Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Plant physiology


Jasmonates are phytohormones derived from oxygenated fatty acids that regulate a broad range of plant defense and developmental processes. In Arabidopsis, hypocotyl elongation under various light conditions was suppressed by exogenously supplied methyl jasmonate (MeJA). Moreover, this suppression by MeJA was particularly effective under red light condition. Mutant analyses suggested that SCF(COI1)-mediated proteolysis was involved in this function. However, MeJA action still remained in the coi1 mutant, and (+)-7-iso-JA-L-Ile, a well-known active form of jasmonate, had a weaker effect than MeJA under the red light condition, suggesting that unknown signaling pathway are present in MeJA-mediated inhibition of hypocotyl elongation. EMS mutant screening identified two MeJA-insensitive hypocotyl elongation mutants, jasmonate resistance long hypocotyl 1 (jal1) and jal36, which had mutations in the phytochrome B (PHYB) gene. These analyses suggested that inhibition of hypocotyl elongation by jasmonates is enhanced under red light in phyB dependent manner.

Concepts: Fatty acid, Mutant, Plant physiology, Plant hormones, Jasmonate, Jasmonic acid, Methyl jasmonate, Wild Child


BACKGROUND: Vegetative buds provide plants in temperate environments the possibility for growth and reproduction when environmental conditions are favorable. In grapevine, crucial developmental events take place within buds during two growing seasons in consecutive years. The first season, the shoot apical meristem within the bud differentiates all the basic elements of the shoot including flowering transition in lateral primordia and development of inflorescence primordia. These events practically end with bud dormancy. The second season, buds resume shoot growth associated to flower formation and development. Gene expression has been previously monitored at specific stages of bud development but has never been followed along the two growing seasons. RESULTS: Gene expression changes were analyzed along the bud annual cycle at eight different time points. Principal Components Analysis (PCA) revealed that the main factors explaining the global gene expression differences were the processes of bud dormancy and active growth as well as stress responses. Accordingly, non dormant buds showed an enrichment in functional categories typical of actively proliferating and growing cells together with the over abundance of transcripts belonging to stress response pathways. Differential expression analyses performed between consecutive time points indicated that major transcriptional changes were associated to para/endodormancy, endo/ecodormancy and ecodormancy/bud break transitions. Transcripts encoding key regulators of reproductive development were grouped in three major expression clusters corresponding to: (i) transcripts associated to flowering induction, (ii) transcripts associated to flower meristem specification and initiation and (iii) transcripts putatively involved in dormancy. Within this cluster, a MADS-box gene (VvFLC2) and other transcripts with similar expression patterns could participate in dormancy regulation. CONCLUSIONS: This work provides a global view of major transcriptional changes taking place along bud development in grapevine, highlighting those molecular and biological functions involved in the main events of bud development. As reported in other woody species, the results suggest that genes regulating flowering could also be involved in dormancy regulatory pathways in grapevine.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Cellular differentiation, Plant physiology, Vitis vinifera, Vitis, Vitaceae


In subfamily Salsoloideae (family Chenopodiaceae) most species are C4 plants having terete leaves with Salsoloid Kranz anatomy characterized by a continuous dual chlorenchyma layer of Kranz cells (KCs) and mesophyll (M) cells, surrounding water storage and vascular tissue. From section Coccosalsola sensu Botschantzev, leaf structural and photosynthetic features were analysed on selected species of Salsola which are not performing C4 based on leaf carbon isotope composition. The results infer the following progression in distinct functional and structural forms from C3 to intermediate to C4 photosynthesis with increased leaf succulence without changes in vein density: From species performing C3 photosynthesis with Sympegmoid anatomy with two equivalent layers of elongated M cells, with few organelles in a discontinuous layer of bundle sheath (BS) cells (S. genistoides, S. masenderanica, S. webbii) > development of proto-Kranz BS cells having mitochondria in a centripetal position and increased chloroplast number (S. montana) > functional C3-C4 intermediates having intermediate CO2 compensation points with refixation of photorespired CO2, development of Kranz-like anatomy with reduction in the outer M cell layer to hypodermal-like cells, and increased specialization (but not size) of a Kranz-like inner layer of cells with increased cell wall thickness, organelle number, and selective expression of mitochondrial glycine decarboxylase (Kranz-like Sympegmoid, S. arbusculiformis; and Kranz-like Salsoloid, S. divaricata) > selective expression of enzymes between the two cell types for performing C4 with Salsoloid-type anatomy. Phylogenetic analysis of tribe Salsoleae shows the occurrence of C3 and intermediates in several clades, and lineages of interest for studying different forms of anatomy.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Cell, Bacteria, Eukaryote, Mitochondrion, Organelle, Plant physiology, C4 carbon fixation


Many plants respond to competition signals generated by neighbors by evoking the shade avoidance syndrome, including increased main stem elongation and reduced branching. Vegetation-induced reduction in the Red light:Far Red light (R:FR) provides a competition signal sensed by phytochromes. Plants deficient in phytochrome B (phyB) exhibit a constitutive shade avoidance syndrome including reduced branching. As auxin in the polar auxin transport stream (PATS) inhibits axillary bud outgrowth, its role in regulating the phyB branching phenotype was tested. Removing the main shoot PATS auxin source by decapitation or chemically inhibiting the PATS strongly stimulated branching in Arabidopsis thaliana deficient in phyB, but had a modest effect in WT. While indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) levels were elevated in young phyB seedlings, there was less IAA in mature stems compared to WT. A split plate assay of bud outgrowth kinetics indicated that low auxin levels inhibited phyB buds more than WT. Since the auxin response could be due either to the bud’s ability to export auxin into the main shoot PATS, or to auxin signaling status, both parameters were assessed. Main shoots of phyB had less absolute auxin transport capacity compared to WT, but equal or greater capacity when based on the relative amounts of native IAA in the stems. Thus, auxin transport capacity was unlikely to restrict branching. Both shoots of young phyB seedlings and mature stem segments showed elevated expression of auxin responsive genes and expression was further increased by auxin treatment, suggesting that phyB suppresses auxin signaling to promote branching.

Concepts: Bud, Arabidopsis thaliana, Arabidopsis, Plant physiology, Plant stem, Shoot, Phytochrome, The Stems


The outgrowth of axillary buds into branches is regulated systemically via plant hormones and the demand of growing shoot tips for sugars. The plant hormone auxin is thought to act via two mechanisms. One mechanism involves auxin regulation of systemic signals, cytokinins and strigolactones, which can move into axillary buds. The other involves suppression of auxin transport/canalization from axillary buds into the main stem and is enhanced by a low sink for auxin in the stem. In this theory, the relative ability of buds and stem to transport auxin controls bud outgrowth. Here we evaluate whether auxin transport is required or regulated during bud outgrowth in pea (Pisum sativum). The profound, systemic and long-term effects of the auxin transport inhibitor N-1-naphthylphthalamic acid had very little inhibitory effect on bud outgrowth in strigolactone deficient mutants. Strigolactones can also inhibit bud outgrowth in N-1-naphthylphthalamic acid-treated shoots that have greatly diminished auxin transport. Moreover strigolactones can inhibit bud outgrowth despite a much diminished auxin supply in in vitro or decapitated plants. These findings demonstrate that auxin sink strength in the stem is not important for bud outgrowth in pea. Consistent with alternative mechanisms of auxin-regulation of systemic signals, enhanced auxin biosynthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana can suppress branching in yuc1D plants compared to wild-type plants, but has no effect on bud outgrowth in a strigolactone-deficient mutant background.

Concepts: Bud, Annual plant, Plant physiology, Plant hormone, Plant stem, Shoot, Auxin, Polar auxin transport


Insufficient water availability for crop production is a mounting barrier to achieving the 70% increase in food production that will be needed by 2050. One solution is to develop crops that require less water per unit mass of production. Water vapor transpires from leaves through stomata, which also facilitate the influx of CO2during photosynthetic assimilation. Here, we hypothesize that Photosystem II Subunit S (PsbS) expression affects a chloroplast-derived signal for stomatal opening in response to light, which can be used to improve water-use efficiency. Transgenic tobacco plants with a range of PsbS expression, from undetectable to 3.7 times wild-type are generated. Plants with increased PsbS expression show less stomatal opening in response to light, resulting in a 25% reduction in water loss per CO2assimilated under field conditions. Since the role of PsbS is universal across higher plants, this manipulation should be effective across all crops.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Plant, Water, Photosystem, Plant physiology, Fern, Leaf, Chlorophyll


Plant cells are embedded within cell walls, which provide structural integrity, but also spatially constrain cells, and must therefore be modified to allow cellular expansion. The long-standing acid growth theory postulates that auxin triggers apoplast acidification, thereby activating cell wall-loosening enzymes that enable cell expansion in shoots. Interestingly, this model remains heavily debated in roots, because of both the complex role of auxin in plant development as well as technical limitations in investigating apoplastic pH at cellular resolution. Here, we introduce 8-hydroxypyrene-1,3,6-trisulfonic acid trisodium salt (HPTS) as a suitable fluorescent pH indicator for assessing apoplastic pH, and thus acid growth, at a cellular resolution in Arabidopsis thaliana roots. Using HPTS, we demonstrate that cell wall acidification triggers cellular expansion, which is correlated with a preceding increase of auxin signaling. Reduction in auxin levels, perception, or signaling abolishes both the extracellular acidification and cellular expansion. These findings jointly suggest that endogenous auxin controls apoplastic acidification and the onset of cellular elongation in roots. In contrast, an endogenous or exogenous increase in auxin levels induces a transient alkalinization of the extracellular matrix, reducing cellular elongation. The receptor-like kinase FERONIA is required for this physiological process, which affects cellular root expansion during the gravitropic response. These findings pinpoint a complex, presumably concentration-dependent role for auxin in apoplastic pH regulation, steering the rate of root cell expansion and gravitropic response.

Concepts: Bacteria, Acid, Enzyme, Plant, Cell wall, PH, Root, Plant physiology


Stomatal function can be used effectively to monitor plant hydraulics, photosensitivity, and gas exchange. Current approaches to measure single stomatal aperture, such as mold casting or fluorometric techniques, do not allow real time or persistent monitoring of the stomatal function over timescales relevant for long term plant physiological processes, including vegetative growth and abiotic stress. Herein, we utilize a nanoparticle-based conducting ink that preserves stomatal function to print a highly stable, electrical conductometric sensor actuated by the stomata pore itself, repeatedly and reversibly for over 1 week. This stomatal electro-mechanical pore size sensor (SEMPSS) allows for real-time tracking of the latency of single stomatal opening and closing times in planta, which we show vary from 7.0 ± 0.5 to 25.0 ± 0.5 min for the former and from 53.0 ± 0.5 to 45.0 ± 0.5 min for the latter in Spathiphyllum wallisii. These values are shown to correlate with the soil water potential and the onset of the wilting response, in quantitative agreement with a dynamic mathematical model of stomatal function. A single stoma of Spathiphyllum wallisii is shown to distinguish between incident light intensities (up to 12 mW cm(-2)) with temporal latency slow as 7.0 ± 0.5 min. Over a seven day period, the latency in opening and closing times are stable throughout the plant diurnal cycle and increase gradually with the onset of drought. The monitoring of stomatal function over long term timescales at single stoma level will improve our understanding of plant physiological responses to environmental factors.

Concepts: Time, Photosynthesis, Physiology, Plant physiology, Stoma, Marchantiophyta, Spathiphyllum wallisii


Carbon uptake and transpiration in plant leaves occurs through stomata that open and close. Stomatal action is usually considered a response to environmental driving factors. Here we show that leaf gas exchange is more strongly related to whole tree level transport of assimilates than previously thought, and that transport of assimilates is a restriction of stomatal opening comparable with hydraulic limitation. Assimilate transport in the phloem requires that osmotic pressure at phloem loading sites in leaves exceeds the drop in hydrostatic pressure that is due to transpiration. Assimilate transport thus competes with transpiration for water. Excess sugar loading, however, may block the assimilate transport because of viscosity build-up in phloem sap. Therefore, for given conditions, there is a stomatal opening that maximizes phloem transport if we assume that sugar loading is proportional to photosynthetic rate. Here we show that such opening produces the observed behaviour of leaf gas exchange. Our approach connects stomatal regulation directly with sink activity, plant structure and soil water availability as they all influence assimilate transport. It produces similar behaviour as the optimal stomatal control approach, but does not require determination of marginal cost of water parameter.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Water, Plant physiology, Leaf, Plant anatomy, Phloem, Transpiration, Stoma


Foliar water uptake (FWU) is a common water acquisition mechanism for plants inhabiting temperate fog-affected ecosystems, but the prevalence and consequences of this process for the water and carbon balance of tropical cloud forest species are unknown. We performed a series of experiments under field and glasshouse conditions using a combination of methods (sap flow, fluorescent apoplastic tracers and stable isotopes) to trace fog water movement from foliage to belowground components of Drimys brasiliensis. In addition, we measured leaf water potential, leaf gas exchange, leaf water repellency and growth of plants under contrasting soil water availabilities and fog exposure in glasshouse experiments to evaluate FWU effects on the water and carbon balance of D. brasiliensis saplings. Fog water diffused directly through leaf cuticles and contributed up to 42% of total foliar water content. FWU caused reversals in sap flow in stems and roots of up to 26% of daily maximum transpiration. Fog water transported through the xylem reached belowground pools and enhanced leaf water potential, photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and growth relative to plants sheltered from fog. Foliar uptake of fog water is an important water acquisition mechanism that can mitigate the deleterious effects of soil water deficits for D. brasiliensis.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Water, Forest, Plant physiology, Fern, Leaf, Xylem, Transpiration