Jose Dinneny, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Synthetic genetic circuits as a means of reprogramming plant roots.
Science (New York, N.Y.)
2022; 377 (6607): 747-751
The shape of a plant's root system influences its ability to reach essential nutrients in the soil and to acquire water during drought. Progress in engineering plant roots to optimize water and nutrient acquisition has been limited by our capacity to design and build genetic programs that alter root growth in a predictable manner. We developed a collection of synthetic transcriptional regulators for plants that can be compiled to create genetic circuits. These circuits control gene expression by performing Boolean logic operations and can be used to predictably alter root structure. This work demonstrates the potential of synthetic genetic circuits to control gene expression across tissues and reprogram plant growth.
View details for DOI 10.1126/science.abo4326
View details for PubMedID 35951698
Divergence in the ABA gene regulatory network underlies differential growth control.
The phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) is a central regulator of acclimation to environmental stress; however, its contribution to differences in stress tolerance between species is unclear. To establish a comparative framework for understanding how stress hormone signalling pathways diverge across species, we studied the growth response of four Brassicaceae species to ABA treatment and generated transcriptomic and DNA affinity purification and sequencing datasets to construct a cross-species gene regulatory network (GRN) for ABA. Comparison of genes bound directly by ABA-responsive element binding factors suggests that cis-factors are most important for determining the target loci represented in the ABA GRN of a particular species. Using this GRN, we reveal how rewiring of growth hormone subnetworks contributes to stark differences in the response to ABA in the extremophyte Schrenkiella parvula. Our study provides a model for understanding how divergence in gene regulation can lead to species-specific physiological outcomes in response to hormonal cues.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41477-022-01139-5
View details for PubMedID 35501452
Abscisic acid signaling activates distinct VND transcription factors to promote xylem differentiation in Arabidopsis
2021; 31 (14): 3153-+
Plants display remarkable abilities to adjust growth and development to environmental conditions, such as the amount of available water. This developmental plasticity is apparent not only in root and shoot growth rates, but also in tissue patterning and cell morphology.1,2 We have previously shown that in response to limited water availability, Arabidopsis thaliana root displays changes in xylem morphology, mediated by the non-cell-autonomous action of abscisic acid, ABA.2 Here, we show, through analyses of ABA response reporters and tissue-specific suppression of ABA signaling, that xylem cells themselves act as primary signaling centers governing both xylem cell fate and xylem differentiation rate, revealing the cell-autonomous control of multiple aspects of xylem development by ABA. ABA rapidly activates the expression of genes encoding VASCULAR-RELATED NAC DOMAIN (VND) transcription factors. Molecular and genetic analyses revealed that the two ABA-mediated xylem developmental changes are regulated by distinct members of this transcription factor family, with VND2 and VND3 promoting differentiation rate of metaxylem cells, while VND7 promotes the conversion of metaxylem toward protoxylem morphology. This phenomenon shows how different aspects of developmental plasticity can be interlinked, yet genetically separable. Moreover, similarities in phenotypic and molecular responses to ABA in diverse species indicate evolutionary conservation of the ABA-xylem development regulatory network among eudicots. Hence, this study gives molecular insights into how environmental stress modifies plant vascular anatomy and has potential relevance for water use optimization and adaptation to drought conditions.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2021.04.057
View details for Web of Science ID 000678562700015
View details for PubMedID 34043949