaccharide Composition of Arabidopsis Seed Mucilage. Plant Cell. http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1105/tpc.16.00465

Open Access
Paul Dupree (University of Cambridge) is part of this global collaboration with colleagues from Australia, USA and Chile. The study investigates the intracellular movement of the plant cell polysaccharide pre-cursor UDP-glucuronic acid (UDP-GlcA). To identify genes involved in this process they cleverly screened mutants for alteration in seed mucilage, which has high level of other polysaccharides. This strategy identified UUAT1, which is a golgi-localised transporter of UDP-GlcA and UDP-galacturonic acid (UDP-GalA). Uuat1 mutants have altered sugar composition in both the seed coat mucilage and in other plant organs. These changes were also associated with an increase, by a currently unknown mechanism, of homogalacturonan methylation. Overall the authors show that UUAT1 is important for the correct distribution of cell wall polysaccahrides throughout growing embryo and will surely play important developmental roles in the function of the cell wall.

Pružinská A, Shindo T, Niessen S, Kaschani F, Tóth R, Millar AH, van der Hoorn RA (2017) Major Cys protease activities are not essential for senescence in individually darkened Arabidopsis leaves. BMC Plant Biol.


Open Access

In this paper Renier van der Hoorn (University of Oxford) interacts with US, German and Australian colleagues to use the activity-based protein profiling (ABPP) technique to assess the activity of active enzymes during senescence. They show that in Arabidopsis leaves the expression of several Papain-like Cys Proteases (PLCPs) is elevated but the activity of many Vacuolar Processing Enzymes (VPEs) is decreased, even though their transcript level increases. The amount of senescence was assessed in plants with mutations in different members of these protease families and surprisingly did not find any difference when compared to wildtype plants. One exception was in plants containing a mutation in the AALP PLCP which showed a significant, albeit slight, descrease in the rate of senescence.

Shin J, Sánchez-Villarreal A,, Davis AM,, Du SX, Berendzen KW, Koncz C, Ding Z, Li C, Davis SJ (2017) The metabolic sensor AKIN10 modulates the Arabidopsis circadian clock in a light-dependent manner. Plant Cell Environ.

<a href="" onclick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'outbound-article', 'http://onlinelibrary.wiley generic cialis’, ‘http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1111/pce.12903’]);” target=”_blank”>http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/10.1111/pce.12903

Seth Davies (University of York) leads this study that includes German, Mexican and Chinese collaborators and looks at the link between the circadian clock and plant metabolism. The energy sensing Snf1 (sucrose non-fermenting 1)-related kinase 1 (SnRK1) complex contains the catalytic AKIN10 protein, which plays an important role in clock function by controlling expression of the key evening element GIGANTEA (GI). This AKIN10 effect requires the clock regulator TIME FOR COFFEE (TIC) demonstrating an important role for the plants energy sensing mechanisms, via the AKIN10, in conditional control of clock gene expression.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: March 4th

There are six articles in this weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup that bridge a diverse range of topics. Firstly lead author Deirdre McLachlan provides an audio description of a study that investigates the role of triacylglycerol breakdown in stomatal signaling. Secondly is a study that assesses the role of a Rab GTPase in control of anisotropic cell growth. The third and fourth papers looks into the defence response, focused on either JA or nitric oxide signaling. Finally are two papers that look into the response of Arabidopsis seedlings to growth on either arsenic or cadmium.

McLachlan DH, Lan J, Geilfus CM, Dodd AN, Larson T, Baker A, Hõrak H, Kollist H, He Z, Graham I, Mickelbart MV, Hetherington AM The Breakdown of Stored Triacylglycerols Is Required during Light-Induced Stomatal Opening Current Biology Open Access
Slide 1
The control of stomatal opening is a key environmental response to changes in CO2 levels and water availability. This study, led by Alistair Hetherington (Bristol), demonstrates that triacylglycerols (TAGs), contained in lipid droplets (LD), are critical for light-induced stomatal opening. Following illumination, the number of LDs are reduced through the β-oxidation pathway, a response that requires blue-light receptors. The authors postulate that a reduction in ATP-availability due to delayed fatty acid breakdown contributed to the stomatal phenotype. The lack of available ATP was confirmed following analysis of the activity of a plasma membrane H+-ATPase. Overall the authors suggest that the light-induced breakdown of TAG contributes to an evolutionarily conserved signaling pathway that controls stomatal opening therefore playing a key role in environmental adaptation.

The lead author of this study, Deidre McLachlan kindly provides a brief audio description of this paper.

During our discussion Deidre mentioned some related work that links blue-light signaling and starch degradation during stomatal opening that was included in a recent ARR.


Kirchhelle C, Chow CM, Foucart C, Neto H, Stierhof YD, Kalde M, Walton C, Fricker M, Smith RS, Jérusalem A, Irani N, Moore I (2016) The Specification of Geometric Edges by a Plant Rab GTPase Is an Essential Cell-Patterning Principle During Organogenesis in Arabidopsis. Developmental Cell 36(4):386-400 Open Access
Ian Moore (Oxford) is the corresponding author on this UK-German collaboration that investigates the role of a Rab GTPase in pattern formation during organogenesis. It is known that the endomembrane system controls the asymmetric distribution of cargoes to different ‘geometric edges’ of a plant cell, establishing biochemically distinct domains that are important for anisotropic growth. This study identifies a new type of membrane vesicle that accumulates specifically along geometric edges and that contains the RAB-A5c protein which, when inhibited, distorts the geometry of cells in subsequently formed lateral organs (in this case, lateral roots). Interestingly this effect is independent of changes to general endomembrane trafficking. The precise mechanism of RAB-A5c activity is unknown but loss of its activity reduces cell wall stiffness at domain-specific locations, therefore perturbing cell growth in those directions. Therefore this study provides interesting insight into fundamental mechanisms that control the growth of cells in a developing organ.

Thatcher LF, Cevik V, Grant M, Zhai B, Jones JD, Manners JM, Kazan K (2016) Characterization of a JAZ7 activation-tagged Arabidopsis mutant with increased susceptibility to the fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum J Exp Bot. Open Access

Jonathan Jones (TSL) and Murray Grant (Exeter) are collaborators on this research that investigates the role of jasmonic acid signaling in plant resistance to the fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum. In this study they show that the JASMONATE ZIM-domain7 (JAZ7) gene is induced by Fusarium oxysporum and that the jaz7-1D mutant has increased suspectibility to infection. This genotype has constitutive JAZ7 expression and also demonstrates sensitivity to a bacterial pathogen. To cause alterations in gene expression, the JAZ7 protein interacts with a range of transcriptional activators and repressors. The authors postulate that in wildtype plants JAZ7 represses the JA-transcriptional network through its interaction with the co-repressor TOPLESS protein and that in the jaz7-1D plants this response network is hyper-activated leading to an inappropriately high response to pathogen attack.

Yun BW, Skelly MJ, Yin M, Yu M, Mun BG, Lee SU, Hussain A, Spoel SH, Loake GJ (2016) Nitric oxide and S-nitrosoglutathione function additively during plant immunity. New Phytol.

Gary Loake and GARNet Advisory board member Steven Spoel (Edinburgh) are the leaders of this UK-Korean collaboration that studies the role of Nitric Oxide (NO) in the plant defence response. NO often undergoes S-nitrosylation to produce S-nitrosothiol (SNO), which is important for its bioactivity. This reaction involves the S-nitrosoglutathione reductase 1 (GSNOR1) enzyme, which serves to turnover the NO donor, S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO). In this study the authors investigate mutant plants that accumulate NO and some a reduction in the basal defence response due to a reduction in salicylic acid (SA) signaling. This response was not rescued by the overexpression of GSNOR1 even though this was able to reduce phenotypes resulting from SNO accumulation. Mutant plants that have increased NO accumulation but lower activity of GSNOR1, so therefore an increased ratio of NO:SNO, were more suspectible to growth of bacterial pathogens. The authors conclude that the relationship between NO and GSNO is critically for plant immunity and development.

Lindsay ER, Maathuis FJ (2016) Arabidopsis thaliana NIP7;1 is Involved in Tissue Arsenic Distribution and Tolerance in Response to Arsenate FEBS Lett.

Francois Maathuis (York) is the corresponding author of this study that investigates the role of the Arabidopsis aquaglyceroporin NIP7;1 in the uptake of different chemical forms of arsenic. Mutant nip7;1 plants improved the tolerance of arsenic by reducing uptake of the chemical. This is the first demonstration for the role of a NIP transporter in the response to arsenic and highlights the possibility of focussing on these proteins as a target for breeding or genetically-modifying tolerance to this toxic metal.

Wang H, He L, Song J, Cui W, Zhang Y, Jia C, Francis D, Rogers HJ, Sun L, Tai P, Hui X, Yang Y, Liu W (2016) Cadmium-induced genomic instability in Arabidopsis: Molecular toxicological biomarkers for early diagnosis of cadmium stress Chemosphere 150:258-265

Hilary Rodgers (Cardiff) is the sole UK representative on this Chinese study that has developed screening parameters to evaluate the growth of plants on cadmium. The study uses microsatellite instability (MSI) analysis, random-amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD), and methylation-sensitive arbitrarily primed PCR (MSAP-PCR) to define a range of genomic alterations that occurred after growth of Arabidopsis plants across a range of concentrations of cadmium. They conclude that analysis of genomic methylation polymorphisms were the most sensitive biomarkers to diagnosis early cadmium stress in these plants and provide important insights for future biomonitoring strategies.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: February 24th

Just three papers in this weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup and they each cover fundamental aspects of the hormone and environmental control of gene expression. First Keith Lindsey provides an audio description of work that aims to dissect the complex hormonal regulation of root growth while secondly, Nick Harberd is involved in a study that investigates the HY5 shoot-root signaling protein. Finally Ian Graham leads a study into factors that regulate seed dormancy.

Rowe JH, Topping JF, Liu J, Lindsey K (2016) Abscisic acid regulates root growth under osmotic stress conditions via an interacting hormonal network with cytokinin, ethylene and auxin New Phytol. 10.1111/nph.13882 Open Access
Keith Lindsey (Durham) is the corresponding author for this study that investigates the complex hormonal network that regulates the Arabidopsis root response to osmotic stress. The effect of ABA, cytokinin and ethylene on auxin transport are assessed through changes in the dynamics of PIN protein expression. Unsurprisingly they discover a wide range of effects transmitted via crosstalk between these four hormones and that these effects act in a tissue specific manner, as the expression of PIN1 (in the vascular tissue) and PIN2 (in the lateral root cap and epidermis) are altered in different ways. Ultimately the authors conclude that the classic ‘stress hormone’ ABA regulates the root response to drought together with auxin, ethylene and cytokinin in a complex signaling network.

Keith has kindly supplied a brief audio description of this work.

Chen X, Yao Q, Gao X, Jiang C, Harberd NP, Fu X (2016) Shoot-to-Root Mobile Transcription Factor HY5 Coordinates Plant Carbon and Nitrogen Acquisition
GARNet committee member Nick Harberd (Oxford) is the UK representative on this Chinese-led study that investigates the mode of action of the mobile transcription factor ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL5 (HY5). It has been long known that HY5, a bZIP TF, regulates growth responses to light and in this study the authors demonstrate that HY5 controls light-regulated root growth and nitrate uptake. Remarkably, HY5 from the shoot can activate root-derived HY5, in turn switching on the nitrate transporter NRT2.1. This response involves a mechanism that senses carbon:nitrogen balance across different light conditions, thus placing HY5 as a key regulator in the whole-plant response to changing environmental conditions.

Dave A, Vaistij FE, Gilday AD, Penfield SD, Graham IA (2016) Regulation of Arabidopsis thaliana seed dormancy and germination by 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid Journal of Experimental Botany Open Access

This paper results from a collaboration between the labs of Ian Graham (CNAP, York) and Steve Penfield (John Innes Centre) and features an investigation into factors that regulate seed germination. Previously it was known that oxylipin 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid (OPDA) acts together with ABA to regulate germination but this study elucidates that OPDA specifically acts via the ABI5 and RGL2 hormone-regulated proteins. Furthermore the OPDA-ABA signal also acts via another dormancy promoting factor, MOTHER-OF-FT-AND-TFL1 (MFT). Therefore maintenance of dormancy in Arabidopsis seedlings is regulated by ABA and MFT promoting the accumulation of OPDA, highlighting this as a critical control point in this complex process.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: January 22nd 2016

A mixed selection of research in this UK Arabidopsis Roundup. Firstly a study from Stefan Kepinski and Mark Estelle that adds another layer of understanding to the regulation of the auxin response. Enrique Lopez-Juez leads a study into signaling between the nucleus and chloroplast while Tracey Lawson contributes to an investigation into role of starch metabolism in guard cells. Fran Maathuis and co-worker looks at differences in vacuolar transport between Arabidopsis ecotypes while Alan Marchant is involved in a study of cell wall pectins. Finally William Amos has uses the 1001genomes project to investigate heterozygote instability (HI).

Wang R, Zhang Y, Kieffer M, Yu H, Kepinski S, Estelle M (2016) HSP90 regulates temperature-dependent seedling growth in Arabidopsis by stabilizing the auxin co-receptor F-box protein TIR1. Nat Commun. 5;7:10269. Open Access

Stefan Kepinski (Leeds) is the UK lead on this collaboration with Mark Estelle from UCSD and it continues their previous work that investigates the much-studied auxin receptor TIR1. Arabidopsis seedlings grown at 29C show auxin-dependent hypocotyl elongation although the molecular mechanism behind this response has remained opaque. In this study they show that in high temperatures TIR1 accumulates in a manner dependent on the molecular chaperone, HSP90. In addition HSP90 and the co-chaperone SGT1 directly interact with TIR1. Inhibition of HSP90 results in degradation of the TIR1 and causes a range of auxin-mediated growth processes at both high and low temperatures. This study adds another level of complexity to the molecular basis of the auxin response.

Hills AC, Khan S, López-Juez E (2015) Chloroplast Biogenesis-Associated Nuclear Genes: Control by Plastid Signals Evolved Prior to Their Regulation as Part of Photomorphogenesis. Front Plant Sci. 10;6:1078. Open Access

The work comes exclusively from the lab of Enrique Lopez-Juez at Royal Holloway and investigates at the expression of photosynthesis-associated nuclear genes (PhANGs). This expression is dependent on light as well as plastid-to-nucleus “biogenic” communication signals and causes the assembly of photosynthesis component chloroplasts. The authors investigate the factors that control the activity of the Lhcb promotor in the light and the dark, both in angiosperms and gymnosperms. They propose that suppression of PhANG responses has contributed to the evolution of light-controlled chloroplast biogenesis.

Horrer D, Flütsch S, Pazmino D, Matthews JS, Thalmann M, Nigro A, Leonhardt N, Lawson T, Santelia D (2015) Blue Light Induces a Distinct Starch Degradation Pathway in Guard Cells for Stomatal Opening. Current Biology
Graphical Abstract
Tracey Lawson (University of Essex) is the UK lead on this UK-French-Swiss study that uses the stomatal guard cell experimental system to investigate the role of carbon metabolism in the response to blue light. Interestingly guard cells differ from other leave tissues in that they contain starch at the end of the night. However this starch store is rapidly degraded within 30minutes of light and is important for stomatal opening and subsequent biomass production. This starch degradation involves action of two enzymes, β-amylase 1 (BAM1) and α-amylase 3 (AMY3) that do not function during night time starch degradation in other tissues. This process is coordinated by blue light signalling and correlates with the activity of a plasma membrane ATPase. This study adds yet another level of our understanding into the mechanism of stomatal opening. See image for a proposed model of this process (from Cell Press).

Hartley TN, Maathuis FJ (2015) Allelic variation in the vacuolar TPK1 channel affects its calcium dependence and may impact on stomatal conductance. FEBS Lett. 90(1):110-7

Fran Maathuis (University of York) is the leader on this study that assesses the transport properties of two different vacuolar-localised AtTPK1 alleles identified for a study of natural variation in Arabidopsis. They use patch-clamping the interrogate the difference between these proteins from Lansberg (Ler) and Kas-2 ecotypes, when they showed different levels of Ca(2+) dependence. This coincided with lower water loss in either the presence of absence of ABA and higher Ler AtTPK1 activity at similar cytoplasmic [Ca]. The authors present a model that helps to explain their findings.

Dumont M, Lehner A, Vauzeilles B,, Malassis J, Marchant A, Smyth K, Linclau B, Baron A, Mas Pons J, Anderson CT, Schapman D, Galas L, Mollet JC, Lerouge P (2015) Plant cell wall imaging by metabolic click-mediated labelling of rhamnogalacturonan II using azido 3-deoxy-D-manno-oct-2-ulosonic acid. Plant Journal.

The majority of the authors on this Technical Advance are from French institutions but also includes UK plant scientist Alan Marchant (University of Southampton). They investigate the chemistry of Arabidopsis and tobacco cell walls, specifically looking at the incorperation of 3-deoxy-D-manno-oct-2-ulosonic acid (Kdo), a monosaccharide that is only found the cell wall pectin rhamnogalacturonan-II (RG-II). They show that RG-II is found in the primary cell wall including within the root elongation zone. Finally they show that monitoring of Kdo is an effective way to study the synthesis and redistribution of RG-II during root growth.

Amos W (2015) Heterozygosity increases microsatellite mutation rate. Biol Lett. Open Access

This study is led by Professor William Amos who is based in the Zoology department at Cambridge. He is not usually a plant science researcher but used the excellent 1001genome project to investigate heterozygote instability (HI) in Arabidopsis. He looked at AC microsatellite sequences from over 1100 genome sequences and used rare alleles as a surrogate for more recent mutations, ultimately showing that rare alleles are more likely to occur at locus-population combinations with higher heterozygosity even when all populations carry exactly the same number of alleles. This shows that local heterozygosity causes more mutations and represents a positive feedback loop.

Brassica Research Report: 2015

The Arabidopsis Research Roundup has been put to bed for 2015 so in the leadup to the Christmas we’ll take a look at some of the papers that have been published in 2015 by UK researchers working ondifferent plants.
Today we focus on Brassica species and by looking at papers from throughout 2015 this selection touches on a broad selection of research areas. Chronologically first is a study from Nottingham University that looks at the ability of Brassica rapa to take up specific elements, such as Zn, Ca and Mg. Secondly is a study that documents the parameters that make different cultivars of Brassica napus useful in biorefining. Thirdly we highlight where Brassica oleracea has been used both in preference to, and alongside Arabidopsis in a study that investigates meiotic recombination. Next is a study that investigates the relationship between leaf colour and insect herbivory. Finally we highlight a recent publication from the John Innes Centre that demonstrates the ability to generate gene-edited B.oleracea.
The varieties of Brassica

Blasco B, Graham NS, Broadley MR (2015) Antioxidant response and carboxylate metabolism in Brassica rapa exposed to different external Zn, Ca, and Mg supply.
J Plant Physiol. 176:16-24
Martin Broadley and Neil Graham from Nottingham University lead this study that investigates antioxidant response and carboxylate metabolism in Brassica rapa. The authors looked at these parameters in the presence of varying amounts of zinc, calcium or magnesium in experiments that aimed to simulate the response to deficiency or toxicity of these elements. Plants grown with high concentrations of these elements showed increased shoot biomass, hydrogen peroxide, total ascorbate and increasing activity of enzymes involved in removal of antioxidants. This indicates that B.rapa is particularly sensitive to high levels of these elements. The information provided in this study represents important baseline measurements that will aid the future characterisation of B.rapa TILLING lines, generated by the RevGenUK service at the JIC.


Wood IP, Wellner N, Elliston A, Wilson DR, Bancroft I, Waldron KW (2015) Effect of Brassica napus cultivar on cellulosic ethanol yield. Biotechnol Biofuels. 8:99. Open Access
Keith Waldron (Institute of Food Research, JIC) leads this collaboration with the University of York that investigates how the sugar composition of Brassica napus alters its ability to be used as a source for biorefining. They found significant differences in the saccharification and fermentation yields after the processing of straw obtained from 17 different B.napus cultivars. Surprisingly glucan-rich straw was not correlated with higher saccharification or ethanol yields but rather the non-cellulosic components were more reliable indicators of substrate quality, with the amount of pectins and arabinogalactans having the greatest impact on saccharification. Ultimately this study finds that pectin concentration is most likely to determine to effectiveness of the cultivar in the production of bioethanol. This is important information for the future development of different dicot species for use in this aspect of biorefining.


Lambing C, Osman K, Nuntasoontorn K, West A, Higgins JD, Copenhaver GP, Yang J, Armstrong SJ, Mechtler K, Roitinger E, Franklin FC (2015) Arabidopsis PCH2 Mediates Meiotic Chromosome Remodeling and Maturation of Crossovers PLoS Genetics 11(7):e1005372 Open Access

Immunolocalisation of proteins during meiotic recombination in Brassica.
Immunolocalisation of proteins during meiotic recombination in Brassica.

Chris Franklin (Birmingham) is the leader on the UK-US-Austrian collaboration that looks at the role of the PCH2 protein during meiotic recombination. Although much of this study uses Arabidopsis mutant plants, the initial immunoprecipitations that led to identification of novel factors were performed using pollen mother cells from Brassica oleracea. Subsequently some important imaging also takes place in B.oleracea. The authors use structured illumination microscopy (SIM) to investigation the localisation of synaptonemal complex formation during meiosis and the close relationship between Arabidopsis and B.oleracea allowed the authors to use to same reagents fo these experiments. This paper was featured in an Arabidopis Research Roundup earlier in the year.


Green JP, Foster R, Wilkins L, Osorio D, Hartley SE (2015) Leaf Colour as a Signal of Chemical Defence to Insect Herbivores in Wild Cabbage (Brassica oleracea). PLoS One 10(9):e0136884 Open Access

This collaboration between York and Sussex Universitites is led by Sue Hartley and Daniel Osorio and look into the role that leaf colour plays in the defence response in wild cabbage. This aspect of plant physiology has been proposed as being important in defence against insect herbivory but this is the first instance where real data from wild populations has been obtained on this topic. The authors found that variation in leaf colour and brightness corresponded to particular glucosinolate levels as well as of the ability of certain herbivores to colonise the leaves. As might be predicted, leaves with lower levels of glucosinolate coincided with faster growth rates of lepidopteran larvae. However in a controlled experiment neither adult butterflies or adult aphids showed a preference for leaves of different colours. This therefore might suggest that although in the field herbivores may benefit from colonising leaves with lower defence chemicals (and an altered colour), the adults do not have the ability to select for these particular leaves, indicating that selection of leaves is either down to chance or other uninvestigated parameters.


Lawrenson T, Shorinola O, Stacey N, Li C, Østergaard L, Patron N, Uauy C, Harwood W (2015) Induction of targeted, heritable mutations in barley and Brassica oleracea using RNA-guided Cas9 nuclease Genome Biol. 16:258. Open Access

An example of successfully gene edited Brassica. From Genome Biology
An example of successfully gene edited Brassica. From Genome Biology

This is a collaboration between Wendy Harwood, Cristobal Uauy, Nicola Patron and Lars Ostargaard from the John Innes Centre and the Sainsbury Lab in Norwich. Over the past few years, CRISPR-Cas technology has been presented as important technology to be used in the future generation of gene edited crops. However only a few studies have been published to date where this technology has been effectively used. This paper describes the use of CRISPR-Cas to generate specific mutations in both barley and Brassica oleracea. Across both species they identified targeted mutations in 10%-25% of the first generation plants although interestingly they were also able to identify B.oleracea mutants in the T0 generation. They also observed off-target activity in both species even though the designed guide RNAs contains mismatches with the incorrectly edited sequences.
This is important work demonstrating that this type of gene editing can be used to rapidly generate stable mutants in crop species. The creation of mutants in off-target genes is a potential concern from a regulatory perspective although can be viewed as a positive factor for targeting multigene families that do not have appropriate identical target sequences.

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