New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research

Hamilton, New Zealand

New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research

Hamilton, New Zealand
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Janssen B.J.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research | Snowden K.C.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research
Frontiers in Plant Science | Year: 2012

The signaling molecules strigolactone (SL and karrikin are involved in seed germination, development of axillary meristems, senescence of leaves, and interactions with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. The signal transduction pathways for both SLs and karrikins require the same F-box protein (MAX2 and closely related α/β hydrolase fold proteins (DAD2 and KAI2. The crystal structure of DAD2 has been solved revealing an α/β hydrolase fold protein with an internal cavity capable of accommodating SLs. DAD2 responds to the SL analog GR24 by changing conformation and binding to MAX2 in a GR24 concentration-dependent manner. DAD2 can also catalyze hydrolysis of GR24. Structure activity relationships of analogs indicate that the butenolide ring common to both SLs and karrikins is essential for biological activity, but the remainder of the molecules can be significantly modified without loss of activity. The combination of data from the study of DAD2, KAI2, and chemical analogs of SLs and karrikins suggests a model for binding that requires nucleophilic attack by the active site serine of the hydrolase at the carbonyl atom of the butenolide ring. A conformational change occurs in the hydrolase that results in interaction with the F-box protein MAX2. Downstream signal transduction is then likely to occur via SCF (Skp-Cullin-F-box complex-mediated ubiquitination of target proteins and their subsequent degradation. The role of the catalytic activity of the hydrolase is unclear but it may be integral in binding as well as possibly allowing the signal to be cleared from the receptor. The α/β hydrolase fold family consists mostly of active enzymes, with a few notable exceptions. We suggest that DAD2 and KAI2 represent an intermediate stage where some catalytic activity is retained at the same time as a receptor role has evolved. © 2012 Janssen and Snowden.

Sun X.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research | Jones W.T.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research | Rikkerink E.H.A.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research
Biochemical Journal | Year: 2012

IDPs (intrinsically disordered proteins) are highly abundant in eukaryotic proteomes and important for cellular functions, especially in cell signalling and transcriptional regulation. An IDR (intrinsically disordered region) within an IDP often undergoes disorder-to-order transitions upon binding to various partners, allowing an IDP to recognize and bind different partners at various binding interfaces. Plant-specific GRAS proteins play critical and diverse roles in plant development and signalling, and act as integrators of signals from multiple plant growth regulatory and environmental inputs. Possessing an intrinsically disordered N-terminal domain, the GRAS proteins constitute the first functionally required unfoldome from the plant kingdom. Furthermore, the N-terminal domains of GRAS proteins contain MoRFs (molecular recognition features), short interactionprone segments that are located within IDRs and are able to recognize their interacting partners by undergoing disorder-to-order transitions upon binding to these specific partners. These MoRFs represent potential protein-protein binding sites and may be acting as molecular bait in recognition events during plant development. Intrinsic disorder provides GRAS proteins with a degree of binding plasticity that may be linked to their functional versatility. As an overview of structure-function relationships for GRAS proteins, the present review covers the main biological functions of the GRAS family, the IDRs within these proteins and their implications for understanding mode-of-action. ©The Authors Journal compilation © 2012 Biochemical Society.

Stewart A.,Lincoln University at Christchurch | Cromey M.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability | Year: 2011

Current research on bio-energy crops is focused almost exclusively on selection of high performing varieties and development of optimum agronomic practices, but there has been only cursory reference to diseases. Given the fact that diseases cause significant yield losses worldwide on a range of economic crops, including some that are now being grown for biofuel production, it seems short-sighted to ignore the risk that diseases may pose to successful establishment and economics of bio-energy crop production. New disease threats are likely to emerge alongside existing diseases as bio-energy crop monocultures become commonplace worldwide. The development of low-cost integrated disease management strategies will be an imperative. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

Yin X.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research | Allan A.C.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research | Chen K.,Zhejiang University | Ferguson I.B.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research
Plant Physiology | Year: 2010

Kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa) is a climacteric fruit sensitive to low concentrations of ethylene. To investigate the transcriptional mechanisms underlying kiwifruit ethylene response, transcription factors encoding four EIN3-Like (EILs) and 14 Ethylene Response Factors (ERFs) were cloned from kiwifruit. Expression of these transcription factors was examined during fruit development. The expression of transcripts of most AdERFs was higher during early fruit development, with the exception of AdERF3, which increased with maturity. Several AdERFs were apparently down-regulated by ethylene, as they were affected by the ethylene inhibitor 1-methylcyclopropene and by antisense suppression of ACO (for 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid oxidase) in the fruit. In contrast, AdEILs were constitutively expressed during fruit development and ripening. The transcription factors AdEIL2 and AdEIL3 activated transcription of the ripening-related genes AdACO1 and AdXET5 (xyloglucan endotransglycosylase gene) and, when overexpressed in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), stimulated ethylene production. The potential repressor AdERF9 suppressed this promoter activity. These results support a role for kiwifruit EILs and ERFs in transcriptional regulation of ripening-related genes and in the regulation of kiwifruit fruit-ripening processes. © 2010 American Society of Plant Biologists.

Lee R.,University of Otago | Baldwin S.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research | Kenel F.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research | McCallum J.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research | Macknight R.,University of Otago
Nature Communications | Year: 2013

Onion (Allium cepa L.) is a biennial crop that in temperate regions is planted in the spring and, after a juvenile stage, forms a bulb in response to the lengthening photoperiod of late spring/summer. The bulb then overwinters and in the next season it flowers and sets seed. FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) encodes a mobile signaling protein involved in regulating flowering, as well as other aspects of plant development. Here we show that in onions, different FT genes regulate flowering and bulb formation. Flowering is promoted by vernalization and correlates with the upregulation of AcFT2, whereas bulb formation is regulated by two antagonistic FT-like genes. AcFT1 promotes bulb formation, while AcFT4 prevents AcFT1 upregulation and inhibits bulbing in transgenic onions. Long-day photoperiods lead to the downregulation of AcFT4 and the upregulation of AcFT1, and this promotes bulbing. The observation that FT proteins can repress and promote different developmental transitions highlights the evolutionary versatility of FT. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited.

Sun X.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research | Rikkerink E.H.A.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research | Jones W.T.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research | Uversky V.N.,University of South Florida | Uversky V.N.,Russian Academy of Sciences
Plant Cell | Year: 2013

Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) are highly abundant in eukaryotic proteomes. Plant IDPs play critical roles in plant biology and often act as integrators of signals from multiple plant regulatory and environmental inputs. Binding promiscuity and plasticity allow IDPs to interact with multiple partners in protein interaction networks and provide important functional advantages in molecular recognition through transient protein-protein interactions. Short interaction-prone segments within IDPs, termed molecular recognition features, represent potential binding sites that can undergo disorder-to-order transition upon binding to their partners. In this review, we summarize the evidence for the importance of IDPs in plant biology and evaluate the functions associated with intrinsic disorder in five different types of plant protein families experimentally confirmed as IDPs. Functional studies of these proteins illustrate the broad impact of disorder on many areas of plant biology, including abiotic stress, transcriptional regulation, light perception, and development. Based on the roles of disorder in the protein-protein interactions, we propose various modes of action for plant IDPs that may provide insight for future experimental approaches aimed at understanding the molecular basis of protein function within important plant pathways. © 2013 American Society of Plant Biologists. All rights reserved.

Mohan S.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research
TAG. Theoretical and applied genetics. Theoretische und angewandte Genetik | Year: 2014

Over-expression of the potato Gibberellin Stimulated-Like 2 ( GSL2 ) gene in transgenic potato confers resistance to blackleg disease incited by Pectobacterium atrosepticum and confirms a role for GSL2 in plant defence. The Gibberellin Stimulated-Like 2 (GSL2) gene (also known as Snakin 2) encodes a cysteine-rich, low-molecular weight antimicrobial peptide produced in potato plants. This protein is thought to play important roles in the innate defence against invading microbes. Over-expression of the GSL2 gene in potato (cultivar Iwa) was achieved using Agrobacterium-mediated gene transfer of a plant expression vector with the potato GSL2 gene under the regulatory control elements of the potato light-inducible Lhca3 gene. The resulting plants were confirmed as being transgenic by PCR, and subsequently analysed for transcriptional expression of the Lhca3-GSL2-Lhca3 chimeric potato gene. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis demonstrated that the majority of the transgenic potato lines over-expressed the GSL2 gene at the mRNA level. Based on qRT-PCR results and evaluation of phenotypic appearance, eight lines were selected for further characterisation and evaluated in bioassays for resistance to Pectobacterium atrosepticum (formerly Erwinia carotovora subsp. atroseptica), the causal agent of blackleg in potato. Three independent pathogenicity bioassays showed that transgenic lines with significantly increased transcriptional expression of the GSL2 gene exhibit resistance to blackleg disease. This establishes a functional role for GSL2 in plant defence against pathogens in potato.

Varkonyi-Gasic E.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research
Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) | Year: 2011

Plant microRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of endogenous small RNAs that are essential for plant development and survival. They arise from larger precursor RNAs with a characteristic hairpin structure and regulate gene activity by targeting mRNA transcripts for cleavage or translational repression. Efficient and reliable detection and quantification of miRNA expression has become an essential step in understanding their specific roles. The expression levels of miRNAs can vary dramatically between samples and they often escape detection by conventional technologies such as cloning, northern hybridization and microarray analysis. The stem-loop RT-PCR method described here is designed to detect and quantify mature miRNAs in a fast, specific, accurate and reliable manner. First, a miRNA-specific stem-loop RT primer is hybridized to the miRNA and then reverse transcribed. Next, the RT product is amplified and monitored in real time using a miRNA-specific forward primer and the universal reverse primer. This method enables miRNA expression profiling from as little as 10 pg of total RNA and is suitable for high-throughput miRNA expression analysis.

Baldwin S.,New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research
TAG. Theoretical and applied genetics. Theoretische und angewandte Genetik | Year: 2014

We present the first evidence for a QTL conditioning an adaptive trait in bulb onion, and the first linkage and population genetics analyses of candidate genes involved in photoperiod and vernalization physiology. Economic production of bulb onion (Allium cepa L.) requires adaptation to photoperiod and temperature such that a bulb is formed in the first year and a flowering umbel in the second. 'Bolting', or premature flowering before bulb maturation, is an undesirable trait strongly selected against by breeders during adaptation of germplasm. To identify genome regions associated with adaptive traits we conducted linkage mapping and population genetic analyses of candidate genes, and QTL analysis of bolting using a low-density linkage map. We performed tagged amplicon sequencing of ten candidate genes, including the FT-like gene family, in eight diverse populations to identify polymorphisms and seek evidence of differentiation. Low nucleotide diversity and negative estimates of Tajima's D were observed for most genes, consistent with purifying selection. Significant population differentiation was observed only in AcFT2 and AcSOC1. Selective genotyping in a large 'Nasik Red × CUDH2150' F2 family revealed genome regions on chromosomes 1, 3 and 6 associated (LOD > 3) with bolting. Validation genotyping of two F2 families grown in two environments confirmed that a QTL on chromosome 1, which we designate AcBlt1, consistently conditions bolting susceptibility in this cross. The chromosome 3 region, which coincides with a functionally characterised acid invertase, was not associated with bolting in other environments, but showed significant association with bulb sucrose content in this and other mapping pedigrees. These putative QTL and candidate genes were placed on the onion map, enabling future comparative studies of adaptive traits.

New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research | Date: 2015-02-26

A new and distinct apricot variety is described. The variety results from selection among a population of seedlings derived from controlled crossing of the varieties Bhart (not patented), marketed as Orangered and Late Moorpark (not patented). The new variety, StB14/15, is distinguished from others by medium sized fruit with a deep red overcolour when mature accompanied by mid orange coloured firm flesh and low ethylene characteristics. Fruit of StB14/15 matures in early to late February in Otago, New Zealand.

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