Publications

2014
Maliga, P, Tungsuchat-Huang T.  2014.  Plastid transformation in Nicotiana tabacum and Nicotiana sylvestris by biolistic DNA delivery to leaves. Chloroplast Biotechnology: Methods and Protocols. 1132:147-163. Abstract
The protocol we report here is based on biolistic delivery of the transforming DNA to tobacco leaves, selection of transplastomic clones by spectinomycin resistance and regeneration of plants with uniformly transformed plastid genomes. Because the plastid genome of Nicotiana tabacum derives from Nicotiana sylvestris, and the two genomes are highly conserved, vectors developed for N. tabacum can be used in N. sylvestris. Also, the tissue culture responses of N. tabacum cv. Petit Havana and N. sylvestris accession TW137 are similar, allowing plastid engineering protocols developed for N. tabacum to be directly applied to N. sylvestris. However, the tissue culture protocol is applicable only in a subset of N. tabacum cultivars. Here we highlight differences between the protocols for the two species. We describe updated vectors targeting insertions in the unique and repeated regions of the plastid genome as well as systems for marker excision. The simpler genetics of the diploid N. sylvestris, as opposed to the allotetraploid N. tabacum, make it an attractive model for plastid transformation.
Gurdon, C, Maliga P.  2014.  Two distinct plastid genome configurations and unprecedented intraspecies length variation in the accD coding region in Medicago truncatula. DNA Reserach. 21:inpress. AbstractWebsite
We fully sequenced four and partially sequenced six additional plastid genomes of the model legume Medicago truncatula. Three accessions, Jemalong 2HA, Borung and Paraggio, belong to ssp. truncatula, and R108 to ssp. tricycla. We report here that the R108 ptDNA has a ∼45-kb inversion compared with the ptDNA in ssp. truncatula, mediated by a short, imperfect repeat. DNA gel blot analyses of seven additional ssp. tricycla accessions detected only one of the two alternative genome arrangements, represented by three and four accessions each. Furthermore, we found a variable number of repeats in the essential accD and ycf1 coding regions. The repeats within accD are recombinationally active, yielding variable-length insertions and deletions in the central part of the coding region. The length of ACCD was distinct in each of the 10 sequenced ecotypes, ranging between 650 and 796 amino acids. The repeats in the ycf1 coding region are also recombinationally active, yielding short indels in 10 regions of the reading frames. Thus, the plastid genome variability we report here could be linked to repeat-mediated genome rearrangements. However, the rate of recombination was sufficiently low, so that no heterogeneity of ptDNA could be observed in populations maintained by single-seed descent.
2015
Wang, W, Zhang W, Wu Y, Maliga P, Messing J.  2015.  RNA Editing in Chloroplasts of Spirodela polyrhiza, an Aquatic Monocotelydonous Species. PLoS One. 10:e0140285. AbstractWebsite
RNA editing is the post-transcriptional conversion from C to U before translation, providing a unique feature in the regulation of gene expression. Here, we used a robust and efficient method based on RNA-seq from non-ribosomal total RNA to simultaneously measure chloroplast-gene expression and RNA editing efficiency in the Greater Duckweed, Spirodela polyrhiza, a species that provides a new reference for the phylogenetic studies of monocotyledonous plants. We identified 66 editing sites at the genome-wide level, with an average editing efficiency of 76%. We found that the expression levels of chloroplast genes were relatively constant, but 11 RNA editing sites show significant changes in editing efficiency, when fronds turn into turions. Thus, RNA editing efficiency contributes more to the yield of translatable transcripts than steady state mRNA levels. Comparison of RNA editing sites in coconut, Spirodela, maize, and rice suggests that RNA editing originated from a common ancestor.
Bosacchi, M, Gurdon C, Maliga P.  2015.  Plastid Genotyping Reveals Uniformity of cms-T Maize Cytoplasms.. Plant Physiology. Abstract
Cytoplasmic male sterile (CMS) lines in maize have been classified by their response to specific restorer genes into three categories: cms-C, cms-S, and cms-T. A mitochondrial genome representing each of the CMS cytotypes has been sequenced and male sterility in the cms-S and cms-T cytotypes is linked to chimeric mitochondrial genes. To identify markers for plastid genotyping, we sequenced the plastid genomes (ptDNA) of three fertile maize lines (B37, B73, A188) and the B37 cms-C, cms-S, and cms-T cytoplasmic substitution lines. We found that the plastid genomes of B37 and B73 lines are identical. Furthermore, the fertile and CMS plastid genomes are conserved, differing only by 0-3 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in coding regions and 8-22 SNPs and 10-21 short insertions/deletions in noncoding regions. To gain insight into the origin and transmission of the cms-T trait, we identified three SNPs unique to the cms-T plastids, and tested the three diagnostic SNPs in 27 cms-T lines, representing the HA, I, Q, RS and T male sterile cytoplasms. We report that each of the tested 27 cms-T group accessions have the same three diagnostic plastid SNPs indicating a single origin and maternal co-transmission of the cms-T mitochondria and plastids to the seed progeny. Our data exclude exceptional pollen transmission of organelles or multiple horizontal gene transfer events as the source of the urf13-T gene in the cms-T cytoplasms. Plastid genotyping enables a reassessment of evolutionary relationships of cytoplasms in cultivated maize.
Lutz, KA, Martin C, Khairzada S, Maliga P.  2015.  Steroid-inducible BABY BOOM system for development of fertile Arabidopsis thaliana plants after prolonged tissue culture. Plant Cell Rep. 34:1849-56. AbstractWebsite
KEY MESSAGE: We describe a steroid-inducible BABY BOOM system that improves plant regeneration in Arabidopsis leaf cultures and yields fertile plants. Regeneration of Arabidopsis thaliana plants for extended periods of time in tissue culture may result in sterile plants. We report here a novel approach for A. thaliana regeneration using a regulated system to induce embryogenic cultures from leaf tissue. The system is based on BABY BOOM (BBM), a transcription factor that turns on genes involved in embryogenesis. We transformed the nucleus of A. thaliana plants with BBM:GR, a gene in which the BBM coding region is fused with the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) steroid-binding domain. In the absence of the synthetic steroid dexamethasone (DEX), the BBM:GR fusion protein is localized in the cytoplasm. Only when DEX is included in the culture medium does the BBM transcription factor enter the nucleus and turn on genes involved in embryogenesis. BBM:GR plant lines show prolific shoot regeneration from leaf pieces on media containing DEX. Removal of DEX from the culture media allowed for flowering and seed formation. Therefore, use of BBM:GR leaf tissue for regeneration of plants for extended periods of time in tissue culture will facilitate the recovery of fertile plants.
2016
Gurdon, C, Svab Z, Feng Y, Kumar D, Maliga P.  2016.  Cell-to-cell movement of mitochondria in plants. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 113:3395-400. AbstractWebsite
We report cell-to-cell movement of mitochondria through a graft junction. Mitochondrial movement was discovered in an experiment designed to select for chloroplast transfer fromNicotiana sylvestrisintoNicotiana tabacumcells. The alloplasmicN. tabacumline we used carriesNicotiana undulatacytoplasmic genomes, and its flowers are male sterile due to the foreign mitochondrial genome. Thus, rare mitochondrial DNA transfer fromN. sylvestristoN. tabacumcould be recognized by restoration of fertile flower anatomy. Analyses of the mitochondrial genomes revealed extensive recombination, tentatively linking male sterility toorf293, a mitochondrial gene causing homeotic conversion of anthers into petals. Demonstrating cell-to-cell movement of mitochondria reconstructs the evolutionary process of horizontal mitochondrial DNA transfer and enables modification of the mitochondrial genome by DNA transmitted from a sexually incompatible species. Conversion of anthers into petals is a visual marker that can be useful for mitochondrial transformation.