Impact of lignin on growth and upright stand of Arabidopsis thaliana plants. After 8 weeks of 16h light/day, lignin-reduced mutant (plant on the right) exhibits stunted growth and stems unable to withstand the gravitational pull whilst control wild-type (plant on the left) shows normal upright growth. Bar = 10 cm.
Impact of lignin on growth and upright stand of Arabidopsis thaliana plants. After 8 weeks of 16h light/day, lignin-reduced mutant (plant on the left) exhibits stunted growth and stems unable to withstand the gravitational pull whilst control wild-type (plant on the right) shows normal upright growth. Bar = 10 cm.

Lignin, a polyphenolic plant cell wall polymer, is the second most abundant polymer in the biosphere (Barros et al., 2015). One of its functions is to reinforce the plant vascular system to transport water and minerals from the soil to all aerial organs (Ménard and Pesquet, 2015). Functional genomic studies have identified genes as candidates implicated in lignin formation (Pesquet et al., 2013). The goal of this project is to isolate and characterize insertional mutants affecting candidate gene expression.

Supervision: Edouard Pesquet – edouard.pesquet@su.se

Experimental approach: This is a genetic, molecular and cell biology project which will include (i) genetic analysis of insertional mutants, (ii) gene constructs design for stable genetic transformation, (iii) phenotypic characterization of mutants and transgenic plants and (iv) biochemical characterization of lignin.

Techniques involved: Training in this project (genetic, molecular and cell biology) will include (i) DNA and RNA extraction and characterization, (ii) PCR and RT-PCR, (iii) bio-informatic sequence analysis (Blast, alignment, phylogeny), (iv) Gateway cloning and associated microbiology techniques, (v) stable genetic transformation, (vi) phenotypic analysis of mutant and transgenic plants (β-glucuronidase promoter analysis,…) and (vii) biochemical characterization of lignin.

References:

  • Serk H, Gorzsás A, Tuominen H and Pesquet E. (2015) Cooperative lignification of xylem vessels. Plant Signaling & Behavior, 10(4):e1003753.
  • Barros-Rios J., Serk H. and Pesquet E. (2015) The Cell Biology of Lignification in Higher Plants. Annals of Botany, 115, 1053-74
  • Ménard D. and Pesquet E. (2015) Cellular interactions during tracheary elements formation and function. Current Opinion in Plant Biology, 23, 109-115.
  • Pesquet E, Zhang B, Gorzsás A, Puhakainen T, Serk H, Escamez S, Barbier O, Gerber L, Courtois-Moreau C, Alatalo E, Paulin L, Kangasjärvi J, Sundberg B, Goffner D, and Tuominen H (2013) Non-cell autonomous post-mortem lignification of tracheary elements in Zinnia elegans. Plant Cell, 25, 1314-28.