Fluxes through metabolic pathways reflect the integration of genetic and metabolic regulations. While it is attractive to measure all the mRNAs (transcriptome), all the proteins (proteome), and a large number of the metabolites (metabolome) in a given cellular system, linking and integrating this information remains difficult. Measurement of metabolome-wide fluxes (termed the fluxome) provides an integrated functional output of the cell machinery and a better tool to link functional analyses to plant phenotyping. This review presents and discusses sets of methodologies that have been developed to measure the fluxome. First, the principles of metabolic flux analysis (MFA), its ‘short time interval’ version Inst-MFA, and of constraints-based methods, such as flux balance analysis and kinetic analysis, are briefly described. The use of these powerful methods for flux characterization at the cellular scale up to the organ (fruits, seeds) and whole-plant level is illustrated. The added value given by fluxomics methods for unravelling how the abiotic environment affects flux, the process, and key metabolic steps are also described. Challenges associated with the development of fluxomics and its integration with ‘omics’ for thorough plant and organ functional phenotyping are discussed. Taken together, these will ultimately provide crucial clues for identifying appropriate target plant phenotypes for breeding.
The nutritional value of Brassica seed meals is reduced by the presence of glucosinolates, which are toxic compounds involved in plant defense1. Mutation of the genes encoding two glucosinolate transporters (GTRs) eliminated glucosinolates from Arabidopsis thaliana seeds2, but translation of loss-of-function phenotypes into Brassica crops is challenging because Brassica is polyploid. We mutated one of seven and four of 12 GTR orthologs and reduced glucosinolate levels in seeds by 60–70% in two different Brassica species (Brassica rapa and Brassica juncea). Reduction in seed glucosinolates was stably inherited over multiple generations and maintained in field trials of two mutant populations at three locations. Successful translation of the gtr loss-of-function phenotype from model plant to two Brassica crops suggests that our transport engineering approach could be broadly applied to reduce seed glucosinolate content in other oilseed crops, such as Camelina sativa or Crambe abyssinica.
The endosymbiosis of bacteria is a hallmark in the evolution of eukaryotic cells and it is not limited to the origin of mitochondria and chloroplasts (Margulis, 1991). Microbial symbionts contribute to the fitness, development and evolution of eukaryotic hosts. Thus, eukaryotes cannot longer be considered individual entities, but rather holobionts (host plus microbial symbionts) with an hologenome (host + organelles + microbial genomes) in which evolutionary processes act (Bordenstein and Theis, 2015; Rosenberg and Zilber-Rosenberg, 2016). The term holobiont and hologenome has been mostly used in animals and plants (Rosenberg et al., 2007; Vandenkoornhuyse et al., 2015), but as we will highlight here, the investigations by Uehling et al., and Li et al., published now in Environmental Microbiology, together with the advances in the field, demonstrate that fungi can also be considered holobionts.
Endocytosis is a key process in the internalization of extracellular materials and plasma membrane proteins, such as receptors and transporters, thereby controlling many aspects of cell signaling and cellular homeostasis. Endocytosis in plants has an essential role not only for basic cellular functions but also for growth and development, nutrient delivery, toxin avoidance, and pathogen defense. The precise mechanisms of endocytosis in plants remain quite elusive. The lack of direct visualization and examination of single events of endocytosis has greatly hampered our ability to precisely monitor the cell surface lifetime and the recruitment profile of proteins driving endocytosis or endocytosed cargos in plants. Here we discuss the necessity to systematically implement total internal reflection fluorescence microcopy (TIRF) in the Plant Cell Biology community and present reliable protocols for high spatial and temporal imaging of endocytosis in plants using clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) as a test case, since it represents the major route for internalization of cell-surface proteins in plants. We developed a robust method to directly visualize cell surface proteins using TIRF microscopy combined to a high throughput, automated and unbiased analysis pipeline to determine the temporal recruitment profile of proteins to single sites of endocytosis, using the departure of clathrin as a physiological reference for scission. Using this ‘departure assay’, we assessed the recruitment of two different AP-2 subunits, alpha and mu, to the sites of endocytosis and found that AP2A1 was recruited in concert with clathrin, while AP2M was not. This validated approach therefore offers a powerful solution to better characterize the plant endocytic machinery and the dynamics of one’s favorite cargo protein.
The plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) confers drought tolerance in plants through stomatal closure and regulation of gene expression. The complex consisting of the ABA receptor PYRABACTIN RESISTANCE/REGULATORY COMPONENTS OF ABA RECEPTOR (PYR/RCAR), type 2C protein phosphatase (PP2C), and SNF1-related protein kinase 2 (SnRK2) has a key role in ABA signaling. Basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcriptional activator ABA-RESPONSIVE KINASE SUBSTRATE1 (AKS1, also known as FBH3), is released from DNA by phosphorylation-induced monomerization in response to ABA in guard cells. Here we reconstituted the release of AKS1 from DNA via the ABA signaling core complex in vitro. We first obtained evidence to confirm that AKS1 is an endogenous substrate for SnRK2s. Phosphorylation of AKS1 and activation of SnRK2 showed the same time course in response to ABA in guard cells. AKS1 was bound to SnRK2.6 in vivo. Three ABA-responsive SnRK2s (SnRK2.2/SRK2D, SnRK2.3/SRK2I, and SnRK2.6/SRK2E/OST1) phosphorylated AKS1 in vitro, and the phosphorylation was eliminated by the triple mutation of SnRK2s in plants. We reconstituted the AKS1 phosphorylation in vitro via the signaling complex containing the ABA receptor PYR1, a PP2C, HYPERSENSITIVE TO ABA1 (HAB1), and a protein kinase, SnRK2.6 in response to ABA. We further reconstituted the release of AKS1 from the target gene of POTASSIUM CHANNEL IN ARABIDOPSIS THALIANA 1 (KAT1) via the complex in response to ABA. These results demonstrate that AKS1 provides a link between the signaling complex and ABA-responsive genes, and furnish evidence for a minimal signaling mechanism from ABA perception to DNA.
Plants have successfully adapted to a vast range of terrestrial environments during their evolution. To elucidate the evolutionary transition of light-harvesting antenna proteins from green algae to land plants, the moss Physcomitrella patens is ideally placed basally among land plants. Compared to the genomes of green algae and land plants, the P. patens genome codes for more diverse and redundant light-harvesting antenna proteins. It also encodes Lhcb9, which has characteristics not found in other light-harvesting antenna proteins. The unique complement of light-harvesting antenna proteins in P. patens appears to facilitate protein interactions that include those lost in both green algae and land plants with regard to stromal electron transport pathways and photoprotection mechanisms. This review will highlight unique characteristics of the P. patens light-harvesting antenna system and the resulting implications about the evolutionary transition during plant terrestrialization.
Application of chemical fertilizers, especially nitrogen (N), to crops has increased dramatically in the last half century and therefore developing crop varieties with improved N use efficiency (NUE) is urgent for sustainable agriculture. N utilization procedures generally can be divided into uptake, transport, and assimilation. Transporters for nitrate or ammonium acquisition and enzymes for assimilation are among the essential components determining NUE, and many transcription factors also play a pivotal role in regulating N use-associated genes, thereby contributing to NUE. Although some efforts in improving NUE have been made in various plants, the regulatory mechanisms underlying NUE are still elusive, and NUE improvement in crop breeding is very limited. In this review, the crucial components involved in N utilization and the candidates with the potential for NUE improvement in dicot Arabidopsis and monocot rice are summarized. In addition, strategies based on new techniques which can be used for dissecting regulatory mechanisms of NUE and also the possible ways in which NUE can be improved in crops are discussed.
The domestication history of rice remains controversial, with multiple studies reaching different conclusions regarding its origin(s). These studies have generally assumed that populations of living wild rice, O. rufipogon, are descendants of the ancestral population that gave rise to domesticated rice, but relatively little attention has been paid to the origins and history of wild rice itself. Here, we investigate the genetic ancestry of wild rice by analyzing a diverse panel of rice genomes consisting of 203 domesticated and 435 wild rice accessions. We show that most modern wild rice is heavily admixed with domesticated rice through both pollen- and seed-mediated gene flow. In fact, much presumed wild rice may simply represent different stages of feralized domesticated rice. In line with this hypothesis, many presumed wild rice varieties show remnants of the effects of selective sweeps in previously identified domestication genes, as well as evidence of recent selection in flowering genes possibly associated with the feralization process. Furthermore, there is a distinct geographical pattern of gene flow from aus, indica, and japonica varieties into colocated wild rice. We also show that admixture from aus and indica is more recent than gene flow from japonica, possibly consistent with an earlier spread of japonica varieties. We argue that wild rice populations should be considered a hybrid swarm, connected to domesticated rice by continuous and extensive gene flow.
Magnaporthe oryzae nitronate monooxygenase NMO2 is shown to be required for prevention of damaging lipid nitration and host ROS-mediated innate immune responses in rice plants, enabling biotrophic growth of the rice blast fungus.
The rice lysin-motif (LysM) receptor-like kinase OsCERK1 is now known to have a dual role in both pathogenic and symbiotic interactions. Following the recent discovery that the Oscerk1 mutant is unable to host arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, we have examined whether OsCERK1 is directly involved in the perception of the short-chain chitin oligomers (Myc-COs) identified in AM fungal exudates and shown to activate nuclear calcium (Ca2+) spiking in the rice root epidermis. An Oscerk1 knockout mutant expressing the cameleon NLS-YC2.60 was used to monitor nuclear Ca2+ signaling following root treatment with either crude fungal exudates or purified Myc-COs. Compared with wild-type rice, Ca2+ spiking responses to AM fungal elicitation were absent in root atrichoblasts of the Oscerk1 mutant. By contrast, rice lines mutated in OsCEBiP, encoding the LysM receptor-like protein which associates with OsCERK1 to perceive chitin elicitors of the host immune defense pathway, responded positively to Myc-COs. These findings provide direct evidence that the bi-functional OsCERK1 plays a central role in perceiving short-chain Myc-CO signals and activating the downstream conserved symbiotic signal transduction pathway.
Quantifying the toxicity of herbicides applied in the field is difficult. Here, the author applies a quotient to evaluate changes in relative toxicity over the past 25 years and finds that increased herbicide use does not necessarily constitute increased toxicity.
Unlike animals, plants do not set aside a germline. Instead, germ cells are developed on demand from somatic lineages. Zhao et al. examined the regulatory pathways that manage the transition from somatic to germ cell development in the small plant Arabidopsis (see the Perspective by Vielle-Calzada). The transcription factor WUSCHEL (WUS) was needed early on for development of ovules. Soon after, a trio of inhibitors that work through a cyclin-dependent kinase allowed a transcriptional repressor to down-regulate WUS. This opened the door to meiosis, while restricting the number of reproductive units per seed to one.
Science , this issue p. [eaaf6532]; see also p. 
Polycomb Repressive Complex (PRC) 2 catalyzes the H3K27me3 modification that warrants inheritance of a repressive chromatin structure during cell division, thereby assuring stable target gene repression in differentiated cells. It is still under investigation how H3K27me3 is passed on from maternal to filial strands during DNA replication; however, cell division can reinforce H3K27me3 coverage at target regions. To identify novel factors involved in the Polycomb pathway in plants, we performed a forward genetic screen for enhancers of the like heterochromatin protein 1 (lhp1) mutant, which shows relatively mild phenotypic alterations compared with other plant PRC mutants. We mapped enhancer of lhp1 (eol) 1 to a gene related to yeast Chromosome transmission fidelity 4 (Ctf4) based on phylogenetic analysis, structural similarities, physical interaction with the CMG helicase component SLD5, and an expression pattern confined to actively dividing cells. A combination of eol1 with the curly leaf (clf) allele, carrying a mutation in the catalytic core of PRC2, strongly enhanced the clf phenotype; furthermore, H3K27me3 coverage at target genes was strongly reduced in eol1 clf double mutants compared with clf single mutants. EOL1 physically interacted with CLF, its partially redundant paralog SWINGER (SWN), and LHP1. We propose that EOL1 interacts with LHP1–PRC2 complexes during replication and thereby participates in maintaining the H3K27me3 mark at target genes
The fungus Zymoseptoria tritici is the causal agent of Septoria Tritici Blotch (STB) disease of wheat leaves. Z. tritici secretes many functionally uncharacterised effector proteins during infection. Here we characterised a secreted ribonuclease (Zt6) with an unusual biphasic expression pattern. Transient expression systems were used to characterise Zt6, and mutants thereof, in both host and non-host plants. Cell-free protein expression systems monitored impact of Zt6 protein on functional ribosomes, and in vitro assays of cells treated with recombinant Zt6 determined toxicity against bacteria, yeasts and filamentous fungi. We demonstrated that Zt6 is a functional ribonuclease and that phytotoxicity is dependent on both the presence of a 22-amino acid N-terminal loop region and its catalytic activity. Zt6 selectively cleaves both plant and animal rRNA species, and is toxic to wheat, tobacco, bacterial and yeast cells but not to Z. tritici itself. Zt6 is the first Z. tritici effector demonstrated to have a likely dual functionality. The expression pattern of Zt6 and potent toxicity towards microorganisms suggests that whilst it may contribute to the execution of wheat cell death, it is also likely to have an important secondary function in antimicrobial competition and niche protection.
The carbohydrate-rich cell walls of land plants and algae have been the focus of much interest given the value of cell wall based products to our current and future economies. Hydroxyproline-rich glycoproteins (HRGPs), a major group of wall glycoproteins, play important roles in plant growth and development, yet little is known about how they have evolved in parallel with the polysaccharide components of walls. We investigate the origins and evolution of the HRGP superfamily, which is commonly divided into three major multigene families: the arabinogalactan-proteins (AGPs), extensins (EXTs) and proline-rich proteins (PRPs). Using MAAB, a newly developed bioinformatics pipeline, we identified HRGPs in sequences from the 1000 plants (1KP) transcriptome project (www.onekp.com). Our analyses provide new insights into the evolution of HRGPs across major evolutionary milestones, including the transition to land and early radiation of angiosperms. Significantly, data mining reveals the origin of GPI-anchored AGPs in green algae and a 3-4 fold increase in GPI-AGPs in liverworts and mosses. The first detection of cross-linking (CL)-EXTs is observed in bryophytes, which suggest that CL-EXTs arose though the juxtaposition of pre-existing SPn EXT glycomotifs with refined Y-based motifs. We also detected the loss of CL-EXT in a few lineages, including the grass family (Poaceae), that have a cell wall composition distinct from other monocots and eudicots. A key challenge in HRGP research is tracking individual HRGPs throughout evolution. Using the 1KP output we were able to find putative orthologs of Arabidopsis pollen-specific GPI-AGPs in basal eudicots.
A genetic screen in the model panicoid grass Setaria viridis reveals the importance of the auxin transporter AUX1 for inflorescence branching in maize, highlighting how model plants can accelerate gene discovery in complex crops.
The maize genome experienced an ancient whole genome duplication approximately 10 million years ago and the duplicate subgenomes have since experienced reciprocal gene loss (fractionation) such that many genes have returned to single-copy status. This process has not affected the subgenomes equally; reduced gene expression in one of the subgenomes mitigates the consequences of mutations and gene deletions and is thought to drive higher rates of fractionation. Here we take advantage of published genome-wide SNP and phenotype association data to show that, in accordance with predictions of this model, paralogs with greater expression contribute more to phenotypic variation compared to their lowly expressed counterparts. Furthermore, paralogous genes in the least-fractionated subgenome account for a greater degree of phenotypic diversity than those resident on the more-fractionated subgenome. Intriguingly, analysis of singleton genes reveals this difference persists even after fractionation is complete. Additionally, we show that the two subgenomes of maize may differ in their epigenetic profiles.
In many plants, the asymmetric division of the zygote sets up the apical–basal axis of the embryo. Unlike animals, plant zygotes are transcriptionally active, implying that plants have evolved specific mechanisms to control transcriptional activation of patterning genes in the zygote. In Arabidopsis, two pathways have been found to regulate zygote asymmetry: YODA (YDA) mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling, which is potentiated by sperm-delivered mRNA of the SHORT SUSPENSOR (SSP) membrane protein, and up-regulation of the patterning gene WOX8 by the WRKY2 transcription factor. How SSP/YDA signaling is transduced into the nucleus and how these pathways are integrated have remained elusive. Here we show that paternal SSP/YDA signaling directly phosphorylates WRKY2, which in turn leads to the up-regulation of WOX8 transcription in the zygote. We further discovered the transcription factors HOMEODOMAIN GLABROUS11/12 (HDG11/12) as maternal regulators of zygote asymmetry that also directly regulate WOX8 transcription. Our results reveal a framework of how maternal and paternal factors are integrated in the zygote to regulate embryo patterning.
Crop yield loss due to flooding is a threat to food security. Submergence-induced hypoxia in plants results in stabilization of group VII ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTORs (ERF-VIIs), which aid survival under these adverse conditions. ERF-VII stability is controlled by the N-end rule pathway, which proposes that ERF-VII N-terminal cysteine oxidation in normoxia enables arginylation followed by proteasomal degradation. The PLANT CYSTEINE OXIDASEs (PCOs) have been identified as catalysts of this oxidation. ERF-VII stabilization in hypoxia presumably arises from reduced PCO activity. We directly demonstrate that PCO dioxygenase activity produces Cys-sulfinic acid at the N terminus of an ERF-VII peptide, which then undergoes efficient arginylation by an arginyl transferase (ATE1). This provides molecular evidence of N-terminal Cys-sulfinic acid formation and arginylation by N-end rule pathway components, and a substrate of ATE1 in plants. The PCOs and ATE1 may be viable intervention targets to stabilize N-end rule substrates, including ERF-VIIs, to enhance submergence tolerance in agriculture.
Angiosperm seed development is a paradigm of tissue cross-talk. Proper seed formation requires spatial and temporal coordination of the fertilization products – embryo and endosperm – and the surrounding seed coat maternal tissue. In early Arabidopsis seed development, all seed integuments were thought to respond homogenously to endosperm growth. Here, we show that the sub-epidermal integument cell layer has a unique developmental program. We characterized the cell patterning of the sub-epidermal integument cell layer, which initiates a previously uncharacterized extra cell layer, and identified TRANSPARENT TESTA 16 and SEEDSTICK MADS box transcription factors as master regulators of its polar development and cell architecture. Our data indicate that the differentiation of the sub-epidermal integument cell layer is insensitive to endosperm growth alone and to the repressive mechanism established by FERTILIZATION INDEPENDENT ENDOSPERM and MULTICOPY SUPPRESSOR OF IRA1 Polycomb group proteins. This work demonstrates the different responses of epidermal and sub-epidermal integument cell layers to fertilization.
F1 hybrids in Arabidopsis and crop species are uniform and high yielding. The F2 generation loses much of the yield advantage and the plants have heterogeneous phenotypes. We generated pure breeding hybrid mimic lines by recurrent selection and also selected a pure breeding small phenotype line. The hybrid mimics are almost completely homozygous with chromosome segments from each parent. Four particular chromosomal segments from C24 and 8 from Ler were present in all of the hybrid mimic lines, whereas in the F6 small phenotype line, the 12 segments were each derived from the alternative parent. Loci critical for promoting hybrid vigor may be contained in each of these 12 conserved segments. We have identified genes with similar altered expression in hybrid mimics and F1 plants but not in the small phenotype line. These genes may be critical for the generation of hybrid vigor. Analysis of transcriptomes indicated that increased expression of the transcription factor PHYTOCHROME-INTERACTING FACTOR (PIF4) may contribute to hybrid vigor by targeting the auxin biosynthesis gene YUCCA8 and the auxin signaling gene IAA29. A number of auxin responsive genes promoting leaf growth were up-regulated in the F1 hybrids and hybrid mimics, suggesting that increased auxin biosynthesis and signaling contribute to the hybrid phenotype. The hybrid mimic seeds had earlier germination as did the seeds of the F1 hybrids, indicating cosegregation of the genes for rosette size and the germination trait. Early germination may be an indicator of vigorous hybrids.
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