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1.  Transcriptome analysis of germinating maize kernels exposed to smoke-water and the active compound KAR1 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:236.
Smoke released from burning vegetation functions as an important environmental signal promoting the germination of many plant species following a fire. It not only promotes the germination of species from fire-prone habitats, but several species from non-fire-prone areas also respond, including some crops. The germination stimulatory activity can largely be attributed to the presence of a highly active butenolide compound, 3-methyl-2H-furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-one (referred to as karrikin 1 or KAR1), that has previously been isolated from plant-derived smoke. Several hypotheses have arisen regarding the molecular background of smoke and KAR1 action.
In this paper we demonstrate that although smoke-water and KAR1 treatment of maize kernels result in a similar physiological response, the gene expression and the protein ubiquitination patterns are quite different. Treatment with smoke-water enhanced the ubiquitination of proteins and activated protein-degradation-related genes. This effect was completely absent from KAR1-treated kernels, in which a specific aquaporin gene was distinctly upregulated.
Our findings indicate that the array of bioactive compounds present in smoke-water form an environmental signal that may act together in germination stimulation. It is highly possible that the smoke/KAR1 'signal' is perceived by a receptor that is shared with the signal transduction system implied in perceiving environmental cues (especially stresses and light), or some kind of specialized receptor exists in fire-prone plant species which diverged from a more general one present in a common ancestor, and also found in non fire-prone plants allowing for a somewhat weaker but still significant response. Besides their obvious use in agricultural practices, smoke and KAR1 can be used in studies to gain further insight into the transcriptional changes during germination.
PMCID: PMC3095319  PMID: 21044315
2.  Conservation between higher plants and the moss Physcomitrella patens in response to the phytohormone abscisic acid: a proteomics analysis 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:192.
The plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) is ubiquitous among land plants where it plays an important role in plant growth and development. In seeds, ABA induces embryogenesis and seed maturation as well as seed dormancy and germination. In vegetative tissues, ABA is a necessary mediator in the triggering of many of the physiological and molecular adaptive responses of the plant to adverse environmental conditions, such as desiccation, salt and cold.
In this study, we investigated the influence of abscisic acid (ABA) on Physcomitrella patens at the level of the proteome using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Sixty-five protein spots showed changes in response to ABA treatment. Among them, thirteen protein spots were down-regulated; fifty-two protein spots were up-regulated including four protein spots which were newly induced. These proteins were involved in various functions, including material and energy metabolism, defense, protein destination and storage, transcription, signal transduction, cell growth/division, transport, and cytoskeleton. Specifically, most of the up-regulated proteins functioned as molecular chaperones, transcriptional regulators, and defense proteins. Detailed analysis of these up-regulated proteins showed that ABA could trigger stress and defense responses and protect plants from oxidative damage. Otherwise, three protein kinases involved in signal pathways were up-regulated suggesting that P. patens is sensitive to exogenous ABA. The down-regulated of the Rubisco small subunit, photosystem II oxygen-evolving complex proteins and photosystem assembly protein ycf3 indicated that photosynthesis of P. patens was inhibited by ABA treatment.
Proteome analysis techniques have been applied as a direct, effective, and reliable tool in differential protein expressions. Sixty-five protein spots showed differences in accumulation levels as a result of treatment with ABA. Detailed analysis these protein functions showed that physiological and molecular responses to the plant hormone ABA appear to be conserved among higher plant species and bryophytes.
PMCID: PMC2956542  PMID: 20799958
3.  A plant natriuretic peptide-like molecule of the pathogen Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri causes rapid changes in the proteome of its citrus host 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:51.
Plant natriuretic peptides (PNPs) belong to a novel class of peptidic signaling molecules that share some structural similarity to the N-terminal domain of expansins and affect physiological processes such as water and ion homeostasis at nano-molar concentrations. The citrus pathogen Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri possesses a PNP-like peptide (XacPNP) uniquely present in this bacteria. Previously we observed that the expression of XacPNP is induced upon infection and that lesions produced in leaves infected with a XacPNP deletion mutant were more necrotic and lead to earlier bacterial cell death, suggesting that the plant-like bacterial PNP enables the plant pathogen to modify host responses in order to create conditions favorable to its own survival.
Here we measured chlorophyll fluorescence parameters and water potential of citrus leaves infiltrated with recombinant purified XacPNP and demonstrate that the peptide improves the physiological conditions of the tissue. Importantly, the proteomic analysis revealed that these responses are mirrored by rapid changes in the host proteome that include the up-regulation of Rubisco activase, ATP synthase CF1 α subunit, maturase K, and α- and β-tubulin.
We demonstrate that XacPNP induces changes in host photosynthesis at the level of protein expression and in photosynthetic efficiency in particular. Our findings suggest that the biotrophic pathogen can use the plant-like hormone to modulate the host cellular environment and in particular host metabolism and that such modulations weaken host defence.
PMCID: PMC2923525  PMID: 20302677
4.  Transcriptional regulatory network triggered by oxidative signals configures the early response mechanisms of japonica rice to chilling stress 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:16.
The transcriptional regulatory network involved in low temperature response leading to acclimation has been established in Arabidopsis. In japonica rice, which can only withstand transient exposure to milder cold stress (10°C), an oxidative-mediated network has been proposed to play a key role in configuring early responses and short-term defenses. The components, hierarchical organization and physiological consequences of this network were further dissected by a systems-level approach.
Regulatory clusters responding directly to oxidative signals were prominent during the initial 6 to 12 hours at 10°C. Early events mirrored a typical oxidative response based on striking similarities of the transcriptome to disease, elicitor and wounding induced processes. Targets of oxidative-mediated mechanisms are likely regulated by several classes of bZIP factors acting on as1/ocs/TGA-like element enriched clusters, ERF factors acting on GCC-box/JAre-like element enriched clusters and R2R3-MYB factors acting on MYB2-like element enriched clusters.
Temporal induction of several H2O2-induced bZIP, ERF and MYB genes coincided with the transient H2O2 spikes within the initial 6 to 12 hours. Oxidative-independent responses involve DREB/CBF, RAP2 and RAV1 factors acting on DRE/CRT/rav1-like enriched clusters and bZIP factors acting on ABRE-like enriched clusters. Oxidative-mediated clusters were activated earlier than ABA-mediated clusters.
Genome-wide, physiological and whole-plant level analyses established a holistic view of chilling stress response mechanism of japonica rice. Early response regulatory network triggered by oxidative signals is critical for prolonged survival under sub-optimal temperature. Integration of stress and developmental responses leads to modulated growth and vigor maintenance contributing to a delay of plastic injuries.
PMCID: PMC2826336  PMID: 20100339
5.  HvCEBiP, a gene homologous to rice chitin receptor CEBiP, contributes to basal resistance of barley to Magnaporthe oryzae 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:288.
Rice CEBiP recognizes chitin oligosaccharides on the fungal cell surface or released into the plant apoplast, leading to the expression of plant disease resistance against fungal infection. However, it has not yet been reported whether CEBiP is actually required for restricting the growth of fungal pathogens. Here we evaluated the involvement of a putative chitin receptor gene in the basal resistance of barley to the ssd1 mutant of Magnaporthe oryzae, which induces multiple host defense responses.
The mossd1 mutant showed attenuated pathogenicity on barley and appressorial penetration was restricted by the formation of callose papillae at attempted entry sites. When conidial suspensions of mossd1 mutant were spotted onto the leaves of HvCEBiP-silenced plants, small brown necrotic flecks or blast lesions were produced but these lesions did not expand beyond the inoculation site. Wild-type M. oryzae also produced slightly more severe symptoms on the leaves of HvCEBiP-silenced plants. Cytological observation revealed that these lesions resulted from appressorium-mediated penetration into plant epidermal cells.
These results suggest that HvCEBiP is involved in basal resistance against appressorium-mediated infection and that basal resistance might be triggered by the recognition of chitin oligosaccharides derived from M. oryzae.
PMCID: PMC3020183  PMID: 21190588
6.  Early activation of wheat polyamine biosynthesis during Fusarium head blight implicates putrescine as an inducer of trichothecene mycotoxin production 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:289.
The fungal pathogen Fusarium graminearum causes Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) disease on wheat which can lead to trichothecene mycotoxin (e.g. deoxynivalenol, DON) contamination of grain, harmful to mammalian health. DON is produced at low levels under standard culture conditions when compared to plant infection but specific polyamines (e.g. putrescine and agmatine) and amino acids (e.g. arginine and ornithine) are potent inducers of DON by F. graminearum in axenic culture. Currently, host factors that promote mycotoxin synthesis during FHB are unknown, but plant derived polyamines could contribute to DON induction in infected heads. However, the temporal and spatial accumulation of polyamines and amino acids in relation to that of DON has not been studied.
Following inoculation of susceptible wheat heads by F. graminearum, DON accumulation was detected at two days after inoculation. The accumulation of putrescine was detected as early as one day following inoculation while arginine and cadaverine were also produced at three and four days post-inoculation. Transcripts of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) and arginine decarboxylase (ADC), two key biosynthetic enzymes for putrescine biosynthesis, were also strongly induced in heads at two days after inoculation. These results indicated that elicitation of the polyamine biosynthetic pathway is an early response to FHB. Transcripts for genes encoding enzymes acting upstream in the polyamine biosynthetic pathway as well as those of ODC and ADC, and putrescine levels were also induced in the rachis, a flower organ supporting DON production and an important route for pathogen colonisation during FHB. A survey of 24 wheat genotypes with varying responses to FHB showed putrescine induction is a general response to inoculation and no correlation was observed between the accumulation of putrescine and infection or DON accumulation.
The activation of the polyamine biosynthetic pathway and putrescine in infected heads prior to detectable DON accumulation is consistent with a model where the pathogen exploits the generic host stress response of polyamine synthesis as a cue for production of trichothecene mycotoxins during FHB disease. However, it is likely that this mechanism is complicated by other factors contributing to resistance and susceptibility in diverse wheat genetic backgrounds.
PMCID: PMC3022911  PMID: 21192794
7.  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
8.  Conjugated polymer nanoparticles for effective siRNA delivery to tobacco BY-2 protoplasts 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:291.
Post transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) is a mechanism harnessed by plant biologists to knock down gene expression. siRNAs contribute to PTGS that are synthesized from mRNAs or viral RNAs and function to guide cellular endoribonucleases to target mRNAs for degradation. Plant biologists have employed electroporation to deliver artificial siRNAs to plant protoplasts to study gene expression mechanisms at the single cell level. One drawback of electroporation is the extensive loss of viable protoplasts that occurs as a result of the transfection technology.
We employed fluorescent conjugated polymer nanoparticles (CPNs) to deliver siRNAs and knockdown a target gene in plant protoplasts. CPNs are non toxic to protoplasts, having little impact on viability over a 72 h period. Microscopy and flow cytometry reveal that CPNs can penetrate protoplasts within 2 h of delivery. Cellular uptake of CPNs/siRNA complexes were easily monitored using epifluorescence microscopy. We also demonstrate that CPNs can deliver siRNAs targeting specific genes in the cellulose biosynthesis pathway (NtCesA-1a and NtCesA-1b).
While prior work showed that NtCesA-1 is a factor involved in cell wall synthesis in whole plants, we demonstrate that the same gene plays an essential role in cell wall regeneration in isolated protoplasts. Cell wall biosynthesis is central to cell elongation, plant growth and development. The experiments presented here shows that NtCesA is also a factor in cell viability. We show that CPNs are valuable vehicles for delivering siRNAs to plant protoplasts to study vital cellular pathways at the single cell level.
PMCID: PMC3023792  PMID: 21192827
9.  A var2 leaf variegation suppressor locus, SUPPRESSOR OF VARIEGATION3, encodes a putative chloroplast translation elongation factor that is important for chloroplast development in the cold 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:287.
The Arabidopsis var2 mutant displays a unique green and white/yellow leaf variegation phenotype and lacks VAR2, a chloroplast FtsH metalloprotease. We are characterizing second-site var2 genetic suppressors as means to better understand VAR2 function and to study the regulation of chloroplast biogenesis.
In this report, we show that the suppression of var2 variegation in suppressor line TAG-11 is due to the disruption of the SUPPRESSOR OF VARIEGATION3 (SVR3) gene, encoding a putative TypA-like translation elongation factor. SVR3 is targeted to the chloroplast and svr3 single mutants have uniformly pale green leaves at 22°C. Consistent with this phenotype, most chloroplast proteins and rRNA species in svr3 have close to normal accumulation profiles, with the notable exception of the Photosystem II reaction center D1 protein, which is present at greatly reduced levels. When svr3 is challenged with chilling temperature (8°C), it develops a pronounced chlorosis that is accompanied by abnormal chloroplast rRNA processing and chloroplast protein accumulation. Double mutant analysis indicates a possible synergistic interaction between svr3 and svr7, which is defective in a chloroplast pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) protein.
Our findings, on one hand, reinforce the strong genetic link between VAR2 and chloroplast translation, and on the other hand, point to a critical role of SVR3, and possibly some aspects of chloroplast translation, in the response of plants to chilling stress.
PMCID: PMC3022910  PMID: 21187014
10.  Identification of differentially expressed genes induced by Bamboo mosaic virus infection in Nicotiana benthamiana by cDNA-amplified fragment length polymorphism 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:286.
The genes of plants can be up- or down-regulated during viral infection to influence the replication of viruses. Identification of these differentially expressed genes could shed light on the defense systems employed by plants and the mechanisms involved in the adaption of viruses to plant cells. Differential gene expression in Nicotiana benthamiana plants in response to infection with Bamboo mosaic virus (BaMV) was revealed using cDNA-amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP).
Following inoculation with BaMV, N. benthamiana displayed differential gene expression in response to the infection. Isolation, cloning, and sequencing analysis using cDNA-AFLP furnished 90 cDNA fragments with eight pairs of selective primers. Fifteen randomly selected genes were used for a combined virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) knockdown experiment, using BaMV infection to investigate the roles played by these genes during viral infection, specifically addressing the means by which these genes influence the accumulation of BaMV protein. Nine of the 15 genes showed either a positive or a negative influence on the accumulation of BaMV protein. Six knockdown plants showed an increase in the accumulation of BaMV, suggesting that they played a role in the resistance to viral infection, while three plants showed a reduction in coat protein, indicating a positive influence on the accumulation of BaMV in plants. An interesting observation was that eight of the nine plants showing an increase in BaMV coat protein were associated with cell rescue, defense, death, aging, signal transduction, and energy production.
This study reports an efficient and straightforward method for the identification of host genes involved in viral infection. We succeeded in establishing a cDNA-AFLP system to help track changes in gene expression patterns in N. benthamiana plants when infected with BaMV. The combination of both DNA-AFLP and VIGS methodologies made it possible to screen a large number of genes and identify those associated with infections of plant viruses. In this report, 9 of the 15 analyzed genes exhibited either a positive or a negative influence on the accumulation of BaMV in N. benthamiana plants.
PMCID: PMC3024324  PMID: 21184690
11.  Patterns of sequence polymorphism in the fleshless berry locus in cultivated and wild Vitis vinifera accessions 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:284.
Unlike in tomato, little is known about the genetic and molecular control of fleshy fruit development of perennial fruit trees like grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.). Here we present the study of the sequence polymorphism in a 1 Mb grapevine genome region at the top of chromosome 18 carrying the fleshless berry mutation (flb) in order, first to identify SNP markers closely linked to the gene and second to search for possible signatures of domestication.
In total, 62 regions (17 SSR, 3 SNP, 1 CAPS and 41 re-sequenced gene fragments) were scanned for polymorphism along a 3.4 Mb interval (85,127-3,506,060 bp) at the top of the chromosome 18, in both V. vinifera cv. Chardonnay and a genotype carrying the flb mutation, V. vinifera cv. Ugni Blanc mutant. A nearly complete homozygosity in Ugni Blanc (wild and mutant forms) and an expected high level of heterozygosity in Chardonnay were revealed. Experiments using qPCR and BAC FISH confirmed the observed homozygosity. Under the assumption that flb could be one of the genes involved into the domestication syndrome of grapevine, we sequenced 69 gene fragments, spread over the flb region, representing 48,874 bp in a highly diverse set of cultivated and wild V. vinifera genotypes, to identify possible signatures of domestication in the cultivated V. vinifera compartment. We identified eight gene fragments presenting a significant deviation from neutrality of the Tajima's D parameter in the cultivated pool. One of these also showed higher nucleotide diversity in the wild compartments than in the cultivated compartments. In addition, SNPs significantly associated to berry weight variation were identified in the flb region.
We observed the occurrence of a large homozygous region in a non-repetitive region of the grapevine otherwise highly-heterozygous genome and propose a hypothesis for its formation. We demonstrated the feasibility to apply BAC FISH on the very small grapevine chromosomes and provided a specific probe for the identification of chromosome 18 on a cytogenetic map. We evidenced genes showing putative signatures of selection and SNPs significantly associated with berry weight variation in the flb region. In addition, we provided to the community 554 SNPs at the top of chromosome 18 for the development of a genotyping chip for future fine mapping of the flb gene in a F2 population when available.
PMCID: PMC3022909  PMID: 21176183
12.  The FANTASTIC FOUR proteins influence shoot meristem size in Arabidopsis thaliana 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:285.
Throughout their lives plants produce new organs from groups of pluripotent cells called meristems, located at the tips of the shoot and the root. The size of the shoot meristem is tightly controlled by a feedback loop, which involves the homeodomain transcription factor WUSCHEL (WUS) and the CLAVATA (CLV) proteins. This regulatory circuit is further fine-tuned by morphogenic signals such as hormones and sugars.
Here we show that a family of four plant-specific proteins, encoded by the FANTASTIC FOUR (FAF) genes, has the potential to regulate shoot meristem size in Arabidopsis thaliana. FAF2 and FAF4 are expressed in the centre of the shoot meristem, overlapping with the site of WUS expression. Consistent with a regulatory interaction between the FAF gene family and WUS, our experiments indicate that the FAFs can repress WUS, which ultimately leads to an arrest of meristem activity in FAF overexpressing lines. The finding that meristematic expression of FAF2 and FAF4 is under negative control by CLV3 further supports the hypothesis that the FAFs are modulators of the genetic circuit that regulates the meristem.
This study reports the initial characterization of the Arabidopsis thaliana FAF gene family. Our data indicate that the FAF genes form a plant specific gene family, the members of which have the potential to regulate the size of the shoot meristem by modulating the CLV3-WUS feedback loop.
PMCID: PMC3023791  PMID: 21176196
13.  Expression profiling and integrative analysis of the CESA/CSL superfamily in rice 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:282.
The cellulose synthase and cellulose synthase-like gene superfamily (CESA/CSL) is proposed to encode enzymes for cellulose and non-cellulosic matrix polysaccharide synthesis in plants. Although the rice (Oryza sativa L.) genome has been sequenced for a few years, the global expression profiling patterns and functions of the OsCESA/CSL superfamily remain largely unknown.
A total of 45 identified members of OsCESA/CSL were classified into two clusters based on phylogeny and motif constitution. Duplication events contributed largely to the expansion of this superfamily, with Cluster I and II mainly attributed to tandem and segmental duplication, respectively. With microarray data of 33 tissue samples covering the entire life cycle of rice, fairly high OsCESA gene expression and rather variable OsCSL expression were observed. While some members from each CSL family (A1, C9, D2, E1, F6 and H1) were expressed in all tissues examined, many of OsCSL genes were expressed in specific tissues (stamen and radicles). The expression pattern of OsCESA/CSL and OsBC1L which extensively co-expressed with OsCESA/CSL can be divided into three major groups with ten subgroups, each showing a distinct co-expression in tissues representing typically distinct cell wall constitutions. In particular, OsCESA1, -3 & -8 and OsCESA4, -7 & -9 were strongly co-expressed in tissues typical of primary and secondary cell walls, suggesting that they form as a cellulose synthase complex; these results are similar to the findings in Arabidopsis. OsCESA5/OsCESA6 is likely partially redundant with OsCESA3 for OsCESA complex organization in the specific tissues (plumule and radicle). Moreover, the phylogenetic comparison in rice, Arabidopsis and other species can provide clues for the prediction of orthologous gene expression patterns.
The study characterized the CESA/CSL of rice using an integrated approach comprised of phylogeny, transcriptional profiling and co-expression analyses. These investigations revealed very useful clues on the major roles of CESA/CSL, their potentially functional complement and their associations for appropriate cell wall synthesis in higher plants.
PMCID: PMC3022907  PMID: 21167079
14.  Distribution of short interstitial telomere motifs in two plant genomes: putative origin and function 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:283.
Short interstitial telomere motifs (telo boxes) are short sequences identical to plant telomere repeat units. They are observed within the 5' region of several genes over-expressed in cycling cells. In synergy with various cis-acting elements, these motifs participate in the activation of expression. Here, we have analysed the distribution of telo boxes within Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa genomes and their association with genes involved in the biogenesis of the translational apparatus.
Our analysis showed that the distribution of the telo box (AAACCCTA) in different genomic regions of A. thaliana and O. sativa is not random. As is also the case for plant microsatellites, they are preferentially located in the 5' flanking regions of genes, mainly within the 5' UTR, and distributed as a gradient along the direction of transcription. As previously reported in Arabidopsis, a conserved topological association of telo boxes with site II or TEF cis-acting elements is observed in almost all promoters of genes encoding ribosomal proteins in O. sativa. Such a conserved promoter organization can be found in other genes involved in the biogenesis of the translational machinery including rRNA processing proteins and snoRNAs. Strikingly, the association of telo boxes with site II motifs or TEF boxes is conserved in promoters of genes harbouring snoRNA clusters nested within an intron as well as in the 5' flanking regions of non-intronic snoRNA genes. Thus, the search for associations between telo boxes and site II motifs or TEF box in plant genomes could provide a useful tool for characterizing new cryptic RNA pol II promoters.
The data reported in this work support the model previously proposed for the spreading of telo boxes within plant genomes and provide new insights into a putative process for the acquisition of microsatellites in plants. The association of telo boxes with site II or TEF cis-acting elements appears to be an essential feature of plant genes involved in the biogenesis of ribosomes and clearly indicates that most plant snoRNAs are RNA pol II products.
PMCID: PMC3022908  PMID: 21171996
15.  Roles of arabidopsis WRKY18, WRKY40 and WRKY60 transcription factors in plant responses to abscisic acid and abiotic stress 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:281.
WRKY transcription factors are involved in plant responses to both biotic and abiotic stresses. Arabidopsis WRKY18, WRKY40, and WRKY60 transcription factors interact both physically and functionally in plant defense responses. However, their role in plant abiotic stress response has not been directly analyzed.
We report that the three WRKYs are involved in plant responses to abscisic acid (ABA) and abiotic stress. Through analysis of single, double, and triple mutants and overexpression lines for the WRKY genes, we have shown that WRKY18 and WRKY60 have a positive effect on plant ABA sensitivity for inhibition of seed germination and root growth. The same two WRKY genes also enhance plant sensitivity to salt and osmotic stress. WRKY40, on the other hand, antagonizes WRKY18 and WRKY60 in the effect on plant sensitivity to ABA and abiotic stress in germination and growth assays. Both WRKY18 and WRKY40 are rapidly induced by ABA, while induction of WRKY60 by ABA is delayed. ABA-inducible expression of WRKY60 is almost completely abolished in the wrky18 and wrky40 mutants. WRKY18 and WRKY40 recognize a cluster of W-box sequences in the WRKY60 promoter and activate WRKY60 expression in protoplasts. Thus, WRKY60 might be a direct target gene of WRKY18 and WRKY40 in ABA signaling. Using a stable transgenic reporter/effector system, we have shown that both WRKY18 and WRKY60 act as weak transcriptional activators while WRKY40 is a transcriptional repressor in plant cells.
We propose that the three related WRKY transcription factors form a highly interacting regulatory network that modulates gene expression in both plant defense and stress responses by acting as either transcription activator or repressor.
PMCID: PMC3023790  PMID: 21167067
16.  Meiosis-specific gene discovery in plants: RNA-Seq applied to isolated Arabidopsis male meiocytes 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:280.
Meiosis is a critical process in the reproduction and life cycle of flowering plants in which homologous chromosomes pair, synapse, recombine and segregate. Understanding meiosis will not only advance our knowledge of the mechanisms of genetic recombination, but also has substantial applications in crop improvement. Despite the tremendous progress in the past decade in other model organisms (e.g., Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Drosophila melanogaster), the global identification of meiotic genes in flowering plants has remained a challenge due to the lack of efficient methods to collect pure meiocytes for analyzing the temporal and spatial gene expression patterns during meiosis, and for the sensitive identification and quantitation of novel genes.
A high-throughput approach to identify meiosis-specific genes by combining isolated meiocytes, RNA-Seq, bioinformatic and statistical analysis pipelines was developed. By analyzing the studied genes that have a meiosis function, a pipeline for identifying meiosis-specific genes has been defined. More than 1,000 genes that are specifically or preferentially expressed in meiocytes have been identified as candidate meiosis-specific genes. A group of 55 genes that have mitochondrial genome origins and a significant number of transposable element (TE) genes (1,036) were also found to have up-regulated expression levels in meiocytes.
These findings advance our understanding of meiotic genes, gene expression and regulation, especially the transcript profiles of MGI genes and TE genes, and provide a framework for functional analysis of genes in meiosis.
PMCID: PMC3018465  PMID: 21167045
17.  Characterization of singlet oxygen-accumulating mutants isolated in a screen for altered oxidative stress response in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:279.
When photosynthetic organisms are exposed to harsh environmental conditions such as high light intensities or cold stress, the production of reactive oxygen species like singlet oxygen is stimulated in the chloroplast. In Chlamydomonas reinhardtii singlet oxygen was shown to act as a specific signal inducing the expression of the nuclear glutathione peroxidase gene GPXH/GPX5 during high light stress, but little is known about the cellular mechanisms involved in this response. To investigate components affecting singlet oxygen signaling in C. reinhardtii, a mutant screen was performed.
Mutants with altered GPXH response were isolated from UV-mutagenized cells containing a GPXH-arylsulfatase reporter gene construct. Out of 5500 clones tested, no mutant deficient in GPXH induction was isolated, whereas several clones showed constitutive high GPXH expression under normal light conditions. Many of these GPXH overexpressor (gox) mutants exhibited higher resistance to oxidative stress conditions whereas others were sensitive to high light intensities. Interestingly, most gox mutants produced increased singlet oxygen levels correlating with high GPXH expression. Furthermore, different patterns of altered photoprotective parameters like non-photochemical quenching, carotenoid contents and α-tocopherol levels were detected in the various gox mutants.
Screening for mutants with altered GPXH expression resulted in the isolation of many gox mutants with increased singlet oxygen production, showing the relevance of controlling the production of this ROS in photosynthetic organisms. Phenotypic characterization of these gox mutants indicated that the mutations might lead to either stimulated triplet chlorophyll and singlet oxygen formation or reduced detoxification of singlet oxygen in the chloroplast. Furthermore, changes in multiple protection mechanisms might be responsible for high singlet oxygen formation and GPXH expression, which could either result from mutations in multiple loci or in a single gene encoding for a global regulator of cellular photoprotection mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3022906  PMID: 21167020
18.  Isolation and functional characterization of CE1 binding proteins 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:277.
Abscisic acid (ABA) is a plant hormone that controls seed germination, protective responses to various abiotic stresses and seed maturation. The ABA-dependent processes entail changes in gene expression. Numerous genes are regulated by ABA, and promoter analyses of the genes revealed that cis-elements sharing the ACGTGGC consensus sequence are ubiquitous among ABA-regulated gene promoters. The importance of the core sequence, which is generally known as ABA response element (ABRE), has been demonstrated by various experiments, and its cognate transcription factors known as ABFs/AREBs have been identified. Although necessary, ABRE alone is not sufficient, and another cis-element known as "coupling element (CE)" is required for full range ABA-regulation of gene expression. Several CEs are known. However, despite their importance, the cognate transcription factors mediating ABA response via CEs have not been reported to date. Here, we report the isolation of transcription factors that bind one of the coupling elements, CE1.
To isolate CE1 binding proteins, we carried out yeast one-hybrid screens. Reporter genes containing a trimer of the CE1 element were prepared and introduced into a yeast strain. The yeast was transformed with library DNA that represents RNA isolated from ABA-treated Arabidopsis seedlings. From the screen of 3.6 million yeast transformants, we isolated 78 positive clones. Analysis of the clones revealed that a group of AP2/ERF domain proteins binds the CE1 element. We investigated their expression patterns and analyzed their overexpression lines to investigate the in vivo functions of the CE element binding factors (CEBFs). Here, we show that one of the CEBFs, AtERF13, confers ABA hypersensitivity in Arabidopsis, whereas two other CEBFs enhance sugar sensitivity.
Our results indicate that a group of AP2/ERF superfamily proteins interacts with CE1. Several CEBFs are known to mediate defense or abiotic stress response, but the physiological functions of other CEBFs remain to be determined. Our in vivo functional analysis of several CEBFs suggests that they are likely to be involved in ABA and/or sugar response. Together with previous results reported by others, our current data raise an interesting possibility that the coupling element CE1 may function not only as an ABRE but also as an element mediating biotic and abiotic stress responses.
PMCID: PMC3016407  PMID: 21162722
19.  Exploiting EST databases for the development and characterization of EST-SSR markers in castor bean (Ricinus communis L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:278.
The castor bean (Ricinus communis L.), a monotypic species in the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae, 2n = 20), is an important non-edible oilseed crop widely cultivated in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate countries for its high economic value. Because of the high level of ricinoleic acid (over 85%) in its seed oil, the castor bean seed derivatives are often used in aviation oil, lubricants, nylon, dyes, inks, soaps, adhesive and biodiesel. Due to lack of efficient molecular markers, little is known about the population genetic diversity and the genetic relationships among castor bean germplasm. Efficient and robust molecular markers are increasingly needed for breeding and improving varieties in castor bean. The advent of modern genomics has produced large amounts of publicly available DNA sequence data. In particular, expressed sequence tags (ESTs) provide valuable resources to develop gene-associated SSR markers.
In total, 18,928 publicly available non-redundant castor bean EST sequences, representing approximately 17.03 Mb, were evaluated and 7732 SSR sites in 5,122 ESTs were identified by data mining. Castor bean exhibited considerably high frequency of EST-SSRs. We developed and characterized 118 polymorphic EST-SSR markers from 379 primer pairs flanking repeats by screening 24 castor bean samples collected from different countries. A total of 350 alleles were identified from 118 polymorphic SSR loci, ranging from 2-6 per locus (A) with an average of 2.97. The EST-SSR markers developed displayed moderate gene diversity (He) with an average of 0.41. Genetic relationships among 24 germplasms were investigated using the genotypes of 350 alleles, showing geographic pattern of genotypes across genetic diversity centers of castor bean.
Castor bean EST sequences exhibited considerably high frequency of SSR sites, and were rich resources for developing EST-SSR markers. These EST-SSR markers would be particularly useful for both genetic mapping and population structure analysis, facilitating breeding and crop improvement of castor bean.
PMCID: PMC3017068  PMID: 21162723
20.  Identification of a GCC transcription factor responding to fruit colour change events in citrus through the transcriptomic analyses of two mutants 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:276.
External ripening in Citrus fruits is morphologically characterized by a colour shift from green to orange due to the degradation of chlorophylls and the accumulation of carotenoid pigments. Although numerous genes coding for enzymes involved in such biochemical pathways have been identified, the molecular control of this process has been scarcely studied. In this work we used the Citrus clementina mutants 39B3 and 39E7, showing delayed colour break, to isolate genes potentially related to the regulation of peel ripening and its physiological or biochemical effects.
Pigment analyses revealed different profiles of carotenoid and chlorophyll modification in 39B3 and 39E7 mutants. Flavedo from 39B3 fruits showed an overall delay in carotenoid accumulation and chlorophyll degradation, while the flavedo of 39E7 was devoid of the apocarotenoid β-citraurin among other carotenoid alterations. A Citrus microarray containing about 20,000 cDNA fragments was used to identify genes that were differentially expressed during colour change in the flavedo of 39B3 and 39E7 mutants respect to the parental variety. The results highlighted 73 and 90 genes that were respectively up- and down-regulated in both mutants. CcGCC1 gene, coding for a GCC type transcriptional factor, was found to be down-regulated. CcGCC1 expression was strongly induced at the onset of colour change in the flavedo of parental clementine fruit. Moreover, treatment of fruits with gibberellins, a retardant of external ripening, delayed both colour break and CcGCC1 overexpression.
In this work, the citrus fruit ripening mutants 39B3 and 39E7 have been characterized at the phenotypic, biochemical and transcriptomic level. A defective synthesis of the apocarotenoid β-citraurin has been proposed to cause the yellowish colour of fully ripe 39E7 flavedo. The analyses of the mutant transcriptomes revealed that colour change during peel ripening was strongly associated with a major mobilization of mineral elements and with other previously known metabolic and photosynthetic changes. The expression of CcGCC1 was associated with peel ripening since CcGCC1 down-regulation correlated with a delay in colour break induced by genetic, developmental and hormonal causes.
PMCID: PMC3014968  PMID: 21159189
21.  A molecular recombination map of Antirrhinum majus 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:275.
Genetic recombination maps provide important frameworks for comparative genomics, identifying gene functions, assembling genome sequences and for breeding. The molecular recombination map currently available for the model eudicot Antirrhinum majus is the result of a cross with Antirrhinum molle, limiting its usefulness within A. majus.
We created a molecular linkage map of A. majus based on segregation of markers in the F2 population of two inbred lab strains of A. majus. The resulting map consisted of over 300 markers in eight linkage groups, which could be aligned with a classical recombination map and the A. majus karyotype. The distribution of recombination frequencies and distorted transmission of parental alleles differed from those of a previous inter-species hybrid. The differences varied in magnitude and direction between chromosomes, suggesting that they had multiple causes. The map, which covered an estimated of 95% of the genome with an average interval of 2 cM, was used to analyze the distribution of a newly discovered family of MITE transposons and tested for its utility in positioning seven mutations that affect aspects of plant size.
The current map has an estimated interval of 1.28 Mb between markers. It shows a lower level of transmission ratio distortion and a longer length than the previous inter-species map, making it potentially more useful. The molecular recombination map further indicates that the IDLE MITE transposons are distributed throughout the genome and are relatively stable. The map proved effective in mapping classical morphological mutations of A. majus.
PMCID: PMC3017841  PMID: 21159166
22.  Trichoderma viride cellulase induces resistance to the antibiotic pore-forming peptide alamethicin associated with changes in the plasma membrane lipid composition of tobacco BY-2 cells 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:274.
Alamethicin is a membrane-active peptide isolated from the beneficial root-colonising fungus Trichoderma viride. This peptide can insert into membranes to form voltage-dependent pores. We have previously shown that alamethicin efficiently permeabilises the plasma membrane, mitochondria and plastids of cultured plant cells. In the present investigation, tobacco cells (Nicotiana tabacum L. cv Bright Yellow-2) were pre-treated with elicitors of defence responses to study whether this would affect permeabilisation.
Oxygen consumption experiments showed that added cellulase, already upon a limited cell wall digestion, induced a cellular resistance to alamethicin permeabilisation. This effect could not be elicited by xylanase or bacterial elicitors such as flg22 or elf18. The induction of alamethicin resistance was independent of novel protein synthesis. Also, the permeabilisation was unaffected by the membrane-depolarising agent FCCP. As judged by lipid analyses, isolated plasma membranes from cellulase-pretreated tobacco cells contained less negatively charged phospholipids (PS and PI), yet higher ratios of membrane lipid fatty acid to sterol and to protein, as compared to control membranes.
We suggest that altered membrane lipid composition as induced by cellulase activity may render the cells resistant to alamethicin. This induced resistance could reflect a natural process where the plant cells alter their sensitivity to membrane pore-forming agents secreted by Trichoderma spp. to attack other microorganisms, and thus adding to the beneficial effect that Trichoderma has for plant root growth. Furthermore, our data extends previous reports on artificial membranes on the importance of lipid packing and charge for alamethicin permeabilisation to in vivo conditions.
PMCID: PMC3017840  PMID: 21156059
23.  Gene family structure, expression and functional analysis of HD-Zip III genes in angiosperm and gymnosperm forest trees 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:273.
Class III Homeodomain Leucine Zipper (HD-Zip III) proteins have been implicated in the regulation of cambium identity, as well as primary and secondary vascular differentiation and patterning in herbaceous plants. They have been proposed to regulate wood formation but relatively little evidence is available to validate such a role. We characterised and compared HD-Zip III gene family in an angiosperm tree, Populus spp. (poplar), and the gymnosperm Picea glauca (white spruce), representing two highly evolutionarily divergent groups.
Full-length cDNA sequences were isolated from poplar and white spruce. Phylogenetic reconstruction indicated that some of the gymnosperm sequences were derived from lineages that diverged earlier than angiosperm sequences, and seem to have been lost in angiosperm lineages. Transcript accumulation profiles were assessed by RT-qPCR on tissue panels from both species and in poplar trees in response to an inhibitor of polar auxin transport. The overall transcript profiles HD-Zip III complexes in white spruce and poplar exhibited substantial differences, reflecting their evolutionary history. Furthermore, two poplar sequences homologous to HD-Zip III genes involved in xylem development in Arabidopsis and Zinnia were over-expressed in poplar plants. PtaHB1 over-expression produced noticeable effects on petiole and primary shoot fibre development, suggesting that PtaHB1 is involved in primary xylem development. We also obtained evidence indicating that expression of PtaHB1 affected the transcriptome by altering the accumulation of 48 distinct transcripts, many of which are predicted to be involved in growth and cell wall synthesis. Most of them were down-regulated, as was the case for several of the poplar HD-Zip III sequences. No visible physiological effect of over-expression was observed on PtaHB7 transgenic trees, suggesting that PtaHB1 and PtaHB7 likely have distinct roles in tree development, which is in agreement with the functions that have been assigned to close homologs in herbaceous plants.
This study provides an overview of HD-zip III genes related to woody plant development and identifies sequences putatively involved in secondary vascular growth in angiosperms and in gymnosperms. These gene sequences are candidate regulators of wood formation and could be a source of molecular markers for tree breeding related to wood properties.
PMCID: PMC3017839  PMID: 21143995
24.  Habituation to thaxtomin A in hybrid poplar cell suspensions provides enhanced and durable resistance to inhibitors of cellulose synthesis 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:272.
Thaxtomin A (TA), a phytotoxin produced by the phytopathogen Streptomyces scabies, is essential for the development of potato common scab disease. TA inhibits cellulose synthesis but its actual mode of action is unknown. Addition of TA to hybrid poplar (Populus trichocarpa x Populus deltoides) cell suspensions can activate a cellular program leading to cell death. In contrast, it is possible to habituate hybrid poplar cell cultures to grow in the presence of TA levels that would normally induce cell death. The purpose of this study is to characterize TA-habituated cells and the mechanisms that may be involved in enhancing resistance to TA.
Habituation to TA was performed by adding increasing levels of TA to cell cultures at the time of subculture over a period of 12 months. TA-habituated cells were then cultured in the absence of TA for more than three years. These cells displayed a reduced size and growth compared to control cells and had fragmented vacuoles filled with electron-dense material. Habituation to TA was associated with changes in the cell wall composition, with a reduction in cellulose and an increase in pectin levels. Remarkably, high level of resistance to TA was maintained in TA-habituated cells even after being cultured in the absence of TA. Moreover, these cells exhibited enhanced resistance to two other inhibitors of cellulose biosynthesis, dichlobenil and isoxaben. Analysis of gene expression in TA-habituated cells using an Affymetrix GeneChip Poplar Genome Array revealed that durable resistance to TA is associated with a major and complex reprogramming of gene expression implicating processes such as cell wall synthesis and modification, lignin and flavonoid synthesis, as well as DNA and chromatin modifications.
We have shown that habituation to TA induced durable resistance to the bacterial toxin in poplar cells. TA-habituation also enhanced resistance to two other structurally different inhibitors of cellulose synthesis that were found to target different proteins. Enhanced resistance was associated with major changes in the expression of numerous genes, including some genes that are involved in DNA and chromatin modifications, suggesting that epigenetic changes might be involved in this process.
PMCID: PMC3016406  PMID: 21143977
25.  Natural diversity of potato (Solanum tuberosum) invertases 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:271.
Invertases are ubiquitous enzymes that irreversibly cleave sucrose into fructose and glucose. Plant invertases play important roles in carbohydrate metabolism, plant development, and biotic and abiotic stress responses. In potato (Solanum tuberosum), invertases are involved in 'cold-induced sweetening' of tubers, an adaptive response to cold stress, which negatively affects the quality of potato chips and French fries. Linkage and association studies have identified quantitative trait loci (QTL) for tuber sugar content and chip quality that colocalize with three independent potato invertase loci, which together encode five invertase genes. The role of natural allelic variation of these genes in controlling the variation of tuber sugar content in different genotypes is unknown.
For functional studies on natural variants of five potato invertase genes we cloned and sequenced 193 full-length cDNAs from six heterozygous individuals (three tetraploid and three diploid). Eleven, thirteen, ten, twelve and nine different cDNA alleles were obtained for the genes Pain-1, InvGE, InvGF, InvCD141 and InvCD111, respectively. Allelic cDNA sequences differed from each other by 4 to 9%, and most were genotype specific. Additional variation was identified by single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis in an association-mapping population of 219 tetraploid individuals. Haplotype modeling revealed two to three major haplotypes besides a larger number of minor frequency haplotypes. cDNA alleles associated with chip quality, tuber starch content and starch yield were identified.
Very high natural allelic variation was uncovered in a set of five potato invertase genes. This variability is a consequence of the cultivated potato's reproductive biology. Some of the structural variation found might underlie functional variation that influences important agronomic traits such as tuber sugar content. The associations found between specific invertase alleles and chip quality, tuber starch content and starch yield will facilitate the selection of superior potato genotypes in breeding programs.
PMCID: PMC3012049  PMID: 21143910

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