Arabidopsis: model organism in Biology

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From “Biology in Bloom: A Primer on the Arabidopsis thaliana Model System”



Arabidopsis thaliana is a small, annual rosette plant. It belongs to the family of the Brassicaceae in the eudicotyledonous group of angiosperm vascular plants. This family also includes related oilseed crops, vegetables and spice plants–rapeseed, brussel sprouts, various cabbages, cauliflower, garden radish, and mustard. From: eLife 2015;4:e06100, “The Natural History of Model Organisms: Planting molecular functions in an ecological context with Arabidopsis thaliana“, Ute Krämer.

Quick bibliography: Articles–classic and recent–about Arabidopsis thaliana and Plant Biology.

*Woodward, A. W., & Bartel, B. (2018). Biology in bloom: A primer on the arabidopsis thaliana model system.Genetics, 208(4), 1337-1349. [PDF] [Cited by]

Arabidopsis thaliana could have easily escaped human scrutiny. Instead, Arabidopsis has become the most widely studied plant in modern biology despite its absence from the dinner table. Pairing diminutive stature and genome with prodigious resources and tools, Arabidopsis offers a window into the molecular, cellular, and developmental mechanisms underlying life as a multicellular photoautotroph. Many basic discoveries made using this plant have spawned new research areas, even beyond the verdant fields of plant biology. With a suite of resources and tools unmatched among plants and rivaling other model systems, Arabidopsis research continues to offer novel insights and deepen our understanding of fundamental biological processes.”

*Jacob, P., Hirt, H., & Bendahmane, A. (2017). The heat-shock protein/chaperone network and multiple stress resistance.Plant Biotechnology Journal, 15(4), 405-414. [PDF] [Cited by]

Crop yield has been greatly enhanced during the last century. However, most elite cultivars are adapted to temperate climates and are not well suited to more stressful conditions. In the context of climate change, stress resistance is a major concern. To overcome these difficulties, scientists may help breeders by providing genetic markers associated with stress resistance. However, multistress resistance cannot be obtained from the simple addition of single stress resistance traits. In the field, stresses are unpredictable and several may occur at once. Consequently, the use of single stress resistance traits is often inadequate. Although it has been historically linked with the heat stress response, the heat‐shock protein (HSP)/chaperone network is a major component of multiple stress responses. Among the HSP/chaperone ‘client proteins’, many are primary metabolism enzymes and signal transduction components with essential roles for the proper functioning of a cell. HSPs/chaperones are controlled by the action of diverse heat‐shock factors, which are recruited under stress conditions. In this review, we give an overview of the regulation of the HSP/chaperone network with a focus on Arabidopsis thaliana. We illustrate the role of HSPs/chaperones in regulating diverse signalling pathways and discuss several basic principles that should be considered for engineering multiple stress resistance in crops through the HSP/chaperone network.”

*Loladze, I., Nolan, J. M., Ziska, L. H., & Knobbe, A. R. (2019). Rising atmospheric CO2 lowers concentrations of plant carotenoids essential to human health: A Meta‐Analysis.Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 63(15). [PDF] [Cited by]

Carotenoids are orange, red, and yellow pigments essential to plant and human health. In higher plants, including all major crops, carotenoids are present mainly in photosynthetic organs but also found in fruits, tubers, seeds, and grains. In humans, carotenoids are found in retina, brain, serum, liver, lungs, kidneys, and adipose tissues inter alia. In both plants and humans, carotenoids decrease photodamage and oxidative stress, among other important functions.

While plants synthesize carotenoids de novo, humans must obtain them primarily through plant‐based foods. In plants, elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (eCO2) decrease the concentrations of essential minerals, including magnesium and zinc (essential for brain and eye health), but the overall effect of globally rising CO2 levels on carotenoids is unknown. Here, investigation is sought on how eCO2 affects carotenoids in plants. A meta‐analysis of 1026 experimental observations from 37 studies shows that elevated CO2 decreases plant carotenoid concentrations by 15%. The meta‐analysis of available gene expression data for Arabidopsis thaliana points to a potential CO2‐induced downregulation of carotenoid biosynthesis. Some other stoichiometric and biochemical mechanisms related to CO2‐induced changes in carotenoids are also highlighted. While overall eCO2 decreases carotenoid concentrations, individual CO2 studies report variable responses, including increases in carotenoid levels, especially in abiotically stressed plants. The initial assessment raises a novel question about the potential effects of rising CO2 on human health through its global effect on plant carotenoids.”

*Müller, D.,B., Vogel, C., Bai, Y., & Vorholt, J. A. (2016). The plant microbiota: Systems-level insights and perspectives.Annual Review of Genetics, 50, 211-234. [PDF] [Cited by]

Plants do not grow as axenic [a culture that is free from living organisms other than the species required] organisms in nature, but host a diverse community of microorganisms, termed the plant microbiota. There is an increasing awareness that the plant microbiota plays a role in plant growth and can provide protection from invading pathogens. Apart from intense research on crop plants, Arabidopsis is emerging as a valuable model system to investigate the drivers shaping stable bacterial communities on leaves and roots and as a tool to decipher the intricate relationship among the host and its colonizing microorganisms. Gnotobiotic experimental systems help establish causal relationships between plant and microbiota genotypes and phenotypes and test hypotheses on biotic and abiotic perturbations in a systematic way. We highlight major recent findings in plant microbiota research using comparative community profiling and omics analyses, and discuss these approaches in light of community establishment and beneficial traits like nutrient acquisition and plant health.”

*Quint, M., Delker, C., Franklin, K. A., Wigge, P. A., Halliday, K. J., & van Zanten, M. (2016). Molecular and genetic control of plant thermomorphogenesis.Nature Plants, 2, 15190. [PDF] [Cited by]

Temperature is a major factor governing the distribution and seasonal behaviour of plants. Being sessile, plants are highly responsive to small differences in temperature and adjust their growth and development accordingly. The suite of morphological and architectural changes induced by high ambient temperatures, below the heat-stress range, is collectively called thermomorphogenesis. Understanding the molecular genetic circuitries underlying thermomorphogenesis is particularly relevant in the context of climate change, as this knowledge will be key to rational breeding for thermo-tolerant crop varieties. Until recently, the fundamental mechanisms of temperature perception and signalling remained unknown. Our understanding of temperature signalling is now progressing, mainly by exploiting the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The transcription factor PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR 4 (PIF4) has emerged as a critical player in regulating phytohormone levels and their activity. To control thermomorphogenesis, multiple regulatory circuits are in place to modulate PIF4 levels, activity and downstream mechanisms. Thermomorphogenesis is integrally governed by various light signalling pathways, the circadian clock, epigenetic mechanisms and chromatin-level regulation. In this Review, we summarize recent progress in the field and discuss how the emerging knowledge in Arabidopsis may be transferred to relevant crop systems.”

*Sanchez, S. E., & Kay, S. A. (2016). The plant circadian clock: From a simple timekeeper to a complex developmental manager.Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, 8(12). [PDF] [Cited by]

The plant circadian clock allows organisms to anticipate the predictable changes in the environment by adjusting their developmental and physiological traits. In the last few years, it was determined that responses known to be regulated by the oscillator are also able to modulate clock performance. These feedback loops and their multilayer communications create a complex web, and confer on the clock network a role that exceeds the measurement of time. In this article, we discuss the current knowledge of the wiring of the clock, including the interplay with metabolism, hormone, and stress pathways in the model species Arabidopsis thaliana. We outline the importance of this system in crop agricultural traits, highlighting the identification of natural alleles that alter the pace of the timekeeper. We report evidence supporting the understanding of the circadian clock as a master regulator of plant life, and we hypothesize on its relevant role in the adaptability to the environment and the impact on the fitness of most organisms.”

To find additional information, search arabidopsis in the Science Primary Literature Database.

Questions? Please let me know (engelk@grinnell.edu).

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