Normal plant development requires epigenetic regulation to enforce changes in developmental fate. Genomic imprinting is a type of epigenetic regulation in which identical alleles of genes are expressed in a parent-of-origin dependent manner. Deep sequencing of transcriptomes has identified hundreds of imprinted genes with scarce evidence for the developmental importance of individual imprinted loci. Imprinting is regulated through global DNA demethylation in the central cell prior to fertilization and directed repression of individual loci with the Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2). There is significant evidence for transposable elements and repeat sequences near genes acting as cis-elements to determine imprinting status of a gene, implying that imprinted gene expression patterns may evolve randomly and at high frequency. Detailed genetic analysis of a few imprinted loci suggests an imprinted pattern of gene expression is often dispensable for seed development. Few genes show conserved imprinted expression within or between plant species. These data are not fully explained by current models for the evolution of imprinting in plant seeds. We suggest that imprinting may have evolved to provide a mechanism for rapid neofunctionalization of genes during seed development to increase phenotypic diversity of seeds.
WRKY transcription factors (TFs) are well known for regulating plant abiotic and biotic stress tolerance. However, much less is known about how WRKY TFs affect plant-specialized metabolism. Analysis of WRKY TFs regulating the production of specialized metabolites emphasizes the values of the family outside of traditionally accepted roles in stress tolerance. WRKYs with conserved roles across plant species seem to be essential in regulating specialized metabolism. Overall, the WRKY family plays an essential role in regulating the biosynthesis of important pharmaceutical, aromatherapy, biofuel, and industrial components, warranting considerable attention in the forthcoming years.
Fragrant rice is favoured worldwide because of its agreeable scent. The presence of a defective badh2 allele encoding betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase (BADH2) results in the synthesis of 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline (2AP), which is a major fragrance compound. Here, transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) were engineered to target and disrupt the OsBADH2 gene. Six heterozygous mutants (30%) were recovered from 20 transgenic hygromycin-resistant lines. Sanger sequencing confirmed that these lines had various indel mutations at the TALEN target site. All six transmitted the BADH2 mutations to the T1 generation; and four T1 mutant lines tested also efficiently transmitted the mutations to the T2 generation. Mutant plants carrying only the desired DNA sequence change but not the TALEN transgene were obtained by segregation in the T1 and T2 generations. The 2AP content of rice grains of the T1 lines with homozygous mutations increased from 0 to 0.35–0.75 mg/kg, which was similar to the content of a positive control variety harbouring the badh2-E7 mutation. We also simultaneously introduced three different pairs of TALENs targeting three separate rice genes into rice cells by bombardment and obtained lines with mutations in one, two and all three genes. These results indicate that targeted mutagenesis using TALENs is a useful approach to creating important agronomic traits.
During plant immunity, surface-localized pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). The transfer of PRRs between plant species is a promising strategy for engineering broad-spectrum disease resistance. Thus, there is a great interest in understanding the mechanisms of PRR-mediated resistance across different plant species. Two well-characterized plant PRRs are the leucine-rich repeat receptor kinases (LRR-RKs) EFR and XA21 from Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis) and rice, respectively. Interestingly, despite being evolutionary distant, EFR and XA21 are phylogenetically closely related and are both members of the sub-family XII of LRR-RKs that contains numerous potential PRRs. Here, we compared the ability of these related PRRs to engage immune signaling across the monocots-dicots taxonomic divide. Using chimera between Arabidopsis EFR and rice XA21, we show that the kinase domain of the rice XA21 is functional in triggering elf18-induced signaling and quantitative immunity to the bacteria Pseudomonas syringae pv.tomato (Pto) DC3000 and Agrobacterium tumefaciens in Arabidopsis. Furthermore, the EFR:XA21 chimera associates dynamically in a ligand-dependent manner with known components of the EFR complex. Conversely, EFR associates with Arabidopsis orthologues of rice XA21-interacting proteins, which appear to be involved in EFR-mediated signaling and immunity in Arabidopsis. Our work indicates the overall functional conservation of immune components acting downstream of distinct LRR-RK-type PRRs between monocots and dicots.
The protein kinase (PK) gene family is one of the largest and most highly conserved gene families in plants and plays a role in nearly all biological functions. While a large number of genes have been predicted to encode PKs in soybean, a comprehensive functional classification and global analysis of expression patterns of this large gene family is lacking. In this study, we identified the entire soybean PK repertoire or kinome, which comprised 2166 putative PK genes, representing 4.67% of all soybean protein-coding genes. The soybean kinome was classified into 19 groups, 81 families, and 122 subfamilies. The receptor-like kinase (RLK) group was remarkably large, containing 1418 genes. Collinearity analysis indicated that whole-genome segmental duplication events may have played a key role in the expansion of the soybean kinome, whereas tandem duplications might have contributed to the expansion of specific subfamilies. Gene structure, subcellular localization prediction, and gene expression patterns indicated extensive functional divergence of PK subfamilies. Global gene expression analysis of soybean PK subfamilies revealed tissue- and stress-specific expression patterns, implying regulatory functions over a wide range of developmental and physiological processes. In addition, tissue and stress co-expression network analysis uncovered specific subfamilies with narrow or wide interconnected relationships, indicative of their association with particular or broad signalling pathways, respectively. Taken together, our analyses provide a foundation for further functional studies to reveal the biological and molecular functions of PKs in soybean.
The mechanism underlying microtubule (MT) generation in plants has been primarily studied using the cortical MT array, in which fixed-angled branching nucleation and katanin-dependent MT severing predominate. However, little is known about MT generation in the endoplasm. Here, we explored the mechanism of endoplasmic MT generation in protonemal cells of Physcomitrella patens. We developed an assay that utilizes flow cell and oblique illumination fluorescence microscopy, which allowed visualization and quantification of individual MTdynamics. MT severing was infrequently observed, and disruption of katanin did not severely affect MT generation. Branching nucleation was observed, but it showed markedly variable branch angles and was occasionally accompanied by the transport of nucleated MTs. Cytoplasmic nucleation at seemingly random locations was most frequently observed and predominated when depolymerized MTs were regrown. The MT nucleator γ-tubulin was detected at the majority of the nucleation sites, at which a single MT was generated in random directions. When γ-tubulin was knocked down, MT generation was significantly delayed in the regrowth assay. However, nucleation occurred at a normal frequency in steady state, suggesting the presence of a γ-tubulin-independent backup mechanism. Thus, endoplasmic MTs in this cell type are generated in a less ordered manner, showing a broader spectrum of nucleation mechanisms in plants.
New discoveries are prompting questions about which types of genetically engineered foods and applications are likely to be most accepted by the public. Results of a survey of over 1000 US consumers reveals that people prefer eating beef to eating corn or apples if the foods are not genetically engineered, but exactly the opposite is true if the foods are genetically engineered. Eating fresh food is preferred to processed, but much less so if both food types are genetically engineered. Desirability of genetic engineering depends on the reason for the biotechnology application.
Questions about public acceptance of agricultural biotechnology have been reignited by recent events and scientific progress. Results from a nationwide survey revealed that consumers assign larger “genetically engineered discounts” to fresh than processed foods and to meats than fruits or cereal grains. Consumers considered the motivations for adoption of genetic engineered foods desirable, in particular motivations related to protection of US origin, lower prices, and higher nutritional content. Genetically engineered foods that are processed that provide direct benefits to consumers, like improved nutritional content, are likely to be most acceptable to the public, particularly if benefits related to price-impacts and national competitiveness are understood by the public.
Plants rely on their associated microbiota for crucial physiological activities; realization of this interaction drives research to understand inter-domain communication. This opinion article focuses on the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis, which involves the Glomeromycota, fungi that can form a symbiosis with most plants. Here we propose the hypothesis that the molecules involved in inter-kingdom symbiotic signaling, such as strigolactones, cutin monomers, and chitin-related molecules, also have key roles in development, originally unrelated to symbiosis. Thus, the symbiotic role of these molecules relies on the co-evolved capacity of the AM partners to perceive and interpret them as symbiotic signals.
Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi colonize roots and form two kinds of mycelium, intraradical mycelium (IRM) and extraradical mycelium (ERM). Arbuscules are characteristic IRM structures that highly branch within host cells in order to mediate resource exchange between the symbionts. They are ephemeral structures and at the end of their life span, arbuscular branches collapse from the tip, fungal cytoplasm withdraws, and the whole arbuscule shrinks into fungal clumps. The exoskeleton of an arbuscule contains structured chitin, which is a polymer of N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc), whereas a collapsed arbuscule does not. The molecular mechanisms underlying the turnover of chitin in AM fungi remain unknown. Here, a GlcNAc transporter, RiNGT, was identified from the AM fungus Rhizophagus irregularis. Yeast mutants defective in endogenous GlcNAc uptake and expressing RiNGT took up 14C-GlcNAc, and the optimum uptake was at acidic pH values (pH 4.0–4.5). The transcript levels of RiNGT in IRM in mycorrhizal Lotus japonicus roots were over 1000 times higher than those in ERM. GlcNAc-6-phosphate deacetylase (DAC1) and glucosamine-6-phosphate isomerase (NAG1) genes, which are related to the GlcNAc catabolism pathway, were also induced in IRM. Altogether, data suggest the existence of an enhanced recycling mode of GlcNAc in IRM of AM fungi.
Plant natural products are low molecular weight compounds playing important roles in plant survival under biotic and abiotic stresses. In the rhizosphere, several groups of plant natural products function as semiochemicals that mediate the interactions of plants with other plants, animals and microorganisms. The knowledge on the biosynthesis and transport of these signaling molecules is increasing fast. This enables us to consider to optimize plant performance by changing the production of these signaling molecules or their exudation into the rhizosphere. Here we discuss recent advances in the understanding and metabolic engineering of these rhizosphere semiochemicals.
Ecogeographic rules explain spatial trends in biodiversity, species interactions and phenotypes1. Gloger's rule and its corollaries state that pigmentation of endothermic animals will increase from more polar to equatorial regions due to changing selective pressures including heat, humidity, predation and UV irradiance2,3,4. In plants, floral pigmentation varies within and among taxa, yet causes of wide-scale geographic variation are lacking. We show that Gloger's rule explains patterns of variation in UV-absorbing floral pigmentation in a widespread plant, Argentina anserina(Rosaceae). Specifically, the floral pigmentation pattern unique to the UV spectrum (UV ‘bullseye’) increases with proximity to the Equator in both hemispheres, and larger bullseyes are associated with higher UVB incidence. Experiments confirm UV as an agent of selection and bullseye size as a target. Results extend the generality of an ecogeographic rule—formulated for animals—to plants, implicating UV as a selective agent on a floral trait generally assumed to enhance plant–pollinator interactions. Global change is expected to alter UV irradiance in terrestrial systems5, potentially intensifying the importance of UV-mediated selection to floral evolution. Because floral UV reflectance and pattern enhance pollinator attraction6,7, altered selective regimes could disrupt coevolved plant–pollinator interactions, weakening an important ecosystem service8.
The vacuole is the most prominent compartment in plant cells and is important for ion and protein storage. In our effort to search for key regulators in the plant vacuole sorting pathway, ribosomal large subunit 4 (rpl4d) was identified as a translational mutant defective in both vacuole trafficking and normal development. Polysome profiling of the rpl4d mutant showed reduction in polysome-bound mRNA compared with wild-type, but no significant change in the general mRNA distribution pattern. Ribsomal profiling data indicated that genes in the lipid metabolism pathways were translationally down-regulated in the rpl4d mutant. Live imaging studies by Nile red staining suggested that both polar and nonpolar lipid accumulation was reduced in meristem tissues of rpl4d mutants. Pharmacological evidence showed that sterol and sphingolipid biosynthetic inhibitors can phenocopy the defects of the rpl4d mutant, including an altered vacuole trafficking pattern. Genetic evidence from lipid biosynthetic mutants indicates that alteration in the metabolism of either sterol or sphingolipid biosynthesis resulted in vacuole trafficking defects, similar to the rpl4d mutant. Tissue-specific complementation with key enzymes from lipid biosynthesis pathways can partially rescue both vacuole trafficking and auxin-related developmental defects in the rpl4d mutant. These results indicate that lipid metabolism modulates auxin-mediated tissue differentiation and endomembrane trafficking pathways downstream of ribosomal protein function.
Plant hormones modulate plant growth, development, and defense. However, many aspects of the origin and evolution of plant hormone signaling pathways remain obscure. Here we use a comparative genomic and phylogenetic approach to investigate the origin and evolution of nine major plant hormone [abscisic acid (ABA), auxin (AUX), brassinosteroid (BR), cytokinin (CK), ethylene (ETH), gibberellin (GA), jasmonate (JA), salicylic acid (SA), and strigolactone (SL)] signaling pathways. Our multi-species genome-wide analysis reveals: i) AUX, CK and SL signaling pathways originated in charophyte lineages; ii) ABA, JA, and SA signaling pathways arose in the last common ancestor of land plants; iii) the GA signaling evolved after the divergence of bryophytes from land plants; iv) the canonical BR signaling originated before the emergence of angiosperms but likely after the split of gymnosperms and angiosperms; v) the origin of the canonical ETH signaling pathway postdates shortly the emergence of angiosperms. Our findings might have important implications in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the emergence of land plants.
The role of endogenous salicylic acid (SA) signalling cascades in plant responses to salt and oxidative stresses is unclear. Arabidopsis SA signalling mutants, namely npr1-5 (non-expresser of pathogenesis related gene1), which lacks NPR1-dependent SA signalling, and nudt7 (nudix hydrolase7), which has both constitutively expressed NPR1-dependent and NPR1-independent SA signalling pathways, were compared with the wild type (Col-0) during salt or oxidative stresses. Growth and viability staining showed that, compared with wild type, the npr1-5 mutant was sensitive to either salt or oxidative stress, whereas the nudt7 mutant was tolerant. Acute salt stress caused the strongest membrane potential depolarization, highest sodium and proton influx, and potassium loss from npr1-5 roots in comparison with the wild type and nudt7 mutant. Though salt stress-induced hydrogen peroxide production was lowest in the npr1-5 mutant, the reactive oxygen species (ROS) stress (induced by 1mM of hydroxyl-radical-generating copper-ascorbate mix, or either 1 or 10mM hydrogen peroxide) caused a higher potassium loss from the roots of the npr1-5 mutant than the wild type and nudt7 mutant. Long-term salt exposure resulted in the highest sodium and the lowest potassium concentration in the shoots of npr1-5 mutant in comparison with the wild type and nudt7 mutant. The above results demonstrate that NPR1-dependent SA signalling is pivotal to (i) controlling Na+ entry into the root tissue and its subsequent long-distance transport into the shoot, and (ii) preventing a potassium loss through depolarization-activated outward-rectifying potassium and ROS-activated non-selective cation channels. In conclusion, NPR1-dependent SA signalling is central to the salt and oxidative stress tolerance in Arabidopsis.
The root meristem consists of populations of distal and proximal stem cells, and an organizing center known as the quiescent center. During embryogenesis, initiation of the root meristem occurs when an asymmetric cell division of the hypophysis forms the distal stem cells and quiescent center. We have identified NO TRANSMITTING TRACT (NTT) and two closely related paralogs as being required for the initiation of the root meristem. All three genes are expressed in the hypophysis and their expression is dependent on the auxin-signaling pathway. Expression of these genes is necessary for distal stem cell fate within the root meristem, while misexpression is sufficient to transform other stem cell populations to a distal stem cell fate in both the embryo and mature roots.
Gravitropic setpoint angles are growth angles that are maintained relative to gravity. Non-vertical branch growth is an important adaptive trait that is poorly understood. Auxin is central to the gravity-dependent, non-vertical growth of lateral branches. Non-vertical GSAs arise via balancing gravitropic and antigravitropic components.
The overall shape of plants, the space they occupy above and below ground, is determined principally by the number, length, and angle of their lateral branches. The function of these shoot and root branches is to hold leaves and other organs to the sun, and below ground, to provide anchorage and facilitate the uptake of water and nutrients. While in some respects lateral roots and shoots can be considered mere iterations of the primary root-shoot axis, in others there are fundamental differences in their biology, perhaps most conspicuously in the regulation their angle of growth. Here we discuss recent advances in the understanding of the control of branch growth angle, one of the most important but least understood components of the wonderful diversity of plant form observed throughout nature.
Transgenic crop pyramids producing two or more Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins that kill the same insect pest have been widely used to delay evolution of pest resistance. To assess the potential of pyramids to achieve this goal, we analyze data from 38 studies that report effects of ten Bt toxins used in transgenic crops against 15 insect pests. We find that compared with optimal low levels of insect survival, survival on currently used pyramids is often higher for both susceptible insects and insects resistant to one of the toxins in the pyramid. Furthermore, we find that cross-resistance and antagonism between toxins used in pyramids are common, and that these problems are associated with the similarity of the amino acid sequences of domains II and III of the toxins, respectively. This analysis should assist in future pyramid design and the development of sustainable resistance management strategies.
The planetary boundaries framework defines a safe operating space for humanity based on the intrinsic biophysical processes that regulate the stability of the Earth System. Here, we revise and update the planetary boundaries framework, with a focus on the underpinning biophysical science, based on targeted input from expert research communities and on more general scientific advances over the past 5 years. Several of the boundaries now have a two-tier approach, reflecting the importance of cross-scale interactions and the regional-level heterogeneity of the processes that underpin the boundaries. Two core boundaries—climate change and biosphere integrity—have been identified, each of which has the potential on its own to drive the Earth System into a new state should they be substantially and persistently transgressed.
Saprotrophic and parasitic microorganisms secrete proteins into the environment to breakdown macromolecules and obtain nutrients. The molecules secreted are collectively termed the ‘secretome’ and the composition and function of this set of proteins varies depending on the ecology, life cycle, and environment of an organism. Beyond the function of nutrient acquisition, parasitic lineages must also secrete molecules to counteract host defenses. Here we use a combination of de-novo genome and transcriptome sequencing and bioinformatic identification of signal peptides to identify the putative secreted proteome of two oomycetes, the facultative parasite Achlya hypogyna and free-living Thraustotheca clavata. By comparing the secretomes of these saprolegnialean oomycetes with that of 8 other oomycetes, we were able to characterize the evolution of this protein set across the oomycete clade. These species span the last common ancestor of the two major oomycete families allowing us to identify the ancestral secretome. This ancestral secretome consists of at least 84 gene families that encode putatively secreted proteins. Only 11 of these gene families are conserved across all 10 secretomes analysed and the two major branches in the oomycete radiation. Notably, we have identified expressed elicitin-like effector genes in the saprotrophic decomposer, T. clavata. Phylogenetic analyses show six novel HGTs to the oomycete secretome from bacterial and fungal donor lineages, four of which are specific to the Saprolegnialeans. Comparisons between free-living and pathogenic taxa highlight the functional changes of oomycete secretomes associated with shifts in lifestyle.
Like no other chemical or physical parameter, the natural light environment of plants changes with high speed and jumps of enormous intensity. To cope with this variability, photosynthetic organisms have evolved sensing and response mechanisms that allow efficient acclimation. Most signals originate from the chloroplast itself. In addition to very fast photochemical regulation, intensive molecular communication is realized within the photosynthesizing cell, optimizing the acclimation process. Current research has opened up new perspectives on plausible but mostly unexpected complexity in signalling events, crosstalk, and process adjustments. Within seconds and minutes, redox states, levels of reactive oxygen species, metabolites, and hormones change and transmit information to the cytosol, modifying metabolic activity, gene expression, translation activity, and alternative splicing events. Signalling pathways on an intermediate time scale of several minutes to a few hours pave the way for long-term acclimation. Thereby, a new steady state of the transcriptome, proteome, and metabolism is realized within rather short time periods irrespective of the previous acclimation history to shade or sun conditions. This review provides a time line of events during six hours in the ‘stressful’ life of a plant.
Recent studies are starting to show that genetic control over stochastic variation is a key evolutionary solution of single celled organisms in the face of unpredictable environments. This has been expanded to show that genetic variation can alter stochastic variation in transcriptional processes within multi-cellular eukaryotes. However, little is known about how genetic diversity can control stochastic variation within more non-cell autonomous phenotypes. Using an Arabidopsis reciprocal RIL population, we showed that there is significant genetic diversity influencing stochastic variation in the plant metabolome, defense chemistry, and growth. This genetic diversity included loci specific for the stochastic variation of each phenotypic class that did not affect the other phenotypic classes or the average phenotype. This suggests that the organism's networks are established so that noise can exist in one phenotypic level like metabolism and not permeate up or down to different phenotypic levels. Further, the genomic variation within the plastid and mitochondria also had significant effects on the stochastic variation of all phenotypic classes. The genetic influence over stochastic variation within the metabolome was highly metabolite specific, with neighboring metabolites in the same metabolic pathway frequently showing different levels of noise. As expected from bet-hedging theory, there was more genetic diversity and a wider range of stochastic variation for defense chemistry than found for primary metabolism. Thus, it is possible to begin dissecting the stochastic variation of whole organismal phenotypes in multi-cellular organisms. Further, there are loci that modulate stochastic variation at different phenotypic levels. Finding the identity of these genes will be key to developing complete models linking genotype to phenotype.
Nature Plants, Published online: 8 January 2015; | doi:10.1038/nplants.2014.1
Sugar beet provides around one third of the sugar consumed worldwide and serves as a significant source of bioenergy in the form of ethanol. Sucrose accounts for up to 18% of plant fresh weight in sugar beet. Most of the sucrose is concentrated in the taproot, where it accumulates in the vacuoles. Despite 30 years of intensive research, the transporter that facilitates taproot sucrose accumulation has escaped identification. Here, we combine proteomic analyses of the taproot vacuolar membrane, the tonoplast, with electrophysiological analyses to show that the transporter BvTST2.1 is responsible for vacuolar sucrose uptake in sugar beet taproots. We show that BvTST2.1 is a sucrose-specific transporter, and present evidence to suggest that it operates as a proton antiporter, coupling the import of sucrose into the vacuole to the export of protons. BvTST2.1 exhibits a high amino acid sequence similarity to members of the tonoplast monosaccharide transporter family in Arabidopsis, prompting us to rename this group of proteins ‘tonoplast sugar transporters’. The identification of BvTST2.1 could help to increase sugar yields from sugar beet and other sugar-storing plants in future breeding programs.