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1.  A Simple and Effective Method for High Quality Co-Extraction of Genomic DNA and Total RNA from Low Biomass Ectocarpus siliculosus, the Model Brown Alga 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96470.
The brown seaweed Ectocarpus siliculosus is an emerging model species distributed worldwide in temperate coastal ecosystems. Over 1500 strains of E. siliculosus are available in culture from a broad range of geographic locations and ecological niches. To elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying its capacity to cope with different environmental and biotic stressors, genomic and transcriptomic studies are necessary; this requires the co-isolation of genomic DNA and total RNA. In brown algae, extraction of nucleic acids is hindered by high concentrations of secondary metabolites that co-precipitate with nucleic acids. Here, we propose a reliable, rapid and cost-effective procedure for the co-isolation of high-quality nucleic acids using small quantities of biomass (25-, 50- and 100 mg) from strains of E. siliculosus (RHO12; LIA4A; EC524 and REP10–11) isolated from sites with different environmental conditions. The procedure employs a high pH extraction buffer (pH 9.5) which contains 100 mM Tris-HCl and 150 mM NaCl, with the addition of 5 mM DTT and 1% sarkosyl to ensure maximum solubility of nucleic acids, effective inhibition of nuclease activity and removal of interfering contaminants (e.g. polysaccharides, polyphenols). The use of sodium acetate together with isopropanol shortened precipitation time and enhanced the yields of DNA/RNA. A phenol:chlorophorm:isoamyl alcohol step was subsequently used to purify the nucleic acids. The present protocol produces high yields of nucleic acids from only 25 mg of fresh algal biomass (0.195 and 0.284 µg mg−1 fresh weigh of RNA and DNA, respectively) and the high quality of the extracted nucleic acids was confirmed through spectrophotometric and electrophoretic analyses. The isolated RNA can be used directly in downstream applications such as RT-PCR and the genomic DNA was suitable for PCR, producing reliable restriction enzyme digestion patterns. Co-isolation of DNA/RNA from different strains indicates that this method is likely to have wider applications for intra- and inter-specific studies on other brown algae.
PMCID: PMC4035266  PMID: 24867404
2.  In Vitro Culture Conditions and OeARF and OeH3 Expressions Modulate Adventitious Root Formation from Oleaster (Olea europaea L. subsp. europaea var. sylvestris) Cuttings 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:974086.
Olea europaea L. subsp. europaea var. sylvestris, also named oleaster, is the wild form of olive and it is used as rootstock and pollen donor for many cultivated varieties. An efficient procedure for in vitro propagation of oleaster was established in this study. A zeatin concentration of 2.5 mg/L was effective to induce an appreciable vegetative growth. Also high rooting efficiency was obtained by using a short IBA pulse, followed by two different IBA concentrations in the culture medium. With the aim to enlarge knowledge on the molecular aspects of adventitious rooting, we also evaluated the transcriptional modulation of an ARFs member and HISTONE H3 genes, involved in auxin signaling and cell replication, respectively, during the root induction phase of cuttings. The obtained results suggest that the selected genes, as markers of the induction phase, could be very useful for setting up efficient culture conditions along the rooting process, thus increasing micropropagation efficiency.
PMCID: PMC3920661  PMID: 24587768
3.  The peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch) genome harbours 10 KNOX genes, which are differentially expressed in stem development, and the class 1 KNOPE1 regulates elongation and lignification during primary growth 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2012;63(15):5417-5435.
The KNOTTED-like (KNOX) genes encode homeodomain transcription factors and regulate several processes of plant organ development. The peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch) genome was found to contain 10 KNOX members (KNOPE genes); six of them were experimentally located on the Prunus reference map and the class 1 KNOPE1 was found to link to a quantitative trait locus (QTL) for the internode length in the peach×Ferganensis population. All the KNOPE genes were differentially transcribed in the internodes of growing shoots; the KNOPE1 mRNA abundance decreased progressively from primary (elongation) to secondary growth (radial expansion). During primary growth, the KNOPE1 mRNA was localized in the cortex and in the procambium/metaphloem zones, whereas it was undetected in incipient phloem and xylem fibres. KNOPE1 overexpression in the Arabidopsis bp4 loss-of-function background (35S:KNOPE1/bp genotype) restored the rachis length, suggesting, together with the QTL association, a role for KNOPE1 in peach shoot elongation. Several lignin biosynthesis genes were up-regulated in the bp4 internodes but repressed in the 35S:KNOPE1/bp lines similarly to the wild type. Moreover, the lignin deposition pattern of the 35S:KNOPE1/bp and the wild-type internodes were the same. The KNOPE1 protein was found to recognize in vitro one of the typical KNOX DNA-binding sites that recurred in peach and Arabidopsis lignin genes. KNOPE1 expression was inversely correlated with that of lignin genes and lignin deposition along the peach shoot stems and was down-regulated in lignifying vascular tissues. These data strongly support that KNOPE1 prevents cell lignification by repressing lignin genes during peach stem primary growth.
PMCID: PMC3444263  PMID: 22888130
KNOPE1; KNOX transcription factors; peach; stem elongation and lignification
4.  Differential spatial expression of A- and B-type CDKs, and distribution of auxins and cytokinins in the open transverse root apical meristem of Cucurbita maxima 
Annals of Botany  2010;107(7):1223-1234.
Background and Aims
Aside from those on Arabidopsis, very few studies have focused on spatial expression of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) in root apical meristems (RAMs), and, indeed, none has been undertaken for open meristems. The extent of interfacing between cell cycle genes and plant growth regulators is also an increasingly important issue in plant cell cycle studies. Here spatial expression/localization of an A-type and B-type CDK, auxin and cytokinins are reported in relation to the hitherto unexplored anatomy of RAMs of Cucurbita maxima.
Median longitudinal sections were cut from 1-cm-long primary root tips of C. maxima. Full-length A-type CDKs and a B-type CDK were cloned from C. maxima using degenerate primers, probes of which were localized on sections of RAMs using in situ hybridization. Isopentenyladenine (iPA), trans-zeatin (t-Z) and indole-3yl-acetic acid (IAA) were identified on sections by immunolocalization.
Key Results
The C. cucurbita RAM conformed to an open transverse (OT) meristem typified by an absence of a clear boundary between the eumeristem and root cap columella, but with a distinctive longitudinally thickened epidermis. Cucma;CDKA;1 expression was detected strongly in the longitudinally thickened epidermis, a tissue with mitotic competence that contributes cells radially to the root cap of OT meristems. Cucma;CDKB2 was expressed mainly in proliferative regions of the RAM and in lateral root primordia. iPA and t-Z were mainly distributed in differentiated cells whilst IAA was distributed more uniformly in all tissues of the RAM.
Cucma;CDKA;1 was expressed most strongly in cells that have proliferative competence whereas Cucma;CDKB2 was confined mainly to mitotic cells. iPA and t-Z marked differentiated cells in the RAM, consistent with the known effect of cytokinins in promoting differentiation in root systems. iPA/t-Z were distributed in a converse pattern to Cucma;CDKB2 expression whereas IAA was detected in most cells in the RAM regardless of their proliferative potential.
PMCID: PMC3091794  PMID: 20601387
Auxin; cytokinins; CDKs; Cucurbita maxima; root apical meristems
5.  Perturbation of cytokinin and ethylene-signalling pathways explain the strong rooting phenotype exhibited by Arabidopsis expressing the Schizosaccharomyces pombe mitotic inducer, cdc25 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:45.
Entry into mitosis is regulated by cyclin dependent kinases that in turn are phosphoregulated. In most eukaryotes, phosphoregulation is through WEE1 kinase and CDC25 phosphatase. In higher plants a homologous CDC25 gene is unconfirmed and hence the mitotic inducer Schizosaccharomyces pombe (Sp) cdc25 has been used as a tool in transgenic plants to probe cell cycle function. Expression of Spcdc25 in tobacco BY-2 cells accelerates entry into mitosis and depletes cytokinins; in whole plants it stimulates lateral root production. Here we show, for the first time, that alterations to cytokinin and ethylene signaling explain the rooting phenotype elicited by Spcdc25 expression in Arabidopsis.
Expressing Spcdc25 in Arabidopsis results in increased formation of lateral and adventitious roots, a reduction of primary root width and more isodiametric cells in the root apical meristem (RAM) compared with wild type. Furthermore it stimulates root morphogenesis from hypocotyls when cultured on two way grids of increasing auxin and cytokinin concentrations. Microarray analysis of seedling roots expressing Spcdc25 reveals that expression of 167 genes is changed by > 2-fold. As well as genes related to stress responses and defence, these include 19 genes related to transcriptional regulation and signaling. Amongst these was the up-regulation of genes associated with ethylene synthesis and signaling. Seedlings expressing Spcdc25 produced 2-fold more ethylene than WT and exhibited a significant reduction in hypocotyl length both in darkness or when exposed to 10 ppm ethylene. Furthermore in Spcdc25 expressing plants, the cytokinin receptor AHK3 was down-regulated, and endogenous levels of iPA were reduced whereas endogeous IAA concentrations in the roots increased.
We suggest that the reduction in root width and change to a more isodiametric cell phenotype in the RAM in Spcdc25 expressing plants is a response to ethylene over-production. The increased rooting phenotype in Spcdc25 expressing plants is due to an increase in the ratio of endogenous auxin to cytokinin that is known to stimulate an increased rate of lateral root production. Overall, our data reveal important cross talk between cell division and plant growth regulators leading to developmental changes.
PMCID: PMC3362767  PMID: 22452972
6.  In Posidonia oceanica cadmium induces changes in DNA methylation and chromatin patterning 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2011;63(2):695-709.
In mammals, cadmium is widely considered as a non-genotoxic carcinogen acting through a methylation-dependent epigenetic mechanism. Here, the effects of Cd treatment on the DNA methylation patten are examined together with its effect on chromatin reconfiguration in Posidonia oceanica. DNA methylation level and pattern were analysed in actively growing organs, under short- (6 h) and long- (2 d or 4 d) term and low (10 μM) and high (50 μM) doses of Cd, through a Methylation-Sensitive Amplification Polymorphism technique and an immunocytological approach, respectively. The expression of one member of the CHROMOMETHYLASE (CMT) family, a DNA methyltransferase, was also assessed by qRT-PCR. Nuclear chromatin ultrastructure was investigated by transmission electron microscopy. Cd treatment induced a DNA hypermethylation, as well as an up-regulation of CMT, indicating that de novo methylation did indeed occur. Moreover, a high dose of Cd led to a progressive heterochromatinization of interphase nuclei and apoptotic figures were also observed after long-term treatment. The data demonstrate that Cd perturbs the DNA methylation status through the involvement of a specific methyltransferase. Such changes are linked to nuclear chromatin reconfiguration likely to establish a new balance of expressed/repressed chromatin. Overall, the data show an epigenetic basis to the mechanism underlying Cd toxicity in plants.
PMCID: PMC3254685  PMID: 22058406
5-Methylcytosine-antibody; cadmium-stress condition; chromatin reconfiguration; CHROMOMETHYLASE; DNA-methylation; Methylation- Sensitive Amplification Polymorphism (MSAP); Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile
7.  Cytological Investigations of the Arabidopsis thaliana elo1 Mutant Give New Insights into Leaf Lateral Growth and Elongator Function 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(2):261-270.
Background and Aims
Leaf growth is a complex developmental process controlled by genetic and environmental factors and is determined by a proliferation, expansion and maturation phase. Mutational analysis in Arabidopsis thaliana showed that leaf size and shape is dependent on cell division and cell expansion activity. An investigation was made at the cytophysiological and ultrastructural level of the elo1 mutant of Arabidopsis thaliana, which is defective in one of the components of the histone acetyl transferase Elongator complex and displays a distinct ‘narrow leaves’ phenotype, owing to a reduced cell number and no transition between petiole and lamina. Relative expression levels of three sucrose metabolism/transport-related genes were also investigated. The aim was to determine the physiological basis of leaf morphology in this mutant, by investigating the modulatory role of sucrose.
The elo1 mutant was taken as representative of all the elo mutations and investigated at cytophysiological level. A germination test and growth assays were performed on seedlings grown for 21 d at different sucrose concentrations. Leaf morphometric and ultrastructural features were also investigated by image analysis and electron microscopy, respectively. Finally, a quantitative PCR (qPCR) analysis was performed with three sucrose metabolism/transport-related genes that were investigated under different sucrose concentrations.
Key Results
elo1 plants at high sucrose concentrations exhibited an enhancement of germination and inhibition of leaf growth as compared with wild-type plants. qPCR experiments with three sucrose metabolism/transport-related genes showed an interaction between sucrose availability and the elo1 mutation. Furthermore, electron microscopy analysis provided the first ultrastructural description of an elo mutant, which showed a hypotonic vacuole, alterations in the size of grana and starch grains in the chloroplasts, and the massive presence of Golgi vesicles in the cytoplasm.
Based on the results obtained it is proposed that mechanisms producing carbon assimilates or importing sucrose could be affected in elo1 plants and could account for the observed differences, implying a role for Elongator in the regulation of these processes.
PMCID: PMC2735317  PMID: 17565971
Elongator complex; elo1; leaf development; germination; cell division; cell expansion; morphometric analysis; electron microscopy; qPCR; Arabidopsis thaliana; sucrose

Results 1-7 (7)