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Publications - Molecular Signal Processing

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Gasperini, D.; Greenland, A.; Hedden, P.; Dreos, R.; Harwood, W.; Griffiths, S. Genetic and physiological analysis of Rht8 in bread wheat: an alternative source of semi-dwarfism with a reduced sensitivity to brassinosteroids J Exp Bot 63, 4419-4436, (2012) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/ers138

Over the next decade, wheat grain production must increase to meet the demand of a fast growing human population. One strategy to meet this challenge is to raise wheat productivity by optimizing plant stature. The Reduced height 8 (Rht8) semi-dwarfing gene is one of the few, together with the Green Revolution genes, to reduce stature of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), and improve lodging resistance, without compromising grain yield. Rht8 is widely used in dry environments such as Mediterranean countries where it increases plant adaptability. With recent climate change, its use could become increasingly important even in more northern latitudes. In the present study, the characterization of Rht8 was furthered. Morphological analyses show that the semi-dwarf phenotype of Rht8 lines is due to shorter internodal segments along the wheat culm, achieved through reduced cell elongation. Physiological experiments show that the reduced cell elongation is not due to defective gibberellin biosynthesis or signalling, but possibly to a reduced sensitivity to brassinosteroids. Using a fine-resolution mapping approach and screening 3104 F2 individuals of a newly developed mapping population, the Rht8 genetic interval was reduced from 20.5 cM to 1.29 cM. Comparative genomics with model genomes confined the Rht8 syntenic intervals to 3.3 Mb of the short arm of rice chromosome 4, and to 2 Mb of Brachypodium distachyon chromosome 5. The very high resolution potential of the plant material generated is crucial for the eventual cloning of Rht8.

Gasperini, D.; Chételat, A.; Acosta, I. F.; Goossens, J.; Pauwels, L.; Goossens, A.; Dreos, R.; Alfonso, E.; Farmer, E. E. Multilayered Organization of Jasmonate Signalling in the Regulation of Root Growth PLOS Genet 11, e1005300, (2015) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005300

Physical damage can strongly affect plant growth, reducing the biomass of developing organs situated at a distance from wounds. These effects, previously studied in leaves, require the activation of jasmonate (JA) signalling. Using a novel assay involving repetitive cotyledon wounding in Arabidopsis seedlings, we uncovered a function of JA in suppressing cell division and elongation in roots. Regulatory JA signalling components were then manipulated to delineate their relative impacts on root growth. The new transcription factor mutant myc2-322B was isolated. In vitro transcription assays and whole-plant approaches revealed that myc2-322B is a dosage-dependent gain-of-function mutant that can amplify JA growth responses. Moreover, myc2-322B displayed extreme hypersensitivity to JA that totally suppressed root elongation. The mutation weakly reduced root growth in undamaged plants but, when the upstream negative regulator NINJA was genetically removed, myc2-322B powerfully repressed root growth through its effects on cell division and cell elongation. Furthermore, in a JA-deficient mutant background, ninja1 myc2-322B still repressed root elongation, indicating that it is possible to generate JA-responses in the absence of JA. We show that NINJA forms a broadly expressed regulatory layer that is required to inhibit JA signalling in the apex of roots grown under basal conditions. By contrast, MYC2, MYC3 and MYC4 displayed cell layer-specific localisations and MYC3 and MYC4 were expressed in mutually exclusive regions. In nature, growing roots are likely subjected to constant mechanical stress during soil penetration that could lead to JA production and subsequent detrimental effects on growth. Our data reveal how distinct negative regulatory layers, including both NINJA-dependent and -independent mechanisms, restrain JA responses to allow normal root growth. Mechanistic insights from this work underline the importance of mapping JA signalling components to specific cell types in order to understand and potentially engineer the growth reduction that follows physical damage.

De Nardi, B.; Dreos, R.; Del Terra, L.; Martellossi, C.; Asquini, E.; Tornincasa, P.; Gasperini, D.; Pacchioni, B.; Rathinavelu, R.; Pallavicini, A.; Graziosi, G. Differential responses of Coffea arabica L. leaves and roots to chemically induced systemic acquired resistance Genome 49, 1594-1605, (2006) DOI: 10.1139/g06-125

Coffea arabica is susceptible to several pests and diseases, some of which affect the leaves and roots. Systemic acquired resistance (SAR) is the main defence mechanism activated in plants in response to pathogen attack. Here, we report the effects of benzo(1,2,3)thiadiazole-7-carbothioic acid-s-methyl ester (BTH), a SAR chemical inducer, on the expression profile of C. arabica. Two cDNA libraries were constructed from the mRNA isolated from leaves and embryonic roots to create 1587 nonredundant expressed sequence tags (ESTs). We developed a cDNA microarray containing 1506 ESTs from the leaves and embryonic roots, and 48 NBS-LRR (nucleotide-binding site leucine-rich repeat) gene fragments derived from 2 specific genomic libraries. Competitive hybridization between untreated and BTH-treated leaves resulted in 55 genes that were significantly overexpressed and 16 genes that were significantly underexpressed. In the roots, 37 and 42 genes were over and underexpressed, respectively. A general shift in metabolism from housekeeping to defence occurred in the leaves and roots after BTH treatment. We observed a systemic increase in pathogenesis-related protein synthesis, in the oxidative burst, and in the cell wall strengthening processes. Moreover, responses in the roots and leaves varied significantly.
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