4th Jun 2018

This weeks GARNet Research Roundup begins with a paper from researchers at the University of Dundee, James Hutton Institute, Durham University and the University of Glasgow that characterises a functional role for alternative splicing during the cold response. Second is a paper from Newcastle University that investigates the role of the OXI1 kinase during aphid predation. Third is a paper that includes University of Bristol co-authors that looks at strigolactone signaling in moss whilst the fourth paper from researchers at Leeds and QMUL studies the role of ascorbate during photosynthesis. The final paper from Warwick and York uses gene expression data from pathogen-infected plants to generate a model for predicting a strategy for synthetic engineering of the defence response.

Calixto CPG, Guo W, James AB, Tzioutziou NA, Entizne JC, Panter PE, Knight H, Nimmo H, Zhang R, Brown JWS (2018) Rapid and dynamic alternative splicing impacts the Arabidopsis cold response transcriptome. Plant Cell doi: 10.1105/tpc.18.00177.

Open Access

Christiane Calixto and Wenbin Guo work with John Brown at University of Dundee and the James Hutton Institute and in this large-scale biology paper they characterise the role of alternative splicing (AS) during a stress response. RNAseq was performed on plants exposed to cold stress and they showed that hundreds of genes undergo AS just a few hours after temperature decrease and that this response is sensitive to small changes. The authors propose that AS is a mechanism to fine-tune changes in thermo-plasticity of gene expression and in addition they investigate the activity of the novel splicing factor U2B"-LIKE.

Christiane will discuss this research at the upcoming GARNet2018 meeting held at the University of York in September 2018.

Shoala T, Edwards MG, Knight MR, Gatehouse AMR. OXI1 kinase plays a key role in resistance of Arabidopsis towards aphids (Myzus persicae) (2018) Transgenic Res. doi: 10.1007/s11248-018-0078-x.

Open Access

This work is led by Tahsin Shoala in the lab of Angharad Gatehouse at Newcastle University and demonstrates a novel role for MAPK cascades in resistance to aphid predation. They investigate mutants in OXI1 kinase, a gene that activates MAPK signaling and demonstrate a reduction in the aphid population build-up. Furthermore they show that the effect of OXI works through a mechanism that involves callose deposition, demonstrated as oxi1 mutants lack the upregulation of a set of β-1,3-glucanase genes following predation.

Lopez-Obando M, de Villiers R, Hoffmann B, Ma L, de Saint Germain A, Kossmann J, Coudert Y, Harrison CJ, Rameau C, Hills P, Bonhomme S (2018) Physcomitrella patens MAX2 characterization suggests an ancient role for this F-box protein in photomorphogenesis rather than strigolactone signalling. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.15214

GARNet committee member Jill Harrison is a co-author on this paper that is led by Mauricio Lopez‐Obando working at Université Paris-Saclay. In Physcomitrella patens development they investigate the role of the moss ortholog of the Arabidopsis strigolactone signaling mutant MAX2. Previous work had shown that moss does response to SL signaing but they find that although Ppmax2 mutants showed defects in early development and photomorphogenesis they do not show changes in the SL response. Fascinatingly this indicates that the molecular components that control SL signaling have diverged in vascular plants and seemingly co-opted a role for MAX2 that was previously not required in mosses.

Plumb W, Townsend AJ, Rasool B, Alomrani S, Razak N, Karpinska B, Ruban AV, Foyer CH. Ascorbate-mediated regulation of growth, photoprotection and photoinhibition in Arabidopsis thaliana (2018) J Exp Bot. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ery170

William Plumb (Leeds) and Alexandra Townsend (QMUL) are the lead authors on this study that investigates the importance of ascorbate during photosynthesis. In this work they analysed the growth of ascorbate synthesis mutants that are smaller and have less biomass than wildtype plants. However these plants have normal levels of non-photoinhibiton, allowing the authors to conclude that ascorbate is needed for growth but not photoprotection.

Foo M, Gherman I, Zhang P, Bates DG, Denby K (2018) A Framework for Engineering Stress Resilient Plants using Genetic Feedback Control and Regulatory Network Rewiring. ACS Synth Biol. doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.8b00037

Mathias Foo and Iulia Gherman (University of Warwick) are lead authors on work that analyses gene expression data taken from Botrytis cinerea-infected Arabidopsis. They have identified a network of genes involved in the defence response. They validate their model against previously obtained time series data and then perturb the model in two differences ways, focused on the transcription factor CHE. This analysis demonstrates the potential of combining feedback control theory with synthetic engineering in order to generate plants that are resistant to biotic stress.