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Publikation

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.
Publikation

Asquini, E.; Gerdol, M.; Gasperini, D.; Igic, B.; Graziosi, G.; Pallavicini, A. S-RNase-like Sequences in Styles of Coffea (Rubiaceae). Evidence for S-RNase Based Gametophytic Self-Incompatibility? Trop Plant Biol 4, 237-249, (2011) DOI: 10.1007/s12042-011-9085-2

Although RNase-based self-incompatibility (SI) is suspected to operate in a wide group of plant families, it has been characterized as the molecular genetic basis of SI in only three distantly related families, Solanaceae, Plantaginaceae, and Rosaceae, all described over a decade ago. Previous studies found that gametophytic SI, controlled by a multi-allelic S-locus, operates in the coffee family (Rubiaceae). The molecular genetic basis of this mechanism remains unknown, despite the immense importance of coffee as an agricultural commodity. Here, we isolated ten sequences with features of T2-S-type RNases from two Coffea species. While three of the sequences were identified in both species and clearly do not appear to be S-locus products, our data suggest that six sequences may be S-alleles in the self-incompatible C. canephora, and one may be a relict in the self-compatible C. arabica. We demonstrate that these sequences show style-specific expression, display polymorphism in C. canephora, and cluster with S-locus products in a phylogenetic analysis that includes other plant families with RNase-based SI. Although our results are not definitive, in part because the available plant materials were limited and data patterns relatively complex, our results strongly hint that RNase-based SI mechanism operates in the Rubiaceae family.
Publikation

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.
Publikation

Quint, M.; Drost, H.-G.; Gabel, A.; Ullrich, K. K.; Bönn, M.; Grosse, I. A transcriptomic hourglass in plant embryogenesis Nature 490, 98-101, (2012) DOI: 10.1038/nature11394

Animal and plant development starts with a constituting phase called embryogenesis, which evolved independently in both lineages1. Comparative anatomy of vertebrate development—based on the Meckel-Serrès law2 and von Baer’s laws of embryology3 from the early nineteenth century—shows that embryos from various taxa appear different in early stages, converge to a similar form during mid-embryogenesis, and again diverge in later stages. This morphogenetic series is known as the embryonic ‘hourglass’4,5, and its bottleneck of high conservation in mid-embryogenesis is referred to as the phylotypic stage6. Recent analyses in zebrafish and Drosophila embryos provided convincing molecular support for the hourglass model, because during the phylotypic stage the transcriptome was dominated by ancient genes7 and global gene expression profiles were reported to be most conserved8. Although extensively explored in animals, an embryonic hourglass has not been reported in plants, which represent the second major kingdom in the tree of life that evolved embryogenesis. Here we provide phylotranscriptomic evidence for a molecular embryonic hourglass in Arabidopsis thaliana, using two complementary approaches. This is particularly significant because the possible absence of an hourglass based on morphological features in plants suggests that morphological and molecular patterns might be uncoupled. Together with the reported developmental hourglass patterns in animals, these findings indicate convergent evolution of the molecular hourglass and a conserved logic of embryogenesis across kingdoms.
Publikation

Acosta, I. F.; Gasperini, D.; Chételat, A.; Stolz, S.; Santuari, L.; Farmer, E. E. Role of NINJA in root jasmonate signaling Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 110, 15473-15478, (2013) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1307910110

Wound responses in plants have to be coordinated between organs so that locally reduced growth in a wounded tissue is balanced by appropriate growth elsewhere in the body. We used a JASMONATE ZIM DOMAIN 10 (JAZ10) reporter to screen for mutants affected in the organ-specific activation of jasmonate (JA) signaling in Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings. Wounding one cotyledon activated the reporter in both aerial and root tissues, and this was either disrupted or restricted to certain organs in mutant alleles of core components of the JA pathway including COI1, OPR3, and JAR1. In contrast, three other mutants showed constitutive activation of the reporter in the roots and hypocotyls of unwounded seedlings. All three lines harbored mutations in Novel Interactor of JAZ (NINJA), which encodes part of a repressor complex that negatively regulates JA signaling. These ninja mutants displayed shorter roots mimicking JA-mediated growth inhibition, and this was due to reduced cell elongation. Remarkably, this phenotype and the constitutive JAZ10 expression were still observed in backgrounds lacking the ability to synthesize JA or the key transcriptional activator MYC2. Therefore, JA-like responses can be recapitulated in specific tissues without changing a plant’s ability to make or perceive JA, and MYC2 either has no role or is not the only derepressed transcription factor in ninja mutants. Our results show that the role of NINJA in the root is to repress JA signaling and allow normal cell elongation. Furthermore, the regulation of the JA pathway differs between roots and aerial tissues at all levels, from JA biosynthesis to transcriptional activation.
Publikation

Farmer, E. E.; Gasperini, D.; Acosta, I. F. The squeeze cell hypothesis for the activation of jasmonate synthesis in response to wounding New Phytol 204, 282-288, (2014) DOI: 10.1111/nph.12897

Jasmonates are lipid mediators that control defence gene expression in response to wounding and other environmental stresses. These small molecules can accumulate at distances up to several cm from sites of damage and this is likely to involve cell‐to‐cell jasmonate transport. Also, and independently of jasmonate synthesis, transport and perception, different long‐distance wound signals that stimulate distal jasmonate synthesis are propagated at apparent speeds of several cm min–1 to tissues distal to wounds in a mechanism that involves clade 3 GLUTAMATE RECEPTOR‐LIKE (GLR) genes. A search for jasmonate synthesis enzymes that might decode these signals revealed LOX6, a lipoxygenase that is necessary for much of the rapid accumulation of jasmonic acid at sites distal to wounds. Intriguingly, the LOX6 promoter is expressed in a distinct niche of cells that are adjacent to mature xylem vessels, a location that would make these contact cells sensitive to the release of xylem water column tension upon wounding. We propose a model in which rapid axial changes in xylem hydrostatic pressure caused by wounding travel through the vasculature and lead to slower, radially dispersed pressure changes that act in a clade 3 GLR‐dependent mechanism to promote distal jasmonate synthesis.
Publikation

Drost, H.-G.; Bellstädt, J.; Ó'Maoiléidigh, D. S.; Silva, A. T.; Gabel, A.; Weinholdt, C.; Ryan, P. T.; Dekkers, B. J. W.; Bentsink, L.; Hilhorst, H. W. M.; Ligterink, W.; Wellmer, F.; Grosse, I.; Quint, M. Post-embryonic hourglass patterns mark ontogenetic transitions in plant development BioRxiv (2015) DOI: 10.1101/035527

The historic developmental hourglass concept depicts the convergence of animal embryos to a common form during the phylotypic period. Recently, it has been shown that a transcriptomic hourglass is associated with this morphological pattern, consistent with the idea of underlying selective constraints due to intense molecular interactions during body plan establishment. Although plants do not exhibit a morphological hourglass during embryogenesis, a transcriptomic hourglass has nevertheless been identified in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Here, we investigated whether plant hourglass patterns are also found post-embryonically. We found that the two main phase changes during the life cycle of Arabidopsis, from embryonic to vegetative and from vegetative to reproductive development, are associated with transcriptomic hourglass patterns. In contrast, flower development, a process dominated by organ formation, is not. This suggests that plant hourglass patterns are decoupled from organogenesis and body plan establishment. Instead, they may reflect general transitions through organizational checkpoints.
Publikation

Ryan,P. T.; Ó’Maoiléidigh, D. S.; Drost, H.-G.; Kwaśniewska, D.; Gabel, A.; Grosse, I.; Graciet, E.; Quint, M.; Wellmer, F. Patterns of gene expression during Arabidopsis flower development from the time of initiation to maturation BMC Genomics 16, 488 , (2015) DOI: 10.1186/s12864-015-1699-6

Background:The formation of flowers is one of the main model systems to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that control developmental processes in plants. Although several studies have explored gene expression during flower development in the model plant Arabidopsis thalianaon a genome-wide scale, a continuous series of expression data from the earliest floral stages until maturation has been lacking. Here, we used a floral induction system to closethis information gap and to generate a reference dataset for stage-specific gene expression during flower formation.Results:Using a floral induction system, we collected floral buds at 14 different stages from the time of initiation until maturation. Using whole-genome microarray analysis, we identified 7,405 genes that exhibit rapid expression changes during flower development. These genes comprise many known floral regulators and we found that the expression profiles for these regulators match their known expression patterns, thus validating the dataset. We analyzed groups ofco-expressed genes for over-represented cellular and developmental functions through Gene Ontology analysis and found that they could be assigned specific patterns of activities, which are in agreement with the progression of flower development. Furthermore, by mapping binding sites of floral organ identity factors onto our dataset, we were able to identify gene groups that are likely predominantly under control of these transcriptional regulators. We furtherfound that the distribution of paralogs among groups of co-expressed genes varies considerably, with genes expressed predominantly at early and intermediate stages of flower development showing the highest proportion of such genes.Conclusions:Our results highlight and describe the dynamic expression changes undergone by a large numberof genes during flower development. They further provide a comprehensive reference dataset for temporal gene expression during flower formation and we demonstrate that it can be used to integrate data from other genomics approaches such as genome-wide localization studies of transcription factor binding sites.
Publikation

Drost, H.-G.; Gabel, A.; Grosse, I.; Quint, M. Evidence for Active Maintenance of Phylotranscriptomic Hourglass Patterns in Animal and Plant Embryogenesis Mol Biol Evol 32, 1221-1231, (2015) DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msv012

The developmental hourglass model has been used to describe the morphological transitions of related species throughout embryogenesis. Recently, quantifiable approaches combining transcriptomic and evolutionary information provided novel evidence for the presence of a phylotranscriptomic hourglass pattern across kingdoms. As its biological function is unknown it remains speculative whether this pattern is functional or merely represents a nonfunctional evolutionary relic. The latter would seriously hamper future experimental approaches designed to test hypotheses regarding its function. Here, we address this question by generating transcriptome divergence index (TDI) profiles across embryogenesis of Danio rerio, Drosophila melanogaster, and Arabidopsis thaliana. To enable meaningful evaluation of the resulting patterns, we develop a statistical test that specifically assesses potential hourglass patterns. Based on this objective measure we find that two of these profiles follow a statistically significant hourglass pattern with the most conserved transcriptomes in the phylotypic periods. As the TDI considers only recent evolutionary signals, this indicates that the phylotranscriptomic hourglass pattern is not a rudiment but possibly actively maintained, implicating the existence of some linked biological function associated with embryogenesis in extant species.
Publikation

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.
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