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Publikation

Bellstaedt, J.; Trenner, J.; Lippmann, R.; Poeschl, Y.; Zhang, X.; Friml, J.; Quint, M.; Delker, C. A Mobile Auxin Signal Connects Temperature Sensing in Cotyledons with Growth Responses in Hypocotyls Plant Physiol 180, 757-766, (2019) DOI: 10.1104/pp.18.01377

Plants have a remarkable capacity to adjust their growth and development to elevated ambient temperatures. Increased elongation growth of roots, hypocotyls, and petioles in warm temperatures are hallmarks of seedling thermomorphogenesis. In the last decade, significant progress has been made to identify the molecular signaling components regulating these growth responses. Increased ambient temperature utilizes diverse components of the light sensing and signal transduction network to trigger growth adjustments. However, it remains unknown whether temperature sensing and responses are universal processes that occur uniformly in all plant organs. Alternatively, temperature sensing may be confined to specific tissues or organs, which would require a systemic signal that mediates responses in distal parts of the plant. Here, we show that Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) seedlings show organ-specific transcriptome responses to elevated temperatures and that thermomorphogenesis involves both autonomous and organ-interdependent temperature sensing and signaling. Seedling roots can sense and respond to temperature in a shoot-independent manner, whereas shoot temperature responses require both local and systemic processes. The induction of cell elongation in hypocotyls requires temperature sensing in cotyledons, followed by the generation of a mobile auxin signal. Subsequently, auxin travels to the hypocotyl, where it triggers local brassinosteroid-induced cell elongation in seedling stems, which depends upon a distinct, permissive temperature sensor in the hypocotyl.
Publikation

Ibañez, C.; Delker, C.; Martinez, C.; Bürstenbinder, K.; Janitza, P.; Lippmann, R.; Ludwig, W.; Sun, H.; James, G. V.; Klecker, M.; Grossjohann, A.; Schneeberger, K.; Prat, S.; Quint, M. Brassinosteroids Dominate Hormonal Regulation of Plant Thermomorphogenesis via BZR1 Curr Biol 28, 303-310.e3, (2018) DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.11.077

Thermomorphogenesis is defined as the suite of morphological changes that together are likely to contribute to adaptive growth acclimation to usually elevated ambient temperature [ 1, 2 ]. While many details of warmth-induced signal transduction are still elusive, parallels to light signaling recently became obvious (reviewed in [ 3 ]). It involves photoreceptors that can also sense changes in ambient temperature [ 3–5 ] and act, for example, by repressing protein activity of the central integrator of temperature information PHYTOCHROME-INTERACTING FACTOR 4 (PIF4 [ 6 ]). In addition, PIF4 transcript accumulation is tightly controlled by the evening complex member EARLY FLOWERING 3 [ 7, 8 ]. According to the current understanding, PIF4 activates growth-promoting genes directly but also via inducing auxin biosynthesis and signaling, resulting in cell elongation. Based on a mutagenesis screen in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana for mutants with defects in temperature-induced hypocotyl elongation, we show here that both PIF4 and auxin function depend on brassinosteroids. Genetic and pharmacological analyses place brassinosteroids downstream of PIF4 and auxin. We found that brassinosteroids act via the transcription factor BRASSINAZOLE RESISTANT 1 (BZR1), which accumulates in the nucleus at high temperature, where it induces expression of growth-promoting genes. Furthermore, we show that at elevated temperature BZR1 binds to the promoter of PIF4, inducing its expression. These findings suggest that BZR1 functions in an amplifying feedforward loop involved in PIF4 activation. Although numerous negative regulators of PIF4 have been described, we identify BZR1 here as a true temperature-dependent positive regulator of PIF4, acting as a major growth coordinator.
Publikation

Ibañez, C.; Poeschl, Y.; Peterson, T.; Bellstädt, J.; Denk, K.; Gogol-Döring, A.; Quint, M.; Delker, C. Ambient temperature and genotype differentially affect developmental and phenotypic plasticity in Arabidopsis thaliana BMC Plant Biol 17, 114, (2017) DOI: 10.1186/s12870-017-1068-5

BackgroundGlobal increase in ambient temperatures constitute a significant challenge to wild and cultivated plant species. Forward genetic analyses of individual temperature-responsive traits have resulted in the identification of several signaling and response components. However, a comprehensive knowledge about temperature sensitivity of different developmental stages and the contribution of natural variation is still scarce and fragmented at best.ResultsHere, we systematically analyze thermomorphogenesis throughout a complete life cycle in ten natural Arabidopsis thaliana accessions grown under long day conditions in four different temperatures ranging from 16 to 28 °C. We used Q10, GxE, phenotypic divergence and correlation analyses to assess temperature sensitivity and genotype effects of more than 30 morphometric and developmental traits representing five phenotype classes. We found that genotype and temperature differentially affected plant growth and development with variing strengths. Furthermore, overall correlations among phenotypic temperature responses was relatively low which seems to be caused by differential capacities for temperature adaptations of individual accessions.ConclusionGenotype-specific temperature responses may be attractive targets for future forward genetic approaches and accession-specific thermomorphogenesis maps may aid the assessment of functional relevance of known and novel regulatory components.
Publikation

Trenner, J.; Poeschl, Y.; Grau, J.; Gogol-Döring, A.; Quint, M.; Delker, C. Auxin-induced expression divergence between Arabidopsis species may originate within the TIR1/AFB–AUX/IAA–ARF module J Exp Bot 68, 539-552, (2017) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erw457

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 intraspecies 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 interspecies 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.
Preprints

Ibañez, C.; Poeschl, Y.; Peterson, T.; Bellstädt, J.; Denk, K.; Gogol-Döring, A.; Quint, M.; Delker, C. Ambient temperature and genotype differentially affect developmental and phenotypic plasticity in Arabidopsis thaliana bioRxiv (2017) DOI: 10.1101/017285

Background: Global increase in ambient temperatures constitute a significant challenge to wild and cultivated plant species. Forward genetic analyses of individual temperature-responsive traits have resulted in the identification of several signaling and response components. However, a comprehensive knowledge about temperature sensitivity of different developmental stages and the contribution of natural variation is still scarce and fragmented at best. Results: Here, we systematically analyze thermomorphogenesis throughout a complete life cycle in ten natural Arabidopsis thaliana accessions grown in four different temperatures ranging from 16 to 28 °C. We used Q 10 , GxE, phenotypic divergence and correlation analyses to assess temperature sensitivity and genotype effects of more than 30 morphometric and developmental traits representing five phenotype classes. We found that genotype and temperature differentially affected plant growth and development with variing strengths. Furthermore, overall correlations among phenotypic temperature responses was relatively low which seems to be caused by differential capacities for temperature adaptations of individual accessions. Conclusion: Genotype-specific temperature responses may be attractive targets for future forward genetic approaches and accession-specific thermomorphogenesis maps may aid the assessment of functional relevance of known and novel regulatory components.
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.
Preprints

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

Raschke, A.; Ibañez, C.; Ullrich, K. K.; Anwer, M. U.; Becker, S.; Glöckner, A.; Trenner, J.; Denk, K.; Saal, B.; Sun, X.; Ni, M.; Davis, S. J.; Delker, C.; Quint, M. Natural variants of ELF3 affect thermomorphogenesis by transcriptionally modulating PIF4-dependent auxin response genes BMC Plant Biol. 15, 197, (2015) DOI: 10.1186/s12870-015-0566-6

BackgroundPerception and transduction of temperature changes result in altered growth enabling plants to adapt to increased ambient temperature. While PHYTOCHROME-INTERACTING FACTOR4 (PIF4) has been identified as a major ambient temperature signaling hub, its upstream regulation seems complex and is poorly understood. Here, we exploited natural variation for thermo-responsive growth in Arabidopsis thaliana using quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis.ResultsWe identified GIRAFFE2.1, a major QTL explaining ~18 % of the phenotypic variation for temperature-induced hypocotyl elongation in the Bay-0 x Sha recombinant inbred line population. Transgenic complementation demonstrated that allelic variation in the circadian clock regulator EARLY FLOWERING3 (ELF3) is underlying this QTL. The source of variation could be allocated to a single nucleotide polymorphism in the ELF3 coding region, resulting in differential expression of PIF4 and its target genes, likely causing the observed natural variation in thermo-responsive growth.ConclusionsIn combination with other recent studies, this work establishes the role of ELF3 in the ambient temperature signaling network. Natural variation of ELF3-mediated gating of PIF4 expression during nightly growing periods seems to be affected by a coding sequence quantitative trait nucleotide that confers a selective advantage in certain environments. In addition, natural ELF3 alleles seem to differentially integrate temperature and photoperiod information to induce architectural changes. Thus, ELF3 emerges as an essential coordinator of growth and development in response to diverse environmental cues and implicates ELF3 as an important target of adaptation. 
Preprints

Raschke, A.; Ibañez, C.; Ullrich, K. K.; Anwer, M. U.; Becker, S.; Glöckner, A.; Trenner, J.; Denk, K.; Saal, B.; Sun, X.; Ni, M.; Davis, S. J.; Delker, C.; Quint, M. Natural Variants of ELF3 Affect Thermomorphogenesis by Transcriptionally Modulating PIF4-Dependent Auxin Response Genes bioRxiv (2015) DOI: 10.1101/015305

Perception and transduction of temperature changes result in altered growth enabling plants to adapt to increased ambient temperature. While PHYTOCHROME-INTERACTING FACTOR4 (PIF4) has been identified as a major ambient temperature signaling hub, its upstream regulation seems complex and is poorly understood. Here, we exploited natural variation for thermo-responsive growth in Arabidopsis thaliana using quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis. We identified GIRAFFE2.1, a major QTL explaining ~18% of the phenotypic variation for temperature-induced hypocotyl elongation in the Bay-0 x Sha recombinant inbred line population. Transgenic complementation demonstrated that allelic variation in the circadian clock regulator EARLY FLOWERING3 (ELF3) is underlying this QTL. The source of variation could be allocated to a single nucleotide polymorphism in the ELF3 coding region, resulting in differential expression of PIF4 and its target genes, likely causing the observed natural variation in thermo-responsive growth. In combination with other recent studies, this work establishes the role of ELF3 in the ambient temperature signaling network. Natural variation of ELF3-mediated gating of PIF4 expression during nightly growing periods seems to be affected by a coding sequence quantitative trait nucleotide that confers a selective advantage in certain environments. In addition, natural ELF3 alleles seem to differentially integrate temperature and photoperiod cues to induce architectural changes. Thus, ELF3 emerges as an essential coordinator of growth and development in response to diverse environmental cues and implicates ELF3 as an important target of adaptation.
Publikation

Delker, C.; Sonntag, L.; Geo, V. J.; Janitza, P.; Ibañez, C.; Ziermann, H.; Peterson, T.; Denk, K.; Mull, S.; Ziegler, J.; Davis, S. J.; Schneeberger, K.; Quint, M. The DET1-COP1-HY5 Pathway Constitutes a Multipurpose Signaling Module Regulating Plant Photomorphogenesis and Thermomorphogenesis Cell Rep 9, 1983–1989, (2014) DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.11.043

Developmental plasticity enables plants to respond to elevated ambient temperatures by adapting their shoot architecture. On the cellular level, the basic-helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR 4 (PIF4) coordinates this response by activating hormonal modules that in turn regulate growth. In addition to an unknown temperature-sensing mechanism, it is currently not understood how temperature regulates PIF4 activity. Using a forward genetic approach in Arabidopsis thaliana, we present extensive genetic evidence demonstrating that the DE-ETIOLATED 1 (DET1)-CONSTITUTIVE PHOTOMORPHOGENIC 1 (COP1)-ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL 5 (HY5)-dependent photomorphogenesis pathway transcriptionally regulates PIF4 to coordinate seedling growth in response to elevated temperature. Our findings demonstrate that two of the most prevalent environmental cues, light and temperature, share a much larger set of signaling components than previously assumed. Similar to the toolbox concept in animal embryonic patterning, multipurpose signaling modules might have evolved in plants to translate various environmental stimuli into adaptational growth processes
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