Plants compete with their neighbors via the release of chemical compounds into the rhizosphere. These phytotoxins originate from a series of secondary metabolites and can be processed further by soil-living microorganisms before exerting their activity on the target plant. To determine the molecular mode of action and the physiological relevance of potential phytotoxins, it is important to simulate true-to-life conditions in laboratory experiments, for example by applying physiologically relevant concentrations. Here, we report on an improved experimental setting to study the function of allelochemicals of the benzoxazolinone class. By adjusting the solvent and the application of the chemicals, we reduced by more than twenty-fold the concentration that is necessary to induce growth defects in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
Genes and transposons can exist in variable DNA methylation states, with potentially differential transcription. How these epialleles emerge is poorly understood. Here, we show that crossing an Arabidopsis thaliana plant with a hypomethylated genome and a normally methylated WT individual results, already in the F1 generation, in widespread changes in DNA methylation and transcription patterns. Novel nonparental and heritable epialleles arise at many genic loci, including a locus that itself controls DNA methylation patterns, but with most of the changes affecting pericentromeric transposons. Although a subset of transposons show immediate resilencing, a large number display decreased DNA methylation, which is associated with de novo or enhanced transcriptional activation and can translate into transposon mobilization in the progeny. Our findings reveal that the combination of distinct epigenomes can be viewed as an epigenomic shock, which is characterized by a round of epigenetic variation creating novel patterns of gene and TE regulation.
Plants have a sophisticated innate immune system with which they defend themselves against a myriad of pathogens. During the past two decades, work in a range of species has advanced our knowledge of the molecular and biochemical details of plant immunity. Many of these studies have focused on the action of nucleotide-binding domain/leucine-rich repeat (NB-LRR or NLR) immune receptors. NLR genes constitute the most diverse gene family in plants, reflecting their role in perceiving a very diverse set of molecules that are released by pathogens. There has also been progress in unraveling the forces that drive diversification of NLR and non-NLR immune receptors in wild species. A major recent insight from mechanistic and evolutionary studies is that there is both cooperation and conflict in the plant immune system. Here, we propose that these two antagonistic forces are inherently entangled, and that they are potentially fundamental to our understanding of growth-defense trade-offs.
May 3, 3 pm
MPH Lecture Hall
May 4, 2pm
Room A301, Sand 1, Tübingen University
EunCheon will defend his PhD thesis entitled A large-scale computational framework for comparative analyses in population genetics and metagenomics
May 4, 2016, 3 pm
MPH Lecture Hall