The failure of gene-for-gene resistance traits to provide durable and broad-spectrum resistance in an agricultural context has led to the search for genes underlying quantitative resistance in plants. Such genes have been identified in only a few cases, all for fungal or nematode resistance, and encode diverse molecular functions. However, an understanding of the molecular mechanisms of quantitative resistance variation to other enemies and the associated evolutionary forces shaping this variation remain largely unknown. We report the identification, map-based cloning and functional validation of QRX3 (RKS1, Resistance related KinaSe 1), conferring broad-spectrum resistance to Xanthomonas campestris (Xc), a devastating worldwide bacterial vascular pathogen of crucifers. RKS1 encodes an atypical kinase that mediates a quantitative resistance mechanism in plants by restricting bacterial spread from the infection site. Nested Genome-Wide Association mapping revealed a major locus corresponding to an allelic series at RKS1 at the species level. An association between variation in resistance and RKS1 transcription was found using various transgenic lines as well as in natural accessions, suggesting that regulation of RKS1 expression is a major component of quantitative resistance to Xc. The co-existence of long lived RKS1 haplotypes in A. thalianais shared with a variety of genes involved in pathogen recognition, suggesting common selective pressures. The identification of RKS1 constitutes a starting point for deciphering the mechanisms underlying broad spectrum quantitative disease resistance that is effective against a devastating and vascular crop pathogen. Because putative RKS1 orthologous have been found in other Brassica species, RKS1 provides an exciting opportunity for plant breeders to improve resistance to black rot in crops.
DNA methylation in transposons and other DNA repeats is conserved in plants as well as in animals. In Arabidopsis thaliana, an RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) pathway directs de novo DNA methylation. We performed a forward genetic screen for suppressors of the DNA demethylase mutant ros1 and identified a novel Zinc-finger and OCRE domain-containing Protein 1 (ZOP1) that promotes Pol IV-dependent siRNA accumulation, DNA methylation, and transcriptional silencing. Whole-genome methods disclosed the genome-wide effects of zop1on Pol IV-dependent siRNA accumulation and DNA methylation, suggesting that ZOP1 has both RdDM-dependent and -independent roles in transcriptional silencing. We demonstrated that ZOP1 is a pre-mRNA splicing factor that associates with several typical components of the splicing machinery as well as with Pol II. Immunofluorescence assay revealed that ZOP1 overlaps with Cajal body and is partially colocalized with NRPE1 and DRM2. Moreover, we found that the other development-defective splicing mutants tested including mac3a3b,mos4, mos12 and mos14 show defects in RdDM and transcriptional silencing. We propose that the splicing machinery rather than specific splicing factors is involved in promoting RdDM and transcriptional silencing.
Mechanical stimuli generate Ca2+ signals and influence growth and development in plants. Recently, candidates for Ca2+-permeable mechanosensitive (MS) channels have been identified. These channels are thought to be responsible for sensing osmotic shock, touch, and gravity. One candidate is the MscS-like (MSL) protein family, a homolog of the typical bacterial MS channels. Some of the MSL proteins are localized to plastids to maintain their shape and size. Another candidate is the mid1-complementing activity (MCA) protein family, which is structurally unique to the plant kingdom. MCA proteins are localized in the plasma membrane and are suggested to be involved in mechanosensing and to be functionally related to reactive oxygen species (ROS) signaling. Here, we review their structural features and role in planta.
Plants are adapted to soils in which the amounts of different nutrients vary widely, like Zn-deficient or Zn-contaminated soils. Exploring the molecular bases of plant adaptation to Zn-contaminated soils is important in determining strategies for phytoremediation. Here, we describe the mapping and characterization of a QTL for Zn tolerance in A. thaliana that underlies the natural variation of the root response to excess Zn. This physiological variation is controlled by different alleles of the AtFRD3 gene, which codes for a citrate transporter that uploads citrate into the xylem sap, hence playing a role in Fe homeostasis. In the Zn-sensitive accession Shahdara, the expression of AtFRD3 is drastically reduced and the protein encoded is unable to efflux citrate in vitro. Less Fe and Zn are found in Shahdara root exudates, and less Fe and Zn are translocated from root to shoot when Zn is in excess. We deduce that a fine-tuned Fe and Zn homeostasis is crucial for Zn tolerance in A. thaliana. Finally, as a range of alleles were identified, some rare, it was possible to define a sequence motif that is a putative metal-responsive cis-element and demonstrate that two amino acids are essential for the function of the FRD3 transporter.
Development of chloroplasts and other plastids depends on the import of thousands of nucleus-encoded proteins from the cytosol. Import is initiated by TOC (translocon at the outer envelope of chloroplasts) complexes in the plastid outer membrane that incorporate multiple, client-specific receptors. Modulation of import is thought to control the plastid’s proteome, developmental fate, and functions. Using forward genetics, we identified Arabidopsis SP1, which encodes a RING-type ubiquitin E3 ligase of the chloroplast outer membrane. The SP1 protein associated with TOC complexes and mediated ubiquitination of TOC components, promoting their degradation. Mutant sp1 plants performed developmental transitions that involve plastid proteome changes inefficiently, indicating a requirement for reorganization of the TOC machinery. Thus, the ubiquitin-proteasome system acts on plastids to control their development.
Floral initiation is orchestrated by systemic floral activators and inhibitors. This remote-control system may integrate environmental cues to modulate floral initiation. Recently, FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) was found to be a florigen. However, the identity of systemic floral inhibitor or anti-florigen remains to be elucidated. Here we show that Arabidopsis thaliana CENTRORADIALIS homologue (ATC), an Arabidopsis FT homologue, may act in a non-cell autonomous manner to inhibit floral initiation. Analysis of the ATC null mutant revealed that ATC is a short-day-induced floral inhibitor. Cell type-specific expression showed that companion cells and apex that express ATC are sufficient to inhibit floral initiation. Histochemical analysis showed that the promoter activity of ATC was mainly found in vasculature but under the detection limit in apex, a finding that suggests that ATC may move from the vasculature to the apex to influence flowering. Consistent with this notion, Arabidopsis seedling grafting experiments demonstrated that ATC moved over a long distance and that floral inhibition by ATC is graft transmissible. ATC probably antagonizes FT activity, because both ATC and FT interact with FD and affect the same downstream meristem identity genes APETALA1, in an opposite manner. Thus, photoperiodic variations may trigger functionally opposite FT homologues to systemically influence floral initiation.
Crop domestications are long-term selection experiments that have greatly advanced human civilization. The domestication of cultivated rice (Oryza sativa L.) ranks as one of the most important developments in history. However, its origins and domestication processes are controversial and have long been debated. Here we generate genome sequences from 446 geographically diverse accessions of the wild rice species Oryza rufipogon, the immediate ancestral progenitor of cultivated rice, and from 1,083 cultivated indicaand japonica varieties to construct a comprehensive map of rice genome variation. In the search for signatures of selection, we identify 55 selective sweeps that have occurred during domestication. In-depth analyses of the domestication sweeps and genome-wide patterns reveal that Oryza sativa japonica rice was first domesticated from a specific population of O. rufipogon around the middle area of the Pearl River in southern China, and that Oryza sativa indicarice was subsequently developed from crosses between japonica rice and local wild rice as the initial cultivars spread into South East and South Asia. The domestication-associated traits are analysed through high-resolution genetic mapping. This study provides an important resource for rice breeding and an effective genomics approach for crop domestication research.
Environmental changes strongly affect plant growth and development. Phytohormones, endogenous plant-made small molecules such as ethylene, regulate a wide range of processes throughout the lifetime of plants [  and ]. The ability of plants to integrate external signals with endogenous regulatory pathways is vital for their survival [  and ]. Ethylene has been found to suppress hypocotyl elongation in darkness  while promoting it in light [  and ]. How ethylene regulates hypocotyl elongation in such opposite ways is largely unknown. In particular, how light modulates and even reverses the function of ethylene has yet to be characterized. Here we show that the basic-helix-loop-helix transcription factor phytochrome-interacting factor 3 (PIF3) is directly activated by ETHYLENE-INSENSITIVE 3 (EIN3) and is indispensible for ethylene-induced hypocotyl elongation in light. Ethylene via EIN3 concomitantly activates two contrasting pathways: the PIF3-dependent growth-promoting pathway and an ethylene response factor 1 (ERF1)-mediated growth-inhibiting pathway. In the light, growth-promoting PIFs are limiting due to light-dependent destabilization, and thus ethylene stimulates growth under these conditions. In contrast, ERF1 is destabilized, and thus limiting, under dark conditions, explaining why ethylene inhibits growth in the dark. Our findings provide a mechanistic insight into how light modulates internal hormone-regulated plant growth.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are key regulators of numerous genes in many eukaryotes. Some plant miRNAs are involved in developmental and physiological processes that require intercellular or inter-organ signaling. Movement of other small RNAs within plants has been established. Recent findings also demonstrate intercellular signaling by miRNAs and strongly support that a subset of these regulatory molecules move from one cell to another or over long distances. Phloem exudates contain diverse miRNAs and at least two of them, involved in responses to nutrient availability, are transmitted through grafts, indicating long-distance movement. Two miRNAs that regulate developmental processes are present in cells outside their domains of expression. Several results strongly support that one of them moves from cell to cell. Research on a mutant affected in plasmodesmata trafficking indicates that these intercellular channels are required for transmission of miRNA activity to adjacent cells. Moreover, ARGONAUTE proteins might be involved in the regulation of miRNA trafficking. Hypothesis on the features and mechanisms that may determine miRNA mobility are presented. Future challenges include identifying other mobile miRNAs; demonstrating that miRNA movement is required for non-cell autonomous action; and characterizing the mechanisms of translocation and genetic pathways that regulate miRNA movement.
Xylan is a major component of the plant cell wall and the most abundant noncellulosic component in the secondary cell walls that constitute the largest part of plant biomass. Dicot glucuronoxylan consists of a linear backbone of β(1,4)-linked xylose residues substituted with α(1,2)-linked glucuronic acid (GlcA). Although several genes have been implicated in xylan synthesis through mutant analyses, the biochemical mechanisms responsible for synthesizing xylan are largely unknown. Here, we show evidence for biochemical activity of GUX1 (for GlcA substitution of xylan 1), a member of Glycosyltransferase Family 8 in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) that is responsible for adding the glucuronosyl substitutions onto the xylan backbone. GUX1 has characteristics typical of Golgi-localized glycosyltransferases and a Km for UDP-GlcA of 165 μm. GUX1 strongly favors xylohexaose as an acceptor over shorter xylooligosaccharides, and with xylohexaose as an acceptor, GlcA is almost exclusively added to the fifth xylose residue from the nonreducing end. We also show that several related proteins, GUX2 to GUX5 and Plant Glycogenin-like Starch Initiation Protein6, are Golgi localized and that only two of these proteins, GUX2 and GUX4, have activity as xylan α-glucuronosyltransferases.
"Small RNA expression analysis on loci showing RDM16-dependent DNA methylation suggested that unlike the previously reported putative splicing factor mutants, rdm16 did not affect small RNA levels; instead, the rdm16 mutation caused a decrease in the levels of Pol V transcripts. ChIP assays revealed that RDM16 was enriched at some Pol V target loci. Our results suggest that RDM16 regulates DNA methylation through influencing Pol V transcript levels."
Mammalian target-of-rapamycin (mTOR) triggers S6 kinase (S6K) activation to phosphorylate targets linked to translation in response to energy, nutrients, and hormones. Pathways of TOR activation in plants remain unknown. Here, we uncover the role of the phytohormone auxin in TOR signalling activation and reinitiation after upstream open reading frame (uORF) translation, which in plants is dependent on translation initiation factor eIF3h. We show that auxin triggers TOR activation followed by S6K1 phosphorylation at T449 and efficient loading of uORF-mRNAs onto polysomes in a manner sensitive to the TOR inhibitor Torin-1. Torin-1 mediates recruitment of inactive S6K1 to polysomes, while auxin triggers S6K1 dissociation and recruitment of activated TOR instead. A putative target of TOR/S6K1—eIF3h—is phosphorylated and detected in polysomes in response to auxin. In TOR-deficient plants, polysomes were prebound by inactive S6K1, and loading of uORF-mRNAs and eIF3h was impaired. Transient expression of eIF3h-S178D in plant protoplasts specifically upregulates uORF-mRNA translation. We propose that TOR functions in polysomes to maintain the active S6K1 (and thus eIF3h) phosphorylation status that is critical for translation reinitiation.
CERK1 is a lysine motif-containing plant pattern recognition receptor for chitin and peptidoglycan. Chitin recognition by OsCERK1 triggers rapid engagement of a rice MAP kinase cascade, which leads to defense response activation. How the MAP kinase cascades are engaged downstream of OsCERK1 remains obscure. Searching for host proteins that interact with Xoo1488, an effector of the rice pathogen Xanthomonas oryzae, we identified the rice receptor-like cytoplasmic kinase, OsRLCK185. Silencing OsRLCK185 suppressed peptidoglycan- and chitin-induced immune responses, including MAP kinase activation and defense-gene expression. In response to chitin, OsRLCK185 associates with, and is directly phosphorylated by, OsCERK1 at the plasma membrane. Xoo1488 inhibits peptidoglycan- and chitin-induced immunity and pathogen resistance. Additionally, OsCERK1-mediated phosphorylation of OsRLCK185 is suppressed by Xoo1488, resulting in the inhibition of chitin-induced MAP kinase activation. These data support a role for OsRLCK185 as an essential immediate downstream signaling partner of OsCERK1 in mediating chitin- and peptidoglycan-induced plant immunity.
We provide a definitive answer to the question regarding the role of histone H3 lysine 4 tri-methylation marks in the transcription of two ATX1-regulated genes. Despite the proven correlation between the gene transcriptional activity and the level of H3K4me3 modification on the nucleosomes, whether H3K4me3 contributes to, or simply “registers,” active transcription has remained unclear. Another broader-relevance question is whether histone-modifying proteins are required for recruitment of the general transcription machinery, thus playing roles beyond their catalytic activity. Using a combination of gene deletion and specific point mutation analyses, we untangle overlapping effects and reveal that H3K4me3 is not required for TBP/Pol II recruitment to promoters but is critical as an activating mark for transcription elongation. The existing hitherto ambiguity about the role of H3K4me3 as an activating mark has been largely due to the unknown duality of the ATX1/AtCOMPASS functions: facilitating PIC assembly and producing H3K4me3 as an activating mark for transcription elongation.
The final expression level of a transgene-derived protein in transgenic plants depends on transcriptional and post-transcriptional processes. Here, we focus on methods to improve protein stability without comprising biological function. We found that the four isoforms of the Arabidopsis RAD23 protein family are relatively stable. The UBA2 domain derived from RAD23a can be used as a portable stabilizing signal to prolong the half-life of two unstable transcription factors (TFs), HFR1 and PIF3. The increased stability of the TF–UBA2 fusion proteins results in an enhanced phenotype in transgenic plants compared to expression of the TF alone. Similar results were obtained for the RAD23a UBA1 domain. In addition to UBA1/2 of RAD23a, the UBA domain from the Arabidopsis DDI1 protein also increased the half-life of the unstable protein JAZ10.1, which is involved in jasmonate signaling. Taken together, our results suggest that UBA fusions can be used to increase the stability of unstable proteins for basic plant biology research as well as crop improvement.
Crop domestications are long-term selection experiments that have greatly advanced human civilization. The domestication of cultivated rice (Oryza sativa L.) ranks as one of the most important developments in history. However, its origins and domestication processes are controversial and have long been debated. Here we generate genome sequences from 446 geographically diverse accessions of the wild rice species Oryza rufipogon, the immediate ancestral progenitor of cultivated rice, and from 1,083 cultivated indica and japonica varieties to construct a comprehensive map of rice genome variation. In the search for signatures of selection, we identify 55 selective sweeps that have occurred during domestication. In-depth analyses of the domestication sweeps and genome-wide patterns reveal that Oryza sativa japonica rice was first domesticated from a specific population of O. rufipogon around the middle area of the Pearl River in southern China, and that Oryza sativa indica rice was subsequently developed from crosses between japonica rice and local wild rice as the initial cultivars spread into South East and South Asia. The domestication-associated traits are analysed through high-resolution genetic mapping. This study provides an important resource for rice breeding and an effective genomics approach for crop domestication research.
Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) is among the world’s earliest domesticated and most important crop plants. It is diploid with a large haploid genome of 5.1 gigabases (Gb). Here we present an integrated and ordered physical, genetic and functional sequence resource that describes the barley gene-space in a structured whole-genome context. We developed a physical map of 4.98 Gb, with more than 3.90 Gb anchored to a high-resolution genetic map. Projecting a deep whole-genome shotgun assembly, complementary DNA and deep RNA sequence data onto this framework supports 79,379 transcript clusters, including 26,159 ‘high-confidence’ genes with homology support from other plant genomes. Abundant alternative splicing, premature termination codons and novel transcriptionally active regions suggest that post-transcriptional processing forms an important regulatory layer. Survey sequences from diverse accessions reveal a landscape of extensive single-nucleotide variation. Our data provide a platform for both genome-assisted research and enabling contemporary crop improvement.
Hybrid sterility is a major form of postzygotic reproductive isolation that restricts gene flow between populations. Cultivated rice (Oryza sativa L.) consists of two subspecies, indica and japonica; inter-subspecific hybrids are usually sterile. We show that a killer-protector system at the S5 locus encoded by three tightly linked genes [Open Reading Frame 3 (ORF3) to ORF5] regulates fertility in indica-japonica hybrids. During female sporogenesis, the action of ORF5+ (killer) and ORF4+ (partner) causes endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. ORF3+ (protector) prevents ER stress and produces normal gametes, but ORF3– cannot prevent ER stress, resulting in premature programmed cell death and leads to embryo-sac abortion. Preferential transmission of ORF3+ gametes results in segregation distortion in the progeny. These results add to our understanding of differences between indica and japonica rice and may aid in rice genetic improvement.
The helical coiling of plant tendrils has fascinated scientists for centuries, yet the underlying mechanism remains elusive. Moreover, despite Darwin’s widely accepted interpretation of coiled tendrils as soft springs, their mechanical behavior remains unknown. Our experiments on cucumber tendrils demonstrate that tendril coiling occurs via asymmetric contraction of an internal fiber ribbon of specialized cells. Under tension, both extracted fiber ribbons and old tendrils exhibit twistless overwinding rather than unwinding, with an initially soft response followed by strong strain-stiffening at large extensions. We explain this behavior using physical models of prestrained rubber strips, geometric arguments, and mathematical models of elastic filaments. Collectively, our study illuminates the origin of tendril coiling, quantifies Darwin’s original proposal, and suggests designs for biomimetic twistless springs with tunable mechanical responses.
Great story - design inspiration from cucumber tendrils! Check out the supplemental videos - tendril behavior is amazing! And the tendril winds more when pulled - go figure!
From the paper: Darwin himself wrote that “the tendril strikes some object, and quickly curls round ... contracts into a spire, dragging up the stem, and forming an excellent spring”
The phytohormone auxin is a primary regulator of growth and developmental pattern formation in plants. Auxin accumulates at specific sites (e.g., organ primordia) and induces localized growth within a tissue. Auxin also mediates developmental responses to intrinsic and external physical stimuli; however, exactly how mechanics influences auxin distribution is unknown.
Here we show that mechanical strain can regulate auxin transport and accumulation in the tomato shoot apex, where new leaves emerge and rapidly grow. Modification of turgor pressure, application of external force, and artificial growth induction collectively show that the amount and intracellular localization of the auxin efflux carrier PIN1 are sensitive to mechanical alterations. In general, the more strained the tissue was, the more PIN1 was present per cell and the higher the proportion localized to the plasma membrane. Modulation of the membrane properties alone was sufficient to explain most of the mechanical effects.
Our experiments support the hypothesis that the plasma membrane acts as a sensor of tissue mechanics that translates the cell wall strain into cellular responses, such as the intracellular localization of membrane-embedded proteins. One implication of this fundamental mechanism is the mechanical enhancement of auxin-mediated growth in young organ primordia. We propose that growth-induced mechanical strain upregulates PIN1 function and auxin accumulation, thereby promoting further growth, in a robust positive feedback loop.
Age-dependent leaf senescence and cell death in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) requires activation of the transcription factor ORESARA1 (ORE1) and is not initiated prior to a leaf age of 28 d. Here, we investigate the conditional execution of events that regulate early senescence and cell death in senescence-associated ubiquitin ligase1 (saul1) mutants, deficient in the PLANT U-BOX-ARMADILLO E3 ubiquitin ligase SAUL1. In saul1 mutants challenged with low light, the switch of age-dependent cell death was turned on prematurely, as indicated by the accumulation of ORE1 transcripts, induction of the senescence marker gene SENESCENCE-ASSOCIATED GENE12, and cell death. However, ORE1 accumulation by itself was not sufficient to cause saul1 phenotypes, as demonstrated by double mutant analysis. Exposure of saul1 mutants to low light for only 24 h did not result in visible symptoms of senescence; however, the senescence-promoting transcription factor genes WRKY53, WRKY6, and NAC-LIKE ACTIVATED BY AP3/PI were up-regulated, indicating that senescence in saul1 seedlings was already initiated. To resolve the time course of gene expression, microarray experiments were performed at narrow intervals. Differential expression of the genes involved in salicylic acid and defense mechanisms were the earliest events detected, suggesting a central role for salicylic acid in saul1 senescence and cell death. The salicylic acid content increased in low-light-treated saul1 mutants, and application of exogenous salicylic acid was indeed sufficient to trigger saul1 senescence in permissive light conditions. Double mutant analyses showed that PHYTOALEXIN DEFICIENT4 (PAD4) but not NONEXPRESSER OF PR GENES1 (NPR1) is essential for saul1 phenotypes. Our results indicate that saul1 senescence depends on the PAD4-dependent salicylic acid pathway but does not require NPR1 signaling.