The control of specificity in guard cell ROS-based signalling

Lead Research Organisation: UNIVERSITY OF EXETER
Department Name: Biosciences


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Technical Summary

How is response specificity controlled in plant ROS-based signalling systems? We will use the guard cell as a model to investigate this question because stimuli leading to stomatal opening AND closure use increases ROS in their stimulus response coupling pathways. Previous work on ROS in plant cell signalling has been hampered by the lack of probes able to report ROS dynamics with high spatial and temporal accuracy. Through BBSRC-funded work we have developed recombinant ROS indicators that we will target to relevant cellular compartments and which will report ROS dynamics with unprecedented fidelity. We will use this breakthrough to test our new hypothesis: whether specificity in plant ROS-based signalling systems results from the generation of stimulus specific (in spatial and temporal terms) increases in ROS that we call ROS signatures. We will investigate, the origin(s) (location and mechanism) of the ROS signatures and find out whether they differ between different stimuli and investigate which sub-modules in the guard cell signalling network are controlled by the ROS system. We will also investigate whether there is cross-talk between the ROS and Ca2+ signalling systems.

We will answer the following questions:

1. Do light, ABA, ATP, increased CO2 and reduced relative humidity (RH) induce stimulus-specific guard cell ROS signatures?
2. What are the cellular origin(s) of the increases in ROS induced by light, ABA, ATP, increased CO2 and reduced RH?
3. What is the role of ROS removal mechanisms in generating response specificity?
4. Does the Ca2+ signature modify stimulus-induced increases in ROS?
5. Which guard cell signalling sub-modules are regulated by ROS?

We have an international lead in this area as we have developed new ROS imaging technology and proposed a new hypothesis. Accordingly we feel that our work is both timely and highly internationally competitive because it will answer an important unanswered question in plant biology.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research?
Apart from the community of plant science researchers interested in fundamental questions concerning stimulus-response coupling in cells, there are two other communities who will benefit from the results of this work. Because stomatal research impacts on water use efficiency it is likely that crop breeders and industrialists will benefit from the work. Producing more water use efficient plants is an international target and insights from the work described here are likely to be of value because they will lead in the ability to impose fine -level control of stomatal aperture. Secondly, in this application we will be using new technology. This is likely to be of real interest to industry as it is highly applicable to use in high-throughput screens for, for example novel herbicides. The other group who should benefit from this work are climate change modellers. Stomatal dynamics are not well incorporated in any future climate models. This is important because of the clear involvement of stomata in the global carbon dioxide and water cycles.

How will they benefit?
Crop breeders and industrialists are likely to benefit because 1. we will generate new insights into the fine control of stomatal opening and closure 2. our characterization of how ROS signals control stomatal and in particular are involved in specific responses may result in the identification of new targets for agrochemical intervention / improvement through conventional breeding 3. our technological advance should allow the development of new high-throughput screens for the identification of valuable agrochemicals and 4. climate change modellers will benefit because our work will highlight the highly dynamic behaviour of stomatal aperture and how it responds to environment change; our results should provide the modellers with the justification and incentive for seeking more robust parameters to account for stomatal behaviour and inserting these into the underlying equations on which their models / simulations are based.


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Geigenberger P (2021) Plant redox biology-on the move. in Plant physiology

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Littlejohn GR (2021) Chloroplast immunity illuminated. in The New phytologist

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Mullineaux PM (2020) Spatial chloroplast-to-nucleus signalling involving plastid-nuclear complexes and stromules. in Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences

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Smirnoff N (2019) Hydrogen peroxide metabolism and functions in plants. in The New phytologist

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Smirnoff N (2018) Ascorbic acid metabolism and functions: A comparison of plants and mammals. in Free radical biology & medicine

Description We have produced a set of genetically modified Arabidopsis thaliana plants expressing the hydrogen peroxide sensor protein roGFP-Orp1. The sensor has been targeted to various parts of the plant cell (chloroplasts, mitochondria, nuclei, cytoplasm and cell wall) so as to follow the dynamics of hydrogen peroxide formation in leaves and stomatal guard cells in response to light, pathogens and the hormone abscisic acid. This work has revealed complex and unexpected responses of plants, including a prolonged oxidation of the cytoplasm following a response to pathogens. The proposed role of hydrogen peroxide in stomatal closure via the hormone abscisic acid is still under investigation.
Exploitation Route The plants expression the roGFP2-Orp one sensor in different cellular compartments will be made available the plant biology research community.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink