Plant Science

Protocols in Current Issue
0 Q&A 85 Views Mar 20, 2023

Polysome profiling by sucrose density gradient centrifugation is commonly used to study the overall degree of translation (messenger RNA to protein synthesis). Traditionally, the method begins with synthesis of a 5–10 mL sucrose gradient onto which 0.5–1 mL of cell extract is layered and centrifuged at high speed for 3–4 h in a floor-model ultracentrifuge. After centrifugation, the gradient solution is passed through an absorbance recorder to generate a polysome profile. Ten to twelve fractions (0.8–1 mL each) are collected for isolating different RNA and protein populations. The overall method is tedious and lengthy (6–9 h), requires access to a suitable ultracentrifuge rotor and centrifuge, and requires a substantial amount of tissue material, which can be a limiting factor. Moreover, there is often a dilemma over the quality of RNA and protein populations in the individual fractions due to the extended experiment times. To overcome these challenges, here we describe a miniature sucrose gradient for polysome profiling using Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings that takes ~1 h centrifugation time in a tabletop ultracentrifuge, reduced gradient synthesis time, and also less tissue material. The protocol described here can be easily adapted to a wide variety of organisms and polysome profiling of organelles, such as chloroplasts and mitochondria.

Key Features

• Mini sucrose gradient for polysome profiling that requires less than half the processing time vs. traditional methods.

• Reduced starting tissue material and sample volume for sucrose gradients.

• Feasibility of RNA and protein isolation from polysome fractions.

• Protocol can be easily modified to a wide variety of organisms (and even polysome profiling of organelles, such as chloroplast and mitochondria).

Graphical Overview

Figure 1. Graphical overview of polysome profiling using mini sucrose gradient. A. One milliliter each of 15% (w/v) and 50% (w/v) sucrose gradient solution is added to the individual chambers of the gradient maker. While mixing with a small magnetic stirrer in the 50% solution chamber, base station knob is turned to open position, allowing sucrose gradient solution to slowly flow through the outlet into a 2.2 mL gradient tube. After centrifugation at 50,000 rpm (213,626.2 × g) in a swinging bucket rotor for 70 min at 4 °C, the gradient tube is stored at 4 °C for the next steps. B. Cell extract from 12-day-old vertically grown Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings is centrifuged twice and 100 µL of supernatant is gently layered on the pre-made sucrose gradient from step A. After centrifugation as described in step A, polysome profile is obtained by feeding the gradient solution through an absorbance recorder (A254 nm). Eight (200 µL) fractions are collected for RNA and protein isolation.
0 Q&A 63 Views Mar 20, 2023

Ethylene is an important plant hormone that is involved in the regulation of numerous processes in plant development. It also acts as a signaling molecule in response to biotic and abiotic stress conditions. Most studies have investigated ethylene evolution of harvested fruit or small herbaceous plants under controlled conditions, but only a few explored ethylene release in other plant tissues, such as leaves and buds, particularly those of subtropical crops. However, in light of increasing environmental challenges in agriculture (such as temperature extremes, droughts, floods, and high solar radiation), studies on these challenges and on potential chemical treatments for mitigating their effects on plant physiology have become more and more important. Thus, adequate techniques for the sampling and analysis of tree crops are needed to ensure accurate ethylene quantification. As part of a study on ethephon as a mitigating agent to improve litchi flowering under warm winter conditions, a protocol was developed for ethylene quantification in leaf and bud tissue of litchi following ethephon application, taking into account that these plant organs release lower ethylene concentrations than fruit. At sampling, leaves and buds were placed in glass vials of appropriate sizes for the respective plant tissue volumes and allowed to equilibrate for 10 min to release possible wound ethylene before incubating the samples for 3 h at ambient temperature. Thereafter, ethylene samples were aspirated from the vials and analyzed using a gas chromatograph with flame ionization detection, the TG-BOND Q+ column for separation of ethylene, and helium as the carrier gas. Quantification was achieved based on a standard curve derived from an external standard gas calibration with certified ethylene gas. This protocol will also be appropriate for other tree crops with similar plant materials as study foci. It will enable researchers to accurately determine ethylene production in various studies investigating the role of ethylene in general plant physiology or stress-induced plant responses following a range of treatment conditions.

Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 85 Views Mar 5, 2023

The vacuole is one of the most conspicuous organelles in plant cells, participating in a series of physiological processes, such as storage of ions and compartmentalization of heavy metals. Isolation of intact vacuoles and elemental analysis provides a powerful method to investigate the functions and regulatory mechanisms of tonoplast transporters. Here, we present a protocol to isolate intact vacuoles from Arabidopsis root protoplasts and analyze their elemental content by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). In this protocol, we summarize how to prepare the protoplast, extract the vacuole, and analyze element concentration. This protocol has been applied to explore the function and regulatory mechanisms of tonoplast manganese (Mn) transporter MTP8, which is antagonistically regulated by CPK4/5/6/11 and CBL2/3-CIPK3/9/26. This protocol is not only suitable for exploring the functions and regulatory mechanisms of tonoplast transporters, but also for researching other tonoplast proteins.

Graphical abstract

0 Q&A 215 Views Feb 20, 2023

Chloroplast movement has been observed and analyzed since the 19th century. Subsequently, the phenomenon is widely observed in various plant species such as fern, moss, Marchantia polymorpha, and Arabidopsis. However, chloroplast movement in rice is less investigated, presumably due to the thick wax layer on its leaf surface, which reduces light sensitivity to the point that it was previously believed that there was no light-induced movement in rice. In this study, we present a convenient protocol suitable for observing chloroplast movement in rice only by optical microscopy without using special equipment. It will allow researchers to explore other signaling components involved in chloroplast movement in rice.

0 Q&A 261 Views Feb 5, 2023

Based on the availability of oxygen, plant growth environment can be normoxic (normal environment), hypoxic (reduced oxygen, <21%), or anoxic (complete depletion of oxygen). Hypoxic/anoxic environment is created when a plant is exposed to stresses such as submergence, flooding, or pathogen attack. Survival of the plants following stress conditions is in part dependent on their ability to overcome the stress induced by anoxia/hypoxia conditions. This shows the need for the development of strategies for understanding the mechanisms involved in plant tolerance to anoxia. Previous studies have employed different methods for establishing an anerobic environment. Here, we describe a simple method for creating anoxic environment using an anaerobic atmosphere generation bag. Anoxic conditions can be maintained in a cylindrical jar, a rectangular box, or a vacuum sealer bag, enabling the screening of a large number of samples. This protocol is particularly useful to screen plant mutants that are tolerant to anoxia. The method is simple, easy, cost-efficient, reproducible, and does not require any sophisticated instruments.

Graphic abstract

0 Q&A 206 Views Feb 5, 2023

Proteases control plant growth and development by limited proteolysis of regulatory proteins at highly specific sites. This includes the processing of peptide hormone precursors to release the bioactive peptides as signaling molecules. The proteases involved in this process have long remained elusive. Confirmation of a candidate protease as a peptide precursor–processing enzyme requires the demonstration of protease-mediated precursor cleavage in vitro. In vitro cleavage assays rely on the availability of suitable substrates and the candidate protease with high purity. Here, we provide a protocol for the expression, purification, and characterization of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) phytaspases as candidate proteases for the processing of the phytosulfokine precursor. We also show how synthetic oligopeptide substrates can be used to demonstrate site-specific precursor cleavage.

Graphical abstract

0 Q&A 915 Views Jan 20, 2023

Identifying genetic variations or treatments that confer greater resistance to drought is paramount to ensuring sustainable crop productivity. Accurate and reproducible measurement of drought stress symptoms can be achieved via automated, image-based phenotyping. Many phenotyping platforms are either cost-prohibitive, require specific technical expertise, or are simply more complex than necessary to effectively evaluate drought resistance. Certain mutations, allelic variations, or treatments result in plants that constitutively use less water. To accurately identify genetic differences or treatments that confer a drought phenotype, plants from all experimental groups must be subjected to equal levels of drought stress. This can be easily achieved by growing and imaging plants that are grown in the same pot. Here, we provide a detailed protocol to configure a Raspberry Pi computer and camera module to image seedlings of multiple genotypes growing in shared pots and to transfer images and metadata via the cloud for downstream analyses. Also detailed is a method to calculate percent soil water content of pots while being imaged to allow for comparison of stress symptoms with water availability. This protocol was recently used to uncouple differential water usage from drought resistance in a dwarf Arabidopsis thaliana mutant chiquita1-1/cost1 compared to the wild-type control. It is cost effective, suitable for any plant species, customizable to various biological questions, and requires no prior experience with electronics or basic software programming.

0 Q&A 637 Views Jan 20, 2023

Combining two different plants together through grafting is one of the oldest horticultural techniques. In order to survive, both partners must communicate via the formation of de novo connections between the scion and the rootstock. Despite the importance of grafting, the ultrastructural processes occurring at the graft interface remain elusive due to the difficulty of locating the exact interface at the ultrastructural level. To date, only studies with interfamily grafts showing enough ultrastructural differences were able to reliably localize the grafting interface at the ultrastructural level under electron microscopy. Thanks to the implementation of correlative light electron microscopy (CLEM) approaches where the grafted partners were tagged with fluorescent proteins of different colors, the graft interface was successfully and reliably targeted. Here, we describe a protocol for CLEM for the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, which unambiguously targets the graft interface at the ultrastructural level. Moreover, this protocol is compatible with immunolocalization and electron tomography acquisition to achieve a three-dimensional view of the ultrastructural events of interest in plant tissues.

Graphical abstract

0 Q&A 369 Views Dec 20, 2022

MicroRNAs (miRNA) are small (21–24 nt) non-coding RNAs involved in many biological processes in both plants and animals. The biogenesis of plant miRNAs starts with the transcription of MIRNA (MIR) genes by RNA polymerase II; then, the primary miRNA transcripts are cleaved by Dicer-like proteins into mature miRNAs, which are then loaded into Argonaute (AGO) proteins to form the effector complex, the miRNA-induced silencing complex (miRISC). In Arabidopsis , some MIR genes are expressed in a tissue-specific manner; however, the spatial patterns of MIR gene expression may not be the same as the spatial distribution of miRISCs due to the non-cell autonomous nature of some miRNAs, making it challenging to characterize the spatial profiles of miRNAs. A previous study utilized protoplasting of green fluorescent protein (GFP) marker transgenic lines followed by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) to isolate cell-type-specific small RNAs. However, the invasiveness of this approach during the protoplasting and cell sorting may stimulate the expression of stress-related miRNAs. To non-invasively profile cell-type-specific miRNAs, we generated transgenic lines in which root cell layer-specific promoters drive the expression of AGO1 and performed immunoprecipitation to non-invasively isolate cell-layer-specific miRISCs. In this protocol, we provide a detailed description of immunoprecipitation of root cell layer-specific GFP-AGO1 using EN7::GFP-AGO1 and ACL5::GFP-AGO1 transgenic plants, followed by small RNA sequencing to profile single-cell-type-specific miRNAs. This protocol is also suitable to profile cell-type-specific miRISCs in other tissues or organs in plants, such as flowers or leaves.

Graphical abstract

0 Q&A 590 Views Dec 20, 2022

Cloning systems like Gateway and Golden Gate/Braid are known because of their efficiency and accuracy. While the main drawback of Gateway is the expensive cost of the enzymes used in its two-step (LR and BP) reaction, Golden Gate requires non-reusable components due to their specific restriction sites. We present the Brick into the Gateway (BiG) protocol as a new cloning strategy, faster and more economic method that combines (i) reusable modules or bricks assembled by the GoldenBraid approach, and (ii) Gateway LR reactions [recombination of attachment sites: attL (L from left) and attR (R from right)] avoiding the BP reaction [recombination of attachment sites: attP (P from phage) and attB (B from bacteria)] usually necessary in the Gateway cloning. The starting point is to perform a PCR reaction to add type IIS restriction sites into DNA fragments generating specific fusion sites. Then, this PCR product is used to design GoldenBraid bricks, including the attL Gateway recombination sites. Using the Golden Gate method, these bricks are assembled to produce an attL1–gene of interest–attL2 fragment, which is integrated into a compatible vector producing a Gateway entry vector. Finally, the fragment containing the target gene is recombined by LR reaction into the Gateway destination vector.

Graphical abstract

0 Q&A 383 Views Dec 5, 2022

Genetic transformation is a powerful method for the investigation of gene function and improvement of crop plants. The transgenes copy number in the transgenic line is involved in gene expression level and phenotypes. Additionally, identification of transgene zygosity is important for quantitative assessment of phenotype and for tracking the inheritance of transgenes in progeny generations. Several methods have been developed for estimating the transgene copy number, including southern blot assay and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) experiments. Southern hybridization, although convincing and reliable, is a time-consuming method through which the examination of the copy number is challenging in species with large genomes like wheat plants. Although qPCR is potentially simpler to perform, its results lack accuracy and precision, especially to distinguish between one and two copy events in transgenic plants with large genomes. The droplet digital PCR (ddPCR)–based method for investigation of transgenes copy number has been widely used in an array of crops. In this method, the specific primers to amplify target transgenes and reference genes are used as a single duplexed reaction, which is divided into tens of thousands of nanodroplets. The copy number in independent transgenic lines is determined by detection and quantification of droplets using sequence-specific fluorescently labeled probes. This method offers superior accuracy and reliability with a low cost and scalability as other PCR techniques in the investigation of transgenes copy number.

Graphical abstract

Flow chart for the ddPCR protocol

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