The martian surface environment exhibits extremes of salinity, temperature, desiccation, and radiation that would make it difficult for terrestrial microbes to survive. Recent evidence suggests that martian soils contain high concentrations of MgSO4 minerals. Through warming of the soils, meltwater derived from subterranean ice-rich regolith may exist for an extended period of time and thus allow the propagation of terrestrial microbes and create significant bioburden at the near surface of Mars. The current report demonstrates that halotolerant bacteria from the Great Salt Plains (GSP) of Oklahoma are capable of growing at high concentrations of MgSO4 in the form of 2 M solutions of epsomite. The epsotolerance of isolates in the GSP bacterial collection was determined, with 35% growing at 2 M MgSO4. There was a complex physiological response to mixtures of MgSO4 and NaCl coupled with other environmental stressors. Growth also was measured at 1 M concentrations of other magnesium and sulfate salts. The complex responses may be partially explained by the pattern of chaotropicity observed for high-salt solutions as measured by agar gelation temperature. Select isolates could grow at the high salt concentrations and low temperatures found on Mars. Survival during repetitive freeze-thaw or drying-rewetting cycles was used as other measures of potential success on the martian surface. Our results indicate that terrestrial microbes might survive under the high-salt, low-temperature, anaerobic conditions on Mars and present significant potential for forward contamination. Stringent planetary protection requirements are needed for future life-detection missions to Mars. Key Words: Analogue—Mars—Planetary protection—Salts—Life in extreme environments. Astrobiology 12, 98–106.
Sulfate and phosphate are both vital macronutrients required for plant growth and development. Despite evidence for interaction between sulfate and phosphate homeostasis, no transcriptional factor has yet been identified in higher plants that affects, at the gene expression and physiological levels, the response to both elements. This work was aimed at examining whether PHR1, a transcription factor previously shown to participate in the regulation of genes involved in phosphate homeostasis, also contributed to the regulation and activity of genes involved in sulfate inter-organ transport.
Among the genes implicated in sulfate transport in Arabidopsis thaliana, SULTR1;3 and SULTR3;4 showed up-regulation of transcripts in plants grown under phosphate-deficient conditions. The promoter of SULTR1;3 contains a motif that is potentially recognizable by PHR1. Using the phr1 mutant, we showed that SULTR1;3 up-regulation following phosphate deficiency was dependent on PHR1. Furthermore, transcript up-regulation was found in phosphate-deficient shoots of the phr1 mutant for SULTR2;1 and SULTR3;4, indicating that PHR1 played both a positive and negative role on the expression of genes encoding sulfate transporters. Importantly, both phr1 and sultr1;3 mutants displayed a reduction in their sulfate shoot-to-root transfer capacity compared to wild-type plants under phosphate-deficient conditions.
This study reveals that PHR1 plays an important role in sulfate inter-organ transport, in particular on the regulation of the SULTR1;3 gene and its impact on shoot-to-root sulfate transport in phosphate-deficient plants. PHR1 thus contributes to the homeostasis of both sulfate and phosphate in plants under phosphate deficiency. Such a function is also conserved in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii via the PHR1 ortholog PSR1.
Recent spacecraft and lander missions to Mars have reinforced previous interpretations that Mars was a wet and warm planet in the geological past. The role of liquid water in shaping many of the surface features on Mars has long been recognized. Since the presence of liquid water is essential for survival of life, conditions on early Mars might have been more favourable for the emergence and evolution of life. Until a sample return mission to Mars, one of the ways of studying the past environmental conditions on Mars is through chemical and isotopic studies of Martian meteorites. Over 35 individual meteorite samples, believed to have originated on Mars, are now available for lab-based studies. Fe is a key element that is present in both primary and secondary minerals in the Martian meteorites. Fe-isotope ratios can be fractionated by low-temperature processes which includes biological activity. Experimental investigations of Fe reduction and oxidation by bacteria have produced large fractionation in Fe-isotope ratios. Hence, it is considered likely that if there is/were any form of life present on Mars then it might be possible to detect its signature by Fe-isotope studies of Martian meteorites. In the present study, we have analysed a number of Martian meteorites for their bulk-Fe-isotope composition. In addition, a set of terrestrial analogue material has also been analysed to compare the results and draw inferences. So far, our studies have not found any measurable Fe-isotopic fractionation in bulk Martian meteorites that can be ascribed to any low-temperature process operative on Mars.
Mars; Martian meteorites; SNC; terrestrial analogues; iron isotopes; life
Sulfur element plays a pivotal role in plant growth and development. Recently, we have demonstrated that miR395 is crucial for the sulfate homeostasis through regulating the sulfate uptake, transport and assimilation in Arabidopsis thaliana. miR395 controls the sulfate concentration in the shoot by targeting three ATP sulfurylase genes (APS), which encode the first enzymes catalyzing sulfate activation in sulfur assimilation pathway. Furthermore, miR395 also regulates the transport of sulfate between leaves. Under sulfate starvation conditions, upregulated miR395 represses the expression of SULTR2;1, which then confined the transport of sulfate from mature to young leaves. Of note, transcript expression analysis suggested that, unlike APS1 and APS4 mRNA, APS3 and shoot SULTR2;1 is in accordance with miR395 in response to sulfate deprivation. We proposed that the differential regulation of targets by miR395 may be required for adaptation to the sulfate deficiency environment. In addition, our results revealed that there is reciprocal regulation between SULTR2;1 and APS genes through miR395.
sulfate; miR395; APS1; APS3; APS4; SULTR2;1; sulfate transport; sulfate assimilation
Martian soil is thought to be enriched with strong oxidants such as peroxides and/or iron in high oxidation states that might destroy biological materials. There is also a high flux of ultraviolet radiation at the surface of Mars. Thus, Mars may be inhospitable to life as we know it on Earth. We examined the hypothesis that if the soil of Mars contains ferrates [Fe(VI)], the strongest of the proposed oxidizing species, and also is exposed to high fluxes of UV radiation, it will be self-sterilizing.
Under ambient conditions (25°C, oxygen and water present) K2FeO4 mixed into sand mineralized some reactive organic molecules to CO2, while less reactive compounds were not degraded. Dried endospores of Bacillus subtilis incubated in a Mars surrogate soil comprised of dry silica sand containing 20% by weight K2FeO4 and under conditions similar to those now on Mars (extreme desiccation, cold, and a CO2-dominated atmosphere) were resistant to killing by the ferrate-enriched sand. Similar results were observed with permanganate. Spores in oxidant-enriched sand exposed to high fluxes of UV light were protected from the sporocidal activity of the radiation below about 5 mm depths.
Based on our data and previously published descriptions of ancient but dormant life forms on Earth, we suggest that if entities resembling bacterial endospores were produced at some point by life forms on Mars, they might still be present and viable, given appropriate germination conditions. Endospores delivered to Mars on spacecraft would possibly survive and potentially compromise life detection experiments.
Sulfate is an essential nutrient cycled in nature. Ion transporters that specifically facilitate the transport of sulfate across the membranes are found ubiquitously in living organisms. The phylogenetic analysis of known sulfate transporters and their homologous proteins from eukaryotic organisms indicate two evolutionarily distinct groups of sulfate transport systems. One major group named Tribe 1 represents yeast and fungal SUL, plant SULTR, and animal SLC26 families. The evolutionary origin of SULTR family members in land plants and green algae is suggested to be common with yeast and fungal SUL and animal anion exchangers (SLC26). The lineage of plant SULTR family is expanded into four subfamilies (SULTR1–SULTR4) in land plant species. By contrast, the putative SULTR homologs from Chlorophyte green algae are in two separate lineages; one with the subfamily of plant tonoplast-localized sulfate transporters (SULTR4), and the other diverged before the appearance of lineages for SUL, SULTR, and SLC26. There also was a group of yet undefined members of putative sulfate transporters in yeast and fungi divergent from these major lineages in Tribe 1. The other distinct group is Tribe 2, primarily composed of animal sodium-dependent sulfate/carboxylate transporters (SLC13) and plant tonoplast-localized dicarboxylate transporters (TDT). The putative sulfur-sensing protein (SAC1) and SAC1-like transporters (SLT) of Chlorophyte green algae, bryophyte, and lycophyte show low degrees of sequence similarities with SLC13 and TDT. However, the phylogenetic relationship between SAC1/SLT and the other two families, SLC13 and TDT in Tribe 2, is not clearly supported. In addition, the SAC1/SLT family is absent in the angiosperm species analyzed. The present study suggests distinct evolutionary trajectories of sulfate transport systems for land plants and green algae.
evolution; plant; sulfate; transporter
Plants are sessile and therefore have developed mechanisms to adapt to their environment, including the soil mineral nutrient composition. Ionomics is a developing functional genomic strategy designed to rapidly identify the genes and gene networks involved in regulating how plants acquire and accumulate these mineral nutrients from the soil. Here, we report on the coupling of high-throughput elemental profiling of shoot tissue from various Arabidopsis accessions with DNA microarray-based bulk segregant analysis and reverse genetics, for the rapid identification of genes from wild populations of Arabidopsis that are involved in regulating how plants acquire and accumulate Na+ from the soil. Elemental profiling of shoot tissue from 12 different Arabidopsis accessions revealed that two coastal populations of Arabidopsis collected from Tossa del Mar, Spain, and Tsu, Japan (Ts-1 and Tsu-1, respectively), accumulate higher shoot levels of Na+ than do Col-0 and other accessions. We identify AtHKT1, known to encode a Na+ transporter, as being the causal locus driving elevated shoot Na+ in both Ts-1 and Tsu-1. Furthermore, we establish that a deletion in a tandem repeat sequence approximately 5 kb upstream of AtHKT1 is responsible for the reduced root expression of AtHKT1 observed in these accessions. Reciprocal grafting experiments establish that this loss of AtHKT1 expression in roots is responsible for elevated shoot Na+. Interestingly, and in contrast to the hkt1–1 null mutant, under NaCl stress conditions, this novel AtHKT1 allele not only does not confer NaCl sensitivity but also cosegregates with elevated NaCl tolerance. We also present all our elemental profiling data in a new open access ionomics database, the Purdue Ionomics Information Management System (PiiMS; http://www.purdue.edu/dp/ionomics). Using DNA microarray-based genotyping has allowed us to rapidly identify AtHKT1 as the casual locus driving the natural variation in shoot Na+ accumulation we observed in Ts-1 and Tsu-1. Such an approach overcomes the limitations imposed by a lack of established genetic markers in most Arabidopsis accessions and opens up a vast and tractable source of natural variation for the identification of gene function not only in ionomics but also in many other biological processes.
Unlike most animals, plants are sessile and cannot leave a poor-quality environment after germinating. They therefore need to tolerate the particular conditions they encounter to survive. This makes plants an ideal system for the study of adaptive variation, and this is particularly true of Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis), which shows substantial natural variation and for which numerous genetic tools exist. Using a combination of analytical chemistry, genetics, and genomics, the authors were able to identify the specific genetic alteration that drive the natural variation in shoot sodium (Na+) accumulation capacity observed in Arabidopsis populations from coastal regions of Spain and Japan (Tossa del Mar and Tsu, respectively). They observed that a deletion in the DNA responsible for regulating the expression of HKT1, a gene known to encode for a Na+ transporter, causes reduced expression of AtHKT1 in roots of both the Spanish and Japanese populations. Such altered expression results in the elevated shoot Na+ observed in these two populations. Interestingly, this novel version of the HKT1 genes is also associated genetically with the enhanced NaCl resistance they observe in the Japanese population.
The principal nutrient source for forest trees derives from the weathering of soil minerals which results from water circulation and from plant and microbial activity. The main objectives of this work were to quantify the respective effects of plant- and root-associated bacteria on mineral weathering and their consequences on tree seedling growth and nutrition. That is why we carried out two column experiments with a quartz-biotite substrate. The columns were planted with or without pine seedlings and inoculated or not with three ectomycorrhizosphere bacterial strains to quantify biotite weathering and pine growth and to determine how bacteria improve pine growth. We showed that the pine roots significantly increased biotite weathering by a factor of 1.3 for magnesium and 1.7 for potassium. We also demonstrated that the inoculation of Burkholderia glathei PML1(12) significantly increased biotite weathering by a factor of 1.4 for magnesium and 1.5 for potassium in comparison with the pine alone. In addition, we observed a significant positive effect of B. glathei PMB1(7) and PML1(12) on pine growth and on root morphology (number of lateral roots and root hairs). We demonstrated that PML1(12) improved pine growth when the seedlings were supplied with a nutrient solution which did not contain the nutrients present in the biotite. No improvement of pine growth was observed when the seedlings were supplied with all the nutrients necessary for pine growth. We therefore propose that the growth-promoting effect of B. glathei PML1(12) mainly resulted from the improved plant nutrition via increased mineral weathering.
The root functions as the physical anchor of the plant and is the organ responsible for uptake of water and mineral nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfate and trace elements that plants acquire from the soil. If we want to develop sustainable approaches to producing high crop yield, we need to better understand how the root develops, takes up a wide spectrum of nutrients, and interacts with symbiotic and pathogenic organisms. To accomplish these goals, we need to be able to explore roots in microscopic detail over time periods ranging from minutes to days.
We developed the RootChip, a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)- based microfluidic device, which allows us to grow and image roots from Arabidopsis seedlings while avoiding any physical stress to roots during preparation for imaging1 (Figure 1). The device contains a bifurcated channel structure featuring micromechanical valves to guide the fluid flow from solution inlets to each of the eight observation chambers2. This perfusion system allows the root microenvironment to be controlled and modified with precision and speed. The volume of the chambers is approximately 400 nl, thus requiring only minimal amounts of test solution.
Here we provide a detailed protocol for studying root biology on the RootChip using imaging-based approaches with real time resolution. Roots can be analyzed over several days using time lapse microscopy. Roots can be perfused with nutrient solutions or inhibitors, and up to eight seedlings can be analyzed in parallel. This system has the potential for a wide range of applications, including analysis of root growth in the presence or absence of chemicals, fluorescence-based analysis of gene expression, and the analysis of biosensors, e.g. FRET nanosensors3.
Bioengineering; Issue 65; Plant Biology; Physics; Plant Physiology; roots; microfluidics; imaging; hydroponics; Arabidopsis
Escherichia coli and Serratia liquefaciens, two bacterial spacecraft contaminants known to replicate under low atmospheric pressures of 2.5 kPa, were tested for growth and survival under simulated Mars conditions. Environmental stresses of high salinity, low temperature, and low pressure were screened alone and in combination for effects on bacterial survival and replication, and then cells were tested in Mars analog soils under simulated Mars conditions. Survival and replication of E. coli and S. liquefaciens cells in liquid medium were evaluated for 7 days under low temperatures (5, 10, 20, or 30°C) with increasing concentrations (0, 5, 10, or 20%) of three salts (MgCl2, MgSO4, NaCl) reported to be present on the surface of Mars. Moderate to high growth rates were observed for E. coli and S. liquefaciens at 30 or 20°C and in solutions with 0 or 5% salts. In contrast, cell densities of both species generally did not increase above initial inoculum levels under the highest salt concentrations (10 and 20%) and the four temperatures tested, with the exception that moderately higher cell densities were observed for both species at 10% MgSO4 maintained at 20 or 30°C. Growth rates of E. coli and S. liquefaciens in low salt concentrations were robust under all pressures (2.5, 10, or 101.3 kPa), exhibiting a general increase of up to 2.5 orders of magnitude above the initial inoculum levels of the assays. Vegetative E. coli cells were maintained in a Mars analog soil for 7 days under simulated Mars conditions that included temperatures between 20 and −50°C for a day/night diurnal period, UVC irradiation (200 to 280 nm) at 3.6 W m−2 for daytime operations (8 h), pressures held at a constant 0.71 kPa, and a gas composition that included the top five gases found in the martian atmosphere. Cell densities of E. coli failed to increase under simulated Mars conditions, and survival was reduced 1 to 2 orders of magnitude by the interactive effects of desiccation, UV irradiation, high salinity, and low pressure (in decreasing order of importance). Results suggest that E. coli may be able to survive, but not grow, in surficial soils on Mars.
• Background Many plant species can modify their root architecture to enable them to forage for heterogeneously distributed nutrients in the soil. The foraging response normally involves increased proliferation of lateral roots within nutrient-rich soil patches, but much remains to be understood about the signalling mechanisms that enable roots to sense variations in the external concentrations of different mineral nutrients and to modify their patterns of growth and development accordingly.
• Scope In this review we consider different aspects of the way in which the nitrogen supply can modify root branching, focusing on Arabidopsis thaliana. Our current understanding of the mechanism of nitrate stimulation of lateral root growth and the role of the ANR1 gene are summarized. In addition, evidence supporting the possible role of auxin in regulating the systemic inhibition of early lateral root development by high rates of nitrate supply is presented. Finally, we examine recent evidence that an amino acid, l-glutamate, can act as an external signal to elicit complex changes in root growth and development.
• Conclusions It is clear that plants have evolved sophisticated pathways for sensing and responding to changes in different components of the external nitrogen supply as well as their own internal nitrogen status. We speculate on the possibility that the effects elicited by external l-glutamate represent a novel form of foraging response that could potentially enhance a plant's ability to compete with its neighbours and micro-organisms for localized sources of organic nitrogen.
Arabidopsis thaliana; auxin; dissolved organic nitrogen; foraging; glutamate; lateral roots; MADS box transcription factor; nitrate; nitrogen; root architecture; root development; roots; signalling; Thlaspi caerulescens
Sulphur is an essential macronutrient needed for the synthesis of many cellular components. Sulphur containing amino acids and stress response-related compounds, such as glutathione, are derived from reduction of root-absorbed sulphate. Sulphate distribution in cell compartments necessitates specific transport systems. The low-affinity sulphate transporters SULTR4;1 and SULTR4;2 have been localized to the vacuolar membrane, where they may facilitate sulphate efflux from the vacuole.
In the present study, we demonstrated that the Sultr4;1 gene is expressed in developing Arabidopsis seeds to a level over 10-fold higher than the Sultr4;2 gene. A characterization of dry mature seeds from a Sultr4;1 T-DNA mutant revealed a higher sulphate content, implying a function for this transporter in developing seeds. A fine dissection of the Sultr4;1 seed proteome identified 29 spots whose abundance varied compared to wild-type. Specific metabolic features characteristic of an adaptive response were revealed, such as an up-accumulation of various proteins involved in sugar metabolism and in detoxification processes.
This study revealed a role for SULTR4;1 in determining sulphate content of mature Arabidopsis seeds. Moreover, the adaptive response of sultr4;1 mutant seeds as revealed by proteomics suggests a function of SULTR4;1 in redox homeostasis, a mechanism that has to be tightly controlled during development of orthodox seeds.
Markovitz, Alvin (University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.) and Susan Sylvan. Effect of sodium sulfate and magnesium sulfate on heteropolysaccharide synthesis in gram-negative soil bacteria. J. Bacteriol. 83:483–489. 1962.—The effect of Na2SO4 and MgSO4 on heteropolysaccharide biosynthesis has been investigated in gram-negative bacteria isolated from soil. These bacteria may be divided into three arbitrary groups on the basis of the effect of Na2SO4 and MgSO4 on heteropolysaccharide synthesis: group 1, synthesis of polysaccharides containing uronic acid is inhibited by increasing the concentration of sulfate ion; group 2, synthesis of polysaccharides containing uronic acid is stimulated by sulfate ions; group 3, synthesis of polysaccharide not containing uronic acid is stimulated minimally by Na2SO4.
Plants require at least 14 mineral elements for their nutrition. These include the macronutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) and sulphur (S) and the micronutrients chlorine (Cl), boron (B), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), nickel (Ni) and molybdenum (Mo). These are generally obtained from the soil. Crop production is often limited by low phytoavailability of essential mineral elements and/or the presence of excessive concentrations of potentially toxic mineral elements, such as sodium (Na), Cl, B, Fe, Mn and aluminium (Al), in the soil solution.
This article provides the context for a Special Issue of the Annals of Botany on ‘Plant Nutrition for Sustainable Development and Global Health’. It provides an introduction to plant mineral nutrition and explains how mineral elements are taken up by roots and distributed within plants. It introduces the concept of the ionome (the elemental composition of a subcellular structure, cell, tissue or organism), and observes that the activities of key transport proteins determine species-specific, tissue and cellular ionomes. It then describes how current research is addressing the problems of mineral toxicities in agricultural soils to provide food security and the optimization of fertilizer applications for economic and environmental sustainability. It concludes with a perspective on how agriculture can produce edible crops that contribute sufficient mineral elements for adequate animal and human nutrition.
Biofortification; fertilizer use efficiency; mineral nutrition; pollution; toxicity; transport protein
In order to grow on soils that vary widely in chemical composition, plants have evolved mechanisms for regulating the elemental composition of their tissues to balance the mineral nutrient and trace element bioavailability in the soil with the requirements of the plant for growth and development. The biodiversity that exists within a species can be utilized to investigate how regulatory mechanisms of individual elements interact and to identify genes important for these processes. We analyzed the elemental composition (ionome) of a set of 96 wild accessions of the genetic model plant Arabidopsis thaliana grown in hydroponic culture and soil using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The concentrations of 17–19 elements were analyzed in roots and leaves from plants grown hydroponically, and leaves and seeds from plants grown in artificial soil. Significant genetic effects were detected for almost every element analyzed. We observed very few correlations between the elemental composition of the leaves and either the roots or seeds. There were many pairs of elements that were significantly correlated with each other within a tissue, but almost none of these pairs were consistently correlated across tissues and growth conditions, a phenomenon observed in several previous studies. These results suggest that the ionome of a plant tissue is variable, yet tightly controlled by genes and gene×environment interactions. The dataset provides a valuable resource for mapping studies to identify genes regulating elemental accumulation. All of the ionomic data is available at www.ionomicshub.org.
The rate of recovery of Pratylenchus brachyurus from cotton roots was enhanced when the tissue was incubated in solutions containing 10 ppm ethoxyethyl mercuric chloride, 50 ppm dihydrostreptomycin sulfate, 50, 100, or 1,000 ppm diisobutylphenoxethyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, or mixtures of these compounds. Incubation in 10 or 100 ppm zinc sulfate, zinc chloride, or magnesium chloride also enhanced the rate of recovery. Incubation solutions containing 1 or 1,000 ppm zinc chloride or magnesium chloride had no influence on this phenomenon, whereas, 10,000 ppm zinc sulfate, zinc chloride, or magnesium chloride retarded the rate of recovery. A t all incubation intervals during the first 21 days after the roots were removed from soil, the P. brachyurus population consisted of approximately 25% second-stage juveniles, 44% third and fourth-stage juveniles, and 31% females. At least 88% of the second-stage juveniles and 51% of the third and fourth-stage juveniles passed through a single 325-mesh sieve, whereas, 84% of the females collected were retained on a sieve of this mesh.
Gossypium hirsutum; Extraction; Incubation
Rhizotoxic ions in problem soils inhibit nutrient and water acquisition by roots, which in turn leads to reduced crop yields. Previous studies on the effects of rhizotoxic ions on root growth and physiological functions suggested that some mechanisms were common to all rhizotoxins, while others were more specific. To understand this complex system, we performed comparative transcriptomic analysis with various rhizotoxic ions, followed by bioinformatics analysis, in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
Roots of Arabidopsis were treated with the major rhizotoxic stressors, aluminum (Al) ions, cadmium (Cd) ions, copper (Cu) ions and sodium (NaCl) chloride, and the gene expression responses were analyzed by DNA array technology. The top 2.5% of genes whose expression was most increased by each stressor were compared with identify common and specific gene expression responses induced by these stressors. A number of genes encoding glutathione-S-transferases, peroxidases, Ca-binding proteins and a trehalose-synthesizing enzyme were induced by all stressors. In contrast, gene ontological categorization identified sets of genes uniquely induced by each stressor, with distinct patterns of biological processes and molecular function. These contained known resistance genes for each stressor, such as AtALMT1 (encoding Al-activated malate transporter) in the Al-specific group and DREB (encoding dehydration responsive element binding protein) in the NaCl-specific group. These gene groups are likely to reflect the common and differential cellular responses and the induction of defense systems in response to each ion. We also identified co-expressed gene groups specific to rhizotoxic ions, which might aid further detailed investigation of the response mechanisms.
In order to understand the complex responses of roots to rhizotoxic ions, we performed comparative transcriptomic analysis followed by bioinformatics characterization. Our analyses revealed that both general and specific genes were induced in Arabidopsis roots exposed to various rhizotoxic ions. Several defense systems, such as the production of reactive oxygen species and disturbance of Ca homeostasis, were triggered by all stressors, while specific defense genes were also induced by individual stressors. Similar studies in different plant species could help to clarify the resistance mechanisms at the molecular level to provide information that can be utilized for marker-assisted selection.
A healthy root system is crucial to plant growth and survival. To maintain efficiency of root function, plants have to dynamically modulate root system architecture through various adaptive mechanisms such as lateral root formation to respond to a changing and diversified soil environment. Exogenous application of a coumarin derivative, 4-methylumbelliferone (4-MU), in Arabidopsis thaliana inhibits seed germination by mainly reducing primary root growth. UDP-glycosyltransferases play an integral role in the biochemical mechanism of 4-MU detoxification in plant roots.1 However, 4-MU treatment also dramatically led to increased lateral root initiation, elongation and density. Moreover, marked root bending at the root-hypocotyl junction and auxin redistribution appeared to contribute to the 4-MU-mediated lateral root formation. We propose that 4-MU would serve as a useful chemical tool to study auxin-mediated root branching.
The vast quantities of antibiotics used in modern agriculture contaminate the environment and threaten human health. Recent studies have shown that crop plants grown in soil fertilized with manure from antibiotic-treated animals can accumulate antibiotic within the plant body, thus making them an additional antibiotic exposure route for consumers. Until recently, mechanisms of antibiotic entry and subcellular partitioning within plant cells were virtually unknown. We have uncovered and characterized a transporter gene in Arabidopsis thaliana, MAR1, which appears to control antibiotic entry into the chloroplast. Antibiotic resistance via MAR1 is specific to the aminoglycoside class, and is conferred by loss-of-function mutations, which is rather unusual, since most transporter-based antibiotic resistance is conferred by overexpression or gain-of-function mutations in efflux pumps with poor substrate specificity. Since MAR1 overexpression lines exhibit various iron starvation phenotypes, we propose that MAR1 transports an iron chelation molecule that is mimicked specifically by aminoglycoside antibiotics, and this facilitates their entry into the chloroplast. Knowledge about MAR1 enhances our understanding of how antibiotics might enter the plant cell, which may aid in the production of crop plants that are incapable of antibiotic accumulation, as well as further the development of new plant-based antibiotic resistance markers.
antibiotic; contamination; transport; import; chloroplast; membrane; iron; chelation; nicotianamine
Magnesium is an abundant intracellular cation that has been used for years in the treatment of hyper-tension and seizures associated with eclampsia of pregnancy as well as used as a tocolytic agent.1 Over sixty years ago, Haury showed that magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) could produce bronchodilation in asthmatics.2 However, interest in magnesium sulfate as a potential therapy for acute asthma surfaced in the late 1980s following a series of studies demonstrating that magnesium produced dose-dependent bronchodilation. The precise mechanism by which magnesium produces smooth muscle relaxation is not known, but it is thought to act by enhancing calcium uptake in the sarcoplasmic reticulum3 and/or as a calcium antagonist.4 In addition, magnesium is a cofactor regulating a number of enzymatic and cellular activities in the body, including adenyl cyclase and sodium-potassium ATP-ase, potentially enhancing the effects of β2-agonists.5 Other potential beneficial mechanisms in asthma include inhibition of acetylcholine release from cholinergic nerves6 and reduction of histamine release from mast cells.7
It is not clear whether magnesium acts as a functional antagonist to bronchoconstriction like the β2-agonists and theophylline or a specific antagonist like anticholinergics and antihistamines. Studies showing attenuation of the bronchoconstriction from histamine and methacholine would suggest functional antagonism.8,9 Some suggest that the response to intravenous magnesium sulfate is dependent upon achieving serum magnesium concentrations of 4–6 mg/dL (1.6–2.4 mmol/L).10 These values are similar to those that are employed to achieve tocolysis (4–8 mg/dL) and about one half those associated with severe toxicity of respiratory failure, cardiac arrhythmias and death (12–15 mg/ dL).1 It should be pointed out that studies have not reported lower magnesium concentrations in asthmatics than controls although one study reported correlation with bronchial hyperresponsiveness and intracellular magnesium concentrations in asthmatics. 11–13 Thus, it is unlikely that the bronchodilator response to magnesium is a result of restoring normal homeostasis but most likely a function of its direct antagonistic effects on intracellular calcium activity.
Precipitation of calcium in plants is common. There are abundant studies on the uptake and content of magnesium, strontium and barium, which have similar chemical properties to calcium, in comparison with those of calcium in plants, but studies on co-precipitation of these elements with calcium in plants are rare. In this study, we compared morphologies, distributional patterns, and elemental compositions of crystals in tissues of four Acacia species grown in the field as well as in the glasshouse. A comparison was also made of field-grown plants and glasshouse-grown plants, and of phyllodes of different ages for each species. Crystals of various morphologies and distributional patterns were observed in the four Acacia species studied. Magnesium, strontium and barium were precipitated together with calcium, mainly in phyllodes of the four Acacia species, and sometimes in branchlets and primary roots. These elements were most likely precipitated in forms of oxalate and sulfate in various tissues, including epidermis, mesophyll, parenchyma, sclerenchyma (fibre cells), pith, pith ray and cortex. In most cases, precipitation of calcium, magnesium, strontium and barium was biologically induced, and elements precipitated differed between soil types, plant species, and tissues within an individual plant; the precipitation was also related to tissue age. Formation of crystals containing these elements might play a role in regulating and detoxifying these elements in plants, and protecting the plants against herbivory.
Iron (Fe) is an essential mineral micronutrient for plants and animals. Plants respond to Fe deficiency by increasing root uptake capacity. Identification of gene networks for Fe uptake and homeostasis could result in improved crop growth and nutritional value. Previous studies have used microarrays to identify a large number of genes regulated by Fe deficiency in roots of three Arabidopsis ecotypes. However, a large proportion of these genes may be involved in secondary or genotype-influenced responses rather than in a universal role in Fe uptake or homeostasis. Here we show that a small percentage of the Fe deficiency transcriptome of two contrasting ecotypes, Kas-1 and Tsu-1, was shared with other ecotypes. Kas-1 and Tsu-1 had different timing and magnitude of ferric reductase activity upon Fe withdrawal, and different categories of overrepresented Fe-regulated genes. To gain insights into universal responses of Arabidopsis to Fe deficiency, the Kas-1 and Tsu-1 transcriptomes were compared with those of Col-0, Ler, and C24. In early Fe deficiency (24–48 h), no Fe-downregulated genes and only 10 upregulated genes were found in all ecotypes, and only 20 Fe-downregulated and 58 upregulated genes were found in at least three of the five ecotypes. Supernode gene networks were constructed to visualize conserved Fe homeostasis responses. Contrasting gene expression highlighted different responses to Fe deficiency between ecotypes. This study demonstrates the use of natural variation to identify central Fe-deficiency-regulated genes in plants, and identified genes with potential new roles in signalling during Fe deficiency.
Arabidopsis; iron deficiency; microarray; natural variation; transcriptional profiling
Mineral carbonation of basic silicate minerals regulates atmospheric CO2 on geological time scales by locking up carbon. Mining and spreading onto the earth's surface of fast-weathering silicates, such as olivine, has been proposed to speed up this natural CO2 sequestration (‘enhanced weathering’). While agriculture may offer an existing infrastructure, weathering rate and impacts on soil and plant are largely unknown. Our objectives were to assess weathering of olivine in soil, and its effects on plant growth and nutrient uptake. In a pot experiment with perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), weathering during 32 weeks was inferred from bioavailability of magnesium (Mg) in soil and plant. Olivine doses were equivalent to 1630 (OLIV1), 8150, 40700 and 204000 (OLIV4) kg ha−1. Alternatively, the soluble Mg salt kieserite was applied for reference. Olivine increased plant growth (+15.6%) and plant K concentration (+16.5%) in OLIV4. At all doses, olivine increased bioavailability of Mg and Ni in soil, as well as uptake of Mg, Si and Ni in plants. Olivine suppressed Ca uptake. Weathering estimated from a Mg balance was equivalent to 240 kg ha−1 (14.8% of dose, OLIV1) to 2240 kg ha−1 (1.1%, OLIV4). This corresponds to gross CO2 sequestration of 290 to 2690 kg ha−1 (29 103 to 269 103 kg km−2.) Alternatively, weathering estimated from similarity with kieserite treatments ranged from 13% to 58% for OLIV1. The Olsen model for olivine carbonation predicted 4.0% to 9.0% weathering for our case, independent of olivine dose. Our % values observed at high doses were smaller than this, suggesting negative feedbacks in soil. Yet, weathering appears fast enough to support the ‘enhanced weathering’ concept. In agriculture, olivine doses must remain within limits to avoid imbalances in plant nutrition, notably at low Ca availability; and to avoid Ni accumulation in soil and crop.
Plant root systems must grow in a manner that is dictated by endogenous genetic pathways, yet sensitive to environmental input. This allows them to provide the plant with water and nutrients while navigating a heterogeneous soil environment filled with obstacles, toxins, and pests. Gravity and touch, which constitute important cues for roots growing in soil, have been shown to modulate root architecture by altering growth patterns. This is illustrated by Arabidopsis thaliana roots growing on tilted hard agar surfaces. Under these conditions, the roots are exposed to both gravity and touch stimulation. Consequently, they tend to skew their growth away from the vertical and wave along the surface. This complex growth behavior is believed to help roots avoid obstacles in nature. Interestingly, A. thaliana accessions display distinct growth patterns under these conditions, suggesting the possibility of using this variation as a tool to identify the molecular mechanisms that modulate root behavior in response to their mechanical environment. We have used the Cvi/Ler recombinant inbred line population to identify quantitative trait loci that contribute to root skewing on tilted hard agar surfaces. A combination of fine mapping for one of these QTL and microarray analysis of expression differences between Cvi and Ler root tips identifies a region on chromosome 2 as contributing to root skewing on tilted surfaces, potentially by modulating cell wall composition.
Arabidopsis; root; skewing; waving; cis-prenyltransferase
Magnesium has been known for its antioxidative and antiinflammatory properties in many studies. In this study two dosing regimens of magnesium were compared with a placebo control group in order to investigate safety and efficacy of high doses of intravenous magnesium sulfate infusion on critically ill trauma patients. Inflammatory and oxidative factors were measured in this trial.
45 trauma patients with systemic inflammatory response syndromes (SIRS) were randomly assigned into 2 treatment and one placebo groups. The high dose group received 15 g MgSO4, low dose group received 7.5 g of MgSO4 over 4 hour infusion, and placebo group received saline alone. The initial and post magnesium sulfate injections levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), total antioxidant power and lipid peroxidation were measured after 6, 18 and 36 hours. The pre-infusion along with 6 and 36 hour level of microalbuminuria were also determined.
Repeated measurements illustrated that there was no significant difference in TNF-α, total antioxidant power and lipid peroxidation levels among groups during the period of analysis. The microalbuminuria at 36 hour post infusion of high dose group was lower than that of control group (p = 0.024). Patient’s mortality (28 day) was similar among all treatment groups. Both magnesium infusion groups tolerated the drug without experiencing any complications.
No evidence for antioxidative and antiinflammatory effects of magnesium in traumatic SIRS positive patients was found. Magnesium in high doses may be recommended for traumatic patients with SIRS status to prevent microalbuminuria.
Magnesium; Microalbumin; TNF-α; Oxidative stress; Trauma; Critical care