Browsing by Subject "plant biology"

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  • El-Showk, Sedeer (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    The evolution of vascular tissues was a critical innovation in the colonization of land by plants. We investigated how vascular tissues, in particular xylem, are patterned in the root of the model plant Arabidopsis. The vascular tissues of the Arabidopsis root tip are consistently patterned as a xylem axis flanked by procambial cells, with phloem poles developing perpendicular to the xylem axis. Cytokinin signalling inhibits the specification of protoxylem; the AHP6 gene inhibits cytokinin signalling at the protoxylem position during normal vascular development. We sought to understand the factors regulating AHP6 expression in the root tip. Cytokinin signalling is known to flank the xylem axis; we discovered a complementary domain of auxin signalling throughout the xylem axis. Based on this, we showed that auxin upregulates AHP6, creating a domain of low cytokinin signalling, and also acts to specify protoxylem. We used a combination of mutants and pharmacological treatments to investigate how mutually exclusive auxin and cytokinin signalling domains are maintained in the Arabidopsis stele. We discovered a feedback loop between the hormones, in which cytokinin activates auxin exporters, while auxin represses cytokinin signalling. The mutual inhibition between auxin and cytokinin regulates the extent of their domains during vascular patterning. We turned to computational simulations to investigate the sufficiency, stability, and dynamics of this network. Our simulations confirmed that the network is sufficient to maintain the hormone domains during vascular patterning, but also revealed a role for auxin importers, which we confirmed through experiments. While cytokinin is frequently thought to form gradients guiding developmental processes in the Arabidopsis shoot and root, we showed that an informative cytokinin gradient cannot form on the scale of these tissues via diffusion. While auxin is patterned through the activity of polarly localised transporters, there is no evidence for similar transport of cytokinin. Nevertheless, our findings highlight the need for a cytokinin patterning mechanism, such as directed cytokinin transport or patterning of the cytokinin perception machinery, since diffusion cannot form the observed cytokinin patterns. Finally, we discovered a potential link between the auxin-cytokinin feedback loop in the root tip and the initiation of lateral roots. Since our experimental data are equivocal on whether or not PIN1 is polarly localised in the procambium, we investigated both possibilities in our computational model. We discovered that polar localisation of PIN1 results in a regular flux of auxin towards the centre of the stele and back out via the xylem axis. This circuit privileges pericycle cells flanking the xylem axis to accumulate auxin if they experience a brief activation of an auxin importer; activation of the importer AUX1 in the xylem-pole pericycle cells is one of the earliest steps in lateral root initiation. Altogether, my thesis reveals a key role for mutually inhibitory auxin-cytokinin interactions in vascular development and links these findings to other developmental contexts. This work also demonstrates how the combination of experimental & computational approaches enables us to critically evaluate our models and develop more general insights.
  • Deng, Xianbao (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    RNA silencing is a conserved mechanism that occurs in a broad range of eukaryotes, which is regulated by small RNAs (sRNAs). RNA silencing operates to control gene expression and maintain genome integrity. Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) in plants is a natural antivirus mechanism that has adapted from the general RNA silencing system. To counter the antivirus RNA silencing, plant viruses have evolved to encode viral suppressors of RNA silencing (VSRs). Nowadays VIGS is usually referred to as the technology that uses recombinant viruses to knock down the expression of plant endogenous genes. Gerbera hybrida (gerbera) is a model species in the family of Asteraceae. As a highly heterozygous species, gerbera lacks efficient functional genetic approaches other than gene transfer. The aim of the present study was to develop a Tobacco rattle virus (TRV, genus Tobravirus) induced gene silencing system for gerbera, and use TRV VIGS to characterize functions of chalcone synthase (CHS) encoding genes in the plant. Preliminary VIGS experiments on the cultivar Terraregina, by syringe infiltration and applying previously developed TRV vectors, did not result in visible VIGS phenotypes due to the absent of TRV RNA2 in the up non-infiltrated leaves. Consequently, I first aimed to study the mechanism of TRV VIGS, and tried to develop new VIGS vectors based on TRV RNA1. I investigated the role of two important TRV proteins of the 16K VSR and the 29K movement protein (MP) on TRV infection and TRV VIGS, and developed TRV RNA1 based VIGS vectors. For accomplishing this, a series of TRV RNA1 mutants have been constructed to disrupt the 16K, or to replace its 29K with Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV, genus Tobamovirus) 30K MP. TRV RNA1 vector, carrying a fragment of the gene encoding Nicotiana benthamiana PDS to replace part of the 16K sequence, induced PDS gene silencing systemically in N. benthamiana. However, this has found to be less efficiently than the original TRV VIGS system when the wild-type RNA1 and RNA2:PDS were used. The infection experiments demonstrated that 16K was required for TRV long distance movement, and helped in maintaining the integrity of the TRV RNA2 genome. In addition, TRV 29K alone did not suppress RNA silencing in the co-infiltration assay, but it could suppress RNA silencing in the context of RNA1 replication. TRV 29K may be the first VSR whose silencing suppression functions are found to be directly linked to viral replication. The original TRV vector system was finally adopted for VIGS in gerbera. TRV VIGS was optimized for gerbera by screening for TRV sensitive cultivars and by improving its inoculation methods. Intensive gene silencing phenotypes were achieved both in green tissues and in floral tissues, demonstrated by knocking down genes involved in isoprenoid biosynthesis (phytoene desaturase: GPDS; H and I subunits of Mg-chelatase: GChl-H and GChl-I), flower pigmentation (chalcone synthase: GCHS1), and flower development (GLOBOSA-like MADS domain transcription factor: GGLO1). Unexpectedly, a gerbera polyketide synthase encoding gene, G2PS1, that has no apparent connections to the carotenoid or chlorophyll biosynthesis, was knocked down by the photo-bleaching that was induced by the silencing of GPDS, GChl-H and GChl-I, or by the herbicide norflurazon. We have demonstrated for the first time that the using of VIGS in an Asteraceaeous species. Our data also suggested that the selection and use of a marker gene for VIGS should be strictly evaluated. A new CHS encoding gene, GCHS4, was characterized in gerbera. Together with the two previously identified GCHS1 and GCHS3, gerbera CHSs are represented by a three-gene family. Each gerbera CHS shows a distinct expression pattern. GCHS3 is particularly expressed in gerbera pappus. In partnership with the concomitantly expressed GCHS1, they are involved in the biosynthesis of colorless flavonoids. GCHS4 is the only CHS that is naturally expressed in the leaf petiole and inflorescence scape, and it is responsible for cyanidin biosynthesis in those tissues. GCHS4 is also the only CHS that was induced by environmental stresses in the leaf blade. Both GCHS1 and GCHS4 are markedly expressed in gerbera petals, and GCHS4 mRNA actually takes the majority of CHS mRNAs in the later stages of petal development. Nonetheless, VIGS experiments, by target silencing GCHS1 or GCHS4 independently, demonstrated that GCHS1 is the predominant functional CHS in gerbera petals. Thus, GCHS4 in gerbera petals seems to be regulated post-transcriptionally. In conclusion, the results of this study shed new light on the mechanism of TRV VIGS. The established TRV VIGS system provides a valuable tool for functional genomics in gerbera.
  • Xu, Enjun (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Regulation of cellular homeostasis is crucial for proper development, survival, defense responses, programmed cell death and ultimately survival. Maintaining cellular homeostasis requires tight regulation of multiple highly interactive signaling pathways. The apoplast lies at the frontier between the cell and the environment, where the plant perceives environmental cues. Since the apoplast is also a site for cell-to-cell communication, it has an important role in mediating plant-environment interactions. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are known as both toxic agents and indispensable signaling molecules in all aerobic organisms. A ROS burst in the apoplast is one of the first measurable events produced in response to different biotic and abiotic stresses, eventually leading to the initiation of signal transduction pathways and altered gene expression. Apoplastic ROS signaling is well known to dynamically coordinate multiple signaling pathways in the activation of defense responses in plants. Dissection of the signaling crosstalk within such a signaling network could therefore reveal the molecular mechanisms underlying defense responses. Treatments with ozone (O3) have been adopted as an efficient tool to study apoplastic ROS signaling. Plants exposed to O3 trigger a ROS burst in the apoplast and induce extensive changes in gene expression and alteration of defense hormones, such as salicylic acid (SA), jasmonic acid (JA), and ethylene. Genetic variation in O3 sensitivity among Arabidopsis thaliana accessions or mutants highlights the complex genetic architecture of plant responses to ROS. To gain insight into the genetic basis of apoplastic ROS signaling, a recombinant inbred line (RIL) population from a reciprocal cross between two Arabidopsis accessions C24 (O3 tolerant) and Tenela (O3 sensitive) was used for quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping. Through a combination of QTL mapping and transcriptomic analyses in the response to apoplastic-ROS treatment, three QTL regions containing several potential candidate genes were identified in this study. In addition, multiple mutants with varying O3-sensitivities were employed to dissect the signaling components involved in the early apoplastic ROS signaling and O3-triggered cell death. A combination of global and targeted gene expression profiling, genetic analysis, and cell death assays was performed to dissect the contribution of hormone signaling and various transcription factors to the regulation of apoplastic ROS-triggered gene expression and cell death. The contributions of SA, JA and ethylene were assessed through analysis of mutants deficient in these hormones, mutants with constitutively activated hormone signaling and the exogenous application of hormones. Plants with elevated SA levels were found to be associated with an attenuated O3 response, whereas simultaneous elimination of SA-dependent and SA- independent signaling components enhanced the response to apoplastic ROS treatment. JA could act as both a positive and negative modifier of apoplastic ROS signaling, which was enhanced when ethylene signaling was also impaired. However, transcriptome analysis of a triple mutant deficient in SA, JA and ethylene revealed that these hormones signaling only contributed part (about 30%) of early-apoplastic ROS-triggered changes in gene expression, suggesting multiple signaling pathways could be required to regulate the apoplastic ROS response via combinatorial or overlapping mechanisms.
  • Yan, Yan (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Blue and UV radiation are environmental cues or sources of information that can shape the morphology and development of plants. It was hypothesized that: H1) long-term treatments of solar blue (400–500 nm), long-UV (350–400 nm) and short-UV (290–350 nm) radiation (starting before seedling emergence) are perceived as different and can trigger distinct morphological, physiological and molecular responses; H2) parental long-term exposure to short-UV radiation before flowering affects response patterns to blue and UV radiation in the offspring; H3) long-term exposure to solar blue, long-UV and/or short-UV radiation enhances drought tolerance; H4) the responses in H1, H2 and H3 are accession-dependent and related to the environments where the accessions originate. To test these hypotheses, three experiments assessed morphological, physiological and molecular responses of accessions of two legume species, faba bean (Vicia faba L.) (I, II) and barrel medic (Medicago truncatula Gaertn.) (III). To impose radiation treatments by attenuating different wavebands of sunlight, four types of plastic filters were used in experiments I and III outdoors. Through pairwise filter comparisons, three different solar wavebands were assessed: blue, long-UV and short-UV radiation. In experiment I, two accessions of V. faba (Aurora; ILB938) originating from contrasting UV environments (southern Sweden; Andean region of Colombia and Ecuador) were grown under the four filters in sunlight. To study the transgenerational effect of solar short-UV radiation, experiment II was established using seeds produced by plants from experiment I and a factorial experiment design combining the two V. faba accessions, two parental UV treatments (full sunlight and exclusion of short-UV radiation) and four offspring light treatments, from the factorial combination of UVB and blue radiation manipulations in a controlled environment. In experiment III, the effect of long-term exposure to solar blue, long-UV and short-UV radiation during growth on the tolerance of subsequent progressive drought was studied in three M. truncatula accessions using the same filter treatments as in experiment I combined with progressive drought treatments imposed by withholding watering for 2 and 7 days to half the plants starting 40 days after sowing. The three M. truncatula accessions, Jemalong A17, HM006 and HM020, originate from Australia, France and Tunisia, respectively. After long-term natural light treatments (I, III), blue light but not long-UV or short-UV radiation, significantly regulated plant morphology and transcript abundance. In contrast, both solar blue and short-UV radiation, but not long-UV radiation, induced the accumulation of total flavonoids in leaves of V. faba (I) and M. truncatula (III). Moreover, simultaneous exposure to blue and UVB radiation had a synergetic effect on the induction of flavonoid accumulation (II). In V. faba, the variations of flavonoid composition and gene expression between the two accessions were consistent throughout the two successive generations (I, II). In V. faba, the transgenerational effect of short-UV radiation altered the morphological responses of the progenies to blue light, and it also affected flavonoid accumulation of the offspring in response to UVB radiation. Moreover, the transgenerational effects differed in the two accessions (II): in Aurora, the parental exposure to solar short-UV radiation led to a near-doubling of total quercetin concentration in response to UVB radiation in the progeny, while this was not observed in ILB938. The difference of responses to blue and UV radiation in these two accessions are consistent with adaptation to contrasting UV environments. In M. truncatula, long-term exposure to both solar blue and UV radiation pre-acclimated plants to subsequent slowly imposed drought, as observed in the transcriptomic result in accession Jemalong A17 that drought (2 and 7 days without watering) did not regulate differentially expressed genes (DEGs) under the filter transmitting blue and UV radiation. In contrast, drought increased transcript abundance of several previously described stress-inducible genes under all other filters. In the light of transcriptomic and flavonoid responses to filter and drought treatments, two processes potentially contribute to light-driven acclimation to drought: 1) increased flavonoid accumulation under blue and short-UV radiation could enhance the capability to scavenge drought-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS); 2) down-regulation of genes involved in light reactions of photosynthesis by blue light could reduce the generation of ROS when stomata close. In conclusion, under long-term sunlight treatment, blue light modified plants’ morphology and transcript change while both blue and short-UV radiation induced the accumulation of flavonoids; a transgenerational effect of short-UV radiation influenced offspring responses to blue and UVB radiation differently in the two accessions; both blue and UV radiation contributed to pre-acclimation toward subsequent drought by functioning as environmental cues rather than stressors even if the specific responses differed among accessions. Thus, the results support the four hypotheses.
  • Morales Suárez, Luis Orlando (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Plant responses to solar ultraviolet radiation (UV, 280-400 nm) were assessed at different molecular levels using Betula pendula Roth (silver birch) and Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis) as model species in outdoor experiments to assess the possibly interacting roles of the UV-B and UV-A wavebands in acclimation to sunlight. Solar UV-B (280-315 nm) and UV-A (315-400 nm) irradiance was attenuated with plastic films. Both solar UV-B and UV-A promoted the acclimation of silver birch and Arabidopsis to UV in sunlight by regulating the expression of genes with functions in UV protection and also by inducing the accumulation of phenolic compounds in the leaves. Solar UV also regulated transcript accumulation of genes involved in the signaling and biosynthesis of auxin, brassinosteroids and jasmonic acid (JA) in Arabidopsis. A new role of Arabidopsis UV-B photoreceptor UV RESISTANCE LOCUS8 (UVR8) in the regulation of some responses to solar UV-A radiation was observed in addition to its previously described role in UV-B perception. High UV-A irradiance as present in sunlight, had a large effect on plant metabolism and modulated some of the previously characterized UV-B responses most probably through interaction between UVR8 and CRY pathways. In contrast to UVR8, under UV-B irradiation conditions not inducing stress, RADICAL-INDUCED CELL DEATH1 (RCD1) played no active role in UV signaling and acclimation, but rather modulated UV responses under sunlight. We demonstrated that solar UV-A makes an important contribution to acclimation of plants to sunlight, independently and interacting with UV-B.
  • Ursache, Robertas (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Plant vascular tissues are supporting and conductive tissues composed of two major components, xylem and phloem. These tissues transport water, food, hormones and minerals within the plant. In my thesis work, I used the Arabidopsis root as a model system to study vascular tissue formation. The first part of my thesis work is focused on the formation of xylem, the water transporting tissue. In the Arabidopsis root, the xylem is organized as an axis of cell files with two distinct cell fates: the central metaxylem and the peripheral protoxylem. It has been previously reported that high and low expression levels of the class III HD-ZIP transcription factors promote metaxylem and protoxylem identities, respectively. In this work, we provide evidence that auxin biosynthesis promotes HD-ZIP III expression and metaxylem formation. We observed that plants with mutations in auxin biosynthesis genes, such as trp2-12, wei8 tar2, or the quintuple yucca mutant, as well as plants treated with a pharmacological inhibitor of auxin biosynthesis, show reduced expression of the HD-ZIP III genes accompanied by specific defects in metaxylem formation. We were able to induce a partial rescue of the metaxylem defects by introducing an endogenous auxin supply. In addition, some of the patterning defects can be suppressed by synthetically elevating HD-ZIP III expression in the stele of the Arabidopsis root. The second part of my thesis work is focused on phloem tissue formation. Phloem is the tissue responsible for long-distance molecular transport and signaling. The conductive components of the phloem, the sieve elements, rely on specific junctions between the conducting cells in the form of highly perforated sieve areas. We identified mutations in the CHER1 (CHOLINE TRANSPORTER LIKE 1) locus of Arabidopsis which result in altered phloem conductivity, reduced sieve pore density, and defects in sieve pore formation. CHER1 encodes a member of a poorly characterized choline transporter-like protein family in plants and animals. We provide data showing that CHER1 facilitates choline transport, localizes to the trans-Golgi network, and is associated with the late stage of phragmoplast formation during cytokinesis. Interestingly, CHER1 has a sustained, polar localization in forming sieve plates, which is consistent with its function in the elaboration of the sieve areas.
  • Cui, Fuqiang (Hansaprint, 2014)
    To face the constant challenges from numerous pathogens in the environment, sophisticated defense systems have evolved in plants. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and phytohormones are important cellular compounds that regulate plant defense systems to overcome biotic stresses from different pathogens. Against biotrophic pathogens, which require living host cells, hypersensitive cell death response (HR), a type of programed cell death mediated by ROS and salicylic acid (SA), is effective for immunity. However, to necrotrophic pathogens, which take host cell death as a hallmark of a successful colonization, the roles of ROS and phytohormones in the manipulation of cell death during plant defense are more complex. In this work, we utilized the model necrotrophic pathogen Botrytis cinerea (Botrytis; grey mold) and the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis), using mutants in reverse genetic screens, especially radical-induced cell death1 (rcd1) and botrytis susceptible1 (bos1), were used to study the functions of ROS and phytohormones in plant-Botrytis interactions. It was found that Botrytis-triggered signaling in Arabidopsis mostly overlapped with the signaling triggered by apoplastic ROS but not intracellular ROS. However, rcd1 and bos1 exhibited opposite symptoms in response to Botrytis and apoplastic ROS. This suggested that the resistance signaling regulated by RCD1 or BOS1 were distinct from a more common signaling programs induced by Botrytis and apoplastic ROS. Further study revealed that RCD1 negatively regulated Botrytis resistance independent of stress-hormones. RCD1 positively regulated Botrytis-toxin sensitivity and brassinosteroid (BR) signaling, which was demonstrated to negatively regulate plant resistance to Botrytis. In the BOS1 study, suppression of abscisic acid (ABA)-elicited cell death and control of cell death spread were identified as pivotal functions of BOS1 in its regulation of host resistance to Botrytis. This work emphasized the negative roles of both BR and ABA in response to Botrytis infection. Considering the established facts that: 1) ABA promoted plant cell death, 2) BR deficiency leads to delayed senescence, and 3) the ROS burst causes damage to both host and Botrytis; this work supports the view that cell death control plays a pivotal role in plant-Botrytis interactions, where defense combined with less cell death confers plants with an advantage in the battle against Botrytis.
  • Spirin, Viacheslav (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    This dissertation deals with the basidiomycete genus Antrodia, one of the largest polypore genera, which embraces over 80 species. Together with some other genera of brown-rot fungi (Fomitopsis, Laetiporus, Postia etc.), Antrodia constitutes its own lineage within the Polyporales, the so called antrodia clade. However, the genus in its current scope is polyphyletic and in need of further splitting into several natural genera. The main aim of this study is to define what is the genus Antrodia as a monophyletic unity, and to revise species concepts in some of the most important species complexes in Antrodia sensu lato. In the strict sense, Antrodia is a small genus, with six species closely related to the genus type, Antrodia serpens. They are highly uniform morphologically but can be recognized based on meticulous pore and spore measurements, as well as ecological and geographic data. Morphological and DNA data also allowed to revise species concepts within the Antrodia crassa, A. serialis, and A. malicola groups, belonging to the antrodia clade. All these revisions were based on type studies, studies of available herbarium material, and DNA analyses. In total, specimens of 46 Antrodia species were sequenced, 36 of them for the first time. Twelve new species were described, and six new combinations were proposed. Neotypes and epitypes were designated for seven species, in order to fix the current use of the species names. Results of the present research can be applied to further taxonomic revisions of brown-rot polypores, as well as for introducing phylogenetically sound genus concepts in the antrodia clade. Re-evaluation of species concepts in the A. crassa group provided new data on the ecology and indicator values of some species, and therefore it can be useful for defining their status in regional Red Lists and lists of indicator species of old-growth forests.