Plant Science


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Protocols in Current Issue
0 Q&A 300 Views Apr 5, 2024

Camelina sativa, a Brassicaceae family crop, is used for fodder, human food, and biofuels. Its relatively high resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses, as well as being a climate-resilient oilseed crop, has contributed to its popularity. Camelina's seed yield and oil contents have been improved using various technologies like RNAi and CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing. A stable transformation system for protein localization and other cell autonomous investigations, on the other hand, is tedious and time consuming. This study describes a transient gene expression protocol for Camelina sativa cultivar DH55 leaves using Agrobacterium strain C58C1. The method is suitable for subcellular protein localization and colocalization studies and can be used with both constitutive and chemically induced genes. We report the subcellular localization of the N-terminal ER membrane signal anchor region (1–32 aa) of the At3G28580 gene-encoded protein from Arabidopsis in intact leaves and the expression and localization of other known organelle markers. This method offers a fast and convenient way to study proteins in the commercially important Camelina crop system.


Key features

• This method is based on the approach of Zhang et al. [1] and has been optimized for bioenergy crop Camelina species.

• A constitutive and inducible transient gene expression in the hexaploid species Camelina sativa cultivar DH55.

• Requires only 16–18 days to complete with high efficacy.


Graphical overview




Agrobacterium-mediated transient gene expression optimized for Camelina sativa

0 Q&A 92 Views Apr 5, 2024

Citrus fruits encompass a diverse family, including oranges, mandarins, grapefruits, limes, kumquats, lemons, and others. In citrus, Agrobacterium tumefaciens–mediated genetic transformation of Hongkong kumquat (Fortunella hindsii Swingle) has been widely employed for gene function analysis. However, the perennial nature of woody plants results in the generation of transgenic fruits taking several years. Here, we show the procedures of Agrobacterium-mediated transient transformation and live-cell imaging in kumquat (F. crassifolia Swingle) fruit, using the actin filament marker GFP-Lifeact as an example. Fluorescence detection, western blot analysis, and live-cell imaging with confocal microscopy demonstrate the high transformation efficiency and an extended expression window of this system. Overall, Agrobacterium-mediated transient transformation of kumquat fruits provides a rapid and effective method for studying gene function in fruit, enabling the effective observation of diverse cellular processes in fruit biology.

Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 504 Views Feb 5, 2024

Seeds ensure the growth of a new generation of plants and are thus central to maintaining plant populations and ecosystem processes. Nevertheless, much remains to be learned about seed biology and responses of germinated seedlings to environmental challenges. Experiments aiming to close these knowledge gaps critically depend on the availability of healthy, viable seeds. Here, we report a protocol for the collection of seeds from plants in the genus Populus. This genus comprises trees with a wide distribution in temperate forests and with economic relevance, used as scientific models for perennial plants. As seed characteristics can vary drastically between taxonomic groups, protocols need to be tailored carefully. Our protocol takes the delicate nature of Populus seeds into account. It uses P. deltoides as an example and provides a template to optimize bulk seed extraction for other Populus species and plants with similar seed characteristics. The protocol is designed to only use items available in most labs and households and that can be sterilized easily. The unique characteristics of this protocol allow for the fast and effective extraction of high-quality seeds. Here, we report on seed collection, extraction, cleaning, storage, and viability tests. Moreover, extracted seeds are well suited for tissue culture and experiments under sterile conditions. Seed material obtained with this protocol can be used to further our understanding of tree seed biology, seedling performance under climate change, or diversity of forest genetic resources.


Key features

Populus species produce seeds that are small, delicate, non-dormant, with plenty of seed hair. Collection of seed material needs to be timed properly.

• Processing, seed extraction, seed cleaning, and storage using simple, sterilizable laboratory and household items only. Obtained seeds are pure, high quality, close to 100% viability.

• Seeds work well in tissue culture and in experiments under sterile conditions.

• Extractability, speed, and seed germination were studied and confirmed for Populus deltoides as an example.

• Can also serve as template for bulk seed collection from other Populus species and plant groups that produce delicate seeds (with no or little modifications).


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 424 Views Oct 20, 2023

Maize is one of the most important crops in the world, and ensuring its successful growth and productivity is crucial for global food security. One way to enhance maize growth and productivity is by improving the colonization of its roots by beneficial microorganisms. In this regard, Serendipita indica, a plant growth–promoting fungus, has gained attention for its ability to enhance plant growth and productivity, especially in cereal crops and medicinal plants. Previous studies have shown that S. indica can colonize various plant species, including maize, but the efficiency of the colonization process in maize seedlings has not been extensively characterized. This protocol outlines a method for efficient colonization of maize seedlings with the beneficial fungus S. indica. The protocol includes the preparation of stock solutions, maintenance and growth of S. indica, surface sterilization and germination of seeds, preparation of S. indica chlamydospores, and colonization of maize plants with S. indica. The advantages of this protocol include the use of surface sterilization techniques that minimize contamination, the production of a large number of viable chlamydospores, and efficient colonization of maize seedlings with S. indica. This protocol may be useful for researchers studying the role of S. indica in promoting plant growth and combating biotic and abiotic stress. Additionally, this protocol may be used in the development of biofertilizers using S. indica as a means of increasing crop yields and reducing dependence on synthetic fertilizers. Overall, this protocol offers a reliable and efficient method for colonizing maize seedlings with S. indica and may have potential applications in the agricultural industry. This study also provides a valuable tool for researchers interested in studying plant–microbe interactions in maize and highlights the potential of S. indica as a biocontrol agent to enhance maize productivity under adverse conditions.


Key features

• This protocol builds upon the method developed by Narayan et al. (2022), and its application optimized for the root endophytic symbiotic fungus S. indica.

• This protocol also allows for histochemical analysis to visualize the colonized fungal spores in the root cells of host plant species.

• This protocol helps in mathematical calculation of the percent colonization or efficiency of colonization.

• This protocol utilizes readily available laboratory equipment, including a light microscope, autoclave, and laminar flow hood, ensuring ease of reproducibility in other research laboratories.


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 708 Views Oct 20, 2023

Murashige-Skoog medium solutions have been used in a variety of plant plate growth assays, yet most research uses Arabidopsis thaliana as the study organism. For larger seeds such as maize (Zea mays), most protocols employ a paper towel roll method for experiments, which often involves wrapping maize seedlings in wet, sterile germination paper. What the paper towel roll method lacks, however, is the ability to image the roots over time without risk of contamination. Here, we describe a sterile plate growth assay that contains Murashige-Skoog medium to grow seedlings starting two days after germination. This protocol uses a section of a paper towel roll method to achieve uniform germination of maize seedlings, which are sterilely transferred onto large acrylic plates for the duration of the experiment. The media can undergo modification to include an assortment of plant hormones, exogenous sugars, and other chemicals. The acrylic plates allow researchers to freely image the plate without disturbing the seedlings and control the environment in which the seedlings are grown, such as modifications in temperature and light. Additionally, the protocol is widely adaptable for use with other cereal crops.


Key features

• Builds upon plate growth methods routinely used for Arabidopsis seedlings but that are inadequate for maize.

• Real-time photographic analysis of seedlings up to two weeks following germination.

• Allows for testing of various growth conditions involving an assortment of additives and/or modification of environmental conditions.

• Samples are able to be collected for genotype screening.


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 447 Views Oct 20, 2023

Strawberries are delicious and nutritious fruits that are widely cultivated and consumed around the world, either fresh or in various products such as jam, juice, and ice cream. Botrytis cinerea is a fungal pathogen that causes gray mold disease on many crops, including strawberries. Disease monitoring is an important aspect for growing commercial crops like strawberry because there is an urgent need to develop effective strategies to control this destructive gray mold disease. In this protocol, we provide an important tool to monitor the gray mold fungal infection progression in different developmental stages of strawberry. There are different types of inoculation assays for B. cinerea on strawberry plants, such as in vitro (in/on a culture medium) or in vivo (in a living plant). In vivo inoculation assays can be performed at early, middle, and late stages of strawberry development. Here, we describe three methods for in vivo inoculation assays of B. cinerea on strawberry plants. For early-stage strawberry plants, we modified the traditional fungal disc inoculation method to apply to fungal infection on strawberry leaves. For middle-stage strawberry plants, we developed the flower infection assay by dropping fungal conidia onto flowers. For late-stage strawberry plants, we tracked the survival rate of strawberry fruits after fungal conidia infection. This protocol has been successfully used in both lab and greenhouse conditions. It can be applied to other flowering plants or non-model species with appropriate modifications.


Key features

• Fungal disc inoculation on early-stage strawberry leaves.

• Fungal conidia inoculation on middle-stage strawberry flowers.

• Disease rating for late-stage strawberry fruits.

• This protocol is applicable to the other flowering plants with appropriate modifications.


Graphical overview



In vivo infection progression assays of gray mold fungus Botrytis cinerea at different developmental stages of strawberry. Created with BioRender.com.

0 Q&A 777 Views Oct 5, 2023

Understanding silique and seed morphology is essential to developmental biology. Arabidopsis thaliana is one of the best-studied plant models for understanding the genetic determinants of seed count and size. However, the small size of its seeds, and their encasement in a pod known as silique, makes investigating their numbers and morphology both time consuming and tedious. Researchers often report bulk seed weights as an indicator of average seed size, but this overlooks individual seed details. Removal of the seeds and subsequent image analysis is possible, but automated counts are often impossible due to seed pigmentation and shadowing. Traditional ways of analyzing seed count and size, without their removal from the silique, involve lengthy histological processing (24–48 h) and the use of toxic organic solvents. We developed a method that is non-invasive, requires minimal sample processing, and obtains data in a short period of time (1–2 h). This method uses a custom X-ray imaging system to visualize Arabidopsis siliques at different stages of their growth. We show that this process can be successfully used to analyze the overall topology of Arabidopsis siliques and seed size and count. This new method can be easily adapted for other plant models.


Key features

• No requirement for organic solvents for imaging siliques.

• Easy image capture and rapid turnaround time for obtaining data.

• Protocol may be easily adapted for other plant models.


Graphical overview



Arabidopsis siliques using the Inspex 20i X-ray machine

0 Q&A 436 Views Sep 20, 2023

Here, we present an approach combining fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and immunolabeling for localization of pri-miRNAs in isolated nuclei of A. thaliana. The presented method utilizes specific DNA oligonucleotide probes, modified by addition of digoxigenin-labeled deoxynucleotides to its 3′ hydroxyl terminus by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT). The probes are then detected by immunolabeling of digoxigenin (DIG) using specific fluorescent-labeled antibodies to visualize hybridized probes. Recently, we have applied this method to localize pri-miRNA156a, pri-miRNA163, pri-miRNA393a, and pri-miRNA414 in the nuclei isolated from leaves of 4-week-old A. thaliana. The present approach can be easily implemented to analyze nuclear distribution of diverse RNA classes, including mRNAs and pri-miRNAs in isolated fixed cells or nuclei from plant.

0 Q&A 1449 Views Sep 5, 2023

Expansion microscopy is an innovative method that enables super-resolution imaging of biological materials using a simple confocal microscope. The principle of this method relies on the physical isotropic expansion of a biological specimen cross-linked to a swellable polymer, stained with antibodies, and imaged. Since its first development, several improved versions of expansion microscopy and adaptations for different types of samples have been produced. Here, we show the application of ultrastructure expansion microscopy (U-ExM) to investigate the 3D organization of the green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii cellular ultrastructure, with a particular emphasis on the different types of sample fixation that can be used, as well as compatible staining procedures including membranes.


Graphical overview


0 Q&A 334 Views Sep 5, 2023

The flux in photosynthesis can be studied by performing 13CO2 pulse labelling and analysing the temporal labelling kinetics of metabolic intermediates using gas or liquid chromatography linked to mass spectrometry. Metabolic flux analysis (MFA) is the primary approach for analysing metabolic network function and quantifying intracellular metabolic fluxes. Different MFA approaches differ based on the metabolic state (steady vs. non-steady state) and the use of stable isotope tracers. The main methodology used to investigate metabolic systems is metabolite steady state associated with stable isotope labelling experiments. Specifically, in biological systems like photoautotrophic organisms, isotopic non-stationary 13C metabolic flux analysis at metabolic steady state with transient isotopic labelling (13C-INST-MFA) is required. The common requirement for metabolic steady state, alongside its very short half-timed reactions, complicates robust MFA of photosynthetic metabolism. While custom gas chambers design has addressed these challenges in various model plants, no similar tools were developed for liquid photosynthetic cultures (e.g., algae, cyanobacteria), where diffusion and equilibration of inorganic carbon species in the medium entails a new dimension of complexity. Recently, a novel tailor-made microfluidics labelling system has been introduced, supplying short 13CO2 pulses at steady state, and resolving fluxes across most photosynthetic metabolic pathways in algae. The system involves injecting algal cultures and medium containing pre-equilibrated inorganic 13C into a microfluidic mixer, followed by rapid metabolic quenching, enabling precise seconds-level label pulses. This was complemented by a 13CO2-bubbling-based open labelling system (photobioreactor), allowing long pulses (minutes–hours) required for investigating fluxes into central C metabolism and major products. This combined labelling procedure provides a comprehensive fluxome cover for most algal photosynthetic and central C metabolism pathways, thus allowing comparative flux analyses across algae and plants.

0 Q&A 343 Views Sep 5, 2023

Since the genetic transformation of Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa) has not been well developed, in situ RT-PCR is a valuable option for detecting guard cell–specific genes. We reported an optimized protocol of in situ RT-PCR by using a FAMA homologous gene Bra001929 in Brassica rapa. FAMA in Arabidopsis has been verified to be especially expressed in guard cells. We designed specific RT-PCR primers and optimized the protocol in terms of the (a) reverse transcription time, (b) blocking time, (c) antigen-antibody incubation time, and (d) washing temperature. Our approach provides a sensitive and effective in situ RT-PCR method that can detect low-abundance transcripts in cells by elevating their levels by RT-PCR in the guard cells in Brassica rapa.

0 Q&A 995 Views Sep 5, 2023

Biomolecular condensates are membrane-less assemblies of proteins and nucleic acids formed through liquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS). These assemblies are known to temporally and spatially regulate numerous biological activities and cellular processes in plants and animals. In vitro phase separation assay using recombinant proteins represents one of the standard ways to examine the properties of proteins undergoing LLPS. Here, we present a detailed protocol to investigate in vitro LLPS using in vitro expressed and purified recombinant proteins.




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