Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

Arabidopsis drought stress experiment


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Plant Nutrition Pflanzenernährung

Picture of the Month: March 2017
Drought stress experiment with Arabidopsis plants devoid of PARP genes. Image taken from our latest paper on the role of thoses genes in stress responses. More information and link to the paper in the News section below.

Welcome to the Plant Nutrition Laboratory!

The Plant Nutrition group, July 2013 (missing: Friedhelm Herbst, Julia Frank, Nufaid Khan)

The Plant Nutrition group, July 2013 (missing: Friedhelm Herbst, Julia Frank, Nufaid Khan)

The Plant Nutrition group, July 2013 (missing: Friedhelm Herbst, Julia Frank, Nufaid Khan)

Mineral nutrients play many essential roles in plants as building blocks, catalysts and signalling molecules. Our group focuses on the way nutrients are transported and how this determines their function.

On our web pages you can find out more about us, our goals, and our achievements.

Willkommen bei der Professur für Pflanzenernährung

Unsere Arbeitsgruppe interessiert sich für den Transport und die Funktionen von Pflanzennährstoffen. Auf diesen Seiten können Sie mehr über uns, unsere Ziele und unsere Fortschritte erfahren.

Leider existieren die meisten Seiten momentan nur in englischer Sprache. Im Verzeichnis sind deutsche Seiten mit (D) markiert.

News - 6 May 2017

05-06 May 2017
Participation at Plant Nutrition Conference

Stefanie Höller gave a well-received talk on the role of the vacuolar metal transporter MTP8 in the allocation of iron and manganese in seeds at this year's Conference of the German Society of Plant Nutrition, which was held at Giessen (Germany). Isabel Diercks and Bastian Meier presented a poster on calcium signalling in nitrogen nutrition, which won the second price at the poster awards. Congratulations!

18 April 2017
Paper on method to characterize PARP proteins and inhibitors

Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARPs) have been implicated in responses of plants to DNA damage and numerous stresses, whereby the mechanistic basis of the interference is often unclear (see News on 6 February 2017). Therefore, the identification of specific inhibitors and potential interactors of plant PARPs is desirable. For this purpose, our PhD student Dagmar Rissel established an assay based on heterologous expression of PARP genes from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana in yeast. This assay provides a fast and simple means to identify target proteins and pharmacological inhibitors of AtPARP1. The paper is available online in Analytical Biochemistry and can be accessed here   .

06 February 2017
Paper on PARP genes and stress tolerance

Abiotic and biotic stress can have a detrimental impact on plant growth and productivity. Hence, there is a substantial demand for key factors of stress responses to improve yield stability of crops. Members of the poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase (PARP) protein family, which post-translationally modify (PARylate) nuclear proteins, have previously been suggested as such universal determinants of plant stress responses. We tested this notion by subjecting mutant plants devoid of parp genes to drought, osmotic, salt, and oxidative stress. Surprisingly, parp mutant plants did not differ from wild type plants in any of these stress experiments. The parp mutant was also analyzed for callose formation in response to flagellin peptide, which signals the presence of a pathogen. Unexpectedly, callose formation was also unaltered in the mutant, albeit pharmacological PARP inhibition robustly blocked this immune response. Evidently, pharmacological inhibition appears to be more robust than the abolition of all PARP genes, indicating the presence of so-far undescribed proteins with PARP activity. This was supported by the finding that protein PARylation was not absent, but even increased in the parp mutant. Candidates for novel PARP-inhibitor targets may be found in the SRO protein family. These proteins harbor a catalytic PARP-like domain and are centrally involved in stress responses. Molecular modeling analyses indeed indicated a capability of two SRO proteins to bind PARP inhibitors. Collectively, the results of our study suggest that the stress-related phenotypes of parp mutants are highly conditional, and they call for a reconsideration of PARP inhibitor effects. The study was a collaboration with Peter Paul Heym and Wolfgang Brand at the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry, who performed the molecular modelling analysis. In our lab, PhD student Dagmar Rissel conducted the experiments. The work was co-funded by the Federal State of Sachsen-Anhalt and Agrochemisches Institut Piesteritz. The paper is published in Frontiers in Plant Science and can be accessed here   .

28 November 2016
Congratulations Dr Lange!

Today, Mario Lange defended his PhD thesis "Calcium signal generation and Transient Receptor Potential channel homologues in the fungal pathogen Colletotrichum graminicola" with great success. Mario has already started a new position in molecular diagnostics. We wish him all the best for the future and say a big Thank You for his enthusiastic contributions to the lab.

12 November 2016
Paper on spore formation by mycorrhizal fungus and new method of mycorrhizal inoculum production

Mycorrhizal fungi can contribute to the nutrient supply of plants, in particular with phosphate. To increase mycorrhizal colonization of agricultural and horticultural crops, plants can be inoculated with spores and hyphae of the mycorrhizal fungus. However, production of the inoculum is often inefficient, and separation of the fungus from the mineral growth substrate is difficult. Experiments conducted by former external PhD student Anja Müller at the Leibniz-Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops revealed that mycorrhizal fungi deposit large amounts of spores and vesicles in dead root material ("trap roots"), which provides a means to generate fungal inoculum free of mineral substrates. Such trap root mats are available from large-scale hydroponic cultures that are common in horticulture. The paper, which is published in Mycorrhiza, is available online and can be accessed here   .

1 November 2016
Welcome Steffi!

Today Stefanie Höller has started as postdoc in our lab. Stefanie has previously worked at the University of Bonn where she did a PhD on zinc deficiency and ascorbate metabolism in rice in the group of Michael Frei.

24 October 2016
Ni hao Jie He!

Today Jie He (aka. Tiffany) has arrived from Yangzhou, China. She will join us for four years to pursue a PhD on novel calcium transporters in plants.

28-30 September 2016
Participation at Plant Nutrition Conference

We presented six posters at this year's Conference of the German Society of Plant Nutrition, which was held at Hohenheim (Germany). The poster "Genome-wide identification of the CPK gene family in Medicago truncatula and its expression in nodules" by Claudia Schlindwein, Lisa Bischoff, Joachim Schulze, and Edgar Peiter was awarded a prize of the three best posters. Congratulations!

31 August 2016
Commentary on calcium and ROS waves in plants
Not only animals, but also plants operate rapid systemic signalling mechanisms that convey information about a localized stress or attack to other, yet unaffected, parts of the plant, so that they can prepare for the potential spread of the challenge. In the current issue of Plant Physiology, Edgar Peiter comments on an elegant study of the Gilroy and Morris labs, who combined wet-lab research and mathematical modelling to demonstrate an inherent linkage of two second messengers, calcium and reactive oxygen species (ROS) in this "systemic signalling" machinery. The commentary is available online and can be accessed here   .

30 June 2016
Paper on calcium channels in fungi

Calcium is a central component in the response of all organisms to their environment. Calcium signals in the cytosol, i.e. the cell sap, are initiated by the activation of calcium channel proteins in the outer cell membrane and/or in endomembranes. The model organism yeast contains a calcium-permeable channel of the TRP family, TRPY1, which is localized in the vacuolar membrane and contributes to cytosolic calcium elevations, for example in response to osmotic upshock. A TRPY1 homologue in the rice blast fungus is known to be important for growth and pathogenicity. To determine the role of the TRP channel family in the devastating maize pathogen Colletotrichum graminicola, proteins homologous to TRPY1 were searched. This identified not one, but four genes in the C. graminicola genome, which we named CgTRPFs, and which were all expressed throughout the infection of maize. Like TRPY1, all TRPF proteins of C. graminicola were localized intracellularly. Deletion strains for the CgTRPF genes were not altered in processes thought to involve calcium release from internal stores, i.e. spore germination, the utilization of complex carbon sources, and the generation of tip-focussed calcium spikes (see news on 13 April 2016). Heterologous expression of the CgTRPFs in a yeast mutant revealed that none of the channels mediated the release of calcium in response to osmotic upshock. Accordingly, calcium measurements of C. graminicola showed that in this fungus, osmotic upshock-triggered calcium elevations were generated entirely by influx of calcium from the extracellular space. Cgtrpf mutants did not show pathogenicity defects in leaf infection assays. In summary, our study reveals major differences between different fungi in the contribution of TRP channels to calcium-mediated signal transduction. The experiments were performed by our PhD student Mario Lange in collaboration with our neighbours, the phytopathology lab; the project was part of a DFG Research Group (FOR666). The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

13 April 2016
Paper on calcium and growth of fungi
Regulation fluctuations in cytosolic free calcium are decisive for tip growth of certain plant cells, such as pollen tubes and root hairs. As hyphae of filamentous fungi also grow at their tip, we were interested in whether growth of these organisms is also determined by calcium oscillations. Determinations of calcium concentrations on single-hypha and on whole-colony level in combination with growth assays and a pharmacological survey showed that this is not the case. Instead irregular calcium spikes were observed, which are likely a response to micro-environmental parameters, such as the physical properties of the surface. The experiments were performed by our PhD student Mario Lange; the project was part of a DFG Research Group (FOR666). The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

15 February 2016
Paper on potassium and water shortage in long-term experiment

Both, potassium (K) deficiency and limited water supply can cause substantial yield losses. Albeit it is believed that an ample K nutrition alleviates the severity of drought stress, this relationship has not been studied extensively in the field. We analysed a long-term field experiment with K availability ranging from deficient to superfluous for the interaction between K supply and yield loss of five crop species (potato, wheat, barley, beet, maize) by water shortage. On the low-K plots, crops suffered yield depressions of nearly all main harvest products. A comparison of four year-pairs with differing levels of precipitation showed an average water shortage-induced depression of dry matter yields by 20%. Interestingly, the severity of this yield depression was not mitigated by elevated K supply, with the exception of beet leaves, where the dry matter production was stabilized by high K supply. In beet, the reduction of storage-root yield was associated with a decrease in harvest index and was therefore obviously caused by an inhibition of assimilate translocation from the leaves into these organs, in contrast to cereals, where water shortage primarily affected dry matter production in vegetative organs. It is concluded that the physiological causes of yield reduction by drought stress differ between plant species and that the possibilites to ameliorate drought effects by K supply are limited. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

13 January 2016
Paper on calcium signalling in yeast
Yeast is an excellent model organism which, like animals and plants, employs calcium as second messenger. A team of laboratories led by Linghuo Jiang (Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China) has now identified a novel regulator of cytosolic calcium homeostasis in yeast. In our lab, Ricardo Happeck and Tina Peiter-Volk contributed to this major advance, which has just been published in the European Journal of Cell Biology. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

15 December 2015
Paper on iron-manganese interactions

It has been known for a long time that iron nutrition in plants is antagonistically affected by manganese, but the processes which are sensible to manganese and the way by which plants address this problem have remained unknown. In this paper, we identifiy iron chelate reduction as a critical manganese-sensitive step and the CDF transporter MTP8 as essential component mitigating the adverse effects of manganese on iron nutrition. We identified this pivotal role of MTP8 in iron nutrition by employing a new forward genetic screening approach that mimicked the conditions of low iron availability in calcareous soils. We further elucidated the causal relationships between iron nutrition and MTP8-mediated manganese sequestration by employing a broad range of molecular, cell biological, and analytical tools. This allowed us to define the primary function of MTP8, namely the safeguarding of the iron acquisition machinery under iron-limiting conditions in the presence of manganese, rather than the detoxification of manganese under conditions of absolute manganese toxicity. The general relevance of this mechanism is underlined by the hypersensitivity of mtp8 mutants to Fe deficiency chlorosis also on calcareous soil. Our findings are of broad interest to plant biologists, as we provide here a novel mechanistic view on how the management of an antagonistic element (Mn) warrants the tolerance to deficiency of another nutrient (Fe). Moreover, this study will also raise interest to researchers from the agricultural sector as it addresses a problem frequently reported in field studies. The study was a collaboration with Nico von Wirén (IPK Gatersleben) and his PhD student Seckin Eroglu, who first identifed the role of MTP8 in iron nutrition. In our lab, Bastian Meier contributed to the exciting findings, which are published in Plant Physiology. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

01-02 December 2015
Participation at Indo-German Workshop

Edgar Peiter participated at the workshop "Novel approaches to investigate signals and defenses in plant-biotic interactions" at New Delhi (India) which was jointly organized by NIPGR (Delhi) and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. He presented a talk entitled "Coding the message: Generation and kinetics of calcium signals in biotic interactions".

17-18 September 2015
Participation at Plant Nutrition Conference

We presented three posters at this year's Conference of the German Society of Plant Nutrition, which was held at Göttingen (Germany). The poster "Phytoeffectors - the rescue from abiotic stress conditions?" by Victoria Kiep, Dagmar Rissel, Tina Peiter-Volk, Anja Janssen, and Edgar Peiter was awarded the prize for the best poster. Congratulations!

30 August - 03 September 2015
Participation at the Conference of the German Botanical Society

We presented a talk and two posters at the Conference of the German Botanical Society, which was held in Freising-Weihenstephan (Germany).

21 May 2015
Paper on systemic calcium signals after wounding and herbivory
Insect herbivory triggers an intricate signalling network in the plant that ultimately leads to the launch of defense responses. It is known that "calcium signals", i.e. the transient elevation of cytosolic free calcium, is a very early and essential response of the attacked plant. By monitoring cytosolic free calcium elevations in entire Arabidopsis rosettes using a high-resolution photon-counting camera system, we found that wounding and herbivory by caterpillars induced calcium signals not only in the attacked leaf, but also in non-attacked, "systemic" leaves. Systemic calcium signals were found predominantly in adjacent leaves with direct vascular connections to the treated leaf and appeared with a delay of 1 to 2 min. This systemic [Ca2+]cyt response was suppressed by the presence of insect-derived oral secretions as well as in a mutant of the vacuolar cation channel Two Pore Channel 1 (TPC1). The systemic calcium signal could play an important signalling role in systemic plant defense. The study was a collaboration with the group of Axel Mithöfer (MPI for Chemical Ecology, Jena). In our lab, Victoria Kiep, Justus Lattke, and Jan-Peter Maaß contributed to those exciting findings, which are published in the New Phytologist. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

04 November 2014
A very warm Welcome to Linghuo!
Today Prof. Linghuo Jiang has arrived in our lab. Linghuo is an expert in yeast biotechnology and signalling at the School of Biotechnology of Jiangnan University in Wuxi (China). For the next three weeks, Linghuo will work on a novel regulator of calcium homeostasis that his lab has identified. In addition, we will elucidate further fields of collaboration between our institutions.

04 November 2014
Commentary in the New Phytologist
Our paper on the PAMP-triggered calcium signature (see 22 September 2014) is subject of a commentary by Prof. Allan Downie (JIC Norwich), which can be accessed here   .

22 September 2014
Paper on PAMP-induced calcium signals in stomatal guard cells published

Changes in cytosolic free calcium are an early and essential element of signalling networks activated by the perception of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs), such as flg22. The flg22-induced calcium signal has been described on whole-plant, but not on single-cell scale so far. Also, the calcium sources and channels contributing to its generation are still obscure. Ratiometric fluorescence imaging employing the calcium reporter Yellow Cameleon 3.6 was performed to analyse the flg22-induced calcium signature in single guard cells of Arabidopsis thaliana. Calcium stores and channel types involved in its generation were determined by a pharmacological approach. In contrast to the calcium signal determined on whole-plant level, the signature on single-cell level is not characterized by one sustained response, but by oscillations in cytosolic free calcium. Our analyses suggest that the response observed on whole-plant level is the summary of oscillations occurring in single cells. Parallel to external calcium, influx via channels located at internal stores contributes to the signal. The study was conducted by our senior postdoc Kathrin Thor and is published in New Phytologist. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

10-12 September 2014
International Conference organized - Plant Nutrition 2014
From 10 to 12 September, the biannual International Conference of the German Society of Plant Nutrition was held on the Heide-Süd Campus of the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. The German Society of Plant Nutrition (DGP) is the professional organization in Germany that brings together scientists from all areas of Plant Nutrition. This scope is reflected in the International Conference series of the DGP. This year's meeting aimed to forge a bridge from basic research on molecular and physiological mechanisms, as well as plant-soil interactions, to practical applications in crop improvement and fertilization. Topical sessions focussed on root development and function, nutrient and stress signalling, micronutrients, soil fertility and fertilization, and plant senescence and nutrient retranslocation. The meeting was framed by opening and closing lectures that provided perspectives on current and future challenges in plant nutrition research. The conference would not have been possible without the enthusiastic commitment of the local organizing committee members and the generous support of our donors, to all of whom we are very grateful.

06-10 July 2014
Participation at International Meeting

We presented two posters at the 17th International Symposium on Iron Nutrition and Interactions in Plants (ISINIP), which was held on the campus of the Leibniz-Institute of Plant Genetics & Crop Plant Research (IPK) in Gatersleben (Germany).

22-26 June 2014
Participation at International Meeting

We presented a talk and four posters at the Plant Calcium Signaling conference (PCS 2014), which was held in Münster (Germany).

13 May 2014
Method featured in "Laborjournal"

Our recently published improvement in the cultivation of filamentous fungi (see 04 April 2014) is featured in this month's issue of the lab magazine Laborjournal. The article is freely available here   .

03 May 2014
New plasmid system for co-localization and bimolecular fluorescence complementation published
Today a paper describing a new system to transform fungi simultaneously with two tagged genes has been published in Current Genetics. The work is part of a DFG-funded project on calcium signalling in a fungal phytopathogen. The system was developed by our PhD student Mario Lange and adapted for BiFC by Ely Oliveira-Garcia of our Phytopathology lab. The paper is available online and can be accessed here     .

04 April 2014
New method to cultivate filamentous fungi published
Today a paper describing a new approach to cultivate filamentous fungi on solid media for RNA extraction and pharmacological analyses has been published in Analytical Biochemistry. The work is part of a DFG-funded project on calcium signalling in a fungal phytopathogen. The technique was developed by our PhD student Mario Lange and his MSc student Carolin Müller. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

18 February 2014
Ni hao Haidong!

Dr Haidong Ding, a visiting scholar from Yangzhou University, China, has arrived today. Haidong obtained an Overseas Scholarship by the Jiangsu Provincial Government to do research in our lab for one year. He has previously worked in the areas of plant stress physiology and molecular biology and will join our efforts to unravel mechanisms of calcium signalling in plants.

17 February 2014
New publication on genome repair in seeds

Today a paper on the role of a nuclear protein, PARP3, in the agronomically important trait of seed storability has been published in Plant Biology. The experiments were conducted by our PhD student Dagmar Rissel with the support of her project student Judith Losch. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

16 December 2013
Congratulations Xuefeng!

Today Xuefeng Gong successfully defended her PhD thesis "Characterization of putative RCK domain channel proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana". Xuefeng will return to China in January. We wish her all the best for her future endeavours. A big Thank You to everybody who has helped and supported Xuefeng throughout the four years that she worked in our lab.

18 October 2013
Newspaper article

Increasing the yield stability of crops through an enhanced stress resistance is an important goal of our research. Our work on stress tolerance of barley and Arabidopsis has been covered today in the newspaper "Mitteldeutsche Zeitung"   . The barley projects are part of the Interdisciplinary Centre of Crop Research (IZN); the Arabidopsis projects are funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)   .

17 October 2013
Review on potassium

A paper on the important role of potassium in agriculture has just been published in the Journal of Plant Physiology. The review summarizes factors determining the plant availability of soil potassium, the role of potassium in crop yield formation and product quality, and the dependence of crop stress resistance on potassium nutrition. The paper has been jointly written by Christian Zörb (University of Leipzig), Mehmet Senbayram (University of Göttingen) and Edgar Peiter (MLU Halle-Wittenberg). It is available online now and can be accessed here   .

22 August 2013
Participation and Poster Price at International Meeting

We presented three posters at the XVII International Plant Nutrition Colloquium (IPNC) which was held in Istanbul (Turkey):
Meier, B.
, Kirsten, A., Fierlbeck, L., Nies, D., Mustroph, A., Peiter, E.
A vascular manganese and iron transporter required for submergence tolerance of Arabidopsis.
R. , Köhler, K. , Rech, J. , Freitag, L. , von Wirén, N., Peiter, E.
A newly identified gene from barley alters calcium signals and increases the sensitivity of yeast to sodium and lithium .
, S., Meier, B., von Wirén, N., Peiter, E.
Characterization of a Mn transporter essential for Fe efficiency in Arabidopsis thaliana.
The contribution of Eroğlu et al. was awarded one of the five best-poster prizes. Congratulations to Seckin and Bastian!

22 July 2013
Masterarbeit von Mathias Krebs ausgezeichnet

Im Wettbewerb "Meister und Macher 2013" der Zeitschrift "top agrar" wurde die Masterarbeit unseres Studenten Mathias Krebs mit dem zweiten Preis in der Kategorie Ackerbau und Grünland ausgezeichnet. Die Arbeit trägt den Titel „Auswirkung verschiedener Arten der Gärrestapplikation auf die  Ammoniakverluste, den Ertrag und den Deckungsbeitrag bei Winterroggen,  Mais und Grünland“ und wurde durch Dr. Friedhelm Herbst und Dr. Wolfgang Gans betreut. Herzlichen Glückwunsch!

23 April 2013
Paper on newly identified family of calcium transporters

Calcium is a ubiquitous and essential second messenger in all higher organisms; calcium signals are generated by the action of channels and transporters in cellular membranes. The contribution of internal calcium stores to this process is only poorly understood, in particular in non-animals. By identifying a novel transporter localized in the Golgi apparatus of yeast and humans as a regulator of calcium homeostasis, a team of laboratories led by Pierre Morsomme (Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium) has now made a significant progress in this area. The study has appeared in PNAS today, and we are very happy to having been able to contribute some of our expertise to this work.

Demaegd D, Foulquier F, Colinet A-S, Gremillon L, Legrand D, Mariot P, Peiter E, van Schaftingen E, Matthijs G, Morsomme P (2013). A newly characterized Golgi-localized family of proteins is involved in calcium and pH homeostasis in yeast and human cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 110, 6859-6864.

Plant Nutrition Colloquium

From time to time we invite people working in different areas of plant nutrition -from molecular to field level- to present their research. Everybody welcome.



Professur für Pflanzenernährung

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