28th Aug 2014

Here’s your UK Arabidopsis Research Round-up for this week.  Today we feature a mixed bag of new work from the Universities of Cambridge, Leicester, Leeds and Liverpool. One of the Leeds authors, Emily Hawkes, has been selected to present her work at GARNet 2014, which takes place in just two weeks’ time (9–10 September 2014)! If you haven’t already registered for this conference – the largest Arabidopsis conference in Europe this year, we might add! – it’s not too late to do so. Simply browse our website for more information at and click the ‘Registration’ tab to sign up and join us in Bristol!


  • Rennie EA, Ebert B, Miles GP, et al. Identification of a sphingolipid a-glucuronosyltransferase that is essential for pollen function in Arabidopsis. The Plant Cell, 1 August 2014. DOI: 10.1105/tpc.114.129171. [Open Access]

Scientists from the Universities of Cambridge and Leicester worked with American colleagues on this Plant Cell paper. It has been known for some times that glycosyl inositol phosphorylceramide (GIPC) sphingolipids make up a large proportion of the lipids in the plant plasma membrane, and that they are often decorated with glycan residues. However, until now, no glycosylating proteins have been discovered that are responsible for these residues. This group shows that the Arabidopsis thaliana protein INOSITOL PHOSPHRYLCERAMIDE GLUCURONOSYLTRANSFERASE1 (IPUT1) transfers glucuronic acid A (GlcA) from UDP-GlcA to GIPCs. Furthermore, mutations in IPUT1 are not transmitted through pollen, suggesting that sphingolipids are essential in plants.


  • Watson M, Hawkes E and Meyer P. Transmission of epi-alleles with MET1-dependent dense methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana. PLOS ONE, 19 August 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105338. [Open Access]

This is a neat paper by three researchers at the University of Leeds, in which they describe an unusual pattern of ‘dense methylation’ under the control of METHYLTRANSFERASE1 (MET1). This protein is found to be responsible for three different methylation contexts: CG, CHG and CHH (where H represents A, C or T). Epi-alleles of dense methylation at non-coding RNA loci are stably maintains and transmitted in genetic crosses, suggesting that at certain loci MET1 is able to create transcriptional diversity based on the generation of independent epi-alleles. Though rare in Arabidopsis, it will be interesting to explore the possibility that MET1 is a contributor to epigenetic diversity in other plant species.

Emily Hawkes, middle author on this paper, was selected to give an oral presentation of her abstract at GARNet 2014. So, if you haven’t already registered, do so today and join us in Bristol to hear more about her work!


  • Parry G. Components of the Arabidopsis nuclear pore complex play multiple diverse roles in control of plant growth. Journal of Experimental Botany, 27 August 2014. DOI: 10.1093/jxb/eru346. [Open Access]

Geraint Parry from the University of Liverpool here presents evidence to suggest that nucleoporins – involved in nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) that facilitate movement of RNA and protein between the nucleus and cytoplasm – may play distinct roles in nuclear transport. In Arabidopsis lines with defective nucleoporins in NPCs, it was noted that nuclear export of mRNA is differentially affected.