Plant Science


Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 543 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 474 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 767 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 494 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

0 Q&A 357 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.

1 Q&A 775 Views Aug 20, 2023

Yield losses attributed to plant pathogens pose a serious threat to plant productivity and food security. Botrytis cinerea is one of the most devastating plant pathogens, infecting a wide array of plant species; it has also been established as a model organism to study plant–pathogen interactions. In this context, development of different assays to follow the relative success of B. cinerea infections is required. Here, we describe two methods to quantify B. cinerea development in Arabidopsis thaliana genotypes through measurements of lesion development and quantification of fungal genomic DNA in infected tissues. This provides two independent techniques that are useful in assessing the susceptibility or tolerance of different Arabidopsis genotypes to B. cinerea.

Key features

• Protocol for the propagation of the necrotrophic plant pathogen fungus Botrytis cinerea and spore production.

• Two methods of Arabidopsis thaliana infection with the pathogen using droplet and spray inoculation.

• Two readouts, either by measuring lesion size or by the quantification of fungal DNA using quantitative PCR.

• The two methods are applicable across plant species susceptible the B. cinerea.

Graphical overview

A simplified overview of the droplet and spray infection methods used for the determination of B. cinerea growth in different Arabidopsis genotypes

0 Q&A 484 Views Aug 5, 2023

The chloroplast lumen contains at least 80 proteins whose function and regulation are not yet fully understood. Isolating the chloroplast lumen enables the characterization of the lumenal proteins. The lumen can be isolated in several ways through thylakoid disruption using a Yeda press or sonication, or through thylakoid solubilization using a detergent. Here, we present a simple procedure to isolate thylakoid lumen by sonication using leaves of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The step-by-step procedure is as follows: thylakoids are isolated from chloroplasts, loosely associated thylakoid surface proteins from the stroma are removed, and the lumen fraction is collected in the supernatant following sonication and centrifugation. Compared to other procedures, this method is easy to implement and saves time, plant material, and cost. Lumenal proteins are obtained in high quantity and purity; however, some stromal membrane–associated proteins are released to the lumen fraction, so this method could be further adapted if needed by decreasing sonication power and/or time.

0 Q&A 425 Views Aug 5, 2023

Due to technical limitations, research to date has mainly focused on the role of abiotic and biotic stress–signalling molecules in the aerial organs of plants, including the whole shoot, stem, and leaves. Novel experimental platforms including the dual-flow-RootChip (dfRC), PlantChip, and RootArray have since expanded this to plant-root cell analysis. Based on microfluidic platforms for flow stream shaping and force sensing on tip-growing organisms, the dfRC has further been expanded into a bi-directional dual‐flow‐RootChip (bi-dfRC), incorporating a second adjacent pair of inlets/outlet, enabling bi-directional asymmetric perfusion of treatments towards plant roots (shoot-to-root or root-to-shoot). This protocol outlines, in detail, the design and use of the bi-dfRC platform. Plant culture on chip is combined with guided root growth and controlled exposure of the primary root to solute changes. The impact of surface treatment on root growth and defence signals can be tracked in response to abiotic and biotic stress or the combinatory effect of both. In particular, this protocol highlights the ability of the platform to culture a variety of plants, such as Arabidopsis thaliana, Nicotiana benthamiana, and Solanum lycopersicum, on chip. It demonstrates that by simply altering the dimensions of the bi-dfRC, a broad application basis to study desired plant species with varying primary root sizes under microfluidics is achieved.

Key features

• Expansion of the method developed by Stanley et al. (2018a) to study the directionality of defence signals responding to localised treatments.

Description of a microfluidic platform allowing culture of plants with primary roots up to 40 mm length, 550 μm width, and 500 μm height.

Treatment with polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) to permanently retain the hydrophilicity of partially hydrophobic bi-dfRC microchannels, enabling use with surface-sensitive plant lines.

• Description of novel tubing array setup equipped with rotatable valves for switching treatment reagent and orientation, while live-imaging on the bi-dfRC.

Graphical overview

Graphical overview of bi-dfRC fabrication, plantlet culture, and setup for root physiological analysis. (a) Schematic diagram depicting photolithography and replica molding, to produce a PDMS device. (b) Schematic diagram depicting seed culture off chip, followed by sub-culture of 4-day-old plantlets on chip. (c) Schematic diagram depicting microscopy and imaging setup, equipped with a media delivery system for asymmetric treatment introduction into the bi-dfRC microchannel root physiological analysis under varying conditions.

0 Q&A 207 Views Aug 5, 2023

Understanding the influence of secondary metabolites from fungi on the mitochondria of the host plant during infection is of great importance for the knowledge of fungus–plant interactions in general; it could help generate resistant plants in the future and in the development of specifically acting plant protection products. For this purpose, it must first be possible to record the mitochondrial parameters in the host plant. As of the date of this protocol, no measurements of mitochondrial respiration parameters have been performed in wheat paleae. The protocol shown here describes the measurements using the XF24 analyzer, which measures the rate of oxygen consumption in the sample by changes in the fluorescence of solid-state fluorophores. This procedure covers the preparation of samples for the XF24 analyzer and the measurement of mitochondrial parameters by adding specific mitochondrial inhibitors. It also shows the necessary approach and steps to be followed to obtain reliable, reproducible results. This is a robust protocol that allows the analysis of mitochondrial respiration directly in the wheat paleae. It demonstrates an important add-on method to existing screenings and also offers the possibility to test the effects of early infection of plants by harmful fungi (e.g., Fusarium graminearum) on mitochondrial respiration parameters.

Key features

• This protocol offers the possibility of testing the effects of early infection of plants by pathogens on mitochondrial respiration parameters.

• This protocol requires a Seahorse XF24 Flux Analyzer with Islet Capture Microplates and the Seahorse Capture Screen Insert Tool.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 375 Views Jun 5, 2023

Measurement of leaf carbon gain and water loss (gas exchange) in planta is a standard procedure in plant science research for attempting to understand physiological traits related to water use and photosynthesis. Leaves carry out gas exchange through the upper (adaxial) and lower (abaxial) surfaces at different magnitudes, depending on the stomatal density, stomatal aperture, cuticular permeability, etc., of each surface, which we account for in gas exchange parameters such as stomatal conductance. Most commercial devices measure leaf gas exchange by combining the adaxial and abaxial fluxes and calculating bulk gas exchange parameters, missing details of the plant's physiological response on each side. Additionally, the widely used equations to estimate gas exchange parameters neglect the contribution of small fluxes such as cuticular conductance, adding extra uncertainties to measurements performed in water-stress or low-light conditions. Accounting for the gas exchange fluxes from each side of the leaf allows us to better describe plants' physiological traits under different environmental conditions and account for genetic variability. Here, apparatus and materials are presented for adapting two LI-6800 Portable Photosynthesis Systems to work as one gas exchange system to measure adaxial and abaxial gas exchange simultaneously. The modification includes a template script with the equations to account for small fluxes. Instructions are provided for incorporating the add-on script into the device's computational sequence, display, variables, and spreadsheet results. We explain the method to obtain an equation to estimate boundary layer conductance to water for the new setup and how to embed this equation in the devices' calculations using the provided add-on script. The apparatus, methods, and protocols presented here provide a simple adaptation combining two LI-6800s to obtain an improved system to measure leaf gas exchange on adaxial and abaxial surfaces.

Graphical overview

Figure 1. Diagram of the connection of two LI-6800s. Figure adapted from Márquez et al. (2021).

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