Entries by Katy Dunning

Combinatorial engineering of signaling networks for drought tolerance (Plant Biotechnol. J.)

Several potential targets have been suggested to improve drought tolerance and water-use efficiency of crops, but many genes when upregulated can cause negative growth trade-offs. Stress recognition and signaling proteins are attractive targets as they may exert control over multiple downstream pathways and are only activated during stress so are less likely to cause negative […]

Dynamic regulation of Pep-induced immunity through post-translational control of defense transcript splicing (Nature Plants)

In plant immunity, signal transduction is tightly modulated through mechanisms including controlled stoichiometry of key regulators. Dressano et al. identified the novel IMMUNOREGULATORY RNA-BINDING PROTEIN (IRR) as a negative regulator of immunity in both maize and Arabidopsis through a screen of Plant Elicitor Peptide (Pep)-induced protein phosphorylation changes. Knockout irr mutants exhibit broad changes in […]

A new miRNA complex assembly partner – Intrinsically disordered but an important scaffold ($) (Plant Physiol)

Gene regulation through microRNAs (miRNA) starts in the nucleus with transcription and processing into mature miRNA duplexes. Loading of miRNA into ARGONAUTE1 (AGO1) and the assembly of the RNA-Induced Silencing Complex was thought to be exclusively a cytoplasmic process, but new research reports this also happens in the nucleus through unknown mechanisms. Tomassi, Re, and […]

Review. Plant immunity: Danger perception and signaling (Cell)

Research from the last three decades has discovered many genes and pathways involved in plant immunity and how they are connected. Here, Zhou and Zhang highlight new research regarding activation and signaling of cell surface pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) and intracellular nucleotide-binding, leucine-rich repeat receptors (NLRs), integration of multiple immunogenic signals to deploy effective defenses, […]

Flowering plant composition shapes pathogen infection intensity and reproduction in bumble bee colonies (PNAS)

Pathogens are one of many factors underlying pollinator decline.  Diseases can be transmitted from commercial honeybees to wild bees through flowers. Bumble bees (Bombus impatiens) are infected by the gut pathogen Crithidia bombi which is contracted at flowers by fecal-oral transmission. However, not all species of plants result in equal transmission of disease to bees, […]

Repurposed genes and the evolution of plant carnivory (Curr. Biol.)

Carnivorous plants attract, trap, digest, and import nutrients from small animal prey, enabling these plants to thrive in nutrient-poor soil. Palfalvi et al. sequenced, annotated, and compared draft genomes from the family Droseraceae for the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula), the waterwheel plant (Aldrovanda vesiculosa), and the sundew (Drosera spatulata). They identified an early whole-genome duplication […]

Plant synthetic promoters to fine tune expression of engineered genes (bioRxiv)

Synthetic genetic circuits allow the reconstruction of metabolic pathways in plant systems for production of many natural products including pharmaceuticals. A challenge in genetic engineering these circuits is precisely and predictably regulating gene expression, especially when genes may be desired in different ratios for optimal throughput. This research into minimal synthetic promoters (MinSyns) by Cai […]

Fungal antagonism of Arabidopsis oomycete infection requires a previously uncharacterized secreted hydrolase (bioRxiv)

Antagonist interactions between microbes of the phyllosphere stabilize the microbiome and some “hub” organisms can exert strong effects on community structure. The yeast family Ustilaginales contains several apathogenic species that are microbial antagonists that can inhibit infection from diverse bacterial, fungal, and viral pathogens. This study by Eitzen et al. investigates the role of the […]