Plant Science


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 606 Views Jun 20, 2024

All aerial organs in plants originate from the shoot apical meristem, a specialized tissue at the tip of a plant, enclosing a few stem cells. Understanding developmental dynamics within this tissue in relation to internal and external stimuli is of crucial importance. Imaging the meristem at the cellular level beyond very early stages requires the apex to be detached from the plant body, a procedure that does not allow studies in living, intact plants over longer periods. This protocol describes a new confocal microscopy method with the potential to image the shoot apical meristem of an intact, soil-grown, flowering Arabidopsis plant over several days. The setup opens new avenues to study apical stem cells, their interconnection with the whole plant, and their responses to environmental stimuli.

0 Q&A 837 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 822 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 497 Views Jul 20, 2023

In vivo microscopy of plants with high-frequency imaging allows observation and characterization of the dynamic responses of plants to stimuli. It provides access to responses that could not be observed by imaging at a given time point. Such methods are particularly suitable for the observation of fast cellular events such as membrane potential changes. Classical measurement of membrane potential by probe impaling gives quantitative and precise measurements. However, it is invasive, requires specialized equipment, and only allows measurement of one cell at a time. To circumvent some of these limitations, we developed a method to relatively quantify membrane potential variations in Arabidopsis thaliana roots using the fluorescence of the voltage reporter DISBAC2(3). In this protocol, we describe how to prepare experiments for agar media and microfluidics, and we detail the image analysis. We take an example of the rapid plasma membrane depolarization induced by the phytohormone auxin to illustrate the method. Relative membrane potential measurements using DISBAC2(3) fluorescence increase the spatio-temporal resolution of the measurements and are non-invasive and suitable for live imaging of growing roots. Studying membrane potential with a more flexible method allows to efficiently combine mature electrophysiology literature and new molecular knowledge to achieve a better understanding of plant behaviors.

Key features

• Non-invasive method to relatively quantify membrane potential in plant roots.

• Method suitable for imaging seedlings root in agar or liquid medium.

• Straightforward quantification.

0 Q&A 783 Views May 5, 2023

Visualization of cell structure with fluorescent dye for characterizing cell size, shape, and arrangement is a common method to study tissue morphology and morphogenesis. In order to observe shoot apical meristem (SAM) in Arabidopsis thaliana by laser scanning confocal microscopy, we modified the pseudo-Schiff propidium iodide staining method by adding a series solution treatment to stain the deep cells. The advantage of this method is mainly reflected by the direct observation of the clearly bounded cell arrangement and the typical three-layer cells in SAM without the traditional tissue slicing.

0 Q&A 2022 Views Jun 20, 2022

In this study, we present a detailed protocol for live imaging and quantitative analysis of floral meristem development in Aquilegia coerulea, a member of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). Using confocal microscopy and the image analysis software MorphoGraphX, we were able to examine the cellular growth dynamics during floral organ primordia initiation, and the transition from floral meristem proliferation to termination. This protocol provides a powerful tool to study the development of the meristem and floral organ primordia, and should be easily adaptable to many plant lineages, including other emerging model systems. It will allow researchers to explore questions outside the scope of common model systems.

0 Q&A 1929 Views May 5, 2022

Soil-surface roots (SORs) in rice are primary roots that elongate over or near the soil surface. SORs help avoid excessive reduction of stress that occurs in paddy, such as in saline conditions. SORs may also be beneficial for rice growth in phosphorus-deficient paddy fields. Thus, SOR is a useful trait for crop adaptation to certain environmental stresses. To identify a promising genetic material showing SOR, we established methods for evaluating SOR under different growth conditions. We introduced procedures to evaluate the genetic diversity of SOR in various growth stages and conditions: the Cup method allowed us to quantify SOR at the seedling stage, and the Basket method, using a basket buried in a pot or field, is useful in quantifying SOR at the adult stage. These protocols are expected to contribute not only to the evaluation of the genetic diversity of SOR, but also the isolation of related genes in rice.

0 Q&A 2254 Views Jul 20, 2021

Ion-specific probes and fluorescent indicators have been key in establishing the role of ion signaling, namely calcium, protons, and anions, in plant development, providing a robust approach for monitoring spatiotemporal changes in intracellular ion dynamics. The integration of protons/pH in signaling mechanisms is especially important as reports of their biological functions continue to expand; however, attaining quantitative estimates with high spatiotemporal resolution in single cells poses a major research challenge. Here, we detail the use of the genetically encoded pH-sensitive pHluorin reporter expressed in Arabidopsis thaliana pollen tubes to assess cytosolic measurements with calibration to provide actual pH values. This technique enabled us to identify critical phenotypes and establish the importance of tip-focused pH gradient for pollen tube growth, although it can be adapted to other experimental systems.

0 Q&A 3781 Views Jun 5, 2021

Cryo-scanning electron microscopy (cryo-SEM) was first introduced for scientific use in the 1980s. Since then, cryo-SEM has become a routine technique for studying the surfaces and internal structures of biological samples with a high water content. In contrast to traditional SEM, cryo-SEM requires no sample pretreatment processes; thus, we can obtain the most authentic images of the sample shape and structure. Cryo-SEM has two main steps: cryoprocessing of samples and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) observation. The cryoprocessing step includes preparation of the cooled slushing station, cooling of the preparation chamber, sample preparation, and sputtering. The sample is then transferred to an SEM cold stage for observation. We used cryo-SEM to study rice root hair tissues, but the methods and protocols can be applied to other root systems. This protocol optimizes the two key operation steps of reducing the humidity in the growth chamber and previewing the samples before sputtering and can more quickly obtain high-quality images.

0 Q&A 3916 Views May 5, 2021

Recurring damage to the aerial organs of plants necessitates their prompt repair, particularly their vasculature. While vascular regeneration assays for aerial plant parts such as the stem and inflorescence stalk are well established, those for leaf vasculature remain unexplored. Recently, we established a new vascular regeneration assay in growing leaves and discovered the underlying molecular mechanism. Here, we describe the detailed stepwise method for the incision and regeneration assay used to study leaf vascular regeneration. By using a combination of micro-surgical perturbations, brightfield microscopy, and other experimental approaches, we further show that the age of the leaf as well as the position and size of the injury determine the overall success rate of regeneration. This easy-to-master vascular regeneration assay is an efficient and rapid method to study the mechanism of vascular regeneration in growing leaves. The assay can be readily combined with cellular and molecular biology techniques.

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