- The deep relationship between plants and humans predates civilization, and our reliance on plants as sources of food, feed, fiber, fuels, and pharmaceuticals continues to increase. Understanding how plants grow and overcome challenges to their survival is critical for using these organisms to meet current and future demands for food and other plant-derived materials. This thematic review series on “plants in the real world” presents a set of eight reviews that highlight advances in understanding plant health, including the role of thiamine (vitamin B1), iron, and the plant immune system; how plants use ethylene and ubiquitin systems to control growth and development; and how new gene-editing approaches, the redesign of plant cell walls, and deciphering herbicide resistance evolution can lead to the next generation of crops.
- Lignocellulosic biomass—the lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose that comprise major components of the plant cell well—is a sustainable resource that could be utilized in the United States to displace oil consumption from heavy vehicles, planes, and marine-going vessels and commodity chemicals. Biomass-derived sugars can also be supplied for microbial fermentative processing to fuels and chemicals or chemically deoxygenated to hydrocarbons. However, the economic value of biomass might be amplified by diversifying the range of target products that are synthesized in living plants.
- Plant cell wall–associated polygalacturonase-inhibiting proteins (PGIPs) are widely distributed in the plant kingdom. They play a crucial role in plant defense against phytopathogens by inhibiting microbial polygalacturonases (PGs). PGs hydrolyze the cell wall polysaccharide pectin and are among the first enzymes to be secreted during plant infection. Recent studies demonstrated that herbivorous insects express their own PG multi-gene families, raising the question whether PGIPs also inhibit insect PGs and protect plants from herbivores.
- Plant arabinogalactan proteins (AGPs) are a diverse group of cell surface– and wall–associated glycoproteins. Functionally important AGP glycans are synthesized in the Golgi apparatus, but the relationships among their glycosylation levels, processing, and functionalities are poorly understood. Here, we report the identification and functional characterization of two Golgi-localized exo-β-1,3-galactosidases from the glycosyl hydrolase 43 (GH43) family in Arabidopsis thaliana. GH43 loss-of-function mutants exhibited root cell expansion defects in sugar-containing growth media.
- One of the major challenges in today’s agriculture is to achieve enhanced plant growth and biomass even under adverse environmental conditions. Recent advancements in genetics and molecular biology have enabled the identification of a complex signaling network contributing toward plant growth and development on the one hand and abiotic stress response on the other hand. As an outcome of these studies, three major approaches have been identified as having the potential to improve biomass production in plants under abiotic stress conditions.
- Pectin methylesterases (PMEs) catalyze the demethylesterification of pectin, one of the main polysaccharides in the plant cell wall, and are of critical importance in plant development. PME activity generates highly negatively charged pectin and mutates the physiochemical properties of the plant cell wall such that remodeling of the plant cell can occur. PMEs are therefore tightly regulated by proteinaceous inhibitors (PMEIs), some of which become active upon changes in cellular pH. Nevertheless, a detailed picture of how this pH-dependent inhibition of PME occurs at the molecular level is missing.
- Apiose is a branched monosaccharide that is present in the cell wall pectic polysaccharides rhamnogalacturonan II and apiogalacturonan and in numerous plant secondary metabolites. These apiose-containing glycans are synthesized using UDP-apiose as the donor. UDP-apiose (UDP-Api) together with UDP-xylose is formed from UDP-glucuronic acid (UDP-GlcA) by UDP-Api synthase (UAS). It was hypothesized that the ability to form Api distinguishes vascular plants from the avascular plants and green algae. UAS from several dicotyledonous plants has been characterized; however, it is not known if avascular plants or green algae produce this enzyme.
- Background: Guaiacyl lignin dominates the polymer's condensation, therefore, negatively affecting plant cell wall's digestibility.Results: A promiscuous O-methyltransferase was incrementally evolved to constrain its substrate specificity to guaiacyl lignin precursors.Conclusion: The enzyme with nine amino acid substitutions is functionally specialized for selectively methylating the condensed lignin precursors.Significance: The obtained enzyme is a candidate for specifically altering lignin structure to improve plant cell wall digestibility.
- Background: PME and PMEI isoforms are co-expressed in Arabidopsis. Their biochemical interaction is yet to be characterized.Results: The processive activity of AtPME3 is regulated by AtPMEI7 in a pH-dependent manner in vitro.Conclusion: AtPMEI7 is a key component of the regulation of AtPME3 activity in planta.Significance: The tuning of AtPME3 activity by AtPMEI7 brings insights into the control of homogalacturonan methylesterification in plant cell walls.