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Gonzali S.,PlantLab | Kiferle C.,PlantLab | Perata P.,PlantLab
Current Opinion in Biotechnology | Year: 2017

Iodine deficiency is a widespread micronutrient malnutrition problem, and the addition of iodine to table salt represents the most common prophylaxis tool. The biofortification of crops with iodine is a recent strategy to further enrich the human diet with a potentially cost-effective, well accepted and bioavailable iodine source. Understanding how iodine functions in higher plants is key to establishing suitable biofortification approaches. This review describes the current knowledge regarding iodine physiology in higher plants, and provides updates on recent agronomic and metabolic engineering strategies of biofortification. Whereas the direct administration of iodine is effective to increase the iodine content in many plant species, a more sophisticated genetic engineering approach seems to be necessary for the iodine biofortification of some important staple crops. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd


Van Dongen J.T.,RWTH Aachen | Licausi F.,PlantLab
Annual Review of Plant Biology | Year: 2015

Oxygen is an indispensable substrate for many biochemical reactions in plants, including energy metabolism (respiration). Despite its importance, plants lack an active transport mechanism to distribute oxygen to all cells. Therefore, steep oxygen gradients occur within most plant tissues, which can be exacerbated by environmental perturbations that further reduce oxygen availability. Plants possess various responses to cope with spatial and temporal variations in oxygen availability, many of which involve metabolic adaptations to deal with energy crises induced by low oxygen. Responses are induced gradually when oxygen concentrations decrease and are rapidly reversed upon reoxygenation. A direct effect of the oxygen level can be observed in the stability, and thus activity, of various transcription factors that control the expression of hypoxia-induced genes. Additional signaling pathways are activated by the impact of oxygen deficiency on mitochondrial and chloroplast functioning. Here, we describe the molecular components of the oxygen-sensing pathway. ©2015 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.


Pucciariello C.,PlantLab | Perata P.,PlantLab
Trends in Plant Science | Year: 2013

Rice (Oryza sativa) varieties differ considerably in their tolerance to submergence, a trait that has been associated with the SUB1A gene. Recently, this gene was found in some wild rice species and landraces, which along with O. sativa, belong to the AA genome type group. On the basis of geographical and historical data, we hypothesize that SUB1A-1 from wild species may have been introgressed into domesticated rice. This introgression probably occurred in the Ganges Basin, with the subsequent spread of the SUB1A-1 to other areas of South Asia due to human migration. The lack of the SUB1A gene in diploid CC genome type wild rice showing submergence-tolerant traits suggests the presence of a different survival mechanism in this genetic group. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Pucciariello C.,PlantLab | Parlanti S.,PlantLab | Banti V.,PlantLab | Novi G.,PlantLab | Perata P.,PlantLab
Plant Physiology | Year: 2012

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) play an important role as triggers of gene expression during biotic and abiotic stresses, among which is low oxygen (O2). Previous studies have shown that ROS regulation under low O2 is driven by a RHO-like GTPase that allows tight control of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) production. H2O2 is thought to regulate the expression of heat shock proteins, in a mechanism that is common to both O2 deprivation and to heat stress. In this work, we used publicly available Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) microarray datasets related to ROS and O2 deprivation to define transcriptome convergence pattern. Our results show that although Arabidopsis response to anoxic and hypoxic treatments share a common core of genes related to the anaerobic metabolism, they differ in terms of ROS-related gene response. We propose that H2O2 production under O2 deprivation is a trait present in a very early phase of anoxia, and that ROS are needed for the regulation of a set of genes belonging to the heat shock protein and ROS-mediated groups. This mechanism, likely not regulated via the N-end rule pathway for O2 sensing, is probably mediated by a NADPH oxidase and it is involved in plant tolerance to the stress. © 2012 American Society of Plant Biologists. All Rights Reserved.


Pucciariello C.,PlantLab | Banti V.,PlantLab | Perata P.,PlantLab
Plant Physiology and Biochemistry | Year: 2012

The activation of the oxidative metabolism in plants under low oxygen conditions has prompted controversial views. The presence of a ROS component in the transcriptome in response to low oxygen has been observed and an overlap with heat stress has been proved. It has been also demonstrated that ROS are produced during both anoxia and heat, but the site of their production remain contentious. Membrane NADPH oxidase and mitochondrial electron transport flow have been indicated as possible ROS generation systems. Both anoxia and heat have been shown to induce the transcription of Heat Shock Factors (HSFs) and Heat Shock Proteins (HSPs), among which HSFA2 and some of its targets. HSFA2 over-expressing plant has been shown to be more tolerant to anoxia, while the knockout hsfa2 lose the capability of wild type plants to cross-acclimate to anoxia through mild heat pre-treatment. The production of ROS seems to be an integral part of the anoxia and heat response, where HSFs likely play a central role in activating the HSP pathway. This mechanism is suggested to result in enhanced plant tolerance to both anoxia and heat. © 2012 Elsevier Masson SAS.


A system for growing a plant (1) in an at least partly conditioned environment includes a cultivation base (11) for receiving a culture substrate (3) with a root system (4) of the plant therein. Root temperature control elements (12) are provided which are able and adapted to impose a predetermined root temperature on the root system, and lighting elements (20,21,22) which are able and adapted to expose leaves of the plant to actinic artificial light. Leaf heating elements are also provided, which are able and adapted to impose on the leaf of the plant a leaf temperature varying from an ambient temperature. In a method for growing the plant a carbon dioxide assimilation management of a leaf system of the plant is thus influenced, and a supply of actinic light, the root temperature and the carbon dioxide assimilation management are adapted to each other.


A system for growing a plant (1) in an at least partly conditioned environment comprises a cultivation base (11) for receiving a culture substrate (3) with a root system (4) of the plant therein. Root temperature control means (12) are provided which are able and adapted to impose a predetermined root temperature on the root system, and lighting means (20,21,22) which are able and adapted to expose leaves of the plant to actinic artificial light. According to the invention leaf heating means are also provided, which are able and adapted to impose on the leaf of the plant a leaf temperature varying from an ambient temperature. In a method for growing the plant a carbon dioxide assimilation management of a leaf system of the plant is thus influenced, and a supply of actinic light, the root temperature and the carbon dioxide assimilation management are adapted to each other.


News Article | September 2, 2011
Site: venturebeat.com

We’ve had local food, organic food, slow food and even urban farming. Now get ready for disco farming. The Dutch “plant control freaks” behind PlantLab want to farm indoors under purple light. It’s not just for the looks, though. PlantLab has recently developed a set of technologies for optimal indoor farming so that food can grow anywhere from the sunless heart of an office building to an abandoned factory. Picture a 5-star hotel for lettuce, as opposed to the motel provided by a standard glasshouse. PlantLab stacks “Plant Production Units” on top of each other to make maximum use of space. Plants don’t need the entire light spectrum of sunlight to produce energy, so PlantLab uses LED lighting which emits only blue and red light, giving the growing rooms a weird, disco-like atmosphere. Because of the indoor growing environment, no pesticides are required and 90 percent less water is used than in greenhouse growing. In the traditional glasshouse, the temperature rises when the sun shines on the glass so the plants need to be cooled with water. Inside a Plantlab growing room, the temperature is much lower and the conditions are kept constant, eliminating the need for water-based cooling. Automation software controls the environment to provide each plant with optimal levels of light, water, heat, humidity and nutrition and dozens of other growing parameters. The company has developed mathematical models, called Plant IDs, for each plant type, which automatically control the 56 different environment parameters in a production unit to ensure optimal growth. The first indoor city farm using PlantLabs’ technology will be in a disused factory in Amsterdam. It’s run by Philip Traa and NwA architects. “We are starting a cooperative,” says Traa, “where Amsterdam members pay us a membership fee every year and then buy the vegetables at cost. Indoor farming must be transparent for customers so they can come and see and taste in our city farm.” The first crops are lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, herbs and cress. Harvesting will start at the end of 2011. The farm will provide 2,000 Amsterdammers with a regular supply of vegetables. The advantages for cities could be considerable, in terms of reducing traffic and making better use of currently disused space. Amsterdam, for example, has 1.4 million square meters of vacant office space. “If you grow in the middle of the city where the market is, you have less transportation and lower CO2 emissions,” explains Traa. “A glasshouse is only one floor. We can grow on 100 floors in a skyscraper, or in the heart of the building, since you don’t need sunlight. Solar panels on the side of the building can provide energy for growing.” Globally, Traa sees the Middle East as the biggest potential market because outdoor growing conditions are so harsh there. Other high-potential areas are China, South Korea and Japan. “Japan has little farmland. China has so many people to feed in the cities. South Korea has both big cities and not enough farmland,” Traa explains. PlantLab’s approach to growing food indoors currently costs more than alternatives like glasshouses, since LED lighting is expensive and a considerable amount of energy is required to run the plant production units. The Amsterdam farm will use approximately 1 megawatt of electricity per year, the equivalent of around 1,000 homes. “To be sustainable, that megawatt needs to be green,”  Traa maintains. “We think the energy required will be 25-30 percent less in 2 years.” But the energy requirements of the plant production units could be offset by location. A large part of the energy currently used in food production is spent on transport, with supermarket fruit and vegetables clocking up massive numbers of gasoline-powered food miles. Also, LED lighting and solar panels may get cheaper while oil prices are likely to rise, which should increase the attractiveness of PlantLab’s solution. Also, since indoor growing is predictable, food can also be grown on demand leading to less waste and stable pricing. PlantLabs’ vision is a strange combination of hyper-intensive farming with local growing using no pesticides. It’s energy-intensive, but then so are glasshouses and flying in blueberries from Africa. 1 billion people already don’t get enough to eat and the world needs to produce 100 percent more food by 2050 to feed the growing population. “When you want to feed the world you need to grow intensively,” says Traa. “The organic way is only a solution in the Western world.” The green heart of the future city may be in a sunless basement.


News Article | August 16, 2011
Site: www.fastcompany.com

There is no shortage of hydroponic produce startups aiming to capitalize on the world's growing desire for fruits and vegetables that don't need to be trucked in thousands of miles to their destination. But Dutch agricultural startup PlantLab may win the award for most psychedelic hydroponic setup—the company grows its plants (including tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and lettuce) indoors using red and blue LED lights. By customizing the light spectrum, nutrients, irrigation, and climate to meet each plant's needs, PlantLab believes it can create a "plant paradise" for the crops. Plants actually only use a small amount of the light spectrum, so they don't really need sun. And the company claims that its techniques use 10% less water and can increase crop yield by a factor of three when compared to traditional growing methods, according to SingularityHub. Sound familiar? That's because PodPonics, a startup based in Atlanta, Georgia is also using complex mathematical calculations to dramatically boost the yield of its hydroponically grown crops. The difference: PodPonics is only growing microgreens (PlantLab is growing all sorts of crops), and the Atlanta-based company already sells its goods to local restaurants. PlantLab, on the other hand, is still in the R&D stages, largely because of the high cost of LED lights. In an email to Fast Company, PlantLab managing partner Gertjan Meeuws estimated that the startup's first multilayer city nursery will be ready at the end of this year or in early 2012. The company is still looking for a space. When it finds one, though... break out the glow sticks.

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