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Szeged, Hungary

Dixon L.E.,University of Edinburgh | Knox K.,University of Edinburgh | Kozma-Bognar L.,Institute of Plant Biology | Southern M.M.,University of Warwick | And 2 more authors.
Current Biology

The circadian clock provides robust, ∼24 hr biological rhythms throughout the eukaryotes. The clock gene circuit in plants comprises interlocking transcriptional feedback loops, reviewed in [1], whereby the morning-expressed transcription factors CIRCADIAN CLOCK-ASSOCIATED 1 (CCA1) and LATE ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL (LHY) repress the expression of evening genes, notably TIMING OF CAB EXPRESSION 1 (TOC1). EARLY FLOWERING 3 (ELF3) has been implicated as a repressor of light signaling to the clock [2, 3] and, paradoxically, as an activator of the light-induced genes CCA1 and LHY [4, 5]. We use cca1-11 lhy-21 elf3-4 plants to separate the repressive function of ELF3 from its downstream targets CCA1 and LHY. We further demonstrate that ELF3 associates physically with the promoter of PSEUDO-RESPONSE REGULATOR 9 (PRR9), a repressor of CCA1 and LHY expression, in a time-dependent fashion. The repressive function of ELF3 is thus consistent with indirect activation of LHY and CCA1, in a double-negative connection via a direct ELF3 target, PRR9. This mechanism reconciles the functions of ELF3 in the clock network during the night and points to further effects of ELF3 during the day. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved. Source

Boyko A.,Institute of Plant Biology | Kovalchuk I.,University of Lethbridge
Current Opinion in Plant Biology

As sessile organisms, plants need to continuously adjust their responses to external stimuli to cope with changing growth conditions. Since the seed dispersal range is often rather limited, exposure of progeny to the growth conditions of parents is very probable. The plasticity of plant phenotypes cannot be simply explained by genetic changes such as point mutations, deletions, insertions and gross chromosomal rearrangements. Since many environmental stresses persist for only one or several plant generations, other mechanisms of adaptation must exist. The heritability of reversible epigenetic modifications that regulate gene expression without changing DNA sequence makes them an attractive alternative mechanism. In this review, we discuss recent advances in understanding how changes in genome stability and epigenetically mediated changes in gene expression could contribute to plant adaptation. We provide examples of environmentally induced transgenerational epigenetic effects that include the appearance of new phenotypes in successive generations of stressed plants. We also describe several cases in which exposure to stress leads to nonrandom heritable but reversible changes in stress tolerance in the progeny of stressed plants. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Boyko A.,Institute of Plant Biology | Kovalchuk I.,University of Lethbridge
Molecular Plant

Recent reports suggest that exposure to stress is capable of influencing the frequency and pattern of inherited changes in various parts of the genome. In this review, we will discuss the influence of viral pathogens on somatic and meiotic genome stability of Nicotiana tabacum and Arabidopsis thaliana. Plants infected with a compatible pathogen generate a systemic recombination signal that precedes the spread of pathogens and results in changes in the somatic and meiotic recombination frequency. The progeny of infected plants exhibit changes in global and locus-specific DNA methylation patterns, genomic rearrangements at transgenic reporter loci and resistance gene-like-loci, and even tolerance to pathogen infection and abiotic stress. Here, we will discuss the contribution of environmental stresses to genome evolution and will focus on the role of heritable epigenetic changes in response to pathogen infection. © The Author 2011. Published by the Molecular Plant Shanghai Editorial Office in association with Oxford University Press on behalf of CSPB and IPPE, SIBS, CAS. Source

Boyko A.,Institute of Plant Biology | Kovalchuk I.,University of Lethbridge
Plant Signaling and Behavior

Plants exposed to stress pass the memory of exposure to stress to the progeny. Previously, we showed that the phenomenon of transgenerational memory of stress is of epigenetic nature and depends on the function of Dicer-like (DCL) 2 and DCL3 proteins. Here, we discuss a possible role of DNA methylation and function of small RNAs in establishing and maintaining transgenerational responses to stress. Our new data report that memory of stress is passed to the progeny predominantly through the female rather than male gamete. Possible evolutionary advantages of this mechanism are also discussed. © 2010 Landes Bioscience. Source

Papdi C.,Institute of Plant Biology
Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)

A powerful means to learn about gene functions in a developmental or physiological context in an organism is to isolate the corresponding mutants with altered phenotypes. Diverse mutagenic agents, including chemical and biological, have been widely employed, and each comes with its own advantages and inconveniences. For Arabidopsis thaliana, whose genome sequence is publicly available, the reliance of reverse genetics to understand the relevant roles of genes particularly those coding for proteins in growth and development is now a common practice. Identifying multiple alleles at each locus is important because they can potentially reveal epistatic relationship in a signaling pathway or components belonging to a common signaling complex by their synergistic or even allele-specific enhancement of the phenotypic severity. In this article, we describe mutagenesis by using ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS) and transfer (T)-DNA-mediated insertion or activation tagging as applied to the most widely used genetic plant model A. thaliana. Also, we demonstrate the utility of several genetic screening approaches to dissect adaptive responses to various abiotic stresses. Source

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