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Drost, H.-J.; Gabel, A.; Domazet-Lošo, T.; Quint, M.; Grosse, I. Capturing Evolutionary Signatures in Transcriptomes with myTAI BioRxiv (2016) DOI: 10.1101/051565

Combining transcriptome data of biological processes or response to stimuli with evolutionary information such as the phylogenetic conservation of genes or their sequence divergence rates enables the investigation of evolutionary constraints on these processes or responses. Such phylotranscriptomic analyses recently unraveled that mid-developmental transcriptomes of fly, fish, and cress were dominated by evolutionarily conserved genes and genes under negative selection and thus recapitulated the developmental hourglass on the transcriptomic level. Here, we present a protocol for performing phylotranscriptomic analyses on any biological process of interest. When applying this protocol, users are capable of detecting different evolutionary constraints acting on different stages of the biological process of interest in any species. For each step of the protocol, modular and easy-to-use open-source software tools are provided, which enable a broad range of scientists to apply phylotranscriptomic analyses to a wide spectrum of biological questions.
Publikation

Trenner, J.; Poeschl, Y.; Grau, J.; Gogol-Döring, A.; Quint, M.; Delker, C. Auxin-induced expression divergence between Arabidopsis species likely originates within the TIR1/AFB-AUX/IAA-ARF module BioRxiv (2016) DOI: 10.1101/038422

Auxin is an essential regulator of plant growth and development and auxin signaling components are conserved among land plants. Yet, a remarkable degree of natural variation in physiological and transcriptional auxin responses has been described among Arabidopsis thaliana accessions. As intra-species comparisons offer only limited genetic variation, we here inspect the variation of auxin responses between A. thaliana and A. lyrata. This approach allowed the identification of conserved auxin response genes including novel genes with potential relevance for auxin biology. Furthermore, promoter divergences were analyzed for putative sources of variation. De novo motif discovery identified novel and variants of known elements with potential relevance for auxin responses, emphasizing the complex, and yet elusive, code of element combinations accounting for the diversity in transcriptional auxin responses. Furthermore, network analysis revealed correlations of inter-species differences in the expression of AUX/IAA gene clusters and classic auxin-related genes. We conclude that variation in general transcriptional and physiological auxin responses may originate substantially from functional or transcriptional variations in the TIR1/AFB, AUX/IAA, and ARF signaling network. In that respect, AUX/IAA gene expression divergence potentially reflects differences in the manner in which different species transduce identical auxin signals into gene expression responses.
Publikation

López-Carrasco, A.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Mileti, G.; Minoia, S.; Flores, R.; Delgado, S. The transcription initiation sites of eggplant latent viroid strands map within distinct motifs in their in vivo RNA conformations RNA Biology 13, 83-97, (2016) DOI: 10.1080/15476286.2015.1119365

Eggplant latent viroid (ELVd), like other members of family Avsunviroidae, replicates in plastids through a symmetric rolling-circle mechanism in which elongation of RNA strands is most likely catalyzed by a nuclear-encoded polymerase (NEP) translocated to plastids. Here we have addressed where NEP initiates transcription of viroid strands. Because this step is presumably directed by sequence/structural motifs, we have previously determined the conformation of the monomeric linear (+) and (−) RNAs of ELVd resulting from hammerhead-mediated self-cleavage. In silico predictions with 3 softwares led to similar bifurcated conformations for both ELVd strands. In vitro examination by non-denaturing PAGE showed that they migrate as prominent single bands, with the ELVd (+) RNA displaying a more compact conformation as revealed by its faster electrophoretic mobility. In vitro SHAPE analysis corroborated the ELVd conformations derived from thermodynamics-based predictions in silico. Moreover, sequence analysis of 94 full-length natural ELVd variants disclosed co-variations, and mutations converting canonical into wobble pairs or vice versa, which confirmed in vivo most of the stems predicted in silico and in vitro, and additionally helped to introduce minor structural refinements. Therefore, results from the 3 experimental approaches were essentially consistent among themselves. Application to RNA preparations from ELVd-infected tissue of RNA ligase-mediated rapid amplification of cDNA ends, combined with pretreatments to modify the 5′ ends of viroid strands, mapped the transcription initiation sites of ELVd (+) and (−) strands in vivo at different sequence/structural motifs, in contrast with the situation previously observed in 2 other members of the family Avsunviroidae.
Publikation

Strehmel, N.; Mönchgesang,S.; Herklotz, S.; Krüger, S.; Ziegler, J.; Scheel, D. Piriformospora indica Stimulates Root Metabolism of Arabidopsis thaliana. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 17, 1091, (2016) DOI: 10.3390/ijms17071091

Piriformospora indica is a root-colonizing fungus, which interacts with a variety of plants including Arabidopsis thaliana. This interaction has been considered as mutualistic leading to growth promotion of the host. So far, only indolic glucosinolates and phytohormones have been identified as key players. In a comprehensive non-targeted metabolite profiling study, we analyzed Arabidopsis thaliana’s roots, root exudates, and leaves of inoculated and non-inoculated plants by ultra performance liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization quadrupole-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC/(ESI)-QTOFMS) and gas chromatography/electron ionization quadrupole mass spectrometry (GC/EI-QMS), and identified further biomarkers. Among them, the concentration of nucleosides, dipeptides, oligolignols, and glucosinolate degradation products was affected in the exudates. In the root profiles, nearly all metabolite levels increased upon co-cultivation, like carbohydrates, organic acids, amino acids, glucosinolates, oligolignols, and flavonoids. In the leaf profiles, we detected by far less significant changes. We only observed an increased concentration of organic acids, carbohydrates, ascorbate, glucosinolates and hydroxycinnamic acids, and a decreased concentration of nitrogen-rich amino acids in inoculated plants. These findings contribute to the understanding of symbiotic interactions between plant roots and fungi of the order of Sebacinales and are a valid source for follow-up mechanistic studies, because these symbioses are particular and clearly different from interactions of roots with mycorrhizal fungi or dark septate endophytes 
Publikation

Quint, M.; Delker, C.; Franklin, K. A.; Wigge, P. A.; Halliday, K. J.; van Zanten, M. Molecular and genetic control of plant thermomorphogenesis. Nat Plants 2, 15190, (2016) DOI: 10.1038/nplants.2015.190

Temperature is a major factor governing the distribution and seasonal behaviour of plants. Being sessile, plants are highly responsive to small differences in temperature and adjust their growth and development accordingly. The suite of morphological and architectural changes induced by high ambient temperatures, below the heat-stress range, is collectively called thermomorphogenesis. Understanding the molecular genetic circuitries underlying thermomorphogenesis is particularly relevant in the context of climate change, as this knowledge will be key to rational breeding for thermo-tolerant crop varieties. Until recently, the fundamental mechanisms of temperature perception and signalling remained unknown. Our understanding of temperature signalling is now progressing, mainly by exploiting the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The transcription factor PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR 4 (PIF4) has emerged as a critical player in regulating phytohormone levels and their activity. To control thermomorphogenesis, multiple regulatory circuits are in place to modulate PIF4 levels, activity and downstream mechanisms. Thermomorphogenesis is integrally governed by various light signalling pathways, the circadian clock, epigenetic mechanisms and chromatin-level regulation. In this Review, we summarize recent progress in the field and discuss how the emerging knowledge in Arabidopsis may be transferred to relevant crop systems.The year 2015 is on track to surpass 2014 as the warmest year ever recorded since systematic temperature measurements began more than a century ago1. In fact, the 10 warmest years on record all occurred after 1998. The fifth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change2 projects an increase of 0.8–4.8 °C in global mean surface temperature within the twenty-first century. Such figures are alarming as it is expected that this will strongly affect plant distribution and survival, and therefore threaten biodiversity3,​4,​5,​6,​7,​8,​9,​10,​11. Some studies already indicate that plant species unable to adjust flowering time in response to temperature are disappearing from certain environments5, and species tend to shift to higher altitudes and latitudes12.Likewise, crop productivity will probably suffer greatly from global warming, while food production is required to increase significantly to sustain a growing and more demanding world population9,13,​14,​15. A meta-analysis summarizing more than 1,700 studies on the effects of climate change and adaptations on crop yields revealed consensus that in the second half of this century, climate warming is likely to have a negative effect on yields of important staple crops13.Breeding for crop-level adaptations to cope with high temperatures could potentially reverse this negative trend9,13,​14,​15. In several plant species, mechanisms have evolved to adapt growth and morphology to stimulate mitigation of warmth through enhanced evaporative cooling, increased convection and direct avoidance of heat flux from the Sun16,​17,​18,​19,​20. If understood, the underlying molecular processes of these so-called thermomorphogenesis responses could be attractive breeding targets for improving crops to withstand climate warming.Although abundant literature is available on how plants tolerate extreme heat stress (reviewed in refs 9,21), we are only beginning to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying thermomorphogenesis in response to moderately increased temperatures. A key breakthrough was the identification of the bHLH (basic helix–loop–helix) transcription factor PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR 4 (PIF4) as a central regulator of ambient temperature signalling in Arabidopsis22. Recent findings have implicated important roles for light signalling pathways, the circadian clock23,​24,​25,​26,​27,​28, auxin22,29,​30,​31 and other phytohormones31,​32,​33,​34 in PIF4-mediated temperature-induced growth. Furthermore, epigenetic mechanisms appear at the nexus of induction35 and attenuation36 of growth acclimation in response to high ambient temperatures.Here we discuss and integrate recent findings on the molecular networks driving thermomorphogenic adaptations. We will highlight missing links and suggest how the knowledge on Arabidopsis could be transferred to crops. In addition to thermomorphogenesis, adaptation to high ambient temperature also involves physiological processes such as photosynthetic acclimation, respiration and changes in carbon balance. For discussions of these topics as well as on phenological changes including premature flowering, we refer the reader to reviews elsewhere20,37,​38,​39.
Publikation

Hoehenwarter, W.; Mönchgesang, S.; Neumann, S.; Majovsky, P.; Abel, S.; Müller, J. Comparative expression profiling reveals a role of the root apoplast in local phosphate response BMC Plant Biol. 16 , 106, (2016) DOI: 10.1186/s12870-016-0790-8

Plant adaptation to limited phosphate availability comprises a wide range of responses to conserve and remobilize internal phosphate sources and to enhance phosphate acquisition. Vigorous restructuring of root system architecture provides a developmental strategy for topsoil exploration and phosphate scavenging. Changes in external phosphate availability are locally sensed at root tips and adjust root growth by modulating cell expansion and cell division. The functionally interacting Arabidopsis genes, LOW PHOSPHATE RESPONSE 1 and 2 (LPR1/LPR2) and PHOSPHATE DEFICIENCY RESPONSE 2 (PDR2), are key components of root phosphate sensing. We recently demonstrated that the LOW PHOSPHATE RESPONSE 1 - PHOSPHATE DEFICIENCY RESPONSE 2 (LPR1-PDR2) module mediates apoplastic deposition of ferric iron (Fe3+) in the growing root tip during phosphate limitation. Iron deposition coincides with sites of reactive oxygen species generation and triggers cell wall thickening and callose accumulation, which interfere with cell-to-cell communication and inhibit root growth.
Publikation

Wasternack, C.; Strnad, M. Jasmonate signaling in plant stress responses and development – active and inactive compounds New Biotechnology 33 B, 604-613, (2016) DOI: 10.1016/j.nbt.2015.11.001

Jasmonates (JAs) are lipid-derived signals mediating plant responses to biotic and abiotic stresses and in plant development. Following the elucidation of each step in their biosynthesis and the important components of perception and signaling, several activators, repressors and co-repressors have been identified which contribute to fine-tuning the regulation of JA-induced gene expression. Many of the metabolic reactions in which JA participates, such as conjugation with amino acids, glucosylation, hydroxylation, carboxylation, sulfation and methylation, lead to numerous compounds with different biological activities. These metabolites may be highly active, partially active in specific processes or inactive. Hydroxylation, carboxylation and sulfation inactivate JA signaling. The precursor of JA biosynthesis, 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid (OPDA), has been identified as a JA-independent signaling compound. An increasing number of OPDA-specific processes is being identified. To conclude, the numerous JA compounds and their different modes of action allow plants to respond specifically and flexibly to alterations in the environment.
Publikation

Floková, K.; Feussner, K.; Herrfurth, C.; Miersch, O.; Mik, V.; Tarkowská, D.; Strnad, M.; Feussner, I.; Wasternack, C.; Novák, O. A previously undescribed jasmonate compound in flowering Arabidopsis thaliana – The identification of cis-(+)-OPDA-Ile. Phytochemistry 122, 230-237, (2016) DOI: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2015.11.012

Jasmonates (JAs) are plant hormones that integrate external stress stimuli with physiological responses. (+)-7-iso-JA-L-Ile is the natural JA ligand of COI1, a component of a known JA receptor. The upstream JA biosynthetic precursor cis-(+)-12-oxo-phytodienoic acid (cis-(+)-OPDA) has been reported to act independently of COI1 as an essential signal in several stress-induced and developmental processes. Wound-induced increases in the endogenous levels of JA/JA-Ile are accompanied by two to tenfold increases in the concentration of OPDA, but its means of perception and metabolism are unknown. To screen for putative OPDA metabolites, vegetative tissues of flowering Arabidopsis thaliana were extracted with 25% aqueous methanol (v/v), purified by single-step reversed-phase polymer-based solid-phase extraction, and analyzed by high throughput mass spectrometry. This enabled the detection and quantitation of a low abundant OPDA analog of the biologically active (+)-7-iso-JA-L-Ile in plant tissue samples. Levels of the newly identified compound and the related phytohormones JA, JA-Ile and cis-(+)-OPDA were monitored in wounded leaves of flowering Arabidopsis lines (Col-0 and Ws) and compared to the levels observed in Arabidopsis mutants deficient in the biosynthesis of JA (dde2-2, opr3) and JA-Ile (jar1). The observed cis-(+)-OPDA-Ile levels varied widely, raising questions concerning its role in Arabidopsis stress responses.
Bücher und Buchkapitel

Hellmuth, A.; Calderón Villalobos, L. I. A. Radioligand Binding Assays for Determining Dissociation Constants of Phytohormone Receptors (Lois, L. M.; Matthiesen, R. ). Meth. Mol. Biol 1450, 23-34, (2016) ISBN: 978-1-4939-3757-8 DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4939-3759-2_3

In receptor–ligand interactions, dissociation constants provide a key parameter for characterizing binding. Here, we describe filter-based radioligand binding assays at equilibrium, either varying ligand concentrations up to receptor saturation or outcompeting ligand from its receptor with increasing concentrations of ligand analogue. Using the auxin coreceptor system, we illustrate how to use a saturation binding assay to determine the apparent dissociation constant (K D ′ ) for the formation of a ternary TIR1–auxin–AUX/IAA complex. Also, we show how to determine the inhibitory constant (K i) for auxin binding by the coreceptor complex via a competition binding assay. These assays can be applied broadly to characterize a one-site binding reaction of a hormone to its receptor.
Publikation

Dinesh, D. C.; Calderón Villalobos, L. I. A.; Abel, S. Structural Biology of Nuclear Auxin Action Trends Plant Sci. 21, 302-316, (2016) DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2015.10.019

Auxin coordinates plant development largely via hierarchical control of gene expression. During the past decades, the study of early auxin genes paired with the power of Arabidopsis genetics have unraveled key nuclear components and molecular interactions that perceive the hormone and activate primary response genes. Recent research in the realm of structural biology allowed unprecedented insight into: (i) the recognition of auxin-responsive DNA elements by auxin transcription factors; (ii) the inactivation of those auxin response factors by early auxin-inducible repressors; and (iii) the activation of target genes by auxin-triggered repressor degradation. The biophysical studies reviewed here provide an impetus for elucidating the molecular determinants of the intricate interactions between core components of the nuclear auxin response module.
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