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Hause, B.; Yadav, H. Creation of composite plants – transformation of Medicago truncatula roots (de Bruijn, F., ed.). 1179-1184, (2020) ISBN: 9781119409144 DOI: 10.1002/9781119409144.ch152

Medicago truncatula, owing to its small diploid genome (∼500 Mbp), short life cycle, and high natural diversity makes it a good model plant and has opened the door of opportunities for scientists interested in studying legume biology. But over the years, challenges are also being faced for genetic manipulation of this plant. Many genetic manipulation protocols have been published involving Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a pathogen causing tumor disease in plants. These protocols apart from being difficult to achieve, are also time consuming. Nowadays, an easy, less time consuming and highly reproducible Agrobacterium rhizogenes based method is in use by many research groups. This method generates composite plants having transformed roots on a wild‐type shoot. Here, stable transformed lines that can be propagated over time are not achieved by this method, but for root‐development or root–microbe interaction studies this method has proven to be a useful tool for the community. In addition, transformed roots can be propagated by root organ cultures (ROCs), wherein transformed roots are propagated on sucrose containing media without any shoot part. Occasionally, even stable transgenic plants can be regenerated from transgenic roots. In this chapter, developments and improvements of various transformation protocols are discussed. The suitability of composite plants is highlighted by a study on mycorrhization of transformed and non‐transformed roots, which did not show differences in the mycorrhization rate and developmental stages of the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungus inside the roots as well as in transcript accumulation and metabolite levels of roots. Finally, applications of the A. rhizogenes based transformation method are discussed.

El Amerany, F.; Meddich, A.; Wahbi, S.; Porzel, A.; Taourirte, M.; Rhazi, M.; Hause, B. Foliar Application of Chitosan Increases Tomato Growth and Influences Mycorrhization and Expression of Endochitinase-Encoding Genes Int J Mol Sci 21, 535, (2020) DOI: 10.3390/ijms21020535

Nowadays, applying bio-organic fertilizer (e.g., chitosan, Ch) or integrating beneficial microorganisms (e.g., arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, AMF) are among the successful strategies to promote plant growth. Here, the effect of two application modes of Ch (foliar spray or root treatment) and Ch-derived nanoparticles (NPs) on tomato plants colonized with the AMF Rhizophagus irregularis were analyzed, thereby focusing on plant biomass, flowering and mycorrhization. An increase of shoot biomass and flower number was observed in arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) plants sprayed with Ch. The interaction with AMF, however, was reduced as shown by decreased mycorrhization rates and AM-specific gene expression. To get insights into Ch effect on mycorrhization, levels of sugars, jasmonates, abscisic acid, and the expression of two chitinase-encoding genes were determined in mycorrhizal roots. Ch had no effect on sugar and phytohormone levels, but the reduced mycorrhization was correlated with down- and upregulated expression of Chi3 and Chi9, respectively. In contrast, application of NPs to leaves and Ch applied to the soil did not show any effect, neither on mycorrhization rate nor on growth of mycorrhizal plants. Concluding, Ch application to leaves enhanced plant growth and flowering and reduced interaction with AMF, whereas root treatment did not affect these parameters.

Yadav, H.; Dreher, D.; Athmer, B.; Porzel, A.; Gavrin, A.; Baldermann, S.; Tissier, A.; Hause, B. Medicago TERPENE SYNTHASE 10 Is Involved in Defense Against an Oomycete Root Pathogen Plant Physiol 180, 1598-1613, (2019) DOI: 10.1104/pp.19.00278

In nature, plants interact with numerous beneficial or pathogenic soil-borne microorganisms. Plants have developed various defense strategies to expel pathogenic microbes, some of which function soon after pathogen infection. We used Medicago truncatula and its oomycete pathogen Aphanomyces euteiches to elucidate early responses of the infected root. A. euteiches causes root rot disease in legumes and is a limiting factor in legume production. Transcript profiling of seedlings and adult plant roots inoculated with A. euteiches zoospores for 2 h revealed specific upregulation of a gene encoding a putative sesquiterpene synthase (M. truncatula TERPENE SYNTHASE 10 [MtTPS10]) in both developmental stages. MtTPS10 was specifically expressed in roots upon oomycete infection. Heterologous expression of MtTPS10 in yeast led to production of a blend of sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpene alcohols, with NMR identifying a major peak corresponding to himalachol. Moreover, plants carrying a tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) retrotransposon Tnt1 insertion in MtTPS10 lacked the emission of sesquiterpenes upon A. euteiches infection, supporting the assumption that the identified gene encodes a multiproduct sesquiterpene synthase. Mttps10 plants and plants with reduced MtTPS10 transcript levels created by expression of an MtTPS10-artificial microRNA in roots were more susceptible to A. euteiches infection than were the corresponding wild-type plants and roots transformed with the empty vector, respectively. Sesquiterpenes produced by expression of MtTPS10 in yeast also inhibited mycelial growth and A. euteiches zoospore germination. These data suggest that sesquiterpene production in roots by MtTPS10 plays a previously unrecognized role in the defense response of M. truncatula against A. euteiches.

Ronzan, M.; Piacentini, D.; Fattorini, L.; Federica, D. R.; Caboni, E.; Eiche, E.; Ziegler, J.; Hause, B.; Riemann, M.; Betti, C.; Altamura, M. M.; Falasca, G. Auxin-jasmonate crosstalk in Oryza sativa L. root system formation after cadmium and/or arsenic exposure Environ Exp Bot 165, 59-69, (2019) DOI: 10.1016/j.envexpbot.2019.05.013

Soil pollutants may affect root growth through interactions among phytohormones like auxin and jasmonates. Rice is frequently grown in paddy fields contaminated by cadmium and arsenic, but the effects of these pollutants on jasmonates/auxin crosstalk during adventitious and lateral roots formation are widely unknown. Therefore, seedlings of Oryza sativa cv. Nihonmasari and of the jasmonate-biosynthetic mutant coleoptile photomorphogenesis2 were exposed to cadmium and/or arsenic, and/or jasmonic acid methyl ester, and then analysed through morphological, histochemical, biochemical and molecular approaches.In both genotypes, arsenic and cadmium accumulated in roots more than shoots. In the roots, arsenic levels were more than twice higher than cadmium levels, either when arsenic was applied alone, or combined with cadmium. Pollutants reduced lateral root density in the wild -type in every treatment condition, but jasmonic acid methyl ester increased it when combined with each pollutant. Interestingly, exposure to cadmium and/or arsenic did not change lateral root density in the mutant. The transcript levels of OsASA2 and OsYUCCA2, auxin biosynthetic genes, increased in the wild-type and mutant roots when pollutants and jasmonic acid methyl ester were applied alone. Auxin (indole-3-acetic acid) levels transiently increased in the roots with cadmium and/or arsenic in the wild-type more than in the mutant. Arsenic and cadmium, when applied alone, induced fluctuations in bioactive jasmonate contents in wild-type roots, but not in the mutant. Auxin distribution was evaluated in roots of OsDR5::GUS seedlings exposed or not to jasmonic acid methyl ester added or not with cadmium and/or arsenic. The DR5::GUS signal in lateral roots was reduced by arsenic, cadmium, and jasmonic acid methyl ester. Lipid peroxidation, evaluated as malondialdehyde levels, was higher in the mutant than in the wild-type, and increased particularly in As presence, in both genotypes.Altogether, the results show that an auxin/jasmonate interaction affects rice root system development in the presence of cadmium and/or arsenic, even if exogenous jasmonic acid methyl ester only slightly mitigates pollutants toxicity.

Schubert, R.; Grunewald, S.; von Sivers, L.; Hause, B. Effects of Jasmonate on Ethylene Function during the Development of Tomato Stamens Plants 8, 277, (2019) DOI: 10.3390/plants8080277

The phenotype of the tomato mutant jasmonate-insensitive1-1 (jai1-1) mutated in the JA-Ile co-receptor COI1 demonstrates JA function in flower development, since it is female-sterile. In addition, jai1-1 exhibits a premature anther dehydration and pollen release, being in contrast to a delayed anther dehiscence in the JA-insensitive Arabidopsis mutant coi1-1. The double mutant jai1-1 Never ripe (jai1-1 Nr), which is in addition insensitive to ethylene (ET), showed a rescue of the jai1-1 phenotype regarding pollen release. This suggests that JA inhibits a premature rise in ET to prevent premature stamen desiccation. To elucidate the interplay of JA and ET in more detail, stamen development in jai1-1 Nr was compared to wild type, jai1-1 and Nr regarding water content, pollen vitality, hormone levels, and accumulation of phenylpropanoids and transcripts encoding known JA- and ET-regulated genes. For the latter, RT-qPCR based on nanofluidic arrays was employed. The data showed that additional prominent phenotypic features of jai1-1, such as diminished water content and pollen vitality, and accumulation of phenylpropanoids were at least partially rescued by the ET-insensitivity. Hormone levels and accumulation of transcripts were not affected. The data revealed that strictly JA-regulated processes cannot be rescued by ET-insensitivity, thereby emphasizing a rather minor role of ET in JA-regulated stamen development.

Mittelberger, C.; Stellmach, H.; Hause, B.; Kerschbamer, C.; Schlink, K.; Letschka, T.; Janik, K. A Novel Effector Protein of Apple Proliferation Phytoplasma Disrupts Cell Integrity of Nicotiana spp. Protoplasts Int J Mol Sci 20, 4613, (2019) DOI: 10.3390/ijms20184613

Effector proteins play an important role in the virulence of plant pathogens such as phytoplasma, which are the causative agents of hundreds of different plant diseases. The plant hosts comprise economically relevant crops such as apples (Malus × domestica), which can be infected by ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma mali’ (P. mali), a highly genetically dynamic plant pathogen. As the result of the genetic and functional analyses in this study, a new putative P. mali effector protein was revealed. The so-called “Protein in Malus Expressed 2” (PME2), which is expressed in apples during P. mali infection but not in the insect vector, shows regional genetic differences. In a heterologous expression assay using Nicotiana benthamiana and Nicotiana occidentalis mesophyll protoplasts, translocation of both PME2 variants in the cell nucleus was observed. Overexpression of the effector protein affected cell integrity in Nicotiana spp. protoplasts, indicating a potential role of this protein in pathogenic virulence. Interestingly, the two genetic variants of PME2 differ regarding their potential to manipulate cell integrity. However, the exact function of PME2 during disease manifestation and symptom development remains to be further elucidated. Aside from the first description of the function of a novel effector of P. mali, the results of this study underline the necessity for a more comprehensive description and understanding of the genetic diversity of P. mali as an indispensable basis for a functional understanding of apple proliferation disease.

Dreher, D.; Baldermann, S.; Schreiner, M.; Hause, B. An arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus and a root pathogen induce different volatiles emitted by Medicago truncatula roots J Adv Res 19, 85-90, (2019) DOI: 10.1016/j.jare.2019.03.002

Plants are in permanent contact with various microorganisms and are always impacted by them. To better understand the first steps of a plant’s recognition of soil-borne microorganisms, the early release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from roots of Medicago truncatula in response to the symbiont Rhizophagus irregularis or the pathogenic oomycete Aphanomyces euteiches was analysed. More than 90 compounds were released from roots as detected by an untargeted gas chromatography-mass spectrometry approach. Principal component analyses clearly distinguished untreated roots from roots treated with either R. irregularis or A. euteiches. Several VOCs were found to be emitted specifically in response to each of the microorganisms. Limonene was specifically emitted from wild-type roots after contact with R. irregularis spores but not from roots of the mycorrhiza-deficient mutant does not make infections3. The application of limonene to mycorrhizal roots, however, did not affect the mycorrhization rate. Inoculation of roots with A. euteiches zoospores resulted in the specific emission of several sesquiterpenes, such as nerolidol, viridiflorol and nerolidol-epoxyacetate but application of nerolidol to zoospores of A. euteiches did not affect their vitality. Therefore, plants discriminate between different microorganisms at early stages of their interaction and respond differently to the level of root-emitted volatiles.

Schubert, R.; Dobritzsch, S.; Gruber, C.; Hause, G.; Athmer, B.; Schreiber, T.; Marillonnet, S.; Okabe, Y.; Ezura, H.; Acosta, I. F.; Tarkowska, D.; Hause, B. Tomato MYB21 Acts in Ovules to Mediate Jasmonate-Regulated Fertility Plant Cell 31, 1043-1062, (2019) DOI: 10.1105/tpc.18.00978

The function of the plant hormone jasmonic acid (JA) in the development of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) flowers was analyzed with a mutant defective in JA perception (jasmonate-insensitive1-1, jai1-1). In contrast with Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) JA-insensitive plants, which are male sterile, the tomato jai1-1 mutant is female sterile, with major defects in female development. To identify putative JA-dependent regulatory components, we performed transcriptomics on ovules from flowers at three developmental stages from wild type and jai1-1 mutants. One of the strongly downregulated genes in jai1-1 encodes the MYB transcription factor SlMYB21. Its Arabidopsis ortholog plays a crucial role in JA-regulated stamen development. SlMYB21 was shown here to exhibit transcription factor activity in yeast, to interact with SlJAZ9 in yeast and in planta, and to complement Arabidopsis myb21-5. To analyze SlMYB21 function, we generated clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats(CRISPR)/CRISPR associated protein 9 (Cas9) mutants and identified a mutant by Targeting Induced Local Lesions in Genomes (TILLING). These mutants showed female sterility, corroborating a function of MYB21 in tomato ovule development. Transcriptomics analysis of wild type, jai1-1, and myb21-2 carpels revealed processes that might be controlled by SlMYB21. The data suggest positive regulation of JA biosynthesis by SlMYB21, but negative regulation of auxin and gibberellins. The results demonstrate that SlMYB21 mediates at least partially the action of JA and might control the flower-to-fruit transition.

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.
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