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Journal: Plant biotechnology journal


Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered in genetically predisposed individuals by the ingestion of gluten proteins from wheat, barley, and rye. The -gliadin gene family of wheat contains four highly stimulatory peptides, of which the 33-mer is the main immunodominant peptide in celiac patients. We designed two sgRNAs to target a conserved region adjacent to the coding sequence for the 33-mer in the -gliadin genes. Twenty-one mutant lines were generated, all showing strong reduction in -gliadins. Up to 35 different genes were mutated in one of the lines of the 45 different genes identified in the wild type, while immunoreactivity was reduced by 85%. Transgene-free lines were identified, and no off-target mutations have been detected in any of the potential targets. The low-gluten, transgene-free wheat lines described here could be used to produce low gluten foodstuff and serve as source material to introgress this trait into elite wheat varieties. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, Amino acid, Wheat, Coeliac disease, Gluten


The plant pathogen, Pseudomonas syringae (Ps), together with related Ps species, infect and attack a wide range of agronomically important crops, including tomato, kiwifruit, pepper, olive and soybean, causing economic losses. Currently, chemicals and introduced resistance genes are used to protect plants against these pathogens but have limited success and may have adverse environmental impacts. Consequently, there is a pressing need to develop alternative strategies to combat bacterial disease in crops. One such strategy involves using narrow-spectrum protein antibiotics (so-called bacteriocins), which diverse bacteria use to compete against closely related species. Here, we demonstrate that one bacteriocin, putidacin L1 (PL1), can be expressed in an active form at high levels in Arabidopsis and in Nicotiana benthamiana in planta to provide effective resistance against diverse pathovars of Ps. Furthermore, we find that Ps strains that mutate to acquire tolerance to PL1 lose their O-antigen, exhibit reduced motility, and still cannot induce disease symptoms in PL1-transgenic Arabidopsis. Our results provide proof-of-principle that the transgene-mediated expression of a bacteriocin in planta can provide effective disease resistance to bacterial pathogens. Thus, the expression of bacteriocins in crops might offer an effective strategy for managing bacterial disease, in the same way that the genetic modification of crops to express insecticidal proteins has proven to be an extremely successful strategy for pest management. Crucially, nearly all genera of bacteria, including many plant pathogenic species, produce bacteriocins, providing an extensive source of these antimicrobial agents.


Photorespiration is essential for C3 plants, enabling oxygenic photosynthesis through the scavenging of 2-phosphoglycolate. Previous studies have demonstrated that overexpression of the L and H-proteins of the photorespiratory glycine cleavage system results in an increase in photosynthesis and growth in Arabidopsis thaliana. Here we present evidence that under controlled-environment conditions an increase in biomass is evident in tobacco plants overexpressing the H-protein. Importantly, the work in this paper provides a clear demonstration of the potential of this manipulation in tobacco grown in field conditions, in two separate seasons. We also demonstrate the importance of targeted overexpression of the H-protein using the leaf specific promoter ST-LS1. Although increases in the H-protein driven by this promoter have a positive impact on biomass, higher levels of overexpression of this protein driven by the constitutive CaMV 35S promoter, result in a reduction in the growth of the plants. Furthermore in these constitutive overexpressor plants, carbon allocation between soluble carbohydrates and starch is altered, as is the protein lipoylation of the enzymes pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) and alpha-ketoglutarate (KDH) complexes. Our data provide a clear demonstration of the positive effects of overexpression of the H-protein to improve yield under field conditions. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


The WHO recommends complete withdrawal of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) Type 2 by April 2016 globally and replacing with at least one dose of Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV). However, high-cost, limited supply of IPV, persistent circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses transmission and need for subsequent boosters remain unresolved. To meet this critical need, a novel strategy of a low cost cold-chain free plant-made viral protein 1 (VP1) subunit oral booster vaccine after single IPV dose is reported. Codon optimization of the VP1 gene enhanced expression by 50-fold in chloroplasts. Oral boosting of VP1 expressed in plant cells with plant-derived adjuvants after single priming with IPV significantly increased VP1-IgG1 and VP1-IgA titers when compared to lower IgG1 or negligible IgA titers with IPV injections. IgA plays a pivotal role in polio eradication because of its transmission through contaminated water or sewer systems. Neutralizing antibody titers (~3.17-10.17 log2 titer) and serpositivity (70-90%) against all three poliovirus Sabin serotypes were observed with two doses of IPV and plant-cell oral boosters but single dose of IPV resulted in poor neutralization. Lyophilized plant cells expressing VP1 stored at ambient temperature maintained efficacy and preserved antigen folding/assembly indefinitely, thereby eliminating cold-chain currently required for all vaccines. Replacement of OPV with this booster vaccine and the next steps in clinical translation of FDA approved antigens and adjuvants are discussed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Immune system, Vaccine, Vaccination, Poliomyelitis, Polio vaccine, Poliomyelitis eradication, OPV AIDS hypothesis, Poliovirus


Multiple lines of transgenic rice expressing insecticidal genes from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) have been developed in China, posing the prospect of increases in production with decreased application of pesticides. We explore the issues facing adoption of Bt rice for commercial production in China. A body of safety assessment work on Bt rice has shown that Bt rice poses a negligible risk to the environment and that Bt rice products are as safe as non-Bt control rice products as food. China has a relatively well-developed regulatory system for risk assessment and management of genetically modified (GM) plants; however, decision-making regarding approval of commercial production has become politicized, and two Bt rice lines that otherwise were ready have not been allowed to enter the Chinese agricultural system. We predict that Chinese farmers would value the prospect of increased yield with decreased use of pesticide and would readily adopt production of Bt rice. That Bt rice lines may not be commercialized in the near future we attribute to social pressures, largely due to the low level of understanding and acceptance of GM crops by Chinese consumers. Hence, enhancing communication of GM crop science-related issues to the public is an important, unmet need. While the dynamics of each issue are particular to China, they typify those in many countries where adoption of GM crops has been not been rapid; hence, the assessment of these dynamics might inform resolution of these issues in other countries.

Concepts: Bacteria, Risk, Pesticide, Bacillus thuringiensis, Genetically modified organism, Genetically modified food, Genetic engineering, Monsanto


Drought stress has adverse impacts on plant production and productivity. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are one class of noncoding RNAs regulating gene expression post-transcriptionally. In this study, we employed small RNA and degradome sequencing to systematically investigate the tissue-specific miRNAs responsible to drought stress, which are understudied in tomato. For this purpose, root and upground tissues of two different drought-responsive tomato genotypes (Lycopersicon esculentum as sensitive and L. esculentum var. cerasiforme as tolerant) were subjected to stress with 5% polyethylene glycol for 7 days. A total of 699 conserved miRNAs belonging to 578 families were determined and 688 miRNAs were significantly differentially expressed between different treatments, tissues and genotypes. Using degradome sequencing, 44 target genes were identified associated with 36 miRNA families. Drought-related miRNAs and their targets were enriched functionally by Gene Ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway analyses. Totally, 53 miRNAs targeted 23 key drought stress- and tissue development-related genes, including DRP (dehydration-responsive protein), GTs (glycosyltransferases), ERF (ethylene responsive factor), PSII (photosystem II) protein, HD-ZIP (homeodomain-leucine zipper), MYB and NAC-domain transcription factors. miR160, miR165, miR166, miR171, miR398, miR408, miR827, miR9472, miR9476 and miR9552 were the key miRNAs functioning in regulation of these genes and involving in tomato response to drought stress. Additionally, plant hormone signal transduction pathway genes were differentially regulated by miR169, miR172, miR393, miR5641, miR5658 and miR7997 in both tissues of both sensitive and tolerant genotypes. These results provide new insight into the regulatory role of miRNAs in drought response with plant hormone signal transduction and drought-tolerant tomato breeding.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Molecular biology, RNA, MicroRNA


As a perennial forage crop broadly distributed in eastern Eurasia, sheepgrass (Leymus chinensis (Trin.) Tzvel) is highly tolerant to low-temperature stress. Previous report indicates that sheepgrass is able to endure as low as -47.5 °C,allowing it to survive through the cold winter season. However, due to the lack of sufficient studies, the underlying mechanism towards the extraordinary low-temperature tolerance is unclear. Although the transcription profiling has provided insight into the transcriptome response to cold stress, more detailed studies are required to dissect the molecular mechanism regarding the excellent abiotic stress tolerance. In this work, we report a novel transcript factor LcFIN1 (L. chinensis freezing-induced 1) from sheepgrass. LcFIN1 showed no homology with other known genes and was rapidly and highly induced by cold stress, suggesting that LcFIN1 participates in the early response to cold stress. Consistently, ectopic expression of LcFIN1 significantly increased cold stress tolerance in the transgenic plants, as indicated by the higher survival rate, fresh weight and other stress-related indexes after a freezing treatment. Transcriptome analysis showed that numerous stress-related genes were differentially expressed in LcFIN1-overexpressing plants, suggesting that LcFIN1 may enhance plant abiotic stress tolerance by transcriptional regulation. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays and CHIP-qPCR showed that LcCBF1 can bind to the CRT/DRE cis-element located in the promoter region of LcFIN1, suggesting that LcFIN1 is directly regulated by LcCBF1. Taken together, our results suggest that LcFIN1 positively regulates plant adaptation response to cold stress and is a promising candidate gene to improve crop cold tolerance.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Promoter, Transcription, Molecular biology, RNA polymerase


The shared diseases between animals and humans are known as zoonotic diseases, and spread infectious diseases among humans. Zoonotic diseases are not only a major burden to livestock industry but also threatens humans accounting for >60% cases of human illness. About 75% of emerging infectious diseases in humans have been reported to originate from zoonotic pathogens. Because antibiotics are frequently used to protect livestock from bacterial diseases the development of antibiotic resistant strains of epidemic and zoonotic pathogens is now a major concern. Live attenuated and killed vaccines are the only option to control these infectious diseases and this approach has been used since 1890. However, major problems with this approach include high cost and injectable vaccines is impractical for >20 billion poultry animals or fish in aquaculture. Plants offer an attractive and affordable platform for vaccines against animal diseases because of their low cost, and they are free of attenuated pathogens and cold chain requirement. Therefore, several plant-based vaccines against human and animals diseases have been developed recently that undergo clinical and regulatory approval. Plant based vaccines serve as ideal booster vaccines that could eliminate multiple boosters of attenuated bacteria or viruses but requirement of injectable priming with adjuvant is a current limitation. So, new approaches like oral vaccines are needed to overcome this challenge. In this review, we discuss the progress made in plant-based vaccines against zoonotic or other animal diseases and future challenges in advancing this field. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Bacteria, Microbiology, Malaria, Infection, Antibiotic resistance, Lyme disease, Antibiotic


To obtain better insight into the mechanisms of selenium hyperaccumulation in Stanleya pinnata, transcriptome-wide differences in root and shoot gene expression levels were investigated in S. pinnata and related nonaccumulator Stanleya elata grown with or without 20 μM selenate. Genes predicted to be involved in sulfate/selenate transport and assimilation or in oxidative stress resistance (glutathione-related genes and peroxidases) were among the most differentially expressed between species; many showed constitutively elevated expression in S. pinnata. A number of defense-related genes predicted to mediate synthesis and signaling of defense hormones jasmonic acid (JA, reported to induce sulfur assimilatory and glutathione biosynthesis genes), salicylic acid (SA) and ethylene were also more expressed in S. pinnata than S. elata. Several upstream signaling genes that upregulate defense hormone synthesis showed higher expression in S. pinnata than S. elata and might trigger these selenium-mediated defense responses. Thus, selenium hyperaccumulation and hypertolerance in S. pinnata may be mediated by constitutive, upregulated JA, SA and ethylene-mediated defense systems, associated with elevated expression of genes involved in sulfate/selenate uptake and assimilation or in antioxidant activity. Genes pinpointed in this study may be targets of genetic engineering of plants that may be employed in biofortification or phytoremediation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Bacteria, Transcription, Organism, Antioxidant


The complexity of polyploid Saccharum genomes hindered progress of genome research and crop improvement in sugarcane. To understand their genome structure, transcriptomes of 59 F1 individuals derived from S. officinarum LA Purple and S. robustum Molokai 5829 (2n = 80, x = 10 for both) were sequenced, yielding 11,157 and 8,998 SNPs and 83 and 105 linkage groups, respectively. Most markers in each linkage group aligned to single sorghum chromosome. However, 71 interchromosomal rearrangements were detected between sorghum and S. officinarum or S. robustum, and 24 (33.8%) of them were shared between S. officinarum and S. robustum, indicating their occurrence before the speciation event that separated these two species. More than 2000 gene pairs from S. spontaneum, S. officinarum, and S. robustum were analyzed to estimate their divergence time. S. officinarum and S. robustum diverged about 385 thousand years ago, and the whole genome duplication events occurred after the speciation event because of shared interchromosomal rearrangements. The ancestor of these two species diverged from S. spontaneum about 769 thousand years ago, and the reduction of basic chromosome number from 10 to 8 in S. spontaneum occurred after the speciation event but before the two rounds of whole genome duplication. Our results proved that S. officinarum is a legitimate species in its own right, and not a selection from S. robustum during the domestication process in the past 10,000 years. Our findings rejected a long standing hypothesis and clarified the timing of speciation and whole genome duplication events in Saccharum. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.