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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


We demonstrate for the first time that a fully bioactive human IL-37, a newly discovered cytokine acting as a fundamental inhibitor of innate immunity, can be recombinantly produced in plant cells. Interleukin 37 (IL-37), a newly discovered member of the interleukin (IL)-1 family of cytokines, plays a pivotal role in limiting innate inflammation and suppressing acquired immune responses, thus holding high potential for treating a wide array of human inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. In this study, we have developed transgenic plants as a novel expression platform for production of human IL-37 (IL-37). Plant transformation vectors synthesizing various forms of the b isoform of IL-37, including an unprocessed full-length precursor form (proIL-37b), a mature form (matIL-37b) and an IL-37 fusion protein in which IL-37b was fused to soybean agglutinin (SBA-IL-37b), have been constructed and introduced into tobacco plants. The expression of all forms of IL-37b was driven by a strong constitutive 35S promoter. Transgenic tobacco plants were generated with each of these constructs. Depending on the form of IL-37b being produced, the expression level of proIL-37b reached approximately 1% of TSP, while matIL-37b expression was substantially lower (0.01% TSP). Fusion to SBA substantially increased the expression of matIL-37b, with the expression level of fusion protein accounting for 1% of TSP. Functional analysis using a cell-based in vitro assay showed that plant-made matIL-37b and proIL-37b are both biologically active, but plant-made matIL-37b exhibited significantly greater biological activity than proIL-37b. These results demonstrate that plants have great potential of being a green bioreactor for low-cost, large-scale production of biologically active IL-37.


Plant cells are characterized by a unique group of interconvertible organelles called plastids, which are descended from prokaryotic endosymbionts. The most studied plastid type is the chloroplast, which carries out the ancestral plastid function of photosynthesis. During the course of evolution, plastid activities were increasingly integrated with cellular metabolism and functions, and plant developmental processes, and this led to the creation of new types of non-photosynthetic plastids. These include the chromoplast, a carotenoid-rich organelle typically found in flowers and fruits. Here, we provide an introduction to non-photosynthetic plastids, and then review the structures and functions of chromoplasts in detail. The role of chromoplast differentiation in fruit ripening in particular is explored, and the factors that govern plastid development are examined, including hormonal regulation, gene expression, and plastid protein import. In the latter process, nucleus-encoded preproteins must pass through two successive protein translocons in the outer and inner envelope membranes of the plastid; these are known as TOC and TIC (translocon at the outer/inner chloroplast envelope), respectively. The discovery of SP1 (suppressor of ppi1 locus1), which encodes a RING-type ubiquitin E3 ligase localized in the plastid outer envelope membrane, revealed that plastid protein import is regulated through the selective targeting of TOC complexes for degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. This suggests the possibility of engineering plastid protein import in novel crop improvement strategies.


The first report presenting successful and efficient carrot genome editing using CRISPR/Cas9 system. Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated (Cas9) is a powerful genome editing tool that has been widely adopted in model organisms recently, but has not been used in carrot-a model species for in vitro culture studies and an important health-promoting crop grown worldwide. In this study, for the first time, we report application of the CRISPR/Cas9 system for efficient targeted mutagenesis of the carrot genome. Multiplexing CRISPR/Cas9 vectors expressing two single-guide RNA (gRNAs) targeting the carrot flavanone-3-hydroxylase (F3H) gene were tested for blockage of the anthocyanin biosynthesis in a model purple-colored callus using Agrobacterium-mediated genetic transformation. This approach allowed fast and visual comparison of three codon-optimized Cas9 genes and revealed that the most efficient one in generating F3H mutants was the Arabidopsis codon-optimized AteCas9 gene with up to 90% efficiency. Knockout of F3H gene resulted in the discoloration of calli, validating the functional role of this gene in the anthocyanin biosynthesis in carrot as well as providing a visual marker for screening successfully edited events. Most resulting mutations were small Indels, but long chromosome fragment deletions of 116-119 nt were also generated with simultaneous cleavage mediated by two gRNAs. The results demonstrate successful site-directed mutagenesis in carrot with CRISPR/Cas9 and the usefulness of a model callus culture to validate genome editing systems. Given that the carrot genome has been sequenced recently, our timely study sheds light on the promising application of genome editing tools for boosting basic and translational research in this important vegetable crop.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Mutation, Genomics, Model organism, Escherichia coli, Arabidopsis thaliana