8th May 2014

A fascinating round-up of new UK Arabidopsis papers for you this week, including a Nature Chemical Biology paper from the University of Sheffield and Rothamsted Research, a technical advance from the University of Leeds presenting a novel method to investigate cell wall glycan interactions, and more from Nottingham, York and the John Innes Centre.


  • Xu J, Ding Z, Vizcay-Barrena G, et al. ABORTED MICROSPORES acts as a master regulator of pollen wall formation in Arabidopsis. The Plant Cell, 11 April 2014. DOI: 10.1105/tpc.114.122986. [Open Access]

Sporopollenin is a major component of the cell walls of mature pollen, but has so far only been partially characterized. Working with French, German and Chinese collaborators, Gema Vizcay-Barrena and Zoe Wilson from University of Nottingham here explain how they used genome-wide coexpression analysis to identify the major role that ABORTED MICROSPORES (AMS) has to play in the regulation of sporopollenin biosynthesis and pollen wall patterning.


  • Cornuault V, Manfield IW, Ralet M-C and Knox JP. Epitope detection chromatography: a method to dissect the structural heterogeneity and inter-connections of plant cell-wall matrix glycans. The Plant Journal, 23 April 2014. DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12504.

Here’s another paper looking at the structural components of plant cell walls; this time it’s a report on a technical advance from a University of Leeds-led team including PhD student Valerie Cornuault, technical manager Iain Manfield and PI Paul Knox (with a French colleague). Their method, called epitope detection chromatography, uses a combination of chromatographic separations with glycan-directed monoclonal antibodies in order to analyse sub-populations of cell wall glycans and their inter-connections.


  • Skeffington A, Graf A, Duxbury Z, Gruissem W and Smith A. Glucan, water dikinase exerts little control over starch degradation in Arabidopsis leaves at night. Plant Physiology, 28 April 2014. DOI: ​10.1104/pp.114.237016. [Open Access]

Here's an interesting example of a paper that provides evidence against a prevailing theory. Though previously suggested that glucan, water dikinase (GWD) is important for the control of starch degradation in Arabidopsis leaves at night, members of Alison Smith’s lab from the John Innes Centre, together with Alexander Graf and Global Plant Council acting president Wilhelm Gruissem from ETH Zurich in Switzerland, have shown that this is probably not quite the case.  In fact, starch degradation in leaves is not accelerated in plants overexpressing GWD, and starch degradation is not inhibited until GWD levels are reduced by 70%.


  • Luna E, van Hulten M, Zhang Y, et al. Plant perception of ß-aminobutyric acid is mediated by an aspartyl-tRNA synthetase. Nature Chemical Biology, 28 April 2014. DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.1520.

Though the immune-priming effects of ß-aminobutyric acid (BABA) are well known, a side effect of too much BABA is that it causes suppressed plant growth. However, in this paper, led by scientists from the University of Sheffield, with colleagues at Rothamsted Research and in Spain, Australia and the Netherlands, the team explains that the immune response, a secondary response caused by the binding of BABA by an aspartyl-tRNA synthetase called IBI1, can be uncoupled. In practice, this means that – in Arabidopsis at least, for now – “vaccinating” a mutant with BABA primes immunity and does not restrict growth.

You can read more about this story in the news area of the GARNet website by clicking here: Green Vaccination: Boosting Plant Immunity without Side Effects.


  • Grubb CD, Zipp BJ, Kopycki J, Schubert M, Quint M, Lim E-K, Bowles DJ, Pedras MSC and Abel S. Comparative analysis of Arabidopsis UGT74 glucosyltransferases reveals a special role of UGT74C1 in glucosinolate biosynthesis. The Plant Journal, 29 April 2014. DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12541.

This international collaboration involved Dianna Bowles and post-doc Eng-Kiat Lim from the University of York. The paper explores the results of a nearly comprehensive in vitro activity screen of recombinant Arabidopsis Family 1 UGTs (UDP-glucose dependent glucosyltransferases) in order to understand more about the control and regulation of glucosinolate biosynthesis pathways.