Chloroplast Stromules Function during Innate Immunity This is nice - stromules are plastid extensions that connect plastids to other cellular compartments. It's been hard to pin down their function though. This study provide evidence that they may provide a mechanism by which plastid signals (proteins and / or small molecules such as H2O2) are conveyed to the nucleus.
Morphinan biosynthesis in opium poppy requires a P450-oxidoreductase fusion protein. Neat - one of catalytic steps in the production of morphine requires an enzyme that is different in morphine-producing plants (but not others). In these plants, genes encoding two enzymes are fused to encode a single polypetide. This fusion protein is thought to be more effective at the catalytic step, by passing the product from the first reaction directly to the catalytic site for the second reaction (substrate channelling). It's interesting from the point of view of morphine biosynthesis but also as an example of a recent evolutionary change that enhances secondary metabolism, and also as an example of how synthetic biologists can tinker with enzymes to enhance certain biosynthetic pathways. http://www.sciencemag.org/…/early/2015/06/24/science.aab1852
Laser capture microdissection coupled to high-throughput RNA-sequencing analysis of the transcriptome of ovaries and fruit tissues of the wild tomato species Solanum pimpinellifolium. Co-expressed gene clusters linked specific tissues and stages to major transcriptional changes underlying the ovary to fruit transition, and provided evidence of regulatory modules related to cell division, photosynthesis and auxin transport in internal fruit tissues, together with parallel specialization of the pericarp transcriptome in stress responses and secondary metabolism. Major alterations in the expression of hormone metabolic and signaling components illustrate the complex hormonal control underpinning fruit formation, with intricate spatiotemporal variations suggesting separate regulatory programs.
Coevolutionary interactions are thought to have spurred the evolution of key innovations and driven the diversification of much of life on Earth. However, the genetic and evolutionary basis of the innovations that facilitate such interactions remains poorly understood. We examined the coevolutionary interactions between plants (Brassicales) and butterflies (Pieridae), and uncovered evidence for an escalating evolutionary arms-race. Although gradual changes in trait complexity appear to have been facilitated by allelic turnover, key innovations are associated with gene and genome duplications. Furthermore, we show that the origins of both chemical defenses and of molecular counter adaptations were associated with shifts in diversification rates during the arms-race. These findings provide an important connection between the origins of biodiversity, coevolution, and the role of gene and genome duplications as a substrate for novel traits.
From Scott Keough, ANU, "I have a long-standing interest in helping students develop the skills they need to be successful in science and so I have constructed this web site as a first source of information on the development of these important life skills."
You'll find advice about finding a PhD or postdoc position and funding, writing grants etc.
Here we report in Arabidopsis that Stomagen (also called EPF-LIKE9) peptide, which promotes stomatal development, requires ERECTA (ER)-family receptor kinases and interferes with the inhibition of stomatal development by the EPIDERMAL PATTERNING FACTOR 2 (EPF2)–ER module. Both EPF2 and Stomagen directly bind to ER and its co-receptor TOO MANY MOUTHS. Stomagen peptide competitively replaced EPF2 binding to ER. Furthermore, application of EPF2, but not Stomagen, elicited rapid phosphorylation of downstream signalling components in vivo.
The diversity of life on Earth is typically considered in terms of the total number of species. However, this essay, by estimating the total amount of DNA in the biosphere at 5.4 x 10 31 megabases, offers an information-based view of biodiversity.
Mary Williams's insight:
I love questions that force students to make "back-of-the-envelope" calculations, as they are very effective teaching strategies. What do you need to know to figure out how much DNA is in the biosphere? What estimates are needed?
This paper shows the results of one well-informed effort to answer this question. One of the most interesting results to me is that most of the DNA in the biosphere is in plants - almost 100x more than is in animals. Maybe funding agencies should take note....
Eye-like ‘ocelloids' from some dinoflagellates "are built from pre-existing organelles, including a cornea-like layer made of mitochondria and a retinal body made of anastomosing plastids. We find that the retinal body forms the central core of a network of peridinin-type plastids, which in dinoflagellates and their relatives originated through an ancient endosymbiosis with a red alga2. As such, the ocelloid is a chimaeric structure, incorporating organelles with different endosymbiotic histories."
Yesterday at the Women in Science dinner at the Society of Experimental Biology main meeting we were served chicken. I’m a pescatarian, which I mentioned to the waiter. The head of service came by to show me the "special meals" list, and beside my name was written “No red meat”. “And chicken is white meat” she announced as she offloaded the plate in front of me.
I’m not a confrontational person, and usually willing to eat the vegetables in such a situation, but the whole plate was doused with gravy and very unappealing. I quietly pushed the plate away and prepared to listen to the speaker. However, three other people at my table were having similar discussions with the wait staff, including one of the organizers. She went off to speak to the supervisor, and was assured that fresh vegetarian plates would be prepared.
As we enjoyed our late dinners, one of us observed that it was an interesting coincidence that all of the vegetarians were seated at the same table.
What do you think? Were we the only vegetarians? Or were there isolated individuals at many tables who didn’t want to cause a fuss and so either went hungry or tried to pick around the gravy? Maybe those at our table received what we needed for success because we were not isolated, and because we had a leader who was willing to stand up for us?
It’s something to think about when you hear someone say, “I don’t hear anyone complaining” about the work environment. A good leader doesn’t assume that “no complaints” means no problems, and finds ways to support those who, without the tangible support of others with the same concerns, may be silently and miserably picking around the gravy.
Results of the Rothamsted field trial (the one that was nearly disrupted by activists before scientists engaged them in conversation instead) are published. Disappointedly, the study indicates that although production of insect pheremone conferred protection against aphids in the lab it doesn't in the field. Erratic weather in the field and low numbers of aphids overall may have contributed to their inability to see a positive effect. More here http://www.nature.com/…/gm-wheat-that-emits-pest-alarm-sign…
"Easy come, easy go: capillary forces enable rapid refilling of embolized primary xylem vessels" - Beautifully illustrated study demonstrates that protoxylem serves as a fuse to protect other tissues from embolism, but also readily repairs embolisms when water becomes available. "Thus, while protoxylem may be an “Achilles’ heel” for stem function under extreme conditions, they may also promote recovery of function upon rewatering. In this sense, their “easy come, easy go” behavior may offer more benefits than detriments to the integrated function of plants in complex, highly variable environments."
Another chink in the ABP armor - ABP1 was identified back in the 1970s as an Auxin Binding Protein. Evidence for its functional role came from knock-down studies using antisense RNA, intereferring with its function by the addition of monoclonal antibodies, and finally the identification of Arabidopsis mutants, which were difficult to study as they conferred an embryo-lethal phenotype. Subsequently, a weaker allele was identified, abp1-5, with a phenotype consistent with a role for ABP in auxin signaling.
Earlier this year, Gao et al got our attention by generating mutations in the ABP gene using genome-editing CRISPR technology; the advantage of this approach is it doesn't subject the genome to other off-site mutations. Gao et al stated, "Auxin binding protein 1 (ABP1) is not required for either auxin signaling or Arabidopsis development", which raised questions about the origin of the phenotypes described previously (http://www.pnas.org/content/112/7/2275.abstract).
Now a new study suggests that the phenotype of abp1-5 could come at least in part from those other, messy mutations. By sequencing the whole genome of abp1-5 (an approach that was not readily available until recently), Enders et al found "Genome Sequencing of Arabidopsis abp1-5 Reveals Second-Site Mutations That May Affect Phenotypes" (http://www.plantcell.org/content/early/2015/06/23/tpc.15.00214.abstract).
There are still unanswered questions, but this new study is an important contribution to the question of ABP1 function, and a good paper with which to show that the path to knowledge is not always obstacle free.
Y-axis is cumulative extinctions. You could start just about any talk or class with this slide. How / can humans use our big brains and technological innovations to reduce the damage we've done with our big brains and technological innovations?
Over the past two decades, the moss Physcomitrella patens has been developed from scratch to a model species in basic research and in biotechnology. A fully sequenced genome, outstanding possibilities for precise genome-engineering via homologous recombination (knockout moss), a certified GMP production in moss bioreactors, successful upscaling to 500 L wave reactors, excellent homogeneity of protein glycosylation, remarkable batch-to-batch stability and a safe cryopreservation for master cell banking are some of the key features of the moss system. Several human proteins are being produced in this system as potential biopharmaceuticals. Among the products are tumour-directed monoclonal antibodies with enhanced antibody-dependent cytotoxicity (ADCC), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), complement factor H (FH), keratinocyte growth factor (FGF7/KGF), epidermal growth factor (EGF), hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), asialo-erythropoietin (asialo-EPO, AEPO), alpha-galactosidase (aGal) and beta-glucocerebrosidase (GBA). Further, an Env-derived multi-epitope HIV protein as a candidate vaccine was produced, and first steps for a metabolic engineering of P. patens have been made. Some of the recombinant biopharmaceuticals from moss bioreactors are not only similar to those produced in mammalian systems such as CHO cells, but are of superior quality (biobetters). The first moss-made pharmaceutical, aGal to treat Morbus Fabry, is in clinical trials.
"I realized that this rice would remain an academic exercise if product development and product registration were not addressed, and this is what I focused on after my retirement. Although progress is slowly being made, had I known what this pursuit would entail, perhaps I would not have started. Hopefully Golden Rice will reach the needy during my lifetime."
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