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1.  Life is more than a computer running DNA software 
In his recent interview for the Guardian Craig Venter is elaborating about a household appliance for the future, Digital Biological Converter (DBC). Current prototype, which can produce DNA, is a box attached to the computer which receives DNA sequences over the internet to synthesize DNA; later in future also viruses, proteins, and living cells. This would help the household members to produce, e.g., insulin, virus vaccines or phages that fight antibiotic resistant bacteria. In more distant future, Craig Venter’s hope is that the DBC will generate living cells via so-called “Universal Recipient Cell”. This platform will allow digitally transformed genomes, downloaded from the internet, to form new cells fitted for the particular needs such as therapeutics, food, fuel or cleaning water. In contrast to this, the authors propose that DNA sequences of genomes do not represent 1:1 depictions of unequivocal coding structures such as genes. In light of the variety of epigenetic markings, DNA can store a multitude of further meanings hidden under the superficial grammar of nucleic acid sequences.
PMCID: PMC4160521  PMID: 25225595
DNA; Genome; Information; Life; Non-coding RNA; Synthetic biology; Virus
2.  Plant anesthesia supports similarities between animals and plants 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2014;9:e27886.
The French scientist Claude Bernard (1813–1878) is famous for his discoveries in physiology and for introducing rigorous experimental methods to medicine and biology. One of his major technical innovations was the use of chemicals in order to disrupt normal physiological function to test hypotheses. But less known is his conviction that the physiological functions of all living organisms rely on the same underlying principles. He hypothesized that similarly to animals, plants are also able to sense changes in their environment. He called this ability “sensitivity.” In order to test his ideas, he performed anesthesia on plants and the results of these experiments were presented in 1878 in “Leçonssur les phénomènes de la vie communs aux animaux et aux végétaux.”1 The phenomena described by Claude Bernard more than a century ago are not fully understood yet. Here, we present a short overview of anesthetic effects in animals and we discuss how anesthesia affects plant movements, seed germination, and photosynthesis. Surprisingly, these phenomena may have ecological relevance, since stressed plants generate anesthetics such as ethylene and ether. Finally, we discuss Claude Bernard's interpretations and conclusions in the perspective of modern plant sciences.
PMCID: PMC4091246  PMID: 24476640
Anesthesia; behavior chloroform; consciousness; ether; ethylene; photosynthesis; plants; plant movements; respiration; sensory systems
3.  Alleviation of aluminium-induced cell rigidity by overexpression of OsPIN2 in rice roots 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(18):5305-5315.
Overexpression of OsPIN2 reduces Al-induced formation of reactive oxygen species, weakens lipid peroxidation and lignification, and thus enhances Al tolerance of rice seedlings.
Al-induced cell rigidity is one of the symptoms of Al toxicity, but the mechanism by which plants tolerate this toxicity is still unclear. In this study, we found that overexpression of OsPIN2, an auxin transporter gene, could alleviate Al-induced cell rigidity in rice root apices. A freeze–thawing experiment showed that the Al-treated roots of wild-type (WT) plants had more damage in the epidermal and outer cortex cells than that found in lines overexpressing OsPIN2 (OXs), and the freeze-disrupt coefficient was 2-fold higher in the former than in the latter. Furthermore, Al could induce aberrations of the cell wall–plasma membrane interface, which was more prominent in the epidermal cells of the elongation zone of the WT. Overexpressed OsPIN2 reduced Al-induced formation of reactive oxygen species and weakened Al-induced lipid peroxidation and lignification in roots. Compared with WT, a 16.6–32.6% lower Al-triggered hemicellulose 1 accumulation was observed in root apices of OXs, and 17.4–20.5% less Al accumulated in the cell wall of OXs. Furthermore, overexpression of OsPIN2 ameliorated the Al inhibitory effect on basipetal auxin transport and increased Al-induced IAA and proton release. Taken together, our results suggest that by decreasing the binding of Al to the cell wall and Al-targeted oxidative cellular damage, OXs lines show less Al-induced damage. By modulating PIN2-based auxin transport, IAA efflux, and cell wall acidification, lines overexpressing OsPIN2 alleviate Al-induced cell rigidity in the rice root apex.
PMCID: PMC4157713  PMID: 25053643
Aluminium; auxin; cell rigidity; mechanical change; Oryza sativa L.; OsPIN2.
4.  Light as stress factor to plant roots – case of root halotropism 
Despite growing underground, largely in darkness, roots emerge to be very sensitive to light. Recently, several important papers have been published which reveal that plant roots not only express all known light receptors but also that their growth, physiology and adaptive stress responses are light-sensitive. In Arabidopsis, illumination of roots speeds-up root growth via reactive oxygen species-mediated and F-actin dependent process. On the other hand, keeping Arabidopsis roots in darkness alters F-actin distribution, polar localization of PIN proteins as well as polar transport of auxin. Several signaling components activated by phytohormones are overlapping with light-related signaling cascade. We demonstrated that the sensitivity of roots to salinity is altered in the light-grown Arabidopsis roots. Particularly, light-exposed roots are less effective in their salt-avoidance behavior known as root halotropism. Here we discuss these new aspects of light-mediated root behavior from cellular, physiological and evolutionary perspectives.
PMCID: PMC4264407  PMID: 25566292
root; light response; plant hormones; reactive oxygen species; root tropism
5.  Ion channels in plants 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2012;8(1):e23009.
In his recent opus magnum review paper published in the October issue of Physiology Reviews, Rainer Hedrich summarized the field of plant ion channels.1 He started from the earliest electric recordings initiated by Charles Darwin of carnivorous Dionaea muscipula,1,2 known as Venus flytrap, and covered the topic extensively up to the most recent discoveries on Shaker-type potassium channels, anion channels of SLAC/SLAH families, and ligand-activated channels of glutamate receptor-like type (GLR) and cyclic nucleotide-gated channels (CNGC).1
PMCID: PMC3745586  PMID: 23221742
Ion channels; bioelectricity
6.  At the dawn of a new revolution in life sciences 
In a recently published article Sydney Brenner argued that the most relevant scientific revolution in biology at his time was the breakthrough of the role of “information” in biology. The fundamental concept that integrates this new biological “information” with matter and energy is the universal Turing machine and von Neumann’s self-reproducing machines. In this article we demonstrate that in contrast to Turing/von Neumann machines living cells can really reproduce themselves. Additionally current knowledge on the roles of non-coding RNAs indicates a radical violation of the central dogma of molecular biology and opens the way to a new revolution in life sciences.
PMCID: PMC3654106  PMID: 23710294
History of science; Paradigm shift; Information; Non-coding RNAs
7.  PIN2 Turnover in Arabidopsis Root Epidermal Cells Explored by the Photoconvertible Protein Dendra2 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61403.
The steady state level of integral membrane proteins is dependent on a strictly controlled delivery and removal. Here we show that Dendra2, a green-to-red photoconvertible fluorescent protein, is a suitable tool to study protein turnover in plants. We characterized the fluorescence properties of Dendra2 expressed either as a free protein or as a tag in Arabidopsis thaliana roots and optimized photoconversion settings to study protein turnover. Dendra2 was fused to the PIN2 protein, an auxin transporter in the root tip, and by time-lapse imaging and assessment of red and green signal intensities in the membrane after photoconversion we quantified directly and simultaneously the rate of PIN2 delivery of the newly synthesized protein into the plasma membrane as well as the disappearance of the protein from the plasma membrane due to degradation. Additionally we have verified several factors which are expected to affect PIN2 protein turnover and therefore potentially regulate root growth.
PMCID: PMC3630207  PMID: 23637828
8.  An improved agar-plate method for studying root growth and response of Arabidopsis thaliana 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:1273.
Arabidopsis thaliana is a widely used model plant for plant biology research. Under traditional agar-plate culture system (TPG, traditional plant-growing), both plant shoots and roots are exposed to illumination, and roots are grown in sucrose-added medium. This is not a natural environment for the roots and may cause artifact responses. We have developed an improved agar-plate culture system (IPG, improved plant-growing) where shoots are illuminated but roots are grown in darkness without sucrose addition. Compared to TPG, IPG produced plants with significantly less total root length, lateral root length and root hair density, although their primary roots were longer. Root gravitropism, PIN2 (an auxin efflux carrier) abundance, H+ efflux or Ca2+ influx in root apexes, were weaker in IPG-grown roots than those in TPG-grown roots. We conclude that IPG offers a more natural way to study the root growth and response of Arabidopsis thaliana.
PMCID: PMC3572446  PMID: 23429403
9.  Rapid auxin-induced nitric oxide accumulation and subsequent tyrosine nitration of proteins during adventitious root formation in sunflower hypocotyls 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2013;8(3):e23196.
Using NO specific probe (MNIP-Cu), rapid nitric oxide (NO) accumulation as a response to auxin (IAA) treatment has been observed in the protoplasts from the hypocotyls of sunflower seedlings (Helianthus annuus L.). Incubation of protoplasts in presence of NPA (auxin efflux blocker) and PTIO (NO scavenger) leads to significant reduction in NO accumulation, indicating that NO signals represent an early signaling event during auxin-induced response. A surge in NO production has also been demonstrated in whole hypocotyl explants showing adventitious root (AR) development. Evidence of tyrosine nitration of cytosolic proteins as a consequence of NO accumulation has been provided by western blot analysis and immunolocalization in the sections of AR producing hypocotyl segments. Most abundant anti-nitrotyrosine labeling is evident in proteins ranging from 25–80 kDa. Tyrosine nitration of a particular protein (25 kDa) is completely absent in presence of NPA (which suppresses AR formation). Similar lack of tyrosine nitration of this protein is also evident in other conditions which do not allow AR differentiation. Immunofluorescent localization experiments have revealed that non-inductive treatments (such as PTIO) for AR develpoment from hypocotyl segments coincide with symplastic and apoplastic localization of tyrosine nitrated proteins in the xylem elements, in contrast with negligible (and mainly apoplastic) nitration of proteins in the interfascicular cells and phloem elements. Application of NPA does not affect tyrosine nitration of proteins even in the presence of an external source of NO (SNP). Tyrosine nitrated proteins are abundant around the nuclei in the actively dividing cells of the root primordium. Thus, NO-modulated rapid response to IAA treatment through differential distribution of tyrosine nitrated proteins is evident as an inherent aspect of the AR development.
PMCID: PMC3676489  PMID: 23299324
adventitious rooting; auxin; immunolocalization; nitric oxide; tyrosine nitration of proteins
10.  Photophobic behavior of maize roots 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2012;7(7):874-878.
Primary roots of young maize seedlings showed peculiar growth behavior when challenged by placing them on a slope, or if whole seedlings were turned upside down. Importantly, this behavior was dependent on the light conditions. If roots were placed on slopes in the dark, they performed “crawling” behavior and advanced rapidly up the slope. However, as soon as these roots were illuminated, their crawling movements along their horizontal paths slowed down, and instead tried to grow downwards along the gravity vector. A similar light-induced switch in the root behavior was observed when roots were inverted, by placing them in thin glass capillaries. As long as they were kept in the darkness, they showed rapid growth against the gravity vector. If illuminated, these inverted roots rapidly accomplished U-turns and grew down along the gravity vector, eventually escaping from the capillaries upon reaching their open ends. De-capped roots, although growing vigorously, did not display these light-induced photophobic growth responses. We can conclude that intact root cap is essential for the photophobic root behavior in maize.
PMCID: PMC3583978  PMID: 22751294
gravity; light; phototropism; plant behavior; roots; signaling
11.  Microorganism and filamentous fungi drive evolution of plant synapses 
In the course of plant evolution, there is an obvious trend toward an increased complexity of plant bodies, as well as an increased sophistication of plant behavior and communication. Phenotypic plasticity of plants is based on the polar auxin transport machinery that is directly linked with plant sensory systems impinging on plant behavior and adaptive responses. Similar to the emergence and evolution of eukaryotic cells, evolution of land plants was also shaped and driven by infective and symbiotic microorganisms. These microorganisms are the driving force behind the evolution of plant synapses and other neuronal aspects of higher plants; this is especially pronounced in the root apices. Plant synapses allow synaptic cell–cell communication and coordination in plants, as well as sensory-motor integration in root apices searching for water and mineral nutrition. These neuronal aspects of higher plants are closely linked with their unique ability to adapt to environmental changes.
PMCID: PMC3744040  PMID: 23967407
plant evolution; symbiosis; actin cytoskeleton; endocytosis; vesicle recycling; synapses; plant behavior; auxin transport
12.  Root Apex Transition Zone As Oscillatory Zone 
Root apex of higher plants shows very high sensitivity to environmental stimuli. The root cap acts as the most prominent plant sensory organ; sensing diverse physical parameters such as gravity, light, humidity, oxygen, and critical inorganic nutrients. However, the motoric responses to these stimuli are accomplished in the elongation region. This spatial discrepancy was solved when we have discovered and characterized the transition zone which is interpolated between the apical meristem and the subapical elongation zone. Cells of this zone are very active in the cytoskeletal rearrangements, endocytosis and endocytic vesicle recycling, as well as in electric activities. Here we discuss the oscillatory nature of the transition zone which, together with several other features of this zone, suggest that it acts as some kind of command center. In accordance with the early proposal of Charles and Francis Darwin, cells of this root zone receive sensory information from the root cap and instruct the motoric responses of cells in the elongation zone.
PMCID: PMC3788588  PMID: 24106493
plant roots; plant sensory biology; plant electrophysiology; plant polarity; plant morphogenesis; plant cytoskeleton; plant communication; auxin; neurotransmitter agents
13.  PIN2 is required for the adaptation of Arabidopsis roots to alkaline stress by modulating proton secretion 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2012;63(17):6105-6114.
Soil alkalinity is a widespread environmental problem that limits agricultural productivity. The hypothesis that an auxin-regulated proton secretion by plasma membrane H+-ATPase plays an important role in root adaption to alkaline stress was studied. It was found that alkaline stress increased auxin transport and PIN2 (an auxin efflux transporter) abundance in the root tip of wild-type Arabidopsis plants (WT). Compared with WT roots, the pin2 mutant roots exhibited much reduced plasma membrane H+-ATPase activity, root elongation, auxin transport, and proton secretion under alkaline stress. More importantly, roots of the pks5 mutant (PKS5, a protein kinase) lacking PIN2 (a pks5/pin2 double mutant) lost the previous higher proton-secretion capacity and higher elongation rate of primary roots under alkaline stress. By using Arabidopsis natural accessions with a high proton-secretion capacity, it was found that their PIN2 transcription abundance is positively related to the elongation rate of the primary root and proton-secretion capacity under alkaline stress. Taken together, our results confirm that PIN2 is involved in the PKS5-mediated signalling cascade under alkaline-stress and suggest that PIN2 is required for the adaptation of roots to alkaline stress by modulating proton secretion in the root tip to maintain primary root elongation.
PMCID: PMC3481202  PMID: 23002434
Alkaline stress; auxin transport; PIN2; PKS5; plasma membrane H+-ATPase; primary root growth; proton secretion; root tip
14.  Rapid endocytosis is triggered upon imbibition in Arabidopsis seeds 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2012;7(3):416-421.
During seed imbibition and embryo activation, rapid change from a metabolically resting state to the activation of diverse extracellular and/or membrane bound molecules is essential and, hence, endocytosis could be activated too. In fact, we have documented endocytic internalization of the membrane impermeable endocytic tracer FM4–64 already upon 30 min of imbibition of Arabidopsis seeds. This finding suggest that endocytosis is activated early during seed imbibition in Arabidopsis. Immunolocalization of rhamnogalacturonan-II (RG-II) complexed with boron showed that whereas this pectin is localized only in the cell walls of dry seed embryos, it starts to be intracellular once the imbibition started. Brefeldin A (BFA) exposure resulted in recruitment of the intracellular RG-II pectin complexes into the endocytic BFA-induced compartments, confirming the endocytic origin of the RG-II signal detected intracellularly. Finally, germination was significantly delayed when Arabidopsis seeds were germinated in the presence of inhibitors of endocytic pathways, suggesting that trafficking of extracellular molecules might play an important role in the overcome of germination. This work constitutes the first demonstration of endocytic processes during germination and opens new perspectives about the role of the extracellular matrix and membrane components in seed germination.
PMCID: PMC3443924  PMID: 22476454
brefeldin A; endocytosis; extracellular matrix; germination; rhamnogalacturonan-II
15.  Immunohistochemical observation of indole-3-acetic acid at the IAA synthetic maize coleoptile tips 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(12):2013-2022.
To investigate the distribution of IAA (indole-3-acetic acid) and the IAA synthetic cells in maize coleoptiles, we established immunohistochemistry of IAA using an anti-IAA-C-monoclonal antibody. We first confirmed the specificity of the antibody by comparing the amounts of endogenous free and conjugated IAA to the IAA signal obtained from the IAA antibody. Depletion of endogenous IAA showed a corresponding decrease in immuno-signal intensity and negligible cross-reactivity against IAA-related compounds, including tryptophan, indole-3-acetamide, and conjugated-IAA was observed. Immunolocalization showed that the IAA signal was intense in the approximately 1 mm region and the outer epidermis at the approximately 0.5 mm region from the top of coleoptiles treated with 1-N-naphthylphthalamic acid. By contrast, the IAA immuno-signal in the outer epidermis almost disappeared after 5-methyl-tryptophan treatment. Immunogold labeling of IAA with an anti-IAA-N-polyclonal antibody in the outer-epidermal cells showed cytoplasmic localization of free-IAA, but none in cell walls or vacuoles. These findings indicated that IAA is synthesized in the 0–2.0 mm region of maize coleoptile tips from Trp, in which the outer-epidermal cells of the 0.5 mm tip are the most active IAA synthetic cells.
PMCID: PMC3337196  PMID: 22112455
1-N-naphthylphthalamic acid; 5-methyl-tryptophan; Coleoptiles; IAA biosynthesis; Immunohistochemistry of IAA; Indole-3-acetic acid (IAA); Maize
16.  Illumination of Arabidopsis roots induces immediate burst of ROS production 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(10):1460-1464.
Arabidopsis roots are routinely exposed to light both during their cultivation within transparent Petri dishes and during their confocal microscopy analysis. Here we report that illumination of roots which naturally grow in darkness, even for a few seconds, induces an immediate and strong burst of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Plant scientists studying roots should pay great attention to the environment of living roots, and keep them in darkness as long as possible. Results obtained using illuminated roots during in vivo microscopic analysis should also be interpreted with great caution.
PMCID: PMC3256371  PMID: 21957498
reactive oxygen species; root; light; superoxide; escape phototropism
17.  A new theoretical approach to the functional meaning of sleep and dreaming in humans based on the maintenance of ‘predictive psychic homeostasis’ 
Different theories have been put forward during the last decade to explain the functional meaning of sleep and dreaming in humans. In the present paper, a new theory is presented which, while taking advantage of these earlier theories, introduces the following new and original aspects:
• Circadian rhythms relevant to various organs of the body affect the reciprocal interactions which operate to maintain constancy of the internal milieu and thereby also affect the sleep/wakefulness cycle. Particular attention is given to the constancy of natraemia and osmolarity and to the permissive role that the evolution of renal function has had for the evolution of the central nervous system and its integrative actions.
• The resetting of neuro-endocrine controls at the onset of wakefulness leads to the acquisition of new information and its integration within previously stored memories. This point is dealt with in relation to Moore-Ede’s proposal for the existence of a ’predictive homeostasis’.
• The concept of ‘psychic homeostasis’ is introduced and is considered as one of the most important states since it is aimed at the well-being, or eudemonia, of the human psyche. Sleep and dreaming in humans are discussed as important functions for the maintenance of a newly proposed composite state: that of ‘predictive psychic homeostasis’.
On the basis of these assumptions, and in accordance with the available neurobiological data, the present paper puts forward the novel hypothesis that sleep and dreaming play important functions in humans by compensating for psychic allostatic overloads. Hence, both consolatory dreams and disturbing nightmares can be part of the vis medicatrix naturae, the natural healing power, in this case, the state of eudemonia.
PMCID: PMC3306324  PMID: 22448302
sleep and dream theories; predictive psychic homeostasis; evolutionary tinkering; homeostasis of internal milieu; circadian rhythms of peripheral organs
18.  Evolution in Revolution 
Biological evolution represents one of the most successful, but also controversial scientific concepts. Ever since Charles Darwin formulated his version of evolution via natural selection, biological sciences experienced explosive development and progress. First of all, although Darwin could not explain how traits of organisms, selected via natural selection, are inherited and passed down along generations; his theory stimulated research in this respect and resulted in the establishment of genetics and still later in the discovery of DNA and genome sequencing some hundred years after his evolutionary theory. Nevertheless, there are several weaknesses in classical Darwinian as well as Neodarwinian gene-centric views of biological evolution. The most serious drawback is its narrow focus: the modern evolutionary synthesis, as formulated in the 20th Century, is based on the concept of gene and on the mathematical/statistical analysis of populations. While Neodarwinism is still generally considered a valid theory of biological evolution, its narrow focus and incompatibility with several new findings and discoveries calls for its update and/or transformation. Either it will be replaced with an updated version or, if not flexible enough, it will be replaced by a new theory. In his book “Evolution — A New View from the 21st Century,”1 James A. Shapiro discusses these problems as well as newly emerging results which are changing our understanding of biological evolution. This new book joins a row of several other recent books highlighting the same issues.2–13
PMCID: PMC3204118
19.  Cyclic monoterpene mediated modulations of Arabidopsis thaliana phenotype 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2010;5(7):832-838.
Monoterpenes at high atmospheric concentrations are strong growth inhibitors in allelopathic interactions. Effects depend on dose, molecular structure of the monoterpene and on the species of the receiver plant. Stomata are among the first targets affected by camphor and menthol. Previously, it could be demonstrated that the compounds induce swelling of the protoplasts, prevent stomatal closure and enhance transpiration. In this study, we show that the block of stomatal closure is accompanied by changes to the cytoskeleton, which has a direct role in stomatal movements. Although MPK3 (MAP3 kinase) and ABF4 gene expressions are induced within six hours, stomatal closure is prevented. In contrast to ABF4, ABF2 (both transcription factors) is not induced. MPK3 and ABF4 both encode for proteins involved in the process of stomatal closure. The expression of PEPCase, an enzyme important for stomatal opening, is downregulated. The leaves develop stress symptoms, mirrored by transient changes in the expression profile of additional genes: lipoxygenase 2 (LOX2), CER5, CER6 (both important for wax production) and RD29B (an ABA inducible stress protein). Non-invasive methods showed a fast response of the plant to camphor fumigations both in a rapid decrease of the quantum yield and in the relative growth rate. Repeated exposures to the monoterpenes resulted finally in growth reduction and a stress related change in the phenotype. It is proposed that high concentrations or repeated exposure to monoterpenes led to irreversible damages, whereas low concentrations or short-term fumigations may have the potential to strengthen the plant fitness.
PMCID: PMC3115032  PMID: 20484979
monoterpene; cytoskeleton; gene expression; phenotype modulation
20.  Recent surprising similarities between plant cells and neurons 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2010;5(2):87-89.
Plant cells and neurons share several similarities, including non-centrosomal microtubules, motile post-Golgi organelles, separated both spatially/structurally and functionally from the Golgi apparatus and involved in vesicular endocytic recycling, as well as cell-cell adhesion domains based on the actin/myosin cytoskeleton which serve for cell-cell communication. Tip-growing plant cells such as root hairs and pollen tubes also resemble neurons extending their axons. Recently, surprising discoveries have been made with respect to the molecular basis of neurodegenerative disorders known as Hereditary Spastic Paraplegias and tip-growth of root hairs. All these advances are briefly discussed in the context of other similarities between plant cells and neurons.
PMCID: PMC2884105  PMID: 20150757
plant cells; neurons; polarity; tip-growth; Golgi apparatus; endoplasmic reticulum
21.  The ‘root-brain’ hypothesis of Charles and Francis Darwin 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2009;4(12):1121-1127.
This year celebrates the 200th aniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, best known for his theory of evolution summarized in On the Origin of Species. Less well known is that, in the second half of his life, Darwin’s major scientific focus turned towards plants. He wrote several books on plants, the next-to-last of which, The Power of Movement of Plants, published together with his son Francis, opened plants to a new view. Here we amplify the final sentence of this book in which the Darwins proposed that: “It is hardly an exaggeration to say that the tip of the radicle thus endowed [with sensitivity] and having the power of directing the movements of the adjoining parts, acts like the brain of one of the lower animals; the brain being seated within the anterior end of the body, receiving impressions from the sense-organs, and directing the several movements.” This sentence conveys two important messages: first, that the root apex may be considered to be a ‘brain-like’ organ endowed with a sensitivity which controls its navigation through soil; second, that the root apex represents the anterior end of the plant body. In this article, we discuss both these statements.
PMCID: PMC2819436  PMID: 20514226
auxin; cognition; plant neurobiology; plant tropisms; roots; sensory biology; signaling
22.  Disruption of actin filaments induces mitochondrial Ca2+ release to the cytoplasm and [Ca2+]c changes in Arabidopsis root hairs 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:53.
Mitochondria are dynamic organelles that move along actin filaments, and serve as calcium stores in plant cells. The positioning and dynamics of mitochondria depend on membrane-cytoskeleton interactions, but it is not clear whether microfilament cytoskeleton has a direct effect on mitochondrial function and Ca2+ storage. Therefore, we designed a series of experiments to clarify the effects of actin filaments on mitochondrial Ca2+ storage, cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]c), and the interaction between mitochondrial Ca2+ and cytoplasmic Ca2+ in Arabidopsis root hairs.
In this study, we found that treatments with latrunculin B (Lat-B) and jasplakinolide (Jas), which depolymerize and polymerize actin filaments respectively, decreased membrane potential and Ca2+ stores in the mitochondria of Arabidopsis root hairs. Simultaneously, these treatments induced an instantaneous increase of cytoplasmic Ca2+, followed by a continuous decrease. All of these effects were inhibited by pretreatment with cyclosporin A (Cs A), a representative blocker of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP). Moreover, we found there was a Ca2+ concentration gradient in mitochondria from the tip to the base of the root hair, and this gradient could be disrupted by actin-acting drugs.
Based on these results, we concluded that the disruption of actin filaments caused by Lat-B or Jas promoted irreversible opening of the mPTP, resulting in mitochondrial Ca2+ release into the cytoplasm, and consequent changes in [Ca2+]c. We suggest that normal polymerization and depolymerization of actin filaments are essential for mitochondrial Ca2+ storage in root hairs.
PMCID: PMC2923527  PMID: 20334630
23.  Plant neurobiology 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2009;4(6):475-476.
PMCID: PMC2688289  PMID: 19816121
plant neurobiology; signaling; behavior
24.  Mosaic, Self-Similarity Logic, and Biological Attraction principles 
From a structural standpoint, living organisms are organized like a nest of Russian matryoshka dolls, in which structures are buried within one another. From a temporal point of view, this type of organization is the result of a history comprised of a set of time backcloths which have accompanied the passage of living matter from its origins up to the present day. The aim of the present paper is to indicate a possible course of this ‘passage through time, and suggest how today’s complexity has been reached by living organisms. This investigation will employ three conceptual tools, namely the Mosaic, Self-Similarity Logic, and the Biological Attraction principles. Self-Similarity Logic indicates the self-consistency by which elements of a living system interact, irrespective of the spatiotemporal level under consideration. The term Mosaic indicates how, from the same set of elements assembled according to different patterns, it is possible to arrive at completely different constructions: hence, each system becomes endowed with different emergent properties. The Biological Attraction principle states that there is an inherent drive for association and merging of compatible elements at all levels of biological complexity. By analogy with the gravitation law in physics, biological attraction is based on the evidence that each living organism creates an attractive field around itself. This field acts as a sphere of influence that actively attracts similar fields of other biological systems, thereby modifying salient features of the interacting organisms. Three specific organizational levels of living matter, namely the molecular, cellular, and supracellular levels, have been considered in order to analyse and illustrate the interpretative as well as the predictive roles of each of these three explanatory principles.
PMCID: PMC2829830  PMID: 20195461
Self-Similarity Logic Principle; Mosaic Principle; Biological Complexity; Biological Attraction Principle; Dissipative Systems; Endosymbiosis; Evolution; Self-Assembly; Self-Organization
25.  Actin Turnover Is Required for Myosin-Dependent Mitochondrial Movements in Arabidopsis Root Hairs 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(6):e5961.
Previous studies have shown that plant mitochondrial movements are myosin-based along actin filaments, which undergo continuous turnover by the exchange of actin subunits from existing filaments. Although earlier studies revealed that actin filament dynamics are essential for many functions of the actin cytoskeleton, there are little data connecting actin dynamics and mitochondrial movements.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We addressed the role of actin filament dynamics in the control of mitochondrial movements by treating cells with various pharmaceuticals that affect actin filament assembly and disassembly. Confocal microscopy of Arabidopsis thaliana root hairs expressing GFP-FABD2 as an actin filament reporter showed that mitochondrial distribution was in agreement with the arrangement of actin filaments in root hairs at different developmental stages. Analyses of mitochondrial trajectories and instantaneous velocities immediately following pharmacological perturbation of the cytoskeleton using variable-angle evanescent wave microscopy and/or spinning disk confocal microscopy revealed that mitochondrial velocities were regulated by myosin activity and actin filament dynamics. Furthermore, simultaneous visualization of mitochondria and actin filaments suggested that mitochondrial positioning might involve depolymerization of actin filaments on the surface of mitochondria.
Base on these results we propose a mechanism for the regulation of mitochondrial speed of movements, positioning, and direction of movements that combines the coordinated activity of myosin and the rate of actin turnover, together with microtubule dynamics, which directs the positioning of actin polymerization events.
PMCID: PMC2694364  PMID: 19536333

Results 1-25 (35)