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Mielke, S.; Gasperini, D. Plant–Insect Bioassay for Testing Arabidopsis Resistance to the Generalist Herbivore Spodoptera littoralis (Champion, A. & Laplaze, L., eds.). Methods Mol Biol 2085, 69-78, (2020) ISBN: 978-1-0716-0142-6 DOI: 10.1007/978-1-0716-0142-6_5

Jasmonates are essential engineers of plant defense responses against many pests, including herbivorous insects. Herbivory induces the production of jasmonic acid (JA) and its bioactive conjugate jasmonoyl-l-isoleucine (JA-Ile), which then triggers a large transcriptional reprogramming to promote plant acclimation. The contribution of the JA pathway, including its components and regulators, to defense responses against insect herbivory can be evaluated by conducting bioassays with a wide range of host plants and insect pests. Here, we describe a detailed and reproducible protocol for testing feeding behavior of the generalist herbivore Spodoptera littoralis on the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and hence infer the contribution of JA-mediated plant defense responses to a chewing insect.

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.

Schulze, A.; Zimmer, M.; Mielke, S.; Stellmach, H.; Melnyk, C. W.; Hause, B.; Gasperini, D. Wound-Induced Shoot-to-Root Relocation of JA-Ile Precursors Coordinates Arabidopsis Growth Mol Plant 12, 1383-1394, (2019) DOI: 10.1016/j.molp.2019.05.013

Multicellular organisms rely on the movement of signaling molecules across cells, tissues, and organs to communicate among distal sites. In plants, localized leaf damage activates jasmonic acid (JA)-dependent transcriptional reprogramming in both harmed and unharmed tissues. Although it has been indicated that JA species can translocate from damaged into distal sites, the identity of the mobile compound(s), the tissues through which they translocate, and the effect of their relocation remain unknown. Here, we found that following shoot wounding, the relocation of endogenous jasmonates through the phloem is essential to initiate JA signaling and stunt growth in unharmed roots of Arabidopsis thaliana. By employing grafting experiments and hormone profiling, we uncovered that the hormone precursor cis-12-oxo-phytodienoic acid (OPDA) and its derivatives, but not the bioactive JA-Ile conjugate, translocate from wounded shoots into undamaged roots. Upon root relocation, the mobile precursors cooperatively regulated JA responses through their conversion into JA-Ile and JA signaling activation. Collectively, our findings demonstrate the existence of long-distance translocation of endogenous OPDA and its derivatives, which serve as mobile molecules to coordinate shoot-to-root responses, and highlight the importance of a controlled redistribution of hormone precursors among organs during plant stress acclimation.

Gasperini, D.; Chauvin, A.; Acosta, I. F.; Kurenda, A.; Stolz, S.; Chételat, A.; Wolfender, J.-L.; Farmer, E. E. Axial and Radial Oxylipin Transport Plant Physiol 169, 2244-2254, (2015) DOI: 10.1104/pp.15.01104

Jasmonates are oxygenated lipids (oxylipins) that control defense gene expression in response to cell damage in plants. How mobile are these potent mediators within tissues? Exploiting a series of 13-lipoxygenase (13-lox) mutants in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) that displays impaired jasmonic acid (JA) synthesis in specific cell types and using JA-inducible reporters, we mapped the extent of the transport of endogenous jasmonates across the plant vegetative growth phase. In seedlings, we found that jasmonate (or JA precursors) could translocate axially from wounded shoots to unwounded roots in a LOX2-dependent manner. Grafting experiments with the wild type and JA-deficient mutants confirmed shoot-to-root oxylipin transport. Next, we used rosettes to investigate radial cell-to-cell transport of jasmonates. After finding that the LOX6 protein localized to xylem contact cells was not wound inducible, we used the lox234 triple mutant to genetically isolate LOX6 as the only JA precursor-producing LOX in the plant. When a leaf of this mutant was wounded, the JA reporter gene was expressed in distal leaves. Leaf sectioning showed that JA reporter expression extended from contact cells throughout the vascular bundle and into extravascular cells, revealing a radial movement of jasmonates. Our results add a crucial element to a growing picture of how the distal wound response is regulated in rosettes, showing that both axial (shoot-to-root) and radial (cell-to-cell) transport of oxylipins plays a major role in the wound response. The strategies developed herein provide unique tools with which to identify intercellular jasmonate transport routes.

Kowalski, A. M.; Gooding, M.; Ferrante, A.; Slafer, G. A.; Orford, S.; Gasperini, D.; Griffiths, S. Agronomic assessment of the wheat semi-dwarfing gene Rht8 in contrasting nitrogen treatments and water regimes Field Crops Res 191, 150-160, (2016) DOI: 10.1016/j.fcr.2016.02.026

Reduced height 8 (Rht8) is the main alternative to the GA-insensitive Rht alleles in hot and dry environments where it reduces plant height without yield penalty. The potential of Rht8 in northern-European wheat breeding remains unclear, since the close linkage with the photoperiod-insensitive allele Ppd-D1a is unfavourable in the relatively cool summers. In the present study, two near-isogenic lines (NILs) contrasting for the Rht8/tall allele from Mara in a UK-adapted and photoperiod-sensitive wheat variety were evaluated in trials with varying nitrogen fertiliser (N) treatments and water regimes across sites in the UK and Spain.The Rht8 introgression was associated with a robust height reduction of 11% regardless of N treatment and water regime and the Rht8 NIL was more resistant to root-lodging at agronomically-relevant N levels than the tall NIL. In the UK with reduced solar radiation over the growing season than the site in Spain, the Rht8 NIL showed a 10% yield penalty at standard agronomic N levels due to concomitant reduction in grain number and spike number whereas grain weight and harvest index were not significantly different to the tall NIL. The yield penalty associated with the Rht8 introgression was overcome at low N and in irrigated conditions in the UK, and in the high-temperature site in Spain. Decreased spike length and constant spikelet number in the Rht8 NIL resulted in spike compaction of 15%, independent of N and water regime. The genetic interval of Rht8 overlaps with the compactum gene on 2DS, raising the possibility of the same causative gene. Further genetic dissection of these loci is required.

Gasperini, D.; Acosta, I. F.; Farmer, E. E. Cotyledon Wounding of Arabidopsis Seedlings Bio Protoc 6, e1712, (2016) DOI: 10.21769/BioProtoc.1712

Damage to plant organs through both biotic and abiotic injury is very common in nature. Arabidopsis thaliana 5-day-old (5-do) seedlings represent an excellent system in which to study plant responses to mechanical wounding, both at the site of the damage and in distal unharmed tissues. Seedlings of wild type, transgenic or mutant lines subjected to single or repetitive cotyledon wounding can be used to quantify morphological alterations (e.g., root length, Gasperini et al., 2015), analyze the dynamics of reporter genes in vivo (Larrieu et al., 2015; Gasperini et al., 2015), follow transcriptional changes by quantitative RT-PCR (Acosta et al., 2013; Gasperini et al., 2015) or examine additional aspects of the wound response with a plethora of downstream procedures. Here we illustrate how to rapidly and reliably wound cotyledons of young seedlings, and show the behavior of two promoters driving the expression of β-glucuronidase (GUS) in entire seedlings and in the primary root meristem, following single or repetitive cotyledon wounding respectively. We describe two procedures that can be easily adapted to specific experimental needs.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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