Cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) is a maternally inherited trait that causes dysfunctions in pollen and anther development. CMS is caused by the interaction between nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. A product of a CMS-causing gene encoded by the mitochondrial genome affects mitochondrial function and the regulation of nuclear genes, leading to male sterility. In contrast, the RESTORER OF FERTILITY gene (Rf gene) in the nuclear genome suppresses the expression of the CMS-causing gene and restores male fertility. An alloplasmic CMS line is often bred as a result of nuclear substitution, which causes the removal of functional Rf genes and allows the expression of a CMS-causing gene in mitochondria. The CMS/Rf system is an excellent model for understanding the genetic interactions and cooperative functions of mitochondrial and nuclear genomes in plants, and is also an agronomically important trait for hybrid seed production. In this review article, pollen and anther phenotypes of CMS, CMS-associated mitochondrial genes, Rf genes, and the mechanism that causes pollen abortion and its agronomical application for rice are described.
The production of recombinant proteins is important in academic research to identify protein functions. Moreover, recombinant enzymes are used in the food and chemical industries, and high-quality proteins are required for diagnostic, therapeutic, and pharmaceutical applications. Though many recombinant proteins are produced by microbial or mammalian cell-based expression systems, plants have been promoted as alternative, cost-effective, scalable, safe, and sustainable expression systems. The development and improvement of transient expression systems have significantly reduced the period of protein production and increased the yield of recombinant proteins in plants. In this review, we consider the importance of plant-based expression systems for recombinant protein production and as genetic engineering tools.
Plants release specialized (secondary) metabolites from their roots to communicate with other organisms, including soil microorganisms. The spatial behavior of such metabolites around these roots can help us understand roles for the communication; however, currently, they are unclear because soil-based studies are complex. Here, we established a multimodal metabolomics approach using imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to spatially assign metabolites under laboratory conditions using agar. In a case study using Catharanthus roseus, we showed that 58 nitrogen (N)-containing metabolites are released from the roots into the agar. For the metabolite assignment, we used 15N-labeled and non-labeled LC-MS/MS data, previously reported. Four metabolite ions were identified using authentic standard compounds as derived from monoterpene indole alkaloids (MIAs) such as ajmalicine, catharanthine, serpentine, and yohimbine. An alkaloid network analysis using dot products and spinglass methods characterized five clusters to which the 58 ions belong. The analysis clustered ions from the indolic skeleton-type MIAs to a cluster, suggesting that other communities may represent distinct metabolite groups. For future chemical assignments of the serpentine community, key fragmentation patterns were characterized using the 15N-labeled and non-labeled MS/MS spectra.
Spatial metabolomics uses imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) to localize metabolites within tissue section. Here, we performed matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance-IMS (MALDI-FTICR-IMS) to identify the localization of asparaptine A, a naturally occurring inhibitor of angiotensin-converting enzyme, in green spears of asparagus (Asparagus officinalis). Spatial metabolome data were acquired in an untargeted manner. Segmentation analysis using the data characterized tissue-type-dependent and independent distribution patterns in cross-sections of asparagus spears. Moreover, asparaptine A accumulated at high levels in developing lateral shoot tissues. Quantification of asparaptine A in lateral shoots using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) validated the IMS analysis. These results provide valuable information for understanding the function of asparaptine A in asparagus, and identify the lateral shoot as a potential region of interest for multiomics studies to examine gene-to-metabolite associations in the asparaptine A biosynthesis.
The shoot organ boundaries have important roles in plant growth and morphogenesis. It has been reported that a gene encoding a cysteine-rich secreted peptide of the EPIDERMAL PATTERNING FACTOR-LIKE (EPFL) family, EPFL2, is expressed in the boundary domain between the two cotyledon primordia of Arabidopsis thaliana embryo. However, its developmental functions remain unknown. This study aimed to analyze the role of EPFL2 during embryogenesis. We found that cotyledon growth was reduced in its loss-of-function mutants, and this phenotype was associated with the reduction of auxin response peaks at the tips of the primordia. The reduced cotyledon size of the mutant embryo recovered in germinating seedlings, indicating the presence of a factor that acted redundantly with EPFL2 to promote cotyledon growth in late embryogenesis. Our analysis suggests that the boundary domain between the cotyledon primordia acts as a signaling center that organizes auxin response peaks and promotes cotyledon growth.
Betalains, comprising violet betacyanins and yellow betaxanthins, are pigments found in plants belonging to the order Caryophyllales. In this study, we induced the accumulation of betalains in ornamental lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) by genetic engineering. Three betalain biosynthetic genes encoding CYP76AD1, dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) 4,5-dioxygenase (DOD), and cyclo-DOPA 5-O-glucosyltransferase (5GT) were expressed under the control of the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter in lisianthus, in which anthocyanin pigments are responsible for the pink flower color. During the selection process on hygromycin-containing media, some shoots with red leaves were obtained. However, most red-colored shoots were suppressed root induction and incapable of further growth. Only clone #1 successfully acclimatized and bloomed, producing pinkish-red flowers, with a slightly greater intensity of red color than that in wild-type flowers. T1 plants derived from clone #1 segregated into five typical flower color phenotypes: wine red, bright pink, pale pink, pale yellow, and salmon pink. Among these, line #1-1 showed high expression levels of all three transgenes and exhibited a novel wine-red flower color. In the flower petals of line #1-1, abundant betacyanins and low-level betaxanthins were coexistent with anthocyanins. In other lines, differences in the relative accumulation of betalain and anthocyanin pigments resulted in flower color variations, as described above. Thus, this study is the first to successfully produce novel flower color varieties in ornamental plants by controlling betalain accumulation through genetic engineering.
Secondary cell walls (SCWs) accumulate in specific cell types of vascular plants, notably xylem vessel cells. Previous work has shown that calcium ions (Ca2+) participate in xylem vessel cell differentiation, but whether they function in SCW deposition remains unclear. In this study, we examined the role of Ca2+ in SCW deposition during xylem vessel cell differentiation using Arabidopsis thaliana suspension-cultured cells carrying the VND7-inducible system, in which VND7 activity can be post-translationally upregulated to induce transdifferentiation into protoxylem-type vessel cells. We observed that extracellular Ca2+ concentration was a crucial determinant of differentiation, although it did not have consistent effects on the transcription of VND7-downstream genes as a whole. Increasing the Ca2+ concentration reduced differentiation but the cells could generate the spiral patterning of SCWs. Exposure to a calcium-channel inhibitor partly restored differentiation but resulted in abnormal branched and net-like SCW patterning. These data suggest that Ca2+ signaling participates in xylem vessel cell differentiation via post-transcriptional regulation of VND7-downstream events, such as patterning of SCW deposition.
Abiotic stresses, such as high light and salinity, are major factors that limit crop productivity and sustainability worldwide. Chemical priming is a promising strategy for improving the abiotic stress tolerance of plants. Recently, we discovered that ethanol enhances high-salinity stress tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana and rice by detoxifying reactive oxygen species (ROS). However, the effect of ethanol on other abiotic stress responses is unclear. Therefore, we investigated the effect of ethanol on the high-light stress response. Measurement of chlorophyll fluorescence showed that ethanol mitigates photoinhibition under high-light stress. Staining with 3,3′-diaminobenzidine (DAB) showed that the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) was inhibited by ethanol under high-light stress conditions in A. thaliana. We found that ethanol increased the gene expressions and enzymatic activities of antioxidative enzymes, including ASCORBATE PEROXIDASE1 (AtAPX1), Catalase (AtCAT1 and AtCAT2). Moreover, the expression of flavonoid biosynthetic genes and anthocyanin contents were upregulated by ethanol treatment during exposure to high-light stress. These results imply that ethanol alleviates oxidative damage from high-light stress in A. thaliana by suppressing ROS accumulation. Our findings support the hypothesis that ethanol improves tolerance to multiple stresses in field-grown crops.
The potato tuber starch trait is changed depending on the composition of amylose and amylopectin. The amount of amylopectin is determined by the activity of the starch branching enzymes SBE1, SBE2, and SBE3 in potato. SBE3, a homolog of rice BEI, is a major gene that is abundant in tubers. In this study, we created mutants of the potato SBE3 gene using CRISPR/Cas9 attached to the translation enhancer dMac3. Potato has a tetraploid genome, and a four-allele mutant of the SBE3 gene is desired. Mutations in the SBE3 gene were found in 89 of 126 transformants of potato plants. Among these mutants, 10 lines contained four mutant SBE3 genes, indicating that 8% efficiency of target mutagenesis was achieved. These mutants grew normally, similar to the wild-type plant, and yielded sufficient amounts of tubers. The potato starch in these tubers was similar to that of the rice BEI mutant. Western blot analysis revealed the defective production of SBE3 in the mutant tubers, suggesting that these transformants were loss-of-function mutants of SBE3.
We observed trees of the Japanese apricot, Prunus mume ‘Nanko’ (Rosaceae), bearing two types of flowers: 34% had blue fluorescent pollen under UV irradiation, and 66% had non-fluorescent pollen. The fluorescent pollen grains were abnormally crushed, sterile, and devoid of intine and pollenkitt. The development of microspores within anthers was investigated: in the abnormally developed anthers, tapetal cells were vacuolated at the unicellular microspore stage, and fluorescent pollen was produced. Compounds responsible for the blue fluorescence of pollen were identified as chlorogenic acid and 1-O-feruloyl-β-D-glucose. The anthers with fluorescent pollen contained 6.7-fold higher and 3.8-fold lower amounts of chlorogenic acid and N1,N5,N10-tri-p-coumaroylspermidine, respectively, compared to those with non-fluorescent pollen. The tapetal vacuolization, highly accumulated chlorogenic acid, and deficiency of N1,N5,N10-tri-p-coumaroylspermidine imply that low-temperature stress during the early unicellular microspore stage caused a failure in microsporogenesis. Furthermore, potential effects of the visual difference on the bee behavior were also discussed through the colorimetry. The sterility, likely induced by low-temperature stress, and the preference of honeybees for fluorescence may reduce the pollination efficiency of P. mume.
Late embryogenesis abundant protein (LEA) genes are widely conserved in seed plant species and form a multigene family. While some LEAs are known to respond to environmental stresses, the function of many LEAs is unknown. OsLEA5 (Lea14A) interacts with a regulator of the endosperm storage production, FLO2, suggesting that OsLEA5 may be involved in endosperm quality control. RNAi knockdown line of OsLEA5 showed decreased seed weight. Transformant lines overexpressing OsLEA5 exhibited improved quality and seed weight of mature seeds when they were developed under high-temperature conditions, while seed quality strongly declined in wild-type plants exposed to high-temperature stress. These findings indicate that OsLEA5 contributes to suppressing the deterioration of seed quality when developed under high-temperature conditions.
Phosphatidic acid plays an important role in Nicotiana benthamiana immune responses against phytopathogenic bacteria. We analyzed the contributions of endoplasmic reticulum-derived chloroplast phospholipids, including phosphatidic acid, to the resistance of N. benthamiana against Ralstonia solanacearum. Here, we focused on trigalactosyldiacylglycerol 3 (TGD3) protein as a candidate required for phosphatidic acid signaling. On the basis of Arabidopsis thaliana TGD3 sequences, we identified two putative TGD3 orthologs in the N. benthamiana genome, NbTGD3-1 and NbTGD3-2. To address the role of TGD3s in plant defense responses, we created double NbTGD3-silenced plants using virus-induced gene silencing. The NbTGD3-silenced plants showed a moderately reduced growth phenotype. Bacterial growth and the appearance of bacterial wilt disease were accelerated in NbTGD3-silenced plants, compared with control plants, challenged with R. solanacearum. The NbTGD3-silenced plants showed reduced both expression of allene oxide synthase that encoded jasmonic acid biosynthetic enzyme and NbPR-4, a marker gene for jasmonic acid signaling, after inoculation with R. solanacearum. Thus, NbTGD3-mediated endoplasmic reticulum—chloroplast lipid transport might be required for jasmonic acid signaling-mediated basal disease resistance in N. benthamiana.
Lignocellulosic materials are potential renewable sources of fermentable sugars for bioethanol production. In this study, we used the CcAbf62A gene encoding CcAbf62A, a putative extracellular α-L-arabinofuranosidase, cloned from the mycotrophic basidiomycete Coprinopsis cinerea. CcAbf62A acts on arabinoxylan, the major hemicellulose of grasses, releasing arabinose. CcAbf62A was introduced into rice with the aim of enhancing delignification efficiency and the availability of lignocellulosic materials without reducing lignin content. Among the 32 lines of regenerated transgenic rice, 13 exhibited markedly disrupted elongation growth and excessive tillering (dwarf), seven showed delayed elongation growth (retarded-growth), and 12 showed phenotypes similar to those of control plants (normal). Additionally, the dwarf lines showed reduced acclimation. RT-PCR analysis revealed that dwarf lines had higher levels of CcAbf62A expression than retarded-growth and normal lines. Although the lignin content of transgenic rice plants expressing CcAbf62A did not differ significantly from that of control rice plants, dwarf lines were characterized by delayed deposition of lignin in the culms compared with the controls. The reduced acclimation ability of dwarf lines is believed to be associated with increased water loss and reduced water conductivity concomitant with delayed lignin deposition. Contrary to expectations, the alkaline delignification rates of dwarf and retarded-growth Abf lines were slightly lower than those of control rice plants. Our findings indicate that CcAbf62A reduces ferulate-lignin cross-links by detaching arabinose side chains from arabinoxylan and increases the relative abundance of alkaline-resistant benzyl ether cross-links. CcAbf62A is anticipated to provide new approaches for breeding plants containing altered lignocellulosic materials or lodging-resistant crops.
The HAWAIIAN SKIRT (HWS) gene was originally described in Arabidopsis for the characteristic fusion of sepals in the mutant. A tomato line mutated in the putative ortholog gene was isolated in a previous study. The tomato hws-1 mutant showed facultative parthenocarpy and produced fruits with elevated Brix, revealing the gene as a hopeful resource for crop improvement. To confirm the orthology relationship between the Arabidopsis and tomato HWS genes, the hws-1 mutant was complemented with either the tomato wild-type genomic fragment or the Arabidopsis sequence of the gene. In both complementation experiments, defective phenotypes of hws-1 are rescued, albeit to different extents. Recovery of these phenotypes, which include parthenocarpic fruit production, increased Brix, loss of leaflet serration, alteration of bud and petal shape, firmly establishes SlHWS as an ortholog of the originally described HWS in Arabidopsis. This work indicates that the function of HWS is likely to be conserved in a wide range of plant species.