Wachsman - 2015 - New Phytologist - Wiley Online Library
Andres Zurita's insight:
The root is an excellent model for studying developmental processes that underlie plant anatomy and architecture. Its modular structure, the lack of cell movement and relative accessibility to microscopic visualization facilitate research in a number of areas of plant biology. In this review, we describe several examples that demonstrate how cell type-specific developmental mechanisms determine cell fate and the formation of defined tissues with unique characteristics. In the last 10 yr, advances in genome-wide technologies have led to the sequencing of thousands of plant genomes, transcriptomes and proteomes. In parallel with the development of these high-throughput technologies, biologists have had to establish computational, statistical and bioinformatic tools that can deal with the wealth of data generated by them. These resources provide a foundation for posing more complex questions about molecular interactions, and have led to the discovery of new mechanisms that control phenotypic differences. Here we review several recent studies that shed new light on developmental processes, which are involved in establishing root anatomy and architecture. We highlight the power of combining large-scale experiments with classical techniques to uncover new pathways in root development.
Orchidaceae, renowned for its spectacular flowers and other reproductive and ecological adaptations, is one of the most diverse plant families. Here we present the genome sequence of the tropical epiphytic orchid Phalaenopsis equestris, a frequently used parent species for orchid breeding. P. equestris is the first plant with crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) for which the genome has been sequenced. Our assembled genome contains 29,431 predicted protein-coding genes. We find that contigs likely to be underassembled, owing to heterozygosity, are enriched for genes that might be involved in self-incompatibility pathways. We find evidence for an orchid-specific paleopolyploidy event that preceded the radiation of most orchid clades, and our results suggest that gene duplication might have contributed to the evolution of CAM photosynthesis in P. equestris. Finally, we find expanded and diversified families of MADS-box C/D-class, B-class AP3 and AGL6-class genes, which might contribute to the highly specialized morphology of orchid flowers.
Aquaporins are small channel proteins which facilitate the diffusion of water and small neutral molecules across biological membranes. Compared with animals, plant genomes encode numerous aquaporins, which display a large variety of subcellular localization patterns. More specifically, plant aquaporins of the plasma membrane intrinsic protein (PIP) subfamily were first described as plasma membrane (PM)-resident proteins, but recent research has demonstrated that the trafficking and subcellular localization of these proteins are complex and highly regulated. In the past few years, PIPs emerged as new model proteins to study subcellular sorting and membrane dynamics in plant cells. At least two distinct sorting motifs (one cytosolic, the other buried in the membrane) are required to direct PIPs to the PM. Hetero-oligomerization and interaction with SNAREs (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor protein attachment protein receptors) also influence the subcellular trafficking of PIPs. In addition to these constitutive processes, both the progression of PIPs through the secretory pathway and their dynamics at the PM are responsive to changing environmental conditions.
Soybean (Glycine max) seeds contain bioactive proteins with antinutritional and immunological properties that affect metabolism and assimilation of nutrients. The presence of antinutritional proteins requires soybeans to be heat-treated resulting in input energy costs. Nulls for bioactive seed proteins have been previously isolated from the USDA soybean collection, including Kunitz trypsin inhibitor (TI), soybean agglutinin (LE) and immunodominant soybean allergen P34 protein. Each of these nulls has the potential to partially address the concerns of soybean feed/food consumption. A stack of recessive nulls of TI, LE and P34 was created in a cv ‘Williams 82’ background termed ‘Triple Null’. Triple Null has a slight reduction of total protein compared with ‘Williams 82’ corresponding to aggregate contribution of TI, LE and P34 in the seed proteome. Triple Null's proteome analysis revealed P34 and TI nulls are frame-shift mutants able to accumulate small amounts of authentic P34 and TI proteins. Triple Null has possible application as a conventional feed/food source and for immunotherapy to mitigate soybean allergenic response.
We tested the common assumption that fleshy fruits become dependent on phloem water supply because xylem inflow declines at the onset of ripening. Using two distinct grape genotypes exposed to drought stress, we found that a sink-driven rise in phloem inflow at the beginning of ripening was sufficient to reverse drought-induced berry shrinkage. Rewatering accelerated berry growth and sugar accumulation concurrently with leaf photosynthetic recovery. Interrupting phloem flow through the peduncle prevented the increase in berry growth after rewatering, but interrupting xylem flow did not. Nevertheless, xylem flow in ripening berries, but not berry size, remained responsive to root or shoot pressurization. A mass balance analysis on ripening berries sampled in the field suggested that phloem water inflow may exceed growth and transpiration water demands. Collecting apoplastic sap from ripening berries showed that osmotic pressure increased at distinct rates in berry vacuoles and apoplast. Our results indicate that the decrease in xylem inflow at the onset of ripening may be a consequence of the sink-driven increase in phloem inflow. We propose a conceptual model in which surplus phloem water bypasses the fruit cells and partly evaporates from the berry surface and partly moves apoplastically to the xylem for outflow.
Breeding for strong root systems is an important strategy for improving drought avoidance in rice. To clone genes responsible for strong root traits, an upland rice introgression line IL392 with thicker and longer roots than the background parent lowland rice Yuefu was selected. A quantitative trait locus (QTL), qRT9, controlling root thickness and root length was detected under hydroponic culture using 203 F2:3 populations derived from a cross between Yuefu and IL392. The qRT9 locus explained 32.5% and 28.1% of the variance for root thickness and root length, respectively. Using 3185 F2 plants, qRT9 was ultimately narrowed down to an 11.5kb region by substitution mapping. One putative basic helix–loop–helix (bHLH) transcription factor gene, LOC_Os09g28210 (named OsbHLH120), is annotated in this region. Sequences of OsbHLH120 in 11 upland rice and 13 lowland rice indicated that a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) at position 82 and an insertion/deletion (Indel) at position 628–642 cause amino acid changes and are conserved between upland rice and lowland rice. Phenotypic analysis indicated that the two polymorphisms were significantly associated with root thickness and root length under hydroponic culture. Quantitative real-time PCR showed that OsbHLH120 was strongly induced by polyethylene glycol (PEG), salt, and abscisic acid, but higher expression was present in IL392 roots than in Yuefu under PEG and salt stress. The successfully isolated locus, qRT9, enriches our knowledge of the genetic basis for drought avoidance and provides an opportunity for breeding drought avoidance varieties by utilizing valuable genes in the upland rice germplasm.
This special issue, originating from the ‘Roots to Global Food Security’ meeting at the SEB Annual Meeting in Manchester (2–4 July 2014), not only showcases fundamental science in root growth regulation, root-to-shoot signalling, and crop management, but also demonstrates its importance in securing global food supplies. Many of the authors of the articles collected herein conducted their PhD studies or research within Bill Davies’ group, and a significant feature of this group is the number of PhD graduates who have gone on to forge significant scientific and publishing careers of their own throughout the world. This meeting provided not only an opportunity to discuss issues of scientific importance to Bill, but, once again, to draw together colleagues who have benefited from his friendship and guidance over the years.
Strigolactones are a new group of plant hormones that suppress shoot branching. In roots, they regulate primary-root growth and lateral-root formation and increase root-hair elongation. Reception of strigolactones occurs via a specific cellular system which includes a D14-like/MAX2-like/SCF complex that, upon perception of strigolactone signalling, leads to certain degradation of receptors and to the release of downstream targets. This signalling pathway may eventually result in changes in actin-filament bundling, cellular trafficking, and PIN localization in the plasma membrane. As a result, auxin flux may be regulated in the shoot or root. Strigolactones are also involved with the response to phosphate conditions in roots, acting by both dampening auxin transport via depletion of PIN2 from the plasma membrane and inducing TIR1 transcription to increase auxin perception. In these instances and, possibly, others, strigolactones manipulate the auxin pathway, affecting its transport, perception or both. However, other mechanisms for strigolactone-regulated plant development and the involvement of other plant hormones are evident.
Nitric oxide (NO) is a gaseous reactive oxygen species (ROS) that has evolved as a signaling hormone in many physiological processes in animals. In plants it has been demonstrated to be a crucial regulator of development, acting as a signaling molecule present at each step of the plant life cycle. NO has also been implicated as a signal in biotic and abiotic responses of plants to the environment. Remarkably, despite this plethora of effects and functional relationships, the fundamental knowledge of NO production, sensing, and transduction in plants remains largely unknown or inadequately characterized. In this review we cover the current understanding of NO production, perception, and action in different physiological scenarios. We especially address the issues of enzymatic and chemical generation of NO in plants, NO sensing and downstream signaling, namely the putative cGMP and Ca2+ pathways, ion-channel activity modulation, gene expression regulation, and the interface with other ROS, which can have a profound effect on both NO accumulation and function. We also focus on the importance of NO in cell–cell communication during developmental processes and sexual reproduction, namely in pollen tube guidance and embryo sac fertilization, pathogen defense, and responses to abiotic stress.
Barley (Hordeum vulgare ssp. vulgare) is an excellent model for understanding agricultural responses to climate change. Its initial domestication over 10 millennia ago and subsequent wide migration provide striking evidence of adaptation to different environments, agro-ecologies and uses. A bottleneck in the selection of modern varieties has resulted in a reduction in total genetic diversity and a loss of specific alleles relevant to climate-smart agriculture. However, extensive and well-curated collections of landraces, wild barley accessions (H. vulgaressp. spontaneum) and other Hordeum species exist and are important new allele sources. A wide range of genomic and analytical tools have entered the public domain for exploring and capturing this variation, and specialized populations, mutant stocks and transgenics facilitate the connection between genetic diversity and heritable phenotypes. These lay the biological, technological and informational foundations for developing climate-resilient crops tailored to specific environments that are supported by extensive environmental and geographical databases, new methods for climate modelling and trait/environment association analyses, and decentralized participatory improvement methods. Case studies of important climate-related traits and their constituent genes – including examples that are indicative of the complexities involved in designing appropriate responses – are presented, and key developments for the future highlighted.
Growing agricultural demands in the face of impending inorganic phosphate (Pi) shortages underscore a need for a better understanding of plant development under conditions of Pi deprivation. Pi is an essential nutrient that is a major component of fertilizer. Plants have evolved strategies to improve the acquisition of this nutrient by altering root development under shortage conditions. We show that signaling peptides thought to act redundantly in Arabidopsis thaliana development have distinct functions in response to Pi deprivation. Using microscopy and confocal imaging, roots were analyzed for growth rate and cellular composition. Using expression microarrays, genes influencing development in response to phosphate deprivation were identified. ROOT GROWTH FACTOR1 (RGF1) and RGF2 influenced different aspects of root development under conditions of Pi deprivation. We found that RGF2 influenced the longitudinal growth rate in the primary root in response to Pi deprivation, whereas RGF1 affected circumferential cell number in the root meristem. These data suggest that the mechanisms controlling adaptive development can depend on disparate functions of genes thought to act redundantly, thus elucidating new functions for important developmental regulators.
Most scientific research is publicly funded, and yet we have to pay to access it. This absurd situation should not be allowed to continue. (...) - Magazine Ouishare, by Sara Rodriguez Marin, 25 February 2015
Archaeochemistry as the application of the most recent analytical techniques to ancient samples now provides an unprecedented understanding of human culture throughout history. In this paper, we report on a multiplatform analytical investigation of 170-y-old champagne bottles found in a shipwreck at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, which provides insight into winemaking practices used at the time. Organic spectroscopy-based nontargeted metabolomics and metallomics give access to the detailed composition of these wines, revealing, for instance, unexpected chemical characteristics in terms of small ion, sugar, and acid contents as well as markers of barrel aging and Maillard reaction products. The distinct aroma composition of these ancient champagne samples, first revealed during tasting sessions, was later confirmed using state-of-the-art aroma analysis techniques. After 170 y of deep sea aging in close-to-perfect conditions, these sleeping champagne bottles awoke to tell us a chapter of the story of winemaking and to reveal their extraordinary archaeometabolome and elemental diversity in the form of chemical signatures related to each individual step of champagne production.
In plants, lipoxygenases (LOXs) are involved in various physiological processes, including defense responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. Our previous study had shown that the pepper 9-LOX gene, CaLOX1, plays a crucial role in cell death due to pathogen infection. Here, the function of CaLOX1 in response to osmotic, drought and high salinity stress was examined using CaLOX1-overexpressing (CaLOX1-OX) Arabidopsis plants. Changes in the temporal expression pattern of the CaLOX1 gene were observed when pepper leaves were treated with drought and high salinity, but not when treated with ABA, the primary hormone in response to drought stress. During seed germination and seedling development, CaLOX1-OX plants were more tolerant to ABA, mannitol and high salinity than wild-type plants. In contrast, expression of the ABA-responsive marker genes RAB18 and RD29B was higher in CaLOX1-OX Arabidopsis plants than in wild-type plants. In response to high salinity, CaLOX1-OX plants exhibited enhanced tolerance, compared with the wild type, which was accompanied by decreased accumulation of H2O2 and high levels of RD20, RD29A, RD29B and P5CS gene expression. Similarly, CaLOX1-OX plants were also more tolerant than wild-type plants to severe drought stress. H2O2 production and the relative increase in lipid peroxidation were lower, and the expression of COR15A, DREB2A, RD20, RD29A and RD29B was higher in CaLOX1-OX plants, relative to wild-type plants. Taken together, our results indicate that CaLOX1 plays a crucial role in plant stress responses by modulating the expression of ABA- and stress-responsive marker genes, lipid peroxidation and H2O2 production.
As a consequence of a sessile lifestyle, plants are continuously exposed to changing environmental conditions and often life-threatening stresses caused by exposure to excessive light, extremes of temperature, limiting nutrient or water availability, and pathogen/insect attack. The flexible coordination of plant growth and development is necessary to optimize vigour and fitness in a changing environment through rapid and appropriate responses to such stresses. The concept that reactive oxygen species (ROS) are versatile signalling molecules in plants that contribute to stress acclimation is well established. This review provides an overview of our current knowledge of how ROS production and signalling are integrated with the action of auxin, brassinosteroids, gibberellins, abscisic acid, ethylene, strigolactones, salicylic acid, and jasmonic acid in the coordinate regulation of plant growth and stress tolerance. We consider the local and systemic crosstalk between ROS and hormonal signalling pathways and identify multiple points of reciprocal control, as well as providing insights into the integration nodes that involve Ca2+-dependent processes and mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphorylation cascades.
“Drying without dying” is an essential trait in land plant evolution. Unraveling how a unique group of angiosperms, the Resurrection Plants, survive desiccation of their leaves and roots has been hampered by the lack of a foundational genome perspective. Here we report the ∼1,691-Mb sequenced genome of Boea hygrometrica, an important resurrection plant model. The sequence revealed evidence for two historical genome-wide duplication events, a compliment of 49,374 protein-coding genes, 29.15% of which are unique (orphan) to Boea and 20% of which (9,888) significantly respond to desiccation at the transcript level. Expansion of early light-inducible protein (ELIP) and 5S rRNA genes highlights the importance of the protection of the photosynthetic apparatus during drying and the rapid resumption of protein synthesis in the resurrection capability of Boea. Transcriptome analysis reveals extensive alternative splicing of transcripts and a focus on cellular protection strategies. The lack of desiccation tolerance-specific genome organizational features suggests the resurrection phenotype evolved mainly by an alteration in the control of dehydration response genes.
The genome analysis presented here represents a major step forward in the field of desiccation tolerance and a much-anticipated resource that will have a far-reaching effect in many areas of plant biology and agriculture. We present the ∼1.69-Gb draft genome of Boea hygrometrica, an important plant model for understanding responses to dehydration. To our knowledge, this is the first genome sequence of a desiccation-tolerant extremophile, offering insight into the evolution of this important trait and a first look, to our knowledge, into the genome organization of desiccation tolerance. The underpinning genome architecture and response in relation to the hydration state of the plant and its role in the preservation of cellular integrity has important implications for developing drought tolerance improvement strategies for our crops.
Population growth and globally increasing standards of living have put a significant strain on the energy-food-water nexus. Limited water availability particularly affects agriculture, as it accounts for over 70% of global freshwater withdrawals.
This study outlines the fundamental nature of plant water consumption and suggests a >50% reduction in renewable freshwater demand is possible by engineering more reflective crops. Furthermore, the decreased radiative forcing resulting from the greater reflectivity of crops would be equivalent to removing 10-50 ppm CO2 from the atmosphere.
Recent advances in engineering optical devices and a greater understanding of the mechanisms of biological reflectance suggest such a strategy may now be viable... While the local benefits may be straightforward, determining the global externalities will require careful modelling efforts and gradually scaled field trials.
Phosphite is a less oxidized form of phosphorus than phosphate. Phosphite is considered to be taken up by the plant through phosphate transporters. It can mimic phosphate to some extent, but it is not metabolized into organophosphates. Phosphite could therefore interfere with phosphorus signalling networks. Typical physiological and transcriptional responses to low phosphate availability were investigated and the short-term kinetics of their reversion by phosphite, compared with phosphate, were determined in both roots and shoots of Arabidopsis thaliana. Phosphite treatment resulted in a strong growth arrest. It mimicked phosphate in causing a reduction in leaf anthocyanins and in the expression of a subset of the phosphate-starvation-responsive genes. However, the kinetics of the response were slower than for phosphate, which may be due to discrimination against phosphite by phosphate transporters PHT1;8 and PHT1;9 causing delayed shoot accumulation of phosphite. Transcripts encoding PHT1;7, lipid-remodelling enzymes such as SQD2, and phosphocholine-producing NMT3 were highly responsive to phosphite, suggesting their regulation by a direct phosphate-sensing network. Genes encoding components associated with the ‘PHO regulon’ in plants, such as At4, IPS1, and PHO1;H1, generally responded more slowly to phosphite than to phosphate, except for SPX1 in roots and MIR399d in shoots. Two uncharacterized phosphate-responsive E3 ligase genes, PUB35 and C3HC4, were also highly phosphite responsive. These results show that phosphite is a valuable tool to identify network components directly responsive to phosphate.
Upland cotton is a model for polyploid crop domestication and transgenic improvement. Here we sequenced the allotetraploid Gossypium hirsutum L. acc. TM-1 genome by integrating whole-genome shotgun reads, bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-end sequences and genotype-by-sequencing genetic maps. We assembled and annotated 32,032 A-subgenome genes and 34,402 D-subgenome genes. Structural rearrangements, gene loss, disrupted genes and sequence divergence were more common in the A subgenome than in the D subgenome, suggesting asymmetric evolution. However, no genome-wide expression dominance was found between the subgenomes. Genomic signatures of selection and domestication are associated with positively selected genes (PSGs) for fiber improvement in the A subgenome and for stress tolerance in the D subgenome. This draft genome sequence provides a resource for engineering superior cotton lines.
During vascular development, procambial and cambial cells give rise to xylem and phloem cells. Because the vascular tissue is deeply embedded, it has been difficult to analyze the processes of vascular development in detail. Here, we establish a novel in vitro experimental system in which vascular development is induced in Arabidopsis thaliana leaf-disk cultures using bikinin, an inhibitor of glycogen synthase kinase 3 proteins. Transcriptome analysis reveals that mesophyll cells in leaf disks synchronously turn into procambial cells and then differentiate into tracheary elements. Leaf-disk cultures from plants expressing the procambial cell markers TDRpro:GUS and TDRpro:YFP can be used for spatiotemporal visualization of procambial cell formation. Further analysis with the tdr mutant and TDIF (tracheary element differentiation inhibitory factor) indicates that the key signaling TDIF-TDR-GSK3s regulates xylem differentiation in leaf-disk cultures. This new culture system can be combined with analysis using the rich material resources for Arabidopsis including cell-marker lines and mutants, thus offering a powerful tool for analyzing xylem cell differentiation.
Root clusters are bunches of hairy rootlets that enhance nutrient uptake among many plants. Since first being reported in 1974, the involvement of rhizobacteria in their formation has received conflicting support. Attempts to identify specific causative organisms have failed and their role has remained speculative. We set up a gnotobiotic experiment using two root-clustered species, Viminaria juncea (Fabaceae) and Hakea laurina (Proteaceae), and inoculated them with two plant-growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR), Bradyrhizobium elkanii and Bacillus mageratium, that produce indole-3-acetic-acid (IAA). Plants were suspended in water culture with four combinations of nitrogen and phosphorus. Clusters only developed in the presence of PGPR in two treatments, were greatly enhanced in another four, suppressed in five, and unaffected in five. Nitrogen amendment was associated with a higher density of clusters. Bradyrhizobium promoted cluster formation in Hakea, whereas Bacillus promoted cluster formation in Viminaria and suppressed it in Hakea. Greater root cluster numbers were due either to a larger root system induced by PGPR (indirect resource effect) and/or to more clusters per unit length of parent root (direct morphogenetic effect). The results are interpreted in terms of greater IAA production by Bradyrhizobium than Bacillus and greater sensitivity of Viminaria to IAA than Hakea.
Jethro Tull (1674 - 21 February 1741, New Style) was an English agricultural pioneer from Berkshire who helped bring about the British Agricultural Revolution. He perfected a horse-drawn seed drill in 1701 that economically sowed the seeds in neat rows. He later developed a horse-drawn hoe.
RSA is determined by interacting genetic and environmental factors. • RSA can provide growth advantages under different environmental conditions. • Expression of a specific gene regulating RSA can confer a growth advantage. • Drought tolerance in crops has a large genetic component and is correlated to RSA. • RSA is an unexplored research area that could impact food production worldwide.
Andres Zurita's insight:
Root system architecture (RSA) plays a major role in plant fitness, crop performance, and grain yield yet only recently has this role been appreciated. RSA describes the spatial arrangement of root tissue within the soil and is therefore crucial to nutrient and water uptake. Recent studies have identified many of the genetic and environmental factors influencing root growth that contribute to RSA. Some of the identified genes have the potential to limit crop loss caused by environmental extremes and are currently being used to confer drought tolerance. It is hypothesized that manipulating these and other genes that influence RSA will be pivotal for future crop advancements worldwide.
Increase in demand for our primary foodstuffs is outstripping increase in yields, an expanding gap that indicates large potential food shortages by mid-century. This comes at a time when yield improvements are slowing or stagnating as the approaches of the Green Revolution reach their biological limits. Photosynthesis, which has been improved little in crops and falls far short of its biological limit, emerges as the key remaining route to increase the genetic yield potential of our major crops. Thus, there is a timely need to accelerate our understanding of the photosynthetic process in crops to allow informed and guided improvements via in-silico-assisted genetic engineering. Potential and emerging approaches to improving crop photosynthetic efficiency are discussed, and the new tools needed to realize these changes are presented.
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