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Journal: Plant cell reports


KEY MESSAGE : Rooting of Artemisia annua increases trichome size on leaves and helps drive the final steps of the biosynthesis of the sesquiterpene antimalarial drug, artemisinin. Artemisia annua produces the antimalarial drug, artemisinin (AN), which is synthesized and stored in glandular trichomes (GLTs). In vitro-grown A. annua shoots produce more AN when they form roots. This may be a function not of the roots, but rather media components such as the phytohormones, α-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) and 6-benzylaminopurine (BAP), or salts and sucrose used to maintain either rooted or unrooted shoot cultures. We investigated how three main media components altered artemisinic metabolite production, pathway gene transcripts, and GLT formation in both mature and developing leaves in rooted and unrooted cultures. Although transcript levels of AN biosynthetic genes were not altered, AN levels were significantly different, and there were major differences in both artemisinic metabolite levels and trichomes in mature versus developing leaves. For example, NAA induced higher AN production in rooted shoots, but only in mature leaves. In developing leaves, BAP increased GLT density on the leaf surface. When both phytohormones were present, GLTs were larger on young developing leaves, but smaller on mature leaves. Furthermore, although other media components increased GLT density, their size decreased on young leaves, but there was no effect on mature leaves. Roots also appeared to drive conversion of artemisinic precursors towards end products. These results suggest that, while the presence of roots affects AN and trichome production, phytohormones and other media constituents used for in vitro culture of A. annua also exert an influence.

Concepts: Gene, Amino acid, Artemisinin, Leaf, Plant morphology, Antimalarial drug, Artemisia annua, Trichome


The demand for increased crop productivity and the predicted challenges related to plant survival under adverse environmental conditions have renewed the interest in research in root biology. Various physiological and genetic studies have provided ample evidence in support of the role of plant growth regulators in root development. The biosynthesis and transport of auxin and its signaling play a crucial role in controlling root growth and development. The univocal role of auxin in root development has established it as a master regulator. Other plant hormones, such as cytokinins, brassinosteroids, ethylene, abscisic acid, gibberellins, jasmonic acid, polyamines and strigolactones interact either synergistically or antagonistically with auxin to trigger cascades of events leading to root morphogenesis and development. In recent years, the availability of biological resources, development of modern tools and experimental approaches have led to the advancement of knowledge in root development. Research in the areas of hormone signal perception, understanding network of events involved in hormone action and the transport of plant hormones has added a new dimension to root biology. The present review highlights some of the important conceptual developments in the interplay of auxin and other plant hormones and associated downstream events affecting root development.

Concepts: Root, Plant hormones, Plant hormone, Abscisic acid, Abscission, Ethylene, Auxin, Jasmonic acid


KEY MESSAGE : Agrobacterium -mediated transformation system for okra using embryos was devised and the transgenic Bt plants showed resistance to the target pest, okra shoot, and fruit borer ( Earias vittella ). Okra is an important vegetable crop and progress in genetic improvement via genetic transformation has been impeded by its recalcitrant nature. In this paper, we describe a procedure using embryo explants for Agrobacterium-mediated transformation and tissue culture-based plant regeneration for efficient genetic transformation of okra. Twenty-one transgenic okra lines expressing the Bacillus thuringiensis gene cry1Ac were generated from five transformation experiments. Molecular analysis (PCR and Southern) confirmed the presence of the transgene and double-antibody sandwich ELISA analysis revealed Cry1Ac protein expression in the transgenic plants. All 21 transgenic plants were phenotypically normal and fertile. T1 generation plants from these lines were used in segregation analysis of the transgene. Ten transgenic lines were selected randomly for Southern hybridization and the results confirmed the presence of transgene integration into the genome. Normal Mendelian inheritance (3:1) of cry1Ac gene was observed in 12 lines out of the 21 T0 lines. We selected 11 transgenic lines segregating in a 3:1 ratio for the presence of one transgene for insect bioassays using larvae of fruit and shoot borer (Earias vittella). Fruit from seven transgenic lines caused 100 % larval mortality. We demonstrate an efficient transformation system for okra which will accelerate the development of transgenic okra with novel agronomically useful traits.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Evolution, Molecular biology, Agrobacterium, Fruit, Seed, Okra


The genetic substitution of transformation amenability alleles from ‘Golden Promise’ can facilitate the development of transformation-efficient lines from recalcitrant barley cultivars. Barley (Hordeum vulgare) cv. ‘Golden Promise’ is one of the most useful and well-studied cultivars for genetic manipulation. In a previous report, we identified several transformation amenability (TFA) loci responsible for Agrobacterium-mediated transformation using the F2 generation of immature embryos, derived from ‘Haruna Nijo’ × ‘Golden Promise,’ as explants. In this report, we describe higher density mapping of these TFA regions with additional SNP markers using the same transgenic plants. To demonstrate the robustness of transformability alleles at the TFA loci, we genotyped 202 doubled haploid progeny from the cross ‘Golden Promise’ × ‘Full Pint.’ Based on SNP genotype, we selected lines having ‘Golden Promise’ alleles at TFA loci and used them for transformation. Of the successfully transformed lines, DH120366 came the closest to achieving a level of transformation efficiency comparable to ‘Golden Promise.’ The results validate that the genetic substitution of TFA alleles from ‘Golden Promise’ can facilitate the development of transformation-efficient lines from recalcitrant barley cultivars.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Genotype, Allele, Evolution, Biology, Genealogical DNA test


Lily R3-MYB transcription factors are involved in negative regulation to limit anthocyanin accumulation in lily flowers and leaves and create notable color patterns on ectopically expressed petunia flowers. In eudicots, both positive and negative regulators act to precisely regulate the level of anthocyanin accumulation. The R3-MYB transcription factor is among the main factors repressing anthocyanin biosynthesis. Although, in monocots, the positive regulators have been well characterized, the negative regulators have not been examined. Two R3-MYBs, LhR3MYB1 and LhR3MYB2, which were identified in lily transcriptomes, were characterized in this study to understand the regulatory mechanisms of anthocyanin biosynthesis. LhR3MYB1 and LhR3MYB2 had a C2 suppressor motif downstream of a single MYB repeat; the similar amino acid motif appears only in AtMYBL2 among the eudicot R3-MYB proteins. Stable and transient overexpression of LhR3MYB1 and LhR3MYB2 in tobacco plants showed suppression of anthocyanin biosynthesis by both; however, suppression by LhR3MYB2 was stronger than that by LhR3MYB1. In the lily plant, the LhR3MYB2 transcript was detected in leaves with light stimulus-induced anthocyanin accumulation and in pink tepals. Although LhR3MYB1 was expressed in some, but not all tepals, its expression was not linked to anthocyanin accumulation. In addition, LhR3MYB1 expression levels in the leaves remained unchanged by the light stimulus, and LhR3MYB1 transcripts predominantly accumulated in the ovaries, which did not accumulate anthocyanins. Thus, although LhR3MYB1 and LhR3MYB2 have an ability to repress anthocyanin accumulation, LhR3MYB2 is more strongly involved in the negative regulation to limit the accumulation than that by LhR3MYB1. In addition, the overexpression of LhR3MYB2 generated notable color patterns in petunia flowers; thus, the usefulness of the LhR3MYB genes for creating unique color patterns by genetic engineering is discussed.


Water-soluble chitosan oligosaccharides (COS) affect xanthone and volatile organic compound content, as well as antifungal activity against human pathogenic fungi of extracts obtained from Hypericum perforatum root cultures. Several studies have demonstrated the elicitor power of chitosan on xanthone biosynthesis in root cultures of H. perforatum. One of the major limitations to the use of chitosan, both for basic and applied research, is the need to use acidified water for solubilization. To overcome this problem, the elicitor effect of water-soluble COS on the biosynthesis of both xanthones and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) was evaluated in the present study. The analysis of xanthones and VOCs was performed by HPLC and GC-MS headspace analysis. The obtained results showed that COS are very effective in enhancing xanthone biosynthesis. With 400 mg L-1 COS, a xanthone content of about 30 mg g-1 DW was obtained. The antifungal activity of extracts obtained with 400 mg L-1 COS was the highest, with MIC50 of 32 µg mL-1 against Candida albicans and 32-64 µg mL-1 against dermatophytes, depending on the microorganism. Histochemical investigations suggested the accumulation of isoprenoids in the secretory ducts of H. perforatum roots. The presence of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes was confirmed by the headspace analysis. Other volatile hydrocarbons have been identified. The biosynthesis of most VOCs showed significant changes in response to COS, suggesting their involvement in plant-fungus interactions.


Novel plant genome editing techniques call for an updated legislation regulating the use of plants produced by genetic engineering or genome editing, especially in the European Union. Established more than 25 years ago and based on a clear distinction between transgenic and conventionally bred plants, the current EU Directives fail to accommodate the new continuum between genetic engineering and conventional breeding. Despite the fact that the Directive 2001/18/EC contains both process- and product-related terms, it is commonly interpreted as a strictly process-based legislation. In view of several new emerging techniques which are closer to the conventional breeding than common genetic engineering, we argue that it should be actually interpreted more in relation to the resulting product. A legal guidance on how to define plants produced by exploring novel genome editing techniques in relation to the decade-old legislation is urgently needed, as private companies and public researchers are waiting impatiently with products and projects in the pipeline. We here outline the process in the EU to develop a legislation that properly matches the scientific progress. As the process is facing several hurdles, we also compare with existing frameworks in other countries and discuss ideas for an alternative regulatory system.

Concepts: European Union, Regulation, Estonia, European integration, Legislature, Citizenship of the European Union, Directive


Mosses have high contents of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Tissue-specific differences in fatty acid contents and fatty acid desaturase (FADS)-encoding gene expression exist. The arachidonic acid-synthesizing FADS operate in the ER. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are important cellular compounds with manifold biological functions. Many PUFAs are essential for the human diet and beneficial for human health. In this study, we report on the high amounts of very long-chain (vl) PUFAs (≥C20) such as arachidonic acid (AA) in seven moss species. These species were established in axenic in vitro culture, as a prerequisite for comparative metabolic studies under highly standardized laboratory conditions. In the model organism Physcomitrella patens, tissue-specific differences in the fatty acid compositions between the filamentous protonema and the leafy gametophores were observed. These metabolic differences correspond with differential gene expression of fatty acid desaturase (FADS)-encoding genes in both developmental stages, as determined via microarray analyses. Depending on the developmental stage and the species, AA amounts for 6-31 %, respectively, of the total fatty acids. Subcellular localization of the corresponding FADS revealed the endoplasmic reticulum as the cellular compartment for AA synthesis. Our results show that vlPUFAs are highly abundant metabolites in mosses. Standardized cultivation techniques using photobioreactors along with the availability of the P. patens genome sequence and the high rate of homologous recombination are the basis for targeted metabolic engineering in moss. The potential of producing vlPUFAs of interest from mosses will be highlighted as a promising area in plant biotechnology.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Nutrition, Fatty acids, Organism, Essential fatty acid, Moss


The rapid assessment of metabolic engineering strategies in plants is aided by crops that provide simple, high throughput transformation systems, a sequenced genome, and the ability to evaluate the resulting plants in field trials. Camelina sativa provides all of these attributes in a robust oilseed platform. The ability to perform field evaluation of Camelina is a useful, and in some studies essential benefit that allows researchers to evaluate how traits perform outside the strictly controlled conditions of a greenhouse. In the field the plants are subjected to higher light intensities, seasonal diurnal variations in temperature and light, competition for nutrients, and watering regimes dictated by natural weather patterns, all which may affect trait performance. There are difficulties associated with the use of Camelina. The current genetic resources available for Camelina pale in comparison to those developed for the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana; however, the sequence similarity of the Arabidopsis and Camelina genomes often allows the use of Arabidopsis as a reference when additional information is needed. Camelina’s genome, an allohexaploid, is more complex than other model crops, but the diploid inheritance of its three subgenomes is straightforward. The need to navigate three copies of each gene in genome editing or mutagenesis experiments adds some complexity but also provides advantages for gene dosage experiments. The ability to quickly engineer Camelina with novel traits, advance generations, and bulk up homozygous lines for small-scale field tests in less than a year, in our opinion, far outweighs the complexities associated with the crop.


During three decades the moss Physcomitrella patens has been developed to a superb green cell factory with the first commercial products on the market. In the past three decades the moss P. patens has been developed from an obscure bryophyte to a model organism in basic biology, biotechnology, and synthetic biology. Some of the key features of this system include a wide range of Omics technologies, precise genome-engineering via homologous recombination with yeast-like efficiency, a certified good-manufacturing-practice production in bioreactors, successful upscaling to 500 L wave reactors, excellent homogeneity of protein products, superb product stability from batch-to-batch, and a reliable procedure for cryopreservation of cell lines in a master cell bank. About a dozen human proteins are being produced in P. patens as potential biopharmaceuticals, some of them are not only similar to their animal-produced counterparts, but are real biobetters with superior performance. A moss-made pharmaceutical successfully passed phase 1 clinical trials, a fragrant moss, and a cosmetic moss-product is already on the market, highlighting the economic potential of this synthetic biology chassis. Here, we focus on the features of mosses as versatile cell factories for synthetic biology and their impact on metabolic engineering.