Plant Biology Highlights: Nature Articles 2016

Plant biologists mostly put their focus on plant specific journals such as The Plant Cell, Plant Physiology, Nature Plant, The Plant Journal, Journal of Experimental Botany, Plant, Cell & Physiology, Molecular plant etc. Apart from these journals, striking findings about plant sciences are also published in Science, Nature, Cell, PNAS etc.

This is the last month of 2016. I was going through major journals and trying to find out what I missed. Definitely I missed so many which are not directly linked to my research or study. So, I have decided to compile all plant biology related articles from major non-plant specific journals and summarize. In this post, I've summarized from Nature.


Phenotypic traits and their associated trade-offs have been shown to have globally consistent effects on individual plant physiological functions, but how these effects scale up to influence competition, a key driver of community assembly in terrestrial vegetation, has remained unclear. Here we use growth data from more than 3 million trees in over 140,000 plots across the world to show how three key functional traits—wood density, specific leaf area and maximum height—consistently influence competitive interactions. Fast maximum growth of a species was correlated negatively with its wood density in all biomes, and positively with its specific leaf area in most biomes. Low wood density was also correlated with a low ability to tolerate competition and a low competitive effect on neighbours, while high specific leaf area was correlated with a low competitive effect. Thus, traits generate trade-offs between performance with competition versus performance without competition, a fundamental ingredient in the classical hypothesis that the coexistence of plant species is enabled via differentiation in their successional strategies. Competition within species was stronger than between species, but an increase in trait dissimilarity between species had little influence in weakening competition. No benefit of dissimilarity was detected for specific leaf area or wood density, and only a weak benefit for maximum height. Our trait-based approach to modelling competition makes generalization possible across the forest ecosystems of the world and their highly diverse species composition. 




Seagrasses colonized the sea on at least three independent occasions to form the basis of one of the most productive and widespread coastal ecosystems on the planet. Here we report the genome of Zostera marina (L.), the first, to our knowledge, marine angiosperm to be fully sequenced. This reveals unique insights into the genomic losses and gains involved in achieving the structural and physiological adaptations required for its marine lifestyle, arguably the most severe habitat shift ever accomplished by flowering plants. Key angiosperm innovations that were lost include the entire repertoire of stomatal genes, genes involved in the synthesis of terpenoids and ethylene signalling, and genes for ultraviolet protection and phytochromes for far-red sensing. Seagrasses have also regained functions enabling them to adjust to full salinity. Their cell walls contain all of the polysaccharides typical of land plants, but also contain polyanionic, low-methylated pectins and sulfated galactans, a feature shared with the cell walls of all macroalgae and that is important for ion homoeostasis, nutrient uptake and O2/CO2 exchange through leaf epidermal cells. The Z. marina genome resource will markedly advance a wide range of functional ecological studies from adaptation of marine ecosystems under climate warming, to unravelling the mechanisms of osmoregulation under high salinities that may further inform our understanding of the evolution of salt tolerance in crop plants


Two-pore channels (TPCs) contain two copies of a Shaker-like six-transmembrane (6-TM) domain in each subunit and are ubiquitously expressed in both animals and plants as organellar cation channels. Here we present the crystal structure of a vacuolar two-pore channel from Arabidopsis thaliana, AtTPC1, which functions as a homodimer. AtTPC1 activation requires both voltage and cytosolic Ca2+. Ca2+ binding to the cytosolic EF-hand domain triggers conformational changes coupled to the pair of pore-lining inner helices from the first 6-TM domains, whereas membrane potential only activates the second voltage-sensing domain, the conformational changes of which are coupled to the pair of inner helices from the second 6-TM domains. Luminal Ca2+ or Ba2+ can modulate voltage activation by stabilizing the second voltage-sensing domain in the resting state and shift voltage activation towards more positive potentials. Our Ba2+-bound AtTPC1 structure reveals a voltage sensor in the resting state, providing hitherto unseen structural insight into the general voltage-gating mechanism among voltage-gated channels. 


Sexual reproduction requires recognition between the male and female gametes. In flowering plants, the immobile sperms are delivered to the ovule-enclosed female gametophyte by guided pollen tube growth. Although the female gametophyte-secreted peptides have been identified to be the chemotactic attractant to the pollen tube, the male receptor(s) is still unknown. Here we identify a cell-surface receptor heteromer, MDIS1–MIK, on the pollen tube that perceives female attractant LURE1 in Arabidopsis thaliana. MDIS1, MIK1 and MIK2 are plasma-membrane-localized receptor-like kinases with extracellular leucine-rich repeats and an intracellular kinase domain. LURE1 specifically binds the extracellular domains of MDIS1, MIK1 and MIK2, whereas mdis1 and mik1 mik2mutant pollen tubes respond less sensitively to LURE1. Furthermore, LURE1 triggers dimerization of the receptors and activates the kinase activity of MIK1. Importantly, transformation of AtMDIS1 to the sister species Capsella rubella can partially break down the reproductive isolation barrier. Our findings reveal a new mechanism of the male perception of the female attracting signals.
Directional control of tip-growing cells is essential for proper tissue organization and cell-to-cell communication in animals and plants. In the sexual reproduction of flowering plants, the tip growth of the male gametophyte, the pollen tube, is precisely guided by female cues to achieve fertilization. Several female-secreted peptides have recently been identified as species-specific attractants that directly control the direction of pollen tube growth. However, the method by which pollen tubes precisely and promptly respond to the guidance signal from their own species is unknown. Here we show that tip-localized pollen-specific receptor-like kinase 6 (PRK6) with an extracellular leucine-rich repeat domain is an essential receptor for sensing of the LURE1 attractant peptide in Arabidopsis thaliana under semi-in-vivo conditions, and is important for ovule targeting in the pistil. PRK6 interacted with pollen-expressed ROPGEFs (Rho of plant guanine nucleotide-exchange factors), which are important for pollen tube growth through activation of the signalling switch Rho GTPase ROP1. PRK6 conferred responsiveness to AtLURE1 in pollen tubes of the related species Capsella rubella. Furthermore, our genetic and physiological data suggest that PRK6 signalling through ROPGEFs and sensing of AtLURE1 are achieved in cooperation with the other PRK family receptors, PRK1, PRK3 and PRK8. Notably, the tip-focused PRK6 accumulated asymmetrically towards an external AtLURE1 source before reorientation of pollen tube tip growth. These results demonstrate that PRK6 acts as a key membrane receptor for external AtLURE1 attractants, and recruits the core tip-growth machinery, including ROP signalling proteins. This work provides insights into the orchestration of efficient pollen tube growth and species-specific pollen tube attraction by multiple receptors during male–female communication.
Two-pore channels (TPCs) comprise a subfamily (TPC1–3) of eukaryotic voltage- and ligand-gated cation channels with two non-equivalent tandem pore-forming subunits that dimerize to form quasi-tetramers. Found in vacuolar or endolysosomal membranes, they regulate the conductance of sodium and calcium ions, intravesicular pH, trafficking and excitability. TPCs are activated by a decrease in transmembrane potential and an increase in cytosolic calcium concentrations, are inhibited by low luminal pH and calcium, and are regulated by phosphorylation. Here we report the crystal structure of TPC1 from Arabidopsis thaliana at 2.87 Å resolution as a basis for understanding ion permeation, channel activation, the location of voltage-sensing domains and regulatory ion-binding sites. We determined sites of phosphorylation in the amino-terminal and carboxy-terminal domains that are positioned to allosterically modulate cytoplasmic Ca2+ activation. One of the two voltage-sensing domains (VSD2) encodes voltage sensitivity and inhibition by luminal Ca2+ and adopts a conformation distinct from the activated state observed in structures of other voltage-gated ion channels. The structure shows that potent pharmacophore trans-Ned-19 acts allosterically by clamping the pore domains to VSD2. In animals, Ned-19 prevents infection by Ebola virus and other filoviruses, presumably by altering their fusion with the endolysosome and delivery of their contents into the cytoplasm.
Classical hormone receptors reversibly and non-covalently bind active hormone molecules, which are generated by biosynthetic enzymes, to trigger signal transduction. The α/β hydrolase DWARF14 (D14), which hydrolyses the plant branching hormone strigolactone and interacts with the F-box protein D3/MAX2, is probably involved in strigolactone detection. However, the active form of strigolactone has yet to be identified and it is unclear which protein directly binds the active form of strigolactone, and in which manner, to act as the genuine strigolactone receptor. Here we report the crystal structure of the strigolactone-induced AtD14–D3–ASK1 complex, reveal that Arabidopsis thaliana (At)D14 undergoes an open-to-closed state transition to trigger strigolactone signalling, and demonstrate that strigolactone is hydrolysed into a covalently linked intermediate molecule (CLIM) to initiate a conformational change of AtD14 to facilitate interaction with D3. Notably, analyses of a highly branched Arabidopsis mutant d14-5 show that the AtD14(G158E) mutant maintains enzyme activity to hydrolyse strigolactone, but fails to efficiently interact with D3/MAX2 and loses the ability to act as a receptor that triggers strigolactone signalling in planta. These findings uncover a mechanism underlying the allosteric activation of AtD14 by strigolactone hydrolysis into CLIM, and define AtD14 as a non-canonical hormone receptor with dual functions to generate and sense the active form of strigolactone.
The pressing global issue of food insecurity due to population growth, diminishing land and variable climate can only be addressed in agriculture by improving both maximum crop yield potential and resilience. Genetic modification is one potential solution, but has yet to achieve worldwide acceptance, particularly for crops such as wheat. Trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P), a central sugar signal in plants, regulates sucrose use and allocation, underpinning crop growth and development. Here we show that application of a chemical intervention strategy directly modulates T6P levels in planta. Plant-permeable analogues of T6P were designed and constructed based on a ‘signalling-precursor’ concept for permeability, ready uptake and sunlight-triggered release of T6P in planta. We show that chemical intervention in a potent sugar signal increases grain yield, whereas application to vegetative tissue improves recovery and resurrection from drought. This technology offers a means to combine increases in yield with crop stress resilience. Given the generality of the T6P pathway in plants and other small-molecule signals in biology, these studies suggest that suitable synthetic exogenous small-molecule signal precursors can be used to directly enhance plant performance and perhaps other organism function.
Compared to Science, Nature has less research articles from plant biology. It can be easily explained as Nature has specific journal for plants, Nature Plants

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