Human activities have resulted in increased nitrogen inputs into terrestrial ecosystems, but the impact of nitrogen on ecosystem function, such as nutrient cycling, will depend at least in part on the response of soil fungal communities. We examined the response of soil fungi to experimental nitrogen addition in a loblolly pine forest (North Carolina, USA) using a taxonomic marker (large subunit rDNA, LSU) and a functional marker involved in a critical step of cellulose degradation (cellobiohydrolase, cbhI) at five time points that spanned fourteen months. Sampling date had no impact on fungal community richness or composition for either gene. Based on the LSU, nitrogen addition led to increased fungal community richness, reduced relative abundance of fungi in the phylum Basidiomycota, and altered community composition; however, similar shifts were not observed with cbhI. Fungal community dissimilarity of the LSU and cbhI genes was significantly correlated in the ambient plots, but not in nitrogen-amended plots, suggesting either functional redundancy of fungi with the cbhI gene, or shifts in other functional groups in response to nitrogen addition. To determine if sequence similarity of cbhI could be predicted based on taxonomic relatedness of fungi, we conducted a phylogenetic analysis of publically-available cbhI sequences from known isolates, and found that for a subset of isolates, similar cbhI genes were found within distantly related fungal taxa. Together, these findings suggest that taxonomic shifts in the total fungal community do not necessarily result in changes in the functional diversity of fungi.
Multivesicular bodies (MVBs) play essential roles in many cellular processes. The MVB pathway requires reversible membrane association of the endosomal sorting complexes required for transports (ESCRTs) for sustained protein trafficking. Membrane dissociation of ESCRTs is catalyzed by the AAA ATPase SKD1, which is stimulated by LYST-INTERACTING PROTEIN 5 (LIP5). We report here that LIP5 is a target of pathogen-responsive mitogen-activated protein kinases (MPKs) and plays a critical role in plant basal resistance. Arabidopsis LIP5 interacts with MPK6 and MPK3 and is phosphorylated in vitro by activated MPK3 and MPK6 and in vivo upon expression of MPK3/6-activating NtMEK2DD and pathogen infection. Disruption of LIP5 has little effects on flg22-, salicylic acid-induced defense responses but compromises basal resistance to Pseudomonas syringae. The critical role of LIP5 in plant basal resistance is dependent on its ability to interact with SKD1. Mutation of MPK phosphorylation sites in LIP5 does not affect interaction with SKD1 but reduces the stability and compromises the ability to complement the lip5 mutant phenotypes. Using the membrane-selective FM1–43 dye and transmission electron microscopy, we demonstrated that pathogen infection increases formation of both intracellular MVBs and exosome-like paramural vesicles situated between the plasma membrane and the cell wall in a largely LIP5-dependent manner. These results indicate that the MVB pathway is positively regulated by pathogen-responsive MPK3/6 through LIP5 phosphorylation and plays a critical role in plant immune system likely through relocalization of defense-related molecules.
To confer resistance against pathogens and pests in plants, typically dominant resistance genes are deployed. However, because resistance is based on recognition of a single pathogen-derived molecular pattern these narrowspectrum genes are usually readily overcome. Disease arises from a compatible interaction between plant and pathogen. Hence, altering a plant gene that critically facilitates compatibility could provide a more broad-spectrum and durable type of resistance. Here, such susceptibility (S) genes are reviewed with a focus on the mechanisms underlying loss of compatibility. We distinguish three groups of S genes acting during different stages of infection: early pathogen establishment, modulation of host defenses, and pathogen sustenance. The many examples reviewed here show that S genes have the potential to be used in resistance breeding. However, because S genes have a function other than being a compatibility factor for the pathogen, the side effects caused by their mutation demands a one-by-one assessment of their usefulness for application.
The type VI secretion system (T6SS) is a widespread molecular weapon deployed by many Proteobacteria to target effectors/toxins into both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. We report that Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a soil bacterium that triggers tumorigenesis in plants, produces a family of type VI DNase effectors (Tde) that are distinct from previously known polymorphic toxins and nucleases. Tde exhibits an antibacterial DNase activity that relies on a conserved HxxD motif and can be counteracted by a cognate immunity protein, Tdi. In vitro, A. tumefaciens T6SS could kill Escherichia coli but triggered a lethal counterattack by Pseudomonas aeruginosa upon injection of the Tde toxins. However, in an in planta coinfection assay, A. tumefaciens used Tde effectors to attack both siblings cells and P. aeruginosa to ultimately gain a competitive advantage. Such acquired T6SS-dependent fitness in vivo and conservation of Tde-Tdi couples in bacteria highlights a widespread antibacterial weapon beneficial for niche colonization
Brown algae are one of the few eukaryotic lineages that have evolved complex multicellularity, together with Opisthokonts (animals, fungi) and Plantae (land plants, green and red algae). In these three lineages, biotic stresses induce similar local defense reactions. Animals and land plants also feature a systemic immune response, protecting the whole organism after an attack on one of its parts. However, the occurrence of systemic defenses has never been investigated in brown algae.We elicited selected parts of the kelp Laminaria digitata and monitored distant, nonchallenged areas of the same individual for subsequent defense reactions.A systemic reaction was detected following elicitation on a distant area, including an oxidative response, an increase in haloperoxidase activities and a stronger resistance against herbivory. Based on experiments with pharmacological inhibitors, the liberation of free fatty acids is proposed to play a key role in systemic signaling, reminiscent of what is known in land plants.This study is the first report, outside the phyla of Opisthokonts and Plantae, of an intraorganism communication leading to defense reactions. These findings indicate that systemic immunity emerged independently at least three times, as a consequence of convergent evolution in multicellular eukaryotic lineages.
This study investigated the impact of brassinosteroid-insensitive 1(BRI1) mutation, the main receptor of brassinosteroids in bothBrachypodium distachyon (Bd) and barley, on disease resistance against a range of fungal pathogens of cereals exhibiting different trophic lifestyles. Results presented here show that: i) disruption ofBRI1 has pleiotropic effects on disease resistance in addition to affecting plant development. BR-signalling functions antagonistically with mechanisms of disease resistance that are effective against a broad range of cereal pathogens, ii) disruption of BRI1 results in increased disease resistance against necrotrophic and hemibiotropic pathogens that exhibit only a marginal asymptomatic phase but has no effect on biotrophic pathogens or those with a prolonged asymptomatic phase, and iii) disruption of BRI1 has a similar effect on disease resistance in Bd and barley indicating that defence mechanisms are conserved between these species. This work presents the first evidence for conservation of disease resistance mechanisms between the model species Bd and the cereal crop barley and validates Bd for undertaking model-to-crop translation studies of disease resistance.
A systems perspective on diverse phenotypes, mechanisms of infection, and responses to environmental stresses can lead to considerable advances in agriculture and medicine. A significant promise of systems biology within plants is the development of disease-resistant crop varieties, which would maximize yield output for food, clothing, building materials and biofuel production. A systems or “-omics” perspective frames the next frontier in the search for enhanced knowledge of plant network biology. The functional understanding of network structure and dynamics s is vital to expanding our knowledge of how the intercellular communication processes are executed. . This review article will systematically discuss various levels of organization of systems biology beginning with the building blocks termed “–omes” and ending with complex transcriptional and protein-protein interaction networks. We will also highlight the prevailing computational modeling approaches of biological regulatory network dynamics. The latest developments in the “-omics” approach will be reviewed and discussed to underline and highlight novel technologies and research directions in plant network biology.
Biotic and abiotic stresses are major unfavorable factors that affect crop productivity worldwide. NAC proteins comprise a large family of transcription factors that play important roles in plant growth and development as well as in responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. In a virus-induced gene silencing-based screening to identify genes that are involved in defense response against Botrytis cinerea, we identified a tomato NAC gene SlSRN1 (Solanum lycopersicumStress-related NAC1). SlSRN1 is a plasma membrane-localized protein with transactivation activity in yeast. Expression of SlSRN1 was significantly induced by infection with B. cinerea orPseudomonas syringae pv. tomato (Pst) DC3000, leading to 6–8 folds higher than that in the mock-inoculated plants. Expression of SlSRN1 was also induced by salicylic acid, jasmonic acid and 1-amino cyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid and by drought stress. Silencing of SlSRN1resulted in increased severity of diseases caused by B. cinerea and Pst DC3000. However, silencing of SlSRN1 resulted in increased tolerance against oxidative and drought stresses. Furthermore, silencing of SlSRN1 accelerated accumulation of reactive oxygen species but attenuated expression of defense genes after infection by B. cinerea. Our results demonstrate that SlSRN1 is a positive regulator of defense response against B. cinerea and Pst DC3000 but is a negative regulator for oxidative and drought stress response in tomato.
The phytohormones jasmonic acid (JA) and salicylic acid (SA) mediate induced plant defences and the corresponding pathways interact in a complex manner as has been shown on the transcript and proteine level. Downstream, metabolic changes are important for plant–herbivore interactions. This study investigated metabolic changes in leaf tissue and phloem exudates of Plantago lanceolata after single and combined JA and SA applications as well as consequences on chewing-biting (Heliothis virescens) and piercing-sucking (Myzus persicae) herbivores. Targeted metabolite profiling and untargeted metabolic fingerprinting uncovered different categories of plant metabolites, which were influenced in a specific manner, indicating points of divergence, convergence, positive crosstalk and pronounced mutual antagonism between the signaling pathways. Phytohormone-specific decreases of primary metabolite pool sizes in the phloem exudates may indicate shifts in sink–source relations, resource allocation, nutrient uptake or photosynthesis. Survival of both herbivore species was significantly reduced by JA and SA treatments. However, the combined application of JA and SA attenuated the negative effects at least against H. virescens suggesting that mutual antagonism between the JA and SA pathway may be responsible. Pathway interactions provide a great regulatory potential for the plant that allows triggering of appropriate defences when attacked by different antagonist species.
Nicotiana attenuata plants silenced in the expression of GLYCEROLIPASE A1 (ir-gla1 plants) are compromised in the herbivore- and wound-induced accumulation of jasmonic acid (JA). However, these plants accumulate wild-type (WT) levels of JA and divinyl-ethers during Phytophthora parasitica infection. By profiling oxylipin-enriched fractions with targeted and untargeted liquid chromatography-tandem time-of-flight mass spectrometry approaches, we demonstrate that the accumulation of 9-hydroxy-10E,12Z-octadecadienoic acid (9-OH-18:2) and additional C18 and C19 oxylipins is reduced by ca. 20-fold in P. parasitica-infected ir-gla1 leaves compared with WT. This reduced accumulation of oxylipins was accompanied by a reduced accumulation of unsaturated free fatty acids and specific lysolipid species. Untargeted metabolic profiling of total leaf extracts showed that 87 metabolites accumulated differentially in leaves of P. parasitica-infected ir-gla1 plants with glycerolipids, hydroxylated-diterpene glycosides and phenylpropanoid derivatives accounting together for ca. 20% of these 87 metabolites. Thus, P. parasitica-induced oxylipins may participate in the regulation of metabolic changes during infection. Together, the results demonstrate that GLA1 plays a distinct role in the production of oxylipins during biotic stress responses, supplying substrates for 9-OH-18:2 and additional C18 and C19 oxylipin formation during P. parasitica infection, whereas supplying substrates for the biogenesis of JA during herbivory and mechanical wounding.
Sequence-specific nucleases have been applied to engineer targeted modifications in polyploid genomes1, but simultaneous modification of multiple homoeoalleles has not been reported. Here we use transcription activator–like effector nuclease (TALEN)2, 3 and clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cas9 (refs. 4,5) technologies in hexaploid bread wheat to introduce targeted mutations in the three homoeoalleles that encode MILDEW-RESISTANCE LOCUS (MLO) proteins6. Genetic redundancy has prevented evaluation of whether mutation of all three MLO alleles in bread wheat might confer resistance to powdery mildew, a trait not found in natural populations7. We show that TALEN-induced mutation of all three TaMLO homoeologs in the same plant confers heritable broad-spectrum resistance to powdery mildew. We further use CRISPR-Cas9 technology to generate transgenic wheat plants that carry mutations in the TaMLO-A1 allele. We also demonstrate the feasibility of engineering targeted DNA insertion in bread wheat through nonhomologous end joining of the double-strand breaks caused by TALENs. Our findings provide a methodological framework to improve polyploid crops.
Terrestrial plants rely on stomata, small pores in the leaf surface, for photosynthetic gas exchange and transpiration of water. The stomata, formed by a pair of guard cells, dynamically increase and decrease their volume to control the pore size in response to environmental cues. Stresses can trigger similar or opposing movements: for example, drought induces closure of stomata, whereas many pathogens exploit stomata and cause them to open to facilitate entry into plant tissues. The latter is an active process as stomatal closure is part of the plant's immune response. Stomatal research has contributed much to clarify the signalling pathways of abiotic stress, but guard cell signalling in response to microbes is a relatively new area of research. In this article, we discuss present knowledge of stomatal regulation in response to microbes and highlight common points of convergence, and differences, compared to stomatal regulation by abiotic stresses. We also expand on the mechanisms by which pathogens manipulate these processes to promote disease, for example by delivering effectors to inhibit closure or trigger opening of stomata. The study of pathogen effectors in stomatal manipulation will aid our understanding of guard cell signalling.
Deirdre H. McLachlan, Michaela Kopischke and Silke Robatzek
Plant resistance proteins of the class of nucleotide-binding and leucine-rich repeat domain proteins (NB-LRRs) are immune sensors which recognize pathogen-derived molecules termed avirulence (AVR) proteins. We show that RGA4 and RGA5, two NB-LRRs from rice, interact functionally and physically to mediate resistance to the fungal pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae and accomplish different functions in AVR recognition. RGA4 triggers an AVR-independent cell death that is repressed in the presence of RGA5 in both rice protoplasts and Nicotiana benthamiana. Upon recognition of the pathogen effector AVR-Pia by direct binding to RGA5, repression is relieved and cell death occurs. RGA4 and RGA5 form homo- and hetero-complexes and interact through their coiled-coil domains. Localization studies in rice protoplast suggest that RGA4 and RGA5 localize to the cytosol. Upon recognition of AVR-Pia, neither RGA4 nor RGA5 is re-localized to the nucleus. These results establish a model for the interaction of hetero-pairs of NB-LRRs in plants: RGA4 mediates cell death activation, while RGA5 acts as a repressor of RGA4 and as an AVR receptor.
A growing body of recent studies bring into light an important cross-talk between immune response and metabolism not only at the level of the organism as a whole, but also at the level of the individual cells. Cellular bioenergetics functions not only as a power plant to fuel up the cells, but the intermediate metabolites are shown to play an important role to modulate cellular responses. It is especially the pathways through which a cell metabolizes glucose that have been recently shown to influence both innate and adaptive immune responses, with oxidative phosphorylation used by resting or tolerant cells, while aerobic glycolysis (also termed ‘Warburg effect’) fueling activated cells. In this review we will address how the center metabolism shifts upon activation in the innate immune cells and how the intermediate metabolites modulate the function of immune cells.
RNA-seq is a powerful technique for identifying and quantifying transcription and splicing events, both known and novel. However, given its recent development and the proliferation of library construction methods, understanding the bias it introduces is incomplete but critical to realizing its value.
Mutualistic microbes present in plant-associate microbial communities provide a variety of benefits for their host, including reciprocal exchange of nutrients and/or protection from biotic and abiotic environmental stresses. Plant microbiomes have remarkably robust composition in comparison to the complex and dynamic microbial environments from which they form, suggesting finely-tuned discrimination by the plant host. Here the intersection between the plant immune system and microbiomes will be explored, both as a possible means of shaping community membership and as a consequence elicited by certain colonizing microbes. Notably, the advent of massive parallel sequencing technologies allows the investigation of these beneficial microbial functions within whole community settings, so we can now ask how engagement of the immune response influences subsequent microbial interactions. Thus, we are currently poised for future work defining how the plant immune system impacts microbiomes and consequently host health, allowing us to better understand the potential of plant productivity optimization within complex microbial surroundings.
A fundamental question in biology is how multicellular organisms distinguish self and non-self. The ability to make this distinction allows animals and plants to detect and respond to pathogens without triggering immune reactions directed against their own cells. In plants, inappropriate self-recognition results in the autonomous activation of the immune system, causing affected individuals to grow less well. These plants also suffer from spontaneous cell death, but are at the same time more resistant to pathogens. Known causes for such autonomous activation of the immune system are hyperactive alleles of immune regulators, or epistatic interactions between immune regulators and unlinked genes. We have discovered a third class, in which the Arabidopsis thaliana immune system is activated by interactions between natural alleles at a single locus, ACCELERATED CELL DEATH 6 (ACD6). There are two main types of these interacting alleles, one of which has evolved recently by partial resurrection of a pseudogene, and each type includes multiple functional variants. Most previously studies hybrid necrosis cases involve rare alleles found in geographically unrelated populations. These two types of ACD6 alleles instead occur at low frequency throughout the range of the species, and have risen to high frequency in the Northeast of Spain, suggesting a role in local adaptation. In addition, such hybrids occur in these populations in the wild. The extensive functional variation among ACD6 alleles points to a central role of this locus in fine-tuning pathogen defenses in natural populations.
by Thomas Brefort, Shigeyuki Tanaka, Nina Neidig, Gunther Doehlemann, Volker Vincon, Regine Kahmann In the genome of the biotrophic plant pathogen Ustilago maydis, many of the genes coding for secreted protein effectors modulating virulence are...
The formation of an arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis is initiated by the bidirectional exchange of diffusible molecules. While strigolactone hormones, secreted from plant roots, stimulate hyphal branching and fungal metabolism, fungal short-chain chitin oligomers as well as sulfated and nonsulfated lipochitooligosaccharides (s/nsMyc-LCOs) elicit pre-symbiosis responses in the host. Fungal LCO signals are structurally related to rhizobial Nod-factor LCOs. Genome-wide expression studies demonstrated that defined sets of genes were induced by Nod-, sMyc- and nsMyc-LCOs, indicating LCO-specific perception in the pre-symbiosis phase. During hyphopodium formation and the subsequent root colonization, cross-talk between plant roots and AM fungi also involves phytohormones. Notably, gibberellins control arbuscule formation via DELLA proteins, which themselves serve as positive regulators of arbuscule formation. The establishment of arbuscules is accompanied by a substantial transcriptional and post-transcriptional reprogramming of host roots, ultimately defining the unique protein composition of arbuscule-containing cells. Based on cellular expression profiles, key checkpoints of AM development as well as candidate genes encoding transcriptional regulators and regulatory microRNAs were identified. Detailed functional analyses of promoters specified short motifs sufficient for cell-autonomous gene regulation in cells harboring arbuscules, and suggested simultaneous, multi-level regulation of the mycorrhizal phosphate uptake pathway by integrating AM symbiosis and phosphate starvation response signaling.
Biological market theory has been used successfully to explain cooperative behavior in many animal species. Microbes also engage in cooperative behaviors, both with hosts and other microbes, that can be described in economic terms. However, a market approach is not traditionally used to analyze these interactions. Here, we extend the biological market framework to ask whether this theory is of use to evolutionary biologists studying microbes. We consider six economic strategies used by microbes to optimize their success in markets. We argue that an economic market framework is a useful tool to generate specific and interesting predictions about microbial interactions, including the evolution of partner discrimination, hoarding strategies, specialized versus diversified mutualistic services, and the role of spatial structures, such as flocks and consortia. There is untapped potential for studying the evolutionary dynamics of microbial systems. Market theory can help structure this potential by characterizing strategic investment of microbes across a diversity of conditions.