9th Feb 2016

It has been a quiet couple of weeks for newly published UK Arabidopsis Research but what might be lacking in quantity is made up for in quality! Firstly the PRESTA consortium use gene regulatory network analysis to identify a key component in the response to drought stress. Secondly is a paper featuring researchers from Rothamstead that identifies a new molecular participant in the control of RNA surveillance. Thirdly is a paper that investigates the function of aquaporins during lateral root emergence and includes researchers from Warwick and Nottingham. Finally is a study from Sheffield that investigates necrotropic and biotropic strategies employed by an ascomycete pathogen. It is also nice to observe that each of these papers are open access.

Bechtold U, Penfold CA, Jenkins DJ, Legaie R, Moore JD, Lawson T, Matthews JS, Vialet-Chabrand SR, Baxter L, Subramaniam S, Hickman R, Florance H, Sambles C, Salmon DL, Feil R, Bowden L, Hill C, Baker NR, Lunn JE, Finkenstadt B, Mead A, Buchanan-Wollaston V, Beynon JL, Rand DA, Wild DL, Denby KJ, Ott S, Smirnoff N, Mullineaux PM (2016) Time-series transcriptomics reveals that AGAMOUS-LIKE22 links primary metabolism to developmental processes in drought-stressed Arabidopsis Plant Cell http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/​10.​1105/​tpc.​15.​00910 Open Access

This Large Scale Biology article is the result of the PRESTA collaboration that is based at the Universities of Essex, Exeter and Warwick. The research plan of the PRESTA project is based upon the generation of large scale transcriptomic datasets and in this case they investigate changes in gene expression in plants subjected to drought stress. They identified over 1800 differentially expressed genes and the early changes coincided with a drop in carbon assimilation together with a late increase in foliar ABA content. Using Bayesian network modelling of differentially expressed transcription factors they identified the AGAMOUS-LIKE22 (AGL22) gene as a key component in this gene regulatory network. AGL22 had been previously found to play an important role in the change from vegetative to floral development but in this context it influences photosynthetic rates and lifetime water use.

Hématy K, Bellec Y, Podicheti R, Bouteiller N, Anne P, Morineau C, Haslam RP, Beaudoin F, Napier JA, Mockaitis K, Gagliardi D, Vaucheret H, Lange H, Faure JD (2016) The Zinc-Finger Protein SOP1 Is Required for a Subset of the Nuclear Exosome Functions in Arabidopsis PLoS Genetics 12(2):e1005817 Open Access

This Franco-US collaboration also includes a contribution from Johnathan Napier’s group at Rothamstead Research. They investigated the function of the essential Arabidopsis PASTICCINO2 (PAS2) gene by isolating three suppressors of pas2 mutants (termed sop mutants). PAS2 is involved in correct splicing so the sop mutants prevented degradation of mis-spliced pas2 mRNA species. The suppressor genes were either previously characterized as being involved with function of the exosome (SOP2/RRP4, SOP3/HEN2) or as a novel zinc-finger protein (SOP1) that colocalised with HEN2 in nucleoplasmic loci. The authors show additional evidence suggesting that the SOP proteins are involved in RNA quality control and introduce SOP1 as a novel component that is involved in nuclear RNA surveillance.

Reinhardt H, Hachez C, Bienert MD, Beebo A, Swarup K, Voss U, Bouhidel K, Frigerio L, Schjoerring JK, Bennett MJ, Chaumont F (2016) Tonoplast aquaporins facilitate lateral root emergence Plant Physiology. Open Access

This Belgian-led study includes lead-UK representation from Warwick (Lorenzo Frigerio)  and Nottingham (Malcolm Bennett) and investigates the role of tonoplast-localised aquaporin proteins during lateral root emergence. The AtTIP1;1, AtTIP1;2 and AtTIP2;1 are abundant aquaporin proteins and the triple tip mutant shows a reduction in lateral root (LR) number without having a shorter primary root. This effect is not due to a reduction of LR primordia but rather due to a defect in the elongation of emerging LR. The authors show that spatial and temporal variations of TIP isoform expression throughout the root correlates with the tip mutant phenotype. Surprisingly, native expression of TIP2:1, which is found only at the base of the LR, can restore wildtype LR emergence to the triple mutant, suggesting that aquaporin activity in this region is sufficient to set-off LR outgrowth.

Pétriacq P, Stassen JH, Ton J (2016) Spore density determines infection strategy by the plant-pathogenic fungus Plectosphaerella cucumerina Plant Physiology Open Access

Jurriaan Ton (Sheffield) is the lead researcher on this study that investigates the molecular factors that allow pathogens to switch between necrotropy and biotrophy, which elicit different response pathways within the infected plant. They used untargeted metabolomics to investigate the growth of the ascomycete pathogen Plectosphaerella cucumerina on Arabidopsis leaves. Higher spore densities activate a JA-dependent necrotropic defence response whilst lower spore numbers causes hemi-biotrophic SA-dependent responses. This change is reflected in the susceptibility of different Arabidopsis mutants to differing spore densities and allow the authors to conclude that P. cucumerina is able to gain an advantage over the host immunity by switching between different modes of infection.