Producing mass quantities of chemicals has its roots in the industrial revolution. But industrial synthesis leads to sizeable sustainability and socioeconomic challenges. The rapid advances in biotechnology suggest that biological manufacturing may soon be a feasible alternative, but can it produce chemicals at scale? Clomburg et al. review the progress made in industrial biomanufacturing, including the tradeoffs between highly tunable biocatalysts and units of scale. The biological conversion of single-carbon compounds such as methane, for example, has served as a testbed for more sustainable, decentralized production of desirable compounds.
Science , this issue p. [10.1126/science.aag0804]
A striking feature of the angiosperms that use animals as pollen carriers to sexuallyreproduce is the great diversity of their flowers with regard to morphology and traits such as color, odor, and nectar. These traits are underpinned by the synthesis of secondary metabolites such as pigments and volatiles, as well as carbohydrates and amino acids, which are used by plants to lure and reward animal pollinators. We review here the knowledge of the metabolic network that supports the biosynthesis of these compounds and the behavioral responses that these molecules elicit in the animal pollinators.
Nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat proteins (NLRs) are important receptors in plant immunity that allow recognition of pathogen effectors. The rice NLR RGA5 recognizes the Magnaporthe oryzae effector AVR-Pia through direct interaction. Here, we gained detailed insights into the molecular and structural bases of AVR-Pia-RGA5 interaction and the role of the RATX1 decoy domain of RGA5. NMR titration combined with in vitro and in vivo protein-protein interaction analyses identified the AVR-Pia interaction surface that binds to the RATX1 domain. Structure-informed AVR-Pia mutants showed that, although AVR-Pia associates with additional sites in RGA5, binding to the RATX1 domain is necessary for pathogen recognition, but can be of moderate affinity. Therefore, RGA5-mediated resistance is highly resilient to mutations in the effector. We propose a model that explains such robust effector recognition as a consequence, and an advantage, of the combination of integrated decoy domains with additional independent effector-NLR interactions.
Oomycetes, or water moulds, are fungal-like organisms phylogenetically related to algae. They cause devastating diseases in both plants and animals. Here, we describe seven oomycete species that are emerging or re-emerging threats to agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture and natural ecosystems. They include the plant pathogens Phytophthora infestans , Phytophthora palmivora , Phytophthora ramorum , Plasmopara obducens , and the animal pathogens Aphanomyces invadans , Saprolegnia parasitica and Halioticida noduliformans . For each species, we describe its pathology, importance and impact, discuss why it is an emerging threat and briefly review current research activities.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘Tackling emerging fungal threats to animal health, food security and ecosystem resilience’.
We examine recent evidence for ratchet-like genome degradation in mycoheterotrophs, plants that obtain nutrition from fungi. Initial loss of the NADH dehydrogenase-like (NDH) complex may often set off an irreversible evolutionary cascade of photosynthetic gene losses. Genes for plastid-encoded subunits of RNA polymerase and photosynthetic enzymes with secondary functions (Rubisco and ATP synthase) can persist initially, with nonsynchronous and quite broad windows in the relative timing of their loss. Delayed losses of five core nonbioenergetic genes (especially trnE and accD, which respectively code for glutamyl tRNA and a subunit of acetyl-CoA carboxylase) probably explain long-term persistence of heterotrophic plastomes. The observed range of changes of mycoheterotroph plastomes is similar to that of holoparasites, although greater diversity of both probably remains to be discovered. These patterns of gene loss/retention can inform research programs on plastome function.
Organ formation in animals and plants relies on precise control of cell state transitions to turn stem cell daughters into fully differentiated cells. In plants, cells cannot rearrange due to shared cell walls. Thus, differentiation progression and the accompanying cell expansion must be tightly coordinated across tissues. PLETHORA (PLT) transcription factor gradients are unique in their ability to guide the progression of cell differentiation at different positions in the growing Arabidopsis thaliana root, which contrasts with well-described transcription factor gradients in animals specifying distinct cell fates within an essentially static context. To understand the output of the PLT gradient, we studied the gene set transcriptionally controlled by PLTs. Our work reveals how the PLT gradient can regulate cell state by region-specific induction of cell proliferation genes and repression of differentiation. Moreover, PLT targets include major patterning genes and autoregulatory feedback components, enforcing their role as master regulators of organ development.
Cell death and differentiation is a monthly research journal focused on the exciting field of programmed cell death and apoptosis. It provides a single accessible source of information for both scientists and clinicians, keeping them up-to-date with advances in the field. It encompasses programmed cell death, cell death induced by toxic agents, differentiation and the interrelation of these with cell proliferation.
Calcium-dependent protein kinases (CDPKs) are Ca2+-sensors that play pivotal roles in plant development and stress responses. They have the unique ability to directly translate intracellular Ca2+ signals into reversible phosphorylation events of diverse substrates which can mediate interactions with 14-3-3 proteins to modulate protein functions. Recent studies have revealed roles for the coordinated action of CDPKs and 14-3-3s in regulating diverse aspects of plant biology including metabolism, development, and stress responses. We review here the underlying interaction and cross-regulation of the two signaling proteins, and we discuss how this insight has led to the emerging concept of CDPK/14-3-3 signaling modules that could contribute to response specificity.
Leaf shape varies spectacularly among plants. Leaves are the primary source of photoassimilate in crop plants, and understanding the genetic basis of variation in leaf morphology is critical to improving agricultural productivity. Leaf shape played a unique role in cotton improvement, as breeders have selected for entire and lobed leaf morphs resulting from a single locus, okra (L-D1), which is responsible for the major leaf shapes in cotton. The L-D1 locus is not only of agricultural importance in cotton, but through pioneering chimeric and morphometric studies, it has contributed to fundamental knowledge about leaf development. Here we show that an HD-Zip transcription factor homologous to the LATE MERISTEM IDENTITY1 (LMI1) gene of Arabidopsis is the causal gene underlying the L-D1 locus. The classical okra leaf shape allele has a 133-bp tandem duplication in the promoter, correlated with elevated expression, whereas an 8-bp deletion in the third exon of the presumed wild-type normal allele causes a frame-shifted and truncated coding sequence. Our results indicate that subokra is the ancestral leaf shape of tetraploid cotton that gave rise to the okra allele and that normal is a derived mutant allele that came to predominate and define the leaf shape of cultivated cotton. Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) of the LMI1-like gene in an okra variety was sufficient to induce normal leaf formation. The developmental changes in leaves conferred by this gene are associated with a photosynthetic transcriptomic signature, substantiating its use by breeders to produce a superior cotton ideotype.
The environment during seed production has major impacts on the behaviour of progeny seeds. It can be shown that for annual plants temperature perception over the whole life history of the mother can affect the germination rate of progeny, and instances have been documented where these affects cross whole generations. Here we discuss the current state of knowledge of signal transduction pathways controlling environmental responses during seed production, focusing both on events that take place in the mother plant and those that occur directly as a result of environmental responses in the developing zygote. We show that seed production environment effects are complex, involving overlapping gene networks active independently in fruit, seed coat, and zygotic tissues that can be deconstructed using careful physiology alongside molecular and genetic experiments.
The type III secretion (T3S) injectisome is a specialized protein nanomachine that is critical for the pathogenicity of many Gram-negative bacteria, including purveyors of plague, typhoid fever, whooping cough, sexually transmitted infections and major nosocomial infections. This syringe-shaped 3.5-MDa macromolecular assembly spans both bacterial membranes and that of the infected host cell. The internal channel formed by the injectisome allows for the direct delivery of partially unfolded virulence effectors into the host cytoplasm1. The structural foundation of the injectisome is the basal body, a molecular lock-nut structure composed predominantly of three proteins that form highly oligomerized concentric rings spanning the inner and outer membranes2, 3, 4, 5. Here we present the structure of the prototypical Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium pathogenicity island 1 basal body, determined using single-particle cryo-electron microscopy, with the inner-membrane-ring and outer-membrane-ring oligomers defined at 4.3 Å and 3.6 Å resolution, respectively. This work presents the first, to our knowledge, high-resolution structural characterization of the major components of the basal body in the assembled state, including that of the widespread class of outer-membrane portals known as secretins.
LOCALIZER is a machine learning method for subcellular localization prediction in plant cells. LOCALIZER has been trained to predict either the localization of plant proteins or the localization of eukaryotic effector proteins to chloroplasts, mitochondria or nuclei in the plant cell.
The localization to chloroplasts and mitochondria is predicted using the presence of transit peptides and the localization to nuclei is predicted using a collection of nuclear localization signals (NLSs).
The Casparian strip provides a waterproofing function to plant roots, protecting them against unregulated influxes of water and minerals. The integrity of the Casparian strip depends on a receptor-like kinase. Doblas et al. and Nakayama et al. now identify the peptide ligands in the core of the root (the stele) that help regulate Casparian strip formation. The receptor is expressed on the outward-facing surface of the root endodermal cells that surround the stele. When the endodermal layer is sealed by the Casparian strip, the peptide ligands cannot reach their receptors. When the endodermal layer is breached, whether by damage or during development, the peptides reach their receptors and activate signaling that encourages lignin deposition, shoring up the strips.
In plants, perception of invading pathogens involves cell-surface immune receptor kinases. Here, we report that the Arabidopsis SITE-1 PROTEASE (S1P) cleaves endogenous RAPID ALKALINIZATION FACTOR (RALF) propeptides to inhibit plant immunity. This inhibition is mediated by the malectin-like receptor kinase FERONIA (FER), which otherwise facilitates the ligand-induced complex formation of the immune receptor kinases EF-TU RECEPTOR (EFR) and FLAGELLIN-SENSING 2 (FLS2) with their co-receptor BRASSINOSTEROID INSENSITIVE 1–ASSOCIATED KINASE 1 (BAK1) to initiate immune signaling. We show that FER acts as a RALF-regulated scaffold that modulates receptor kinase complex assembly. A similar scaffolding mechanism may underlie FER function in other signaling pathways.
“ A radio series on the history of music called “Composers Datebook” ends each vignette by reminding listeners that “All music was once new.” Well, in evolutionary terms, every tissue and every organ was once an innovation, assembled de novo or from bits and pieces of pre-existing parts. How novelty arises is a fundamental question in the field of developmental evolution. In plants, the legume nodule is a fascinating system for studying the process by which a novel structure evolves and is modified in diverse lineages. ”
Via Jean-Michel Ané, IvanOresnik, Xiefang lab
The extracellular space (apoplast) of plant tissue represents a critical battleground between plants and attacking microbes. Here we show that a pathogen-secreted apoplastic Xyloglucan-specific EndoGlucanase PsXEG1 is a focus of this struggle in the Phytophthora sojae-soybean interaction. We show that soybean produces an apoplastic Glucanase Inhibitor Protein, (GmGIP1), that binds to PsXEG1 to block its contribution to virulence. P. sojae however, secretes a paralogous PsXEG1-Like Protein (PsXLP1) that has lost enzyme activity but binds to GmGIP1 more tightly than does PsXEG1, thus freeing PsXEG1 to support P. sojae infection. The PsXEG1 and PsXLP1gene pair is conserved in many Phytophthora species, and the P. parasitica orthologs PpXEG1 and PpXLP1 have similar functions. Thus this apoplastic decoy strategy maybe widely employed in Phytophthora pathosystems.
The presented review discusses state-of-the-art mass spectrometric methods, which have been developed and applied for investigation of chemical processes in the soil-root interface, the so-called rhizosphere. Rhizosphere soil's physical and chemical characteristics are to a great extent influenced by a complex mixture of compounds released from plant roots, i.e. root exudates, which have a high impact on nutrient and trace element dynamics in the soil-root interface as well as on microbial activities or soil physico-chemical characteristics. Chemical characterization as well as accurate quantification of the compounds present in the rhizosphere is a major prerequisite for a better understanding of rhizosphere processes and requires the development and application of advanced sampling procedures in combination with highly selective and sensitive analytical techniques. During the last years, targeted and non-targeted mass spectrometry-based methods have emerged and their combination with specific separation methods for various elements and compounds of a wide polarity range have been successfully applied in several studies. With this review we critically discuss the work that has been conducted within the last decade in the context of rhizosphere research and elemental or molecular mass spectrometry emphasizing different separation techniques as GC, LC and CE. Moreover, selected applications such as metal detoxification or nutrient acquisition will be discussed regarding the mass spectrometric techniques applied in studies of root exudates in plant-bacteria interactions. Additionally, a more recent isotope probing technique as novel mass spectrometry based application is highlighted.
Background. Plant-pathogenic oomycetes are responsible for economically important losses on crops worldwide. Phytophthora palmivora, a broad-host-range tropical relative of the potato late blight pathogen, causes rotting diseases in many important tropical crops including papaya, cocoa, oil palm, black pepper, rubber, coconut, durian, mango, cassava and citrus. Transcriptomics have helped to identify repertoires of host-translocated microbial effector proteins which counteract defenses and reprogram the host in support of infection. As such, these studies have helped understanding of how pathogens cause diseases. Despite the importance of P. palmivora diseases, genetic resources to allow for disease resistance breeding and identification of microbial effectors are scarce. Results. We employed the model plant Nicotiana benthamiana to study the P. palmivora root infections at the cellular and molecular level. Time-resolved dual transcriptomics revealed different pathogen and host transcriptome dynamics. De novo assembly of P. palmivora transcriptome and semi-automated prediction and annotation of the secretome enabled robust identification of conserved infection-promoting effectors. We show that one of them, REX3, suppresses plant secretion processes. In a survey for early transcriptionally activated plant genes we identified a N. benthamiana gene specifically induced at infected root tips that encodes a peptide with danger-associated molecular features. Conclusions. These results constitute a major advance in our understanding of P. palmivora diseases and establish extensive resources for P. palmivora pathogenomics, effector-aided resistance breeding and the generation of induced resistance to Phytophthora root infections. Furthermore, our approach to find infection relevant secreted genes is transferable to other pathogen-host interactions and not restricted to plants.
"Notably, all required functional components were identified by metagenomics, enabling validation of robust in vivo RNA-guided DNA interference activity in E. coli. Interrogation of environmental microbial communities combined with in vivo experiments allows access to an unprecedented diversity of genomes whose content will expand the repertoire of microbe-based biotechnologies"...
Plants are energy storage factories. Photosynthetic cells convert energy from sunlight to sugars that are transported to growing tissues via both extracellular and intercellular trafficking pathways. Many pathogens have evolved mechanisms to infect the nutrient-rich niche of plant tissues and exploit these sugar pipelines. Some pathogens manipulate sugar transport to enhance their access to carbohydrate. For example, Xanthomonas bacteria deliver transcriptionactivator–like effector proteins into leaf cells. These proteins induce expression of SWEET family sugar transporters to release sucrose into the apoplastic (extracellular) space where the bacteria grow ( 1 ). On page 1427 of this issue, Yamada et al. ( 2 ) show that, in return, plants can also regulate sugar transporters, to redistribute the sugars away from the infection niche, removing the pathogens' energy source and limiting their proliferation.
The study of leaf functional trait relationships, the so-called leaf economics spectrum1,2, is based on the assumption of high-light conditions (as experienced by sunlit leaves). Owing to the exponential decrease of light availability through canopies, however, the vast majority of the world's vegetation exists in at least partial shade. Plant functional traits vary in direct dependence of light availability3, with different traits varying to different degrees, sometimes in conflict with expectations from the economic spectrum3. This means that the derived trait relationships of the global leaf economic spectrum are probably dependent on the extent to which observed data in existing large-scale plant databases represent high-light conditions. Here, using an extensive worldwide database of within-canopy gradients of key physiological, structural and chemical traits3, along with three different global trait databases4,5, we show that: (1) accounting for light-driven trait plasticity can reveal novel trait relationships, particularly for highly plastic traits (for example, the relationship between net assimilation rate per area (Aa) and leaf mass per area (LMA)); and (2) a large proportion of leaf traits in current global plant databases reported as measured in full sun were probably measured in the shade. The results show that even though the majority of leaves exist in the shade, along with a large proportion of observations, our current understanding is too focused on conditions in the sun.
The pressing global issue of food insecurity due to population growth, diminishing land and variable climate can only be addressed in agriculture by improving both maximum crop yield potential and resilience1, 2. Genetic modification is one potential solution, but has yet to achieve worldwide acceptance, particularly for crops such as wheat3. Trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P), a central sugar signal in plants, regulates sucrose use and allocation, underpinning crop growth and development4, 5. Here we show that application of a chemical intervention strategy directly modulates T6P levels in planta. Plant-permeable analogues of T6P were designed and constructed based on a ‘signalling-precursor’ concept for permeability, ready uptake and sunlight-triggered release of T6P in planta. We show that chemical intervention in a potent sugar signal increases grain yield, whereas application to vegetative tissue improves recovery and resurrection from drought. This technology offers a means to combine increases in yield with crop stress resilience. Given the generality of the T6P pathway in plants and other small-molecule signals in biology, these studies suggest that suitable synthetic exogenous small-molecule signal precursors can be used to directly enhance plant performance and perhaps other organism function.
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