PIN proteins are auxin export carriers that direct intercellular auxin flow and in turn regulate many aspects of plant growth and development including responses to environmental changes. The Arabidopsis R2R3-MYB transcription factor FOUR LIPS (FLP) and its paralogue MYB88 regulate terminal divisions during stomatal development, as well as female reproductive development and stress responses. Here we show that FLP and MYB88 act redundantly but differentially in regulating the transcription of PIN3 and PIN7 in gravity-sensing cells of primary and lateral roots. On the one hand, FLP is involved in responses to gravity stimulation in primary roots, whereas on the other, FLP and MYB88 function complementarily in establishing the gravitropic set-point angles of lateral roots. Our results support a model in which FLP and MYB88 expression specifically determines the temporal-spatial patterns of PIN3 and PIN7 transcription that are closely associated with their preferential functions during root responses to gravity.
Epigenetic regulatory states can persist through mitosis and meiosis, but the connection between chromatin structure and DNA replication remains unclear. Arabidopsis INCURVATA2 (ICU2) encodes the catalytic subunit of DNA polymerase α, and null alleles of ICU2 have an embryo-lethal phenotype. Analysis of icu2-1, a hypomorphic allele of ICU2, demonstrated that ICU2 functions in chromatin-mediated cellular memory; icu2-1 strongly impairs ICU2 function in the maintenance of repressive epigenetic marks but does not seem to affect ICU2 polymerase activity. To better understand the global function of ICU2 in epigenetic regulation, here we performed a microarray analysis of icu2-1 mutant plants. We found that the genes up-regulated in the icu2-1 mutant included genes encoding transcription factors and targets of the Polycomb Repressive Complexes. The down-regulated genes included many known players in salicylic acid (SA) biosynthesis and accumulation, ABA signaling and ABA-mediated responses. In addition, we found that icu2-1 plants had reduced SA levels in normal conditions; infection by Fusarium oxysporum induced SA accumulation in the En-2 wild type but not in the icu2-1 mutant. The icu2-1 plants were also hypersensitive to salt stress and exogenous ABA in seedling establishment, post-germination growth and stomatal closure, and accumulated more ABA than the wild type in response to salt stress. The icu2-1 mutant also showed high tolerance to the oxidative stress produced by 3-amino-1,2,4-triazole (3-AT). Our results uncover a role for ICU2 in the regulation of genes involved in ABA signaling as well as in SA biosynthesis and accumulation.
Rotundone was initially identified as a grape-derived compound responsible for the peppery aroma of Shiraz wine varieties. It has subsequently been found in black and white pepper and several other spices. Because of its potent aroma, the molecular basis for rotundone formation is of particular relevance to grape and wine scientists and industry. We have identified and functionally characterized in planta a sesquiterpene synthase, VvGuaS, from developing grape berries, and have demonstrated that it produces the precursor of rotundone, α-guaiene, as its main product. The VvGuaS enzyme is a novel allele of the sesquiterpene synthase gene, VvTPS24, which has previously been reported to encode VvPNSeInt, an enzyme that produces a variety of selinene-type sesquiterpenes. This newly discovered VvTPS24 allele encodes an enzyme 99.5% identical to VvPNSeInt, with the differences comprising just 6 out of the 561 amino acid residues. Molecular modelling of the enzymes revealed that two of these residues, T414 and V530, are located in the active site of VvGuaS within 4 Å of the binding-site of the substrate, farnesyl pyrophosphate. Mutation of these two residues of VvGuaS into the corresponding polymorphisms in VvPNSeInt results in a complete functional conversion of one enzyme into the other, while mutation of each residue individually produces an intermediate change in the product profile. We have therefore demonstrated that VvGuaS, an enzyme responsible for production of the rotundone precursor, α-guaiene, is encoded by a novel allele of the previously characterized grapevine gene VvTPS24 and that two specific polymorphisms are responsible for functional differences between VvTPS24 alleles.
Bacterial adaptive immunity hinges on CRISPR-Cas systems that provide DNA-encoded, RNA-mediated targeting of exogenous nucleic acids. A plethora of CRISPR molecular machines occur broadly in prokaryotic genomes, with a diversity of Cas nucleases that can be repurposed for various applications.
Old-growth temperate rainforests are, per unit area, the largest and most long-lived stores of carbon in the terrestrial biosphere, but their carbon dynamics have rarely been described. The endangered Fitzroya cupressoides forests of southern South America include stands that are probably the oldest dense forest stands in the world, with long-lived trees and high standing biomass. We assess and compare aboveground biomass, and provide the first estimates of net primary productivity (NPP), carbon allocation and mean wood residence time in medium-age stands in the Alerce Costero National Park (AC) in the Coastal Range and in old-growth forests in the Alerce Andino National Park (AA) in the Andean Cordillera. Aboveground live biomass was 113–114 Mg C ha-1 and 448–517 Mg C ha-1 in AC and AA, respectively. Aboveground productivity was 3.35–3.36 Mg C ha-1 year-1 in AC and 2.22–2.54 Mg C ha-1 year-1 in AA, values generally lower than others reported for temperate wet forests worldwide, mainly due to the low woody growth of Fitzroya. NPP was 4.21–4.24 and 3.78–4.10 Mg C ha-1 year-1 in AC and AA, respectively. Estimated mean wood residence time was a minimum of 539–640 years for the whole forest in the Andes and 1368–1393 years for only Fitzroya in this site. Our biomass estimates for the Andes place these ecosystems among the most massive forests in the world. Differences in biomass production between sites seem mostly apparent as differences in allocation rather than productivity. Residence time estimates for Fitzroya are the highest reported for any species and carbon dynamics in these forests are the slowest reported for wet forests worldwide. Although primary productivity is low in Fitzroya forests, they probably act as ongoing biomass carbon sinks on long-term timescales due to their low mortality rates and exceptionally long residence times that allow biomass to be accumulated for millennia.
Polyploidy has played a central role in plant genome evolution and in the formation of new species such as tetraploid pasta wheat and hexaploid bread wheat. Until recently, the high sequence conservation between homoeologous genes, together with the large genome size of polyploid wheat, had hindered genomic analyses in this important crop species. In the past 5 yr, however, the advent of next-generation sequencing has radically changed the wheat genomics landscape. Here, we review a series of advances in genomic resources and tools for functional genomics that are shifting the paradigm of what is possible in wheat molecular genetics and breeding. We discuss how understanding the relationship between homoeologues can inform approaches to modulate the response of quantitative traits in polyploid wheat; we also argue that functional redundancy has ‘locked up’ a wide range of phenotypic variation in wheat. We explore how genomics provides key tools to inform targeted manipulation of multiple homoeologues, thereby allowing researchers and plant breeders to unlock the full polyploid potential of wheat.
Pineapple (Ananas comosus (L.) Merr.) is the most economically valuable crop possessing crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), a photosynthetic carbon assimilation pathway with high water-use efficiency, and the second most important tropical fruit. We sequenced the genomes of pineapple varieties F153 and MD2 and a wild pineapple relative, Ananas bracteatus accession CB5. The pineapple genome has one fewer ancient whole-genome duplication event than sequenced grass genomes and a conserved karyotype with seven chromosomes from before the ρ duplication event. The pineapple lineage has transitioned from C3 photosynthesis to CAM, with CAM-related genes exhibiting a diel expression pattern in photosynthetic tissues. CAM pathway genes were enriched with cis-regulatory elements associated with the regulation of circadian clock genes, providing the first cis-regulatory link between CAM and circadian clock regulation. Pineapple CAM photosynthesis evolved by the reconfiguration of pathways in C3 plants, through the regulatory neofunctionalization of preexisting genes and not through the acquisition of neofunctionalized genes via whole-genome or tandem gene duplication.
Plant cation-chloride cotransporters (CCCs) have been implicated in conferring salt tolerance. They are predicted to improve shoot salt exclusion by directly catalyzing the retrieval of sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl−) ions from the root xylem. We investigated whether grapevine (Vitis vinifera [Vvi]) CCC has a role in salt tolerance by cloning and functionally characterizing the gene from the cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon. Amino acid sequence analysis revealed that VviCCC shares a high degree of similarity with other plant CCCs. A VviCCC-yellow fluorescent protein translational fusion protein localized to the Golgi and the trans-Golgi network and not the plasma membrane when expressed transiently in tobacco (Nicotiana benthamiana) leaves and Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) mesophyll protoplasts. AtCCC-green fluorescent protein from Arabidopsis also localized to the Golgi and the trans-Golgi network. In Xenopus laevis oocytes, VviCCC targeted to the plasma membrane, where it catalyzed bumetanide-sensitive 36Cl–, 22Na+, and 86Rb+ uptake, suggesting that VviCCC (like AtCCC) belongs to the Na+-K+-2Cl– cotransporter class of CCCs. Expression of VviCCCin an Arabidopsis ccc knockout mutant abolished the mutant’s stunted growth phenotypes and reduced shoot Cl– and Na+ content to wild-type levels after growing plants in 50 mM NaCl. In grapevine roots, VviCCC transcript abundance was not regulated by Cl– treatment and was present at similar levels in both the root stele and cortex of three Vitis spp. genotypes that exhibit differential shoot salt exclusion. Our findings indicate that CCC function is conserved between grapevine and Arabidopsis, but neither protein is likely to directly mediate ion transfer with the xylem or have a direct role in salt tolerance.
The number of sequenced genomes is rapidly increasing, but functional annotation of the genes in these genomes lags far behind. Even in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), only approximately 40% of enzyme- and transporter-encoding genes have credible functional annotations, and this number is even lower in nonmodel plants. Functional characterization of unknown genes is a challenge, but various databases (e.g. for protein localization and coexpression) can be mined to provide clues. If homologous microbial genes exist—and about one-half the genes encoding unknown enzymes and transporters in Arabidopsis have microbial homologs—cross-kingdom comparative genomics can powerfully complement plant-based data. Multiple lines of evidence can strengthen predictions and warrant experimental characterization. In some cases, relatively quick tests in genetically tractable microbes can determine whether a prediction merits biochemical validation, which is costly and demands specialized skills.
Modern plant breeding has made a profound impact on food production and will continue to play a vital role in world food security. For sustainable agriculture, a compromise should be sought between maximizing crop yield under changing climate and minimizing crop failure under unfavorable conditions. Such a compromise requires better understanding of the impacts of plant breeding on crop genetic diversity. Efforts have been made over the last three decades to assess crop genetic diversity using molecular marker technologies. However, these assessments have revealed some temporal diversity patterns that are largely inconsistent with our perception that modern plant breeding reduces crop genetic diversity. An attempt was made in this review to explain such discrepancies by examining empirical assessments of crop genetic diversity and theoretical investigations of genetic diversity changes over time under artificial selection. It was found that many crop genetic diversity assessments were not designed to assess diversity impacts from specific plant breeding programs, while others were experimentally inadequate and contained technical biases from the sampling of cultivars and genomes. Little attention has been paid to theoretical investigations on crop genetic diversity changes from plant breeding. A computer simulation of five simplified breeding schemes showed the substantial effects of plant breeding on the retention of heterozygosity over generations. It is clear that more efforts are needed to investigate crop genetic diversity in space and time under plant breeding to achieve sustainable crop production.
Median-joining phylogenetic network constructed for the 26 VvNAC26 haplotypes detected (H1 – H26). Each haplotype is represented by a circle, which size (see code) is proportional to its frequency in the set of varieties analyzed. Their inner color/s indicate the proportion of varieties assigned to each of the genetic groups detected by STRUCTURE (see color code, Adm.: admixed). Lines connecting haplotypes represent phylogenetic branches, and small transversal lines represent mutational steps (only those polymorphisms significantly associated with berry and/or bunch traits appear named, according to Table 4). Black dots represent missing intermediate haplotypes. HGA and HGB indicate the two different haplogroups detected (see Additional file 10). MH1, MH2, MH3, MH4 and MH5 indicate the different minihapolotypes inferred on the basis of polymorphisms Y117, W-962 and IND-694 (see Table 5)
Andres Zurita's insight:
Background Domestication and selection of Vitis vinifera L. for table and wine grapes has led to a large level of berry size diversity in current grapevine cultivars. Identifying the genetic basis for this natural variation is paramount both for breeding programs and for elucidating which genes contributed to crop evolution during domestication and selection processes. The gene VvNAC26, which encodes a NAC domain-containing transcription factor, has been related to the early development of grapevine flowers and berries. It was selected as candidate gene for an association study to elucidate its possible participation in the natural variation of reproductive traits in cultivated grapevine.
Methods A grapevine collection of 114 varieties was characterized during three consecutive seasons for different berry and bunch traits. The promoter and coding regions of VvNAC26 gene (VIT_01s0026g02710) were sequenced in all the varieties of the collection, and the existing polymorphisms (SNP and INDEL) were detected. The corresponding haplotypes were inferred and used for a phylogenetic analysis. The possible associations between genotypic and phenotypic data were analyzed independently for each season data, using different models and significance thresholds.
Results A total of 30 non-rare polymorphisms were detected in the VvNAC26 sequence, and 26 different haplotypes were inferred. Phylogenetic analysis revealed their clustering in two major haplogroups with marked phenotypic differences in berry size between varieties harboring haplogroup-specific alleles. After correcting the statistical models for the effect of the population genetic stratification, we found a set of polymorphisms associated with berry size explaining between 8.4 and 21.7 % (R2) of trait variance, including those generating the differentiation between both haplogroups. Haplotypes built from only three polymorphisms (minihaplotypes) were also associated with this trait (R2: 17.5 – 26.6 %), supporting the involvement of this gene in the natural variation for berry size.
Conclusions Our results suggest the participation of VvNAC26 in the determination of the grape berry final size. Different VvNAC26 polymorphisms and their combination showed to be associated with different features of the fruit. The phylogenetic relationships between the VvNAC26 haplotypes and the association results indicate that this nucleotide variation may have contributed to the differentiation between table and wine grapes.
To elucidate the physiological and transcriptional regulatory mechanisms that underlie the responses of poplars to high temperature (HT) and/or drought in woody plants, we exposed Populus alba × P. tremula var. glandulosa saplings to ambient temperature (AT) or HT under 80% or 40% field capacities, or no watering. HT increased the foliar total carbon (C) concentrations, and foliar δ13C and δ18O. HT triggered heat stress signaling via increasing levels of ABA and IAA in poplar roots and leaves. After perception of HT, poplars initiated osmotic adjustment by increasing foliar sucrose and root galactose levels. In agreement with the HT-induced heat stress and the changes in the levels of ABA and carbohydrates, we detected increased transcript levels of HSP18 and HSP21, as well as NCED3 in the roots and leaves, and the sugar transporter gene STP14 in the roots. Compared with AT, drought induced greater enhancement of foliar δ13C and δ18O in poplars at HT. Similarly, drought caused greater stimulation of the ABA and foliar glucose levels in poplars at HT than at AT. Correspondingly, desiccation led to greater increases in the mRNA levels of HSP18, HSP21, NCED3, STP14 and INT1 in poplar roots at HT than at AT. These results suggest that HT has detrimental effects on physiological processes and it induces the transcriptional regulation of key genes involved in heat stress responses, ABA biosynthesis and sugar transport, and HT can cause greater changes in drought-induced physiological and transcriptional responses in poplar roots and leaves.
Plant genomes, and eukaryotic genomes in general, are typically repetitive, polyploid and heterozygous, which complicates genome assembly1. The short read lengths of early Sanger and current next-generation sequencing platforms hinder assembly through complex repeat regions, and many draft and reference genomes are fragmented, lacking skewed GC and repetitive intergenic sequences, which are gaining importance due to projects like the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE)2. Here we report the whole-genome sequencing and assembly of the desiccation-tolerant grass Oropetium thomaeum. Using only single-molecule real-time sequencing, which generates long (>16 kilobases) reads with random errors, we assembled 99% (244 megabases) of the Oropetium genome into 625 contigs with an N50 length of 2.4 megabases. Oropetium is an example of a ‘near-complete’ draft genome which includes gapless coverage over gene space as well as intergenic sequences such as centromeres, telomeres, transposable elements and rRNA clusters that are typically unassembled in draft genomes. Oropetium has 28,466 protein-coding genes and 43% repeat sequences, yet with 30% more compact euchromatic regions it is the smallest known grass genome. The Oropetium genome demonstrates the utility of single-molecule real-time sequencing for assembling high-quality plant and other eukaryotic genomes, and serves as a valuable resource for the plant comparative genomics community.
The phytohormone ABA is a key stress signal in plants. Although the identification of ABA receptors led to significant progress in understanding the Arabidopsis ABA signaling pathway, there are still many unsolved mysteries regarding ABA signaling in monocots, such as rice. Here, we report that a rice ortholog of AtABI1 and AtABI2, named OsABI-LIKE2(OsABIL2), plays a negative role in rice ABA signaling. Overexpression of OsABIL2 not only led to ABA insensitivity, but also significantly altered plant developmental phenotypes, including stomatal density and root architecture, which probably caused the hypersensitivity to drought stress. OsABIL2 interacts with OsPYL1, SAPK8 and SAPK10 both in vitro and in vivo, and the phosphatase activity of OsABIL2 was repressed by ABA-bound OsPYL1. However, unlike many other solely nuclear-localized clade A type 2C protein phosphatases (PP2Cs), OsABIL2 is localized in both the nucleus and cytosol. Furthermore, OsABIL2 interacts with and co-localized with OsPYL1 mainly in the cytosol, and ABA treatment regulates the nucleus–cytosol distribution of OsABIL2, suggesting a different mechanism for the activation of ABA signaling. Taken together, this study provides significant insights into rice ABA signaling and indicates the important role of OsABIL2 in regulating root development.
Hybrids are extensively used in agriculture to deliver increases in crop yields, yet the molecular basis of their superior performance (heterosis) is not well understood. We report that some Arabidopsis F1 hybrids show changes to salicylic acid- and auxin-regulated defense and stress response gene expression. These changes could be important for generating the greater growth of some hybrids given the antagonistic relationship between plant growth and defense responses. Hybrids showing different levels of heterosis have changes in the salicylic acid- and auxin-regulated pathways that correlate with differences in the enhanced leaf growth. The larger leaves, and thus greater capacity for energy production, support the increased growth vigor and seed yields of the hybrids.
Legume crops such as chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut, mostly grown in marginal environments, are the major source of nutrition and protein to the human population in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. These crops, however, have a low productivity, mainly due to their exposure to several biotic and abiotic stresses in the marginal environments. Until 2005, these crops had limited genomics resources and molecular breeding was very challenging. During the last decade (2005–2015), ICRISAT led demand-driven innovations in genome science and translated the massive genome information in breeding. For instance, large-scale genomic resources including draft genome assemblies, comprehensive genetic and physical maps, thousands of SSR markers, millions of SNPs, several high-throughput as well as low cost marker genotyping platforms have been developed in these crops. After mapping several breeding related traits, several success stories of translational genomics have become available in these legumes. These include development of superior lines with enhanced drought tolerance in chickpea, enhanced and pyramided resistance to Fusarium wilt and Ascochyta blight in chickpea, enhanced resistance to leaf rust in groundnut, improved oil quality in groundnut and utilization of markers for assessing purity of hybrids/parental lines in pigeonpea. Some of these stories together with future prospects have been discussed.
Intensive investigations during the past two decades have helped in elucidation of auxin perception and signal transduction mechanisms operative in plants. In addition to its primary role in regulating plant development, several studies in recent years have provided unflinching evidence for the involvement of auxin in abiotic stress responses. Functional genomics studies and genome-wide expression analysis have revealed altered expression of auxin-responsive genes, such as Aux/IAA, GH3, SAURs, and ARFs, under abiotic stress conditions. Variations in endogenous levels of auxin at global and local levels under various abiotic stress conditions have been associated with phenotypic changes and provided intriguing evidences regarding its role in response to environmental changes. Modulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels in response to exogenous auxin as well as to drought, salinity, and ABA have indicated towards a complex relationship network between auxin, ROS, and abiotic stresses in plants. The advent of recent functional genomics technologies has led to identification of several candidate genes that may modulate crosstalk between auxin and abiotic stresses. This chapter discusses auxin homeostasis, signal transduction mechanisms, and how these processes are modulated under abiotic stresses, thus emphasizing on the emerging roles of auxin as a key integrator of abiotic stress pathways and plant development.
The length of root epidermal cells and their patterning into files of hair-bearing and non-hair cells are genetically determined but respond with high plasticity to environmental cues. Limited phyto-availability of the essential mineral nutrient phosphate (Pi) increases the number of root hairs by longitudinal shortening of epidermal cells and by reprogramming the fate of cells in positions normally occupied by non-hair cells. Through analysis of the root morphology and transcriptional profiles from transgenic Arabidopsis lines with altered expression of the histone deacetylase HDA19, we show that in an intricate interplay of Pi availability and intrinsic factors, HDA19 controls the epidermal cell length, probably by altering the positional bias that dictates epidermal patterning. In addition, HDA19 regulates several Pi-responsive genes that encode proteins with important regulatory or metabolic roles in the acclimation to Pi deficiency. In particular, HDA19 affects genes encoding SPX (SYG1/Pho81/XPR) domain-containing proteins and genes involved in membrane lipid remodeling, a key response to Pi starvation that increases the free Pi in plants. Our data add a novel, non-transcriptionally regulated component of the Pi signaling network and emphasize the importance of reversible post-translational histone modification for the integration of external signals into intrinsic developmental and metabolic programs.
Sequencing of RNA (RNA-Seq) was invented approximately 1 decade ago and has since revolutionized biological research. This update provides a brief historic perspective on the development of RNA-Seq and then focuses on the application of RNA-Seq in qualitative and quantitative analyses of transcriptomes. Particular emphasis is given to aspects of data analysis. Since the wet-lab and data analysis aspects of RNA-Seq are still rapidly evolving and novel applications are continuously reported, a printed review will be rapidly outdated and can only serve to provide some examples and general guidelines for planning and conducting RNA-Seq studies. Hence, selected references to frequently update online resources are given.
Transcriptional control of tissue formation throughout root development
Andres Zurita's insight:
As the root of a growing plant pushes its way through soil, its cells have a lot of organizing to do. New cells must take on the appropriate identities and positions to form distinct layers of tissue that give the root its structure, protect it from the environment, and ensure that it can properly transport materials to and from the rest of the plant.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientists have now identified a set of proteins that plays a surprisingly broad role in guiding this tissue formation. The factors, known as the BIRDs, help a root maintain its organization as it grows, guiding several distinct steps in the development of two interior layers of tissue. The study was led by Philip Benfey, an HHMI-Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation investigator at Duke University. Benfey and his colleagues published their findings on October 23, 2015, in the journal Science.
Strigolactones are important rhizosphere signals that act as phytohormones and have multiple functions, including modulation of lateral root (LR) development. Here, we show that treatment with the strigolactone analog GR24 did not affect LR initiation, but negatively influenced LR priming and emergence, the latter especially near the root–shoot junction. The cytokinin module ARABIDOPSIS HISTIDINE KINASE3(AHK3)/ARABIDOPSIS RESPONSE REGULATOR1 (ARR1)/ARR12 was found to interact with the GR24-dependent reduction in LR development, because mutants in this pathway rendered LR development insensitive to GR24. Additionally, pharmacological analyses, mutant analyses, and gene expression analyses indicated that the affected polar auxin transport stream in mutants of the AHK3/ARR1/ARR12 module could be the underlying cause. Altogether, the data reveal that the GR24 effect on LR development depends on the hormonal landscape that results from the intimate connection with auxins and cytokinins, two main players in LR development.
We reported previously that root elongation in Arabidopsis is promoted by exogenous proline, raising the possibility that this amino acid may modulate root growth.
To evaluate this hypothesis we used a combination of genetic, pharmacological and molecular analyses, and showed that proline specifically affects root growth by modulating the size of the root meristem. The effects of proline on meristem size are parallel to, and independent from, hormonal pathways, and do not involve the expression of genes controlling cell differentiation at the transition zone. On the contrary, proline appears to control cell division in early stages of postembryonic root development, as shown by the expression of the G2/M-specific CYCLINB1;1 (CYCB1;1) gene.
The overall data suggest that proline can modulate the size of root meristematic zone in Arabidopsis likely controlling cell division and, in turn, the ratio between cell division and cell differentiation.
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