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1.  The Nicotiana attenuata GLA1 lipase controls the accumulation of Phytophthora parasitica-induced oxylipins and defensive secondary metabolites 
Plant, cell & environment  2014;37(7):1703-1715.
Nicotiana attenuata plants silenced in the expression of GLYCEROLIPASE A1 (ir-gla1 plants) are compromised in the herbivore- and wound-induced accumulation of jasmonic acid (JA). However, these plants accumulate wild-type (WT) levels of JA and divinyl-ethers (DVE) during Phytophthora parasitica infection (Bonaventure et al., 2011). By profiling oxylipin-enriched fractions with targeted and untargeted LC-QTOF approaches, we demonstrate that the accumulation of 9-hydroxy-10E,12Z-octadecadienoic acid (9-OH-18:2) and additional C18 and C19 oxylipins is reduced by ca. 20-fold in P. parasitica infected ir-gla1 leaves compared to WT. This reduced accumulation of oxylipins was accompanied by a reduced accumulation of unsaturated free fatty acids and specific lysolipid species. Untargeted metabolic profiling of total leaf extracts showed that 87 metabolites accumulated differentially in leaves of P. parasitica-infected ir-gla1 plants with glycerolipids, hydroxylated-diterpene glycosides and phenylpropanoid derivatives accounting together for ca. 20% of these 87 metabolites. Thus, P. parasitica-induced oxylipins may participate in the regulation of metabolic changes during infection. Together, the results demonstrate that GLA1 plays a distinct role in the production of oxylipins during biotic stress responses, supplying substrates for 9-OH-18:2 and additional C18 and C19 oxylipin formation during P. parasitica infection whereas supplying substrates for the biogenesis of JA during herbivory and mechanical wounding.
PMCID: PMC4190502  PMID: 24450863
Phytophthora; lipase; oxylipin; divinyl-ethers; jasmonic acid; infection; resistance; defense; metabolism; lipid
2.  Lipases and the biosynthesis of free oxylipins in plants 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2014;9:e28429.
The production of free oxylipins in plants is exquisitely controlled by cellular mechanisms that respond to environmental factors such as mechanical damage, insect herbivory and pathogen infection. One of the main targets of these cellular mechanisms are glycerolipases class A (GLA); acyl-hydrolyzing enzymes that upon their biochemical activation release unsaturated fatty acids or esterified oxylipins from glycerolipids. Recent studies performed in the wild tobacco species Nicotiana attenuata have started to unveil the complexity and specificity of GLA-regulated free oxylipin production. I present a model in which individual GLA lipases associate with individual lipoxygenases (LOX) in chloroplast membranes and envelope to define the initial committed steps of distinct oxylipin biosynthesis pathways. The unravelling of the mechanisms that activate GLAs and LOXs at the biochemical level and that control the interaction between these enzymes and their association with membranes will prove to be fundamental to understand how plants control free oxylipin biogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4091546  PMID: 24603593
lipase; glycerolipase; lipoxygenase; oxylipin; Phythophtora; jasmonic acid
3.  Arabidopsis AtHB7 and AtHB12 evolved divergently to fine tune processes associated with growth and responses to water stress 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:150.
Arabidopsis AtHB7 and AtHB12 transcription factors (TFs) belong to the homeodomain-leucine zipper subfamily I (HD-Zip I) and present 62% amino acid identity. These TFs have been associated with the control of plant development and abiotic stress responses; however, at present it is not completely understood how AtHB7 and AtHB12 regulate these processes.
By using different expression analysis approaches, we found that AtHB12 is expressed at higher levels during early Arabidopsis thaliana development whereas AtHB7 during later developmental stages. Moreover, by analysing gene expression in single and double Arabidopsis mutants and in transgenic plants ectopically expressing these TFs, we discovered a complex mechanism dependent on the plant developmental stage and in which AtHB7 and AtHB12 affect the expression of each other. Phenotypic analysis of transgenic plants revealed that AtHB12 induces root elongation and leaf development in young plants under standard growth conditions, and seed production in water-stressed plants. In contrast, AtHB7 promotes leaf development, chlorophyll levels and photosynthesis and reduces stomatal conductance in mature plants. Moreover AtHB7 delays senescence processes in standard growth conditions.
We demonstrate that AtHB7 and AtHB12 have overlapping yet specific roles in several processes related to development and water stress responses. The analysis of mutant and transgenic plants indicated that the expression of AtHB7 and AtHB12 is regulated in a coordinated manner, depending on the plant developmental stage and the environmental conditions. The results suggested that AtHB7 and AtHB12 evolved divergently to fine tune processes associated with development and responses to mild water stress.
PMCID: PMC4064807  PMID: 24884528
AtHB7; AtHB12; Homeodomain-leucine zipper (HD-Zip I); Moderate water stress; Yield; Plant growth
4.  HSPRO acts via SnRK1-mediated signaling in the regulation of Nicotiana attenuata seedling growth promoted by Piriformospora indica 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2013;8(4):e23537.
Nicotiana attenuata HSPRO (NaHSPRO) is a negative regulator of seedling growth promoted by the fungus Piriformospora indica. Homologs of NaHSPRO in Arabidopsis thaliana (i.e., AtHSPRO1 and AtHSPRO2) are known to physically interact with the AKINβγ subunit of the SnRK1 complex.2 To investigate whether NaHSPRO is associated with SnRK1 function during the stimulation of seedling growth by P. indica, we studied N. attenuata plants silenced in the expression of NaGAL83 (as-gal83 plants)—a gene that encodes for the regulatory β-subunit of SnRK1—and plants silenced in the expression of both NaHSPRO and NaGAL83 (ir-hspro/as-gal83 plants). The results showed that P. indica differentially stimulated the growth of both as-gal83 and ir-hspro/as-gal83 seedlings compared with control seedlings, with a magnitude similar to that observed in ir-hspro seedlings. Thus, we showed that, similar to NaHSPRO, NaGAL83 is a negative regulator of seedling growth stimulated by P. indica. We propose that the effect of NaHSPRO on seedling growth is associated with SnRK1 signaling.
PMCID: PMC3829923  PMID: 23333980
Nicotiana attenuata; Piriformospora indica; HSPRO; SnRK1; plant growth promotion; signaling
5.  Volatile Emission in Bracken Fern Is Induced by Jasmonates but Not by Spodoptera littoralis or Strongylogaster multifasciata Herbivory 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48050.
Jasmonate-mediated regulation of VOC emission has been extensively investigated in higher plants, however, only little is known about VOC production and its regulation in ferns. Here, we investigate whether the emission of VOCs from bracken fern Pteridium aquilinum is triggered by herbivory and if so - whether it is regulated by the octadecanoid signaling pathway. Interestingly, feeding of both generalist (Spodoptera littoralis) and specialist (Strongylogaster multifasciata) herbivores as well as application of singular and continuous mechanical wounding of fronds induced only very low levels of VOC emission. In contrast, treatment with jasmonic acid (JA) led to the emission of a blend of VOCs that was mainly comprised of terpenoids. Likewise, treatment with the JA precursor 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid (OPDA) and α-linolenic acid also induced VOC emission, albeit to a lower intesity than the JA treatment. Accumulation of endogenous JA was low in mechanically wounded fronds and these levels were unaffected by the application of oral secretions from both generalist or specialist herbivores. The emission of terpenoids upon JA treatment could be blocked with fosmidomycin and mevinolin, which are inhibitors of the MEP- and MVA pathways, respectively. These results indicate that similar to higher plants, terpenoid VOCs are produced via these pathways in bracken fern and that these pathways are JA-responsive. However, the very low amounts of terpenoids released after herbivory or mechanical damage are in stark contrast to what is known from higher plants. We speculate that S. multifasciata and S. littoralis feeding apparently did not induce the threshold levels of JA required for activating the MEP and MVA pathways and the subsequent volatile emission in bracken fern.
PMCID: PMC3502421  PMID: 23185246
6.  The Nicotiana attenuata LECTIN RECEPTOR KINASE 1 is involved in the perception of insect feeding 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(12):2060-2063.
The Nicotiana attenuata LECTIN RECEPTOR KINASE 1 (LecRK1) has been recently identified as a component of the mechanism used by plants to suppress the Manduca sexta-triggered accumulation of salicylic acid (SA). The suppression of the SA burst by LecRK1 allows for the unfettered induction of jasmonic acid (JA)-mediated defense responses against M. sexta herbivory. LecRK1 contains a multi-domain extracellular region composed of a G-type Lectin domain and a PAN-AP domain separated by a variable sequence with low similarity to an EGF domain. The LecRK1 intracellular region is composed of a single domain structure with predicted Ser/Thr protein kinase activity. The multi-domain structure of the extracellular region of LecRK1 adds a level of complexity in terms of the potential ligands that this receptor protein could recognize.
PMCID: PMC3356243  PMID: 22105024
defense responses; insect elicitor; jasmonic acid; lectin receptor kinase; plant-insect interactions; salicylic acid
7.  RNAi-mediated silencing of the HD-Zip gene HD20 in Nicotiana attenuata affects benzyl acetone emission from corollas via ABA levels and the expression of metabolic genes 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:60.
The N. attenuata HD20 gene belongs to the homeodomain-leucine zipper (HD-Zip) type I family of transcription factors and it has been previously associated with the regulation of ABA accumulation in leaves and the emission of benzyl acetone (BA; 4-phenyl-2-butanone) from night flowers. In this study, N. attenuata plants stably reduced in the expression of HD20 (ir-hd20) were generated to investigate the mechanisms controlling the emission of BA from night flowers.
The expression of HD20 in corollas of ir-hd20 plants was reduced by 85 to 90% compared to wild-type plants (WT) without affecting flower morphology and development. Total BA emitted from flowers of ir-hd20 plants was reduced on average by 60%. This reduction occurred mainly at the late phase of BA emission and it was correlated with 2-fold higher levels of ABA in the corollas of ir-hd20 plants. When a 2-fold decline in ABA corolla levels of these plants was induced by salt stress, BA emissions recovered to WT levels. Supplying ABA to WT flowers either through the cuticle or by pedicle feeding reduced the total BA emissions by 25 to 50%; this reduction occurred primarily at the late phase of emission (similar to the reduction observed in corollas of ir-hd20 plants). Gene expression profiling of corollas collected at 12 pm (six hours before the start of BA emission) revealed that 274 genes changed expression levels significantly in ir-hd20 plants compared to WT. Among these genes, more than 35% were associated with metabolism and the most prominent group was associated with the metabolism of aromatic compounds and phenylpropanoid derivatives.
The results indicated that regulation of ABA levels in corollas is associated with the late phase of BA emission in N. attenuata plants and that HD20 affects this latter process by mediating changes in both ABA levels and metabolic gene expression.
PMCID: PMC3413612  PMID: 22548747
8.  Lipoxygenase-mediated modification of insect elicitors 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2010;5(12):1674-1676.
Plants can distinguish mechanical damage from larval folivory through the recognition of specific constituents of larval oral secretions (OS) which are deposited on the surface of leaf wounds during feeding. Fatty acid-amino acid conjugates (FACs) are major constituents of the OS of Lepidopteran larvae and they are strong elicitors of herbivore-induced defense responses in several plant species, including the wild tobacco Nicotiana attenuata. When OS from Manduca sexta larvae is deposited on N. attenuata wounded leaves, the major FAC N-linolenoyl-glutamic acid (18:3-Glu) is modified within seconds by a heat labile process. Some of the major modified forms are oxygenated products derived from 13-lipoxygenase activity and one of these derivatives, 13-oxo-13:2-Glu, is an active elicitor of enhanced JA biosynthesis and differential monoterpene emission in N. attenuata leaves.
PMCID: PMC3115133  PMID: 21150262
lipoxygenase; plant-insect interactions; fatty acid-amino acid conjugates; FAC; fatty acid-amides; insect elicitor; jasmonic acid; volatiles; herbivore-associated-elicitors; HAEs
9.  New insights into the early biochemical activation of jasmonic acid biosynthesis in leaves 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2010;5(3):287-289.
In plants, herbivore attack elicits the rapid accumulation of jasmonic acid (JA) which results from the activation of constitutively expressed biosynthetic enzymes. The molecular mechanisms controlling the activation of JA biosynthesis remain largely unknown however new research has elucidated some of the early regulatory components involved in this process. Nicotiana attenuata plants, a wild tobacco species, responds to fatty acid amino acid conjuguates (FAC) elicitors in the oral secretion of its natural herbivore, Manduca sexta, by triggering specific defense and tolerance responses against it; all of the defense responses known to date require the amplification of the wound-induced JA increase. We recently demonstrated that this FAC-elicited JA burst requires an increased flux of free linolenic acid (18:3) likely originating from the activation of a plastidial glycerolipase (GLA1) which is activated by an abundant FAC found in insect oral secretions, N-linolenoyl-glutamate (18:3-Glu). The lack of accumulation of free 18:3 after elicitation suggests a tight physical association between GLA1 and LOX3 in N. attenuata leaves. In addition, the salicylate-induced protein kinase (SIPK) and the nonexpressor of PR-1 (NPR1) participate in this activation mechanism that controls the supply of 18:3. In contrast, the wound-induced protein kinase (WIPK) does not but instead regulates the conversion of 13(S)-hydroperoxy-18:3 into 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid (OPDA). These results open new perspectives on the complex network of signals and regulatory components inducing the JA biosynthetic pathway.
PMCID: PMC2881280  PMID: 20037473
jasmonic acid; lipase; lipoxygenase; wounding; plant-insect interactions; FAC
10.  Nicotiana attenuata NaHD20 plays a role in leaf ABA accumulation during water stress, benzylacetone emission from flowers, and the timing of bolting and flower transitions 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2010;62(1):155-166.
Homeodomain-leucine zipper type I (HD-Zip I) proteins are plant-specific transcription factors associated with the regulation of growth and development in response to changes in the environment. Nicotiana attenuata NaHD20 was identified as an HD-Zip I-coding gene whose expression was induced by multiple stress-associated stimuli including drought and wounding. To study the role of NaHD20 in the integration of stress responses with changes in growth and development, its expression was silenced by virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS), and control and silenced plants were metabolically and developmentally characterized. Phytohormone profiling showed that NaHD20 plays a positive role in abscisic acid (ABA) accumulation in leaves during water stress and in the expression of some dehydration-responsive genes including ABA biosynthetic genes. Moreover, consistent with the high levels of NaHD20 expression in corollas, the emission of benzylacetone from flowers was reduced in NaHD20-silenced plants. Additionally, bolting time and the opening of the inflorescence buds was decelerated in these plants in a specific developmental stage without affecting the total number of flowers produced. Water stress potentiated these effects; however, after plants recovered from this condition, the opening of the inflorescence buds was accelerated in NaHD20-silenced plants. In summary, NaHD20 plays multiple roles in N. attenuata and among these are the coordination of responses to dehydration and its integration with changes in flower transitions.
PMCID: PMC2993906  PMID: 20713465
ABA; benzylacetone; corolla; HD-Zip; Nicotiana
11.  Rapid modification of the insect elicitor N-linolenoyl-glutamate via a lipoxygenase-mediated mechanism on Nicotiana attenuata leaves 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:164.
Some plants distinguish mechanical wounding from herbivore attack by recognizing specific constituents of larval oral secretions (OS) which are introduced into plant wounds during feeding. Fatty acid-amino acid conjugates (FACs) are major constituents of Manduca sexta OS and strong elicitors of herbivore-induced defense responses in Nicotiana attenuata plants.
The metabolism of one of the major FACs in M. sexta OS, N-linolenoyl-glutamic acid (18:3-Glu), was analyzed on N. attenuata wounded leaf surfaces. Between 50 to 70% of the 18:3-Glu in the OS or of synthetic 18:3-Glu were metabolized within 30 seconds of application to leaf wounds. This heat-labile process did not result in free α-linolenic acid (18:3) and glutamate but in the biogenesis of metabolites both more and less polar than 18:3-Glu. Identification of the major modified forms of this FAC showed that they corresponded to 13-hydroxy-18:3-Glu, 13-hydroperoxy-18:3-Glu and 13-oxo-13:2-Glu. The formation of these metabolites occurred on the wounded leaf surface and it was dependent on lipoxygenase (LOX) activity; plants silenced in the expression of NaLOX2 and NaLOX3 genes showed more than 50% reduced rates of 18:3-Glu conversion and accumulated smaller amounts of the oxygenated derivatives compared to wild-type plants. Similar to 18:3-Glu, 13-oxo-13:2-Glu activated the enhanced accumulation of jasmonic acid (JA) in N. attenuata leaves whereas 13-hydroxy-18:3-Glu did not. Moreover, compared to 18:3-Glu elicitation, 13-oxo-13:2-Glu induced the differential emission of two monoterpene volatiles (β-pinene and an unidentified monoterpene) in irlox2 plants.
The metabolism of one of the major elicitors of herbivore-specific responses in N. attenuata plants, 18:3-Glu, results in the formation of oxidized forms of this FAC by a LOX-dependent mechanism. One of these derivatives, 13-oxo-13:2-Glu, is an active elicitor of JA biosynthesis and differential monoterpene emission.
PMCID: PMC3095298  PMID: 20696061
12.  Transduction of wound and herbivory signals in plastids 
Plastids are the central orchestrators of the early and late responses to wounding and herbivory in plants. This organelle houses some of the most important enzymes involved in the biogenesis of intra and extracellular signals that mediate defense responses against these stresses. Among these enzymes are the ones initiating the biosynthesis of oxylipins [e.g., jasmonic acid (JA) and C6 volatiles], terpenoid volatiles and phenolic compounds, including both volatile [e.g., methylsalicylate (MeSA)] and non-volatile compounds [e.g., salicylic acid (SA)]. Plastids also play a major role in orchestrating changes in primary metabolism during herbivory and thereby in the reallocation of carbon and nitrogen to different functions in response to herbivory. How the primary stress signals generated by mechanical damage and herbivory reach the plastid to activate the rapid synthesis of these signal molecules is at present largely unknown.
PMCID: PMC2928307  PMID: 20798815
wounding; herbivory; chloroplast; oxylipin; jasmonates; volatiles
13.  SuperSAGE analysis of the Nicotiana attenuata transcriptome after fatty acid-amino acid elicitation (FAC): identification of early mediators of insect responses 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:66.
Plants trigger and tailor defense responses after perception of the oral secretions (OS) of attacking specialist lepidopteran larvae. Fatty acid-amino acid conjugates (FACs) in the OS of the Manduca sexta larvae are necessary and sufficient to elicit the herbivory-specific responses in Nicotiana attenuata, an annual wild tobacco species. How FACs are perceived and activate signal transduction mechanisms is unknown.
We used SuperSAGE combined with 454 sequencing to quantify the early transcriptional changes elicited by the FAC N-linolenoyl-glutamic acid (18:3-Glu) and virus induced gene silencing (VIGS) to examine the function of candidate genes in the M. sexta-N. attenuata interaction. The analysis targeted mRNAs encoding regulatory components: rare transcripts with very rapid FAC-elicited kinetics (increases within 60 and declines within 120 min). From 12,744 unique Tag sequences identified (UniTags), 430 and 117 were significantly up- and down-regulated ≥ 2.5-fold, respectively, after 18:3-Glu elicitation compared to wounding. Based on gene ontology classification, more than 25% of the annotated UniTags corresponded to putative regulatory components, including 30 transcriptional regulators and 22 protein kinases. Quantitative PCR analysis was used to analyze the FAC-dependent regulation of a subset of 27 of these UniTags and for most of them a rapid and transient induction was confirmed. Six FAC-regulated genes were functionally characterized by VIGS and two, a putative lipid phosphate phosphatase (LPP) and a protein of unknown function, were identified as important mediators of the M. sexta-N. attenuata interaction.
The analysis of the early changes in the transcriptome of N. attenuata after FAC elicitation using SuperSAGE/454 has identified regulatory genes involved in insect-specific mediated responses in plants. Moreover, it has provided a foundation for the identification of additional novel regulators associated with this process.
PMCID: PMC3095340  PMID: 20398280
14.  A rapid and sensitive method for the simultaneous analysis of aliphatic and polar molecules containing free carboxyl groups in plant extracts by LC-MS/MS 
Plant Methods  2009;5:17.
Aliphatic molecules containing free carboxyl groups are important intermediates in many metabolic and signalling reactions, however, they accumulate to low levels in tissues and are not efficiently ionized by electrospray ionization (ESI) compared to more polar substances. Quantification of aliphatic molecules becomes therefore difficult when small amounts of tissue are available for analysis. Traditional methods for analysis of these molecules require purification or enrichment steps, which are onerous when multiple samples need to be analyzed. In contrast to aliphatic molecules, more polar substances containing free carboxyl groups such as some phytohormones are efficiently ionized by ESI and suitable for analysis by LC-MS/MS. Thus, the development of a method with which aliphatic and polar molecules -which their unmodified forms differ dramatically in their efficiencies of ionization by ESI- can be simultaneously detected with similar sensitivities would substantially simplify the analysis of complex biological matrices.
A simple, rapid, specific and sensitive method for the simultaneous detection and quantification of free aliphatic molecules (e.g., free fatty acids (FFA)) and small polar molecules (e.g., jasmonic acid (JA), salicylic acid (SA)) containing free carboxyl groups by direct derivatization of leaf extracts with Picolinyl reagent followed by LC-MS/MS analysis is presented. The presence of the N atom in the esterified pyridine moiety allowed the efficient ionization of 25 compounds tested irrespective of their chemical structure. The method was validated by comparing the results obtained after analysis of Nicotiana attenuata leaf material with previously described analytical methods.
The method presented was used to detect 16 compounds in leaf extracts of N. attenuata plants. Importantly, the method can be adapted based on the specific analytes of interest with the only consideration that the molecules must contain at least one free carboxyl group.
PMCID: PMC2787500  PMID: 19939243
15.  Pectin methylesterase NaPME1 contributes to the emission of methanol during insect herbivory and to the elicitation of defence responses in Nicotiana attenuata 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2009;60(9):2631-2640.
Pectin methylesterases (PMEs) catalyse the demethylation of pectin within plant cell walls, releasing methanol (MeOH) in the process. Thus far, PMEs have been found to be involved in diverse processes such as plant growth and development and defence responses against pathogens. Herbivore attack increases PME expression and activity and MeOH emissions in several plant species. To gain further insights into the role of PMEs in defence responses against herbivores, the expression of a Manduca sexta oral secretion (OS)-inducible PME in Nicotiana attenuata (NaPME1) was silenced by RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated gene silencing. Silenced lines (ir-pme) showed 50% reduced PME activity in leaves and 70% reduced MeOH emissions after OS elicitation compared with the wild type (WT), demonstrating that the herbivore-induced MeOH emissions originate from the demethylation of pectin by PME. In the initial phase of the OS-induced jasmonic acid (JA) burst (first 30 min), ir-pme lines produced WT levels of this hormone and of jasmonyl-isoleucine (JA-Ile); however, these levels were significantly reduced in the later phase (60–120 min) of the burst. Similarly, suppressed levels of the salicylic acid (SA) burst induced by OS elicitation were observed in ir-pme lines even though wounded ir-pme leaves contained slightly increased amounts of SA. This genotype also presented reduced levels of OS-induced trypsin proteinase inhibitor activity in leaves and consistently increased M. sexta larvae performance compared with WT plants. These latter responses could not be recovered by application of exogenous MeOH. Together, these results indicated that PME contributes, probably indirectly by affecting cell wall properties, to the induction of anti-herbivore responses.
PMCID: PMC2692009  PMID: 19380422
Defence; herbivory; jasmonic acid; Manduca; methanol; Nicotiana; pectin methylesterase; proteinase inhibitor

Results 1-15 (15)