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Systemic Regulation of Soybean Nodulation by Acidic Growth Conditions


Mechanisms inhibiting legume nodulation by low soil pH, although highly prevalent and economically significant, are poorly understood. We addressed this in soybean (Glycine max) using a combination of physiological and genetic approaches. Split-root and grafting studies using an autoregulation-of-nodulation-deficient mutant line, altered in the autoregulation-of-nodulation receptor kinase GmNARK, determined that a systemic, shoot-controlled, and GmNARK-dependent mechanism was critical for facilitating the inhibitory effect. Acid inhibition was independent of aluminum ion concentration and occurred early in nodule development, between 12 and 96 h post inoculation with Bradyrhizobium japonicum. Biological effects were confirmed by measuring transcript numbers of known early nodulation genes. Transcripts decreased on both sides of split-root systems, where only one side was subjected to low-pH conditions. Our findings enhance the present understanding of the innate mechanisms regulating legume nodulation control under acidic conditions, which could benefit future attempts in agriculture to improve nodule development and biological nitrogen fixation in acid-stressed soils.

Arabidopsis Plastid AMOS1/EGY1 Integrates Abscisic Acid Signaling to Regulate Global Gene Expression Response to Ammonium Stress


Ammonium (NH4+) is a ubiquitous intermediate of nitrogen metabolism but is notorious for its toxic effects on most organisms. Extensive studies of the underlying mechanisms of NH4+ toxicity have been reported in plants, but it is poorly understood how plants acclimate to high levels of NH4+. Here, we identified an Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) mutant, ammonium overly sensitive1 (amos1), that displays severe chlorosis under NH4+ stress. Map-based cloning shows amos1 to carry a mutation in EGY1 (for ethylene-dependent, gravitropism-deficient, and yellow-green-like protein1), which encodes a plastid metalloprotease. Transcriptomic analysis reveals that among the genes activated in response to NH4+, 90% are regulated dependent on AMOS1/EGY1. Furthermore, 63% of AMOS1/EGY1-dependent NH4+-activated genes contain an ACGTG motif in their promoter region, a core motif of abscisic acid (ABA)-responsive elements. Consistent with this, our physiological, pharmacological, transcriptomic, and genetic data show that ABA signaling is a critical, but not the sole, downstream component of the AMOS1/EGY1-dependent pathway that regulates the expression of NH4+-responsive genes and maintains chloroplast functionality under NH4+ stress. Importantly, abi4 mutants defective in ABA-dependent and retrograde signaling, but not ABA-deficient mutants, mimic leaf NH4+ hypersensitivity of amos1. In summary, our findings suggest that an NH4+-responsive plastid retrograde pathway, which depends on AMOS1/EGY1 function and integrates with ABA signaling, is required for the regulation of expression of NH4+-responsive genes that maintain chloroplast integrity in the presence of high NH4+ levels.

Knockdown of a Rice Stelar Nitrate Transporter Alters Long-Distance Translocation But Not Root Influx


Root nitrate uptake is well known to adjust to the plant’s nitrogen demand for growth. Long-distance transport and/or root storage pools are thought to provide negative feedback signals regulating root uptake. We have characterized a vascular specific nitrate transporter belonging to the high-affinity Nitrate Transporter2 (NRT2) family, OsNRT2.3a, in rice (Oryza sativa ssp. japonica ‘Nipponbare’). Localization analyses using protoplast expression, in planta promoter-β-glucuronidase assay, and in situ hybridization showed that OsNRT2.3a was located in the plasma membrane and mainly expressed in xylem parenchyma cells of the stele of nitrate-supplied roots. Knockdown expression of OsNRT2.3a by RNA interference (RNAi) had impaired xylem loading of nitrate and decreased plant growth at low (0.5 mm) nitrate supply. In comparison with the wild type, the RNAi lines contained both nitrate and total nitrogen significantly higher in the roots and lower in the shoots. The short-term [15N]NO3 influx (5 min) in entire roots and NO3 fluxes in root surfaces showed that the knockdown of OsNRT2.3a in comparison with the wild type did not affect nitrate uptake by roots. The RNAi plants showed no significant changes in the expression of some root nitrate transporters (OsNRT2.3b, OsNRT2.4, and OsNAR2.1), but transcripts for nia1 (nitrate reductase) had increased and OsNRT2.1 and OsNRT2.2 had decreased when the plants were supplied with nitrate. Taken together, the data demonstrate that OsNRT2.3a plays a key role in long-distance nitrate transport from root to shoot at low nitrate supply level in rice.

RhNAC2 and RhEXPA4 Are Involved in the Regulation of Dehydration Tolerance during the Expansion of Rose Petals


Dehydration inhibits petal expansion resulting in abnormal flower opening and results in quality loss during the marketing of cut flowers. We constructed a suppression subtractive hybridization library from rose (Rosa hybrida) flowers containing 3,513 unique expressed sequence tags and analyzed their expression profiles during cycles of dehydration. We found that 54 genes were up-regulated by the first dehydration, restored or even down-regulated by rehydration, and once again up-regulated by the second dehydration. Among them, we identified a putative NAC family transcription factor (RhNAC2). With transactivation activity of its carboxyl-terminal domain in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) cell and Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) protoplast, RhNAC2 belongs to the NAC transcription factor clade related to plant development in Arabidopsis. A putative expansin gene named RhEXPA4 was also dramatically up-regulated by dehydration. Silencing RhNAC2 or RhEXPA4 in rose petals by virus-induced gene silencing significantly decreased the recovery of intact petals and petal discs during rehydration. Overexpression of RhNAC2 or RhEXPA4 in Arabidopsis conferred strong drought tolerance in the transgenic plants. RhEXPA4 expression was repressed in RhNAC2-silenced rose petals, and the amino-terminal binding domain of RhNAC2 bound to the RhEXPA4 promoter. Twenty cell wall-related genes, including seven expansin family members, were up-regulated in Arabidopsis plants overexpressing RhNAC2. These data indicate that RhNAC2 and RhEXPA4 are involved in the regulation of dehydration tolerance during the expansion of rose petals and that RhEXPA4 expression may be regulated by RhNAC2.

A Comparative Study of Iron Uptake Mechanisms in Marine Microalgae: Iron Binding at the Cell Surface Is a Critical Step


We investigated iron uptake mechanisms in five marine microalgae from different ecologically important phyla: the diatoms Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Thalassiosira pseudonana, the prasinophyceae Ostreococcus tauri and Micromonas pusilla, and the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi. Among these species, only the two diatoms were clearly able to reduce iron, via an inducible (P. tricornutum) or constitutive (T. pseudonana) ferrireductase system displaying characteristics similar to the yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) flavohemoproteins proteins. Iron uptake mechanisms probably involve very different components according to the species, but the species we studied shared common features. Regardless of the presence and/or induction of a ferrireductase system, all the species were able to take up both ferric and ferrous iron, and iron reduction was not a prerequisite for uptake. Iron uptake decreased with increasing the affinity constants of iron-ligand complexes and with increasing ligand-iron ratios. Therefore, at least one step of the iron uptake mechanism involves a thermodynamically controlled process. Another step escapes to simple thermodynamic rules and involves specific and strong binding of ferric as well as ferrous iron at the cell surface before uptake of iron. Binding was paradoxically increased in iron-rich conditions, whereas uptake per se was induced in all species only after prolonged iron deprivation. We sought cell proteins loaded with iron following iron uptake. One such protein in O. tauri may be ferritin, and in P. tricornutum, Isip1 may be involved. We conclude that the species we studied have uptake systems for both ferric and ferrous iron, both involving specific iron binding at the cell surface.

Deciphering Systemic Wound Responses of the Pumpkin Extrafascicular Phloem by Metabolomics and Stable Isotope-Coded Protein Labeling


In cucurbits, phloem latex exudes from cut sieve tubes of the extrafascicular phloem (EFP), serving in defense against herbivores. We analyzed inducible defense mechanisms in the EFP of pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima) after leaf damage. As an early systemic response, wounding elicited transient accumulation of jasmonates and a decrease in exudation probably due to partial sieve tube occlusion by callose. The energy status of the EFP was enhanced as indicated by increased levels of ATP, phosphate, and intermediates of the citric acid cycle. Gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry also revealed that sucrose transport, gluconeogenesis/glycolysis, and amino acid metabolism were up-regulated after wounding. Combining ProteoMiner technology for the enrichment of low-abundance proteins with stable isotope-coded protein labeling, we identified 51 wound-regulated phloem proteins. Two Sucrose-Nonfermenting1-related protein kinases and a 32-kD 14-3-3 protein are candidate central regulators of stress metabolism in the EFP. Other proteins, such as the Silverleaf Whitefly-Induced Protein1, Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase6, and Heat Shock Protein81, have known defensive functions. Isotope-coded protein labeling and western-blot analyses indicated that Cyclophilin18 is a reliable marker for stress responses of the EFP. As a hint toward the induction of redox signaling, we have observed delayed oxidation-triggered polymerization of the major Phloem Protein1 (PP1) and PP2, which correlated with a decline in carbonylation of PP2. In sum, wounding triggered transient sieve tube occlusion, enhanced energy metabolism, and accumulation of defense-related proteins in the pumpkin EFP. The systemic wound response was mediated by jasmonate and redox signaling.