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1.  GmSAL1 Hydrolyzes Inositol-1,4,5-Trisphosphate and Regulates Stomatal Closure in Detached Leaves and Ion Compartmentalization in Plant Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78181.
Inositol polyphosphatases are important regulators since they control the catabolism of phosphoinositol derivatives, which are often signaling molecules for cellular processes. Here we report on the characterization of one of their members in soybean, GmSAL1. In contrast to the substrate specificity of its Arabidopsis homologues (AtSAL1 and AtSAL2), GmSAL1 only hydrolyzes inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) but not inositol-1,3,4-trisphosphate or inositol-1,4-bisphosphate.The ectopic expression of GmSAL1 in transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana led to a reduction in IP3 signals, which was inferred from the reduction in the cytoplasmic signals of the in vivo biomarker pleckstrin homology domain–green florescent protein fusion protein and the suppression of abscisic acid-induced stomatal closure. At the cellular level, the ectopic expression of GmSAL1 in transgenic BY-2 cells enhanced vacuolar Na+ compartmentalization and therefore could partially alleviate salinity stress.
PMCID: PMC3805524  PMID: 24167607
2.  Silicon Era of Carbon-Based Life: Application of Genomics and Bioinformatics in Crop Stress Research 
Abiotic and biotic stresses lead to massive reprogramming of different life processes and are the major limiting factors hampering crop productivity. Omics-based research platforms allow for a holistic and comprehensive survey on crop stress responses and hence may bring forth better crop improvement strategies. Since high-throughput approaches generate considerable amounts of data, bioinformatics tools will play an essential role in storing, retrieving, sharing, processing, and analyzing them. Genomic and functional genomic studies in crops still lag far behind similar studies in humans and other animals. In this review, we summarize some useful genomics and bioinformatics resources available to crop scientists. In addition, we also discuss the major challenges and advancements in the “-omics” studies, with an emphasis on their possible impacts on crop stress research and crop improvement.
PMCID: PMC3709742  PMID: 23759993
bioinformatics; crops; genomics; stresses
3.  Rice Hypersensitive Induced Reaction Protein 1 (OsHIR1) associates with plasma membrane and triggers hypersensitive cell death 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:290.
In plants, HIR (Hypersensitive Induced Reaction) proteins, members of the PID (Proliferation, Ion and Death) superfamily, have been shown to play a part in the development of spontaneous hypersensitive response lesions in leaves, in reaction to pathogen attacks. The levels of HIR proteins were shown to correlate with localized host cell deaths and defense responses in maize and barley. However, not much was known about the HIR proteins in rice. Since rice is an important cereal crop consumed by more than 50% of the populations in Asia and Africa, it is crucial to understand the mechanisms of disease responses in this plant. We previously identified the rice HIR1 (OsHIR1) as an interacting partner of the OsLRR1 (rice Leucine-Rich Repeat protein 1). Here we show that OsHIR1 triggers hypersensitive cell death and its localization to the plasma membrane is enhanced by OsLRR1.
Through electron microscopy studies using wild type rice plants, OsHIR1 was found to mainly localize to the plasma membrane, with a minor portion localized to the tonoplast. Moreover, the plasma membrane localization of OsHIR1 was enhanced in transgenic rice plants overexpressing its interacting protein partner, OsLRR1. Co-localization of OsHIR1 and OsLRR1 to the plasma membrane was confirmed by double-labeling electron microscopy. Pathogen inoculation studies using transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana expressing either OsHIR1 or OsLRR1 showed that both transgenic lines exhibited increased resistance toward the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000. However, OsHIR1 transgenic plants produced more extensive spontaneous hypersensitive response lesions and contained lower titers of the invading pathogen, when compared to OsLRR1 transgenic plants.
The OsHIR1 protein is mainly localized to the plasma membrane, and its subcellular localization in that compartment is enhanced by OsLRR1. The expression of OsHIR1 may sensitize the plant so that it is more prone to HR and hence can react more promptly to limit the invading pathogens' spread from the infection sites.
PMCID: PMC3022912  PMID: 21192820
4.  Identification of a novel salt tolerance gene in wild soybean by whole-genome sequencing 
Nature Communications  2014;5:4340.
Using a whole-genome-sequencing approach to explore germplasm resources can serve as an important strategy for crop improvement, especially in investigating wild accessions that may contain useful genetic resources that have been lost during the domestication process. Here we sequence and assemble a draft genome of wild soybean and construct a recombinant inbred population for genotyping-by-sequencing and phenotypic analyses to identify multiple QTLs relevant to traits of interest in agriculture. We use a combination of de novo sequencing data from this work and our previous germplasm re-sequencing data to identify a novel ion transporter gene, GmCHX1, and relate its sequence alterations to salt tolerance. Rapid gain-of-function tests show the protective effects of GmCHX1 towards salt stress. This combination of whole-genome de novo sequencing, high-density-marker QTL mapping by re-sequencing and functional analyses can serve as an effective strategy to unveil novel genomic information in wild soybean to facilitate crop improvement.
The identification of genes that control economically important traits is an essential step towards crop improvement. Here the authors sequence the genome of the wild soybean and, through a combined genetic and functional approach, identify a new gene affecting salt tolerance in soybean.
PMCID: PMC4104456  PMID: 25004933

Results 1-4 (4)