Plant Science


Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 2218 Views Oct 20, 2020
Aphids are a serious pest of crops across the world. Aphids feed by inserting their flexible hypodermal needlelike mouthparts, or stylets, into their host plant tissues. They navigate their way to the phloem where they feed on its sap causing little mechanical damage to the plant. Additionally, while feeding, aphids secrete proteinaceous effectors in their saliva to alter plant metabolism and disrupt plant defenses to gain an advantage over the plant. Even with these arsenals to overcome plant responses, plants have evolved ways to detect and counter with defense responses to curtail aphid infestation. One of such response of cowpea to cowpea aphid infestation, is accumulation of the metabolite methylglyoxal. Methylglyoxal is an α,β-dicarbonyl ketoaldehyde that is toxic at high concentrations. Methylglyoxal levels increase modestly after exposure to a number of different abiotic and biotic stresses and has been shown to act as an emerging defense signaling molecule at low levels. Here we describe a protocol to measure methylglyoxal in cowpea leaves after cowpea aphid infestation, by utilizing a perchloric acid extraction process. The extracted supernatant was neutralized with potassium carbonate, and methylglyoxal was quantified through its reaction with N-acetyl-L-cysteine to form N-α-acetyl-S-(1-hydroxy-2-oxo-prop-1-yl)cysteine, a product that is quantified spectrophotometrically.
0 Q&A 8871 Views Jul 5, 2018
In this protocol, we describe how to quantify starch in guard cells of Arabidopsis thaliana using the fluorophore propidium iodide and confocal laser scanning microscopy. This simple method enables monitoring, with unprecedented resolution, the dynamics of starch in guard cells.
0 Q&A 6403 Views Jul 5, 2018
Plant vacuoles are the largest compartment in plant cells, occupying more than 80% of the cell volume. A variety of proteins, sugars, pigments and other metabolites are stored in these organelles (Paris et al., 1996; Olbrich et al., 2007). Flowers produce a variety of specialized metabolites, some of which are unique to this organ, such as components of pollination syndromes, i.e., scent volatiles and flavonoids (Hoballah et al., 2007; Cna'ani et al., 2015). To study the compounds stored in floral vacuoles, this compartment must be separated from the rest of the cell. To enable isolation of vacuoles, protoplasts were first generated by incubating pierced corollas with cellulase and macrozyme enzymes. After filtering and several centrifugation steps, protoplasts were separated from the debris and damaged/burst protoplasts, as revealed by microscopic observation. Concentrated protoplasts were lysed, and vacuoles were extracted by Ficoll-gradient centrifugation. Vacuoles were used for quantitative GC-MS analyses of sequestered metabolites. This method allowed us to identify vacuoles as the subcellular accumulation site of glycosylated volatile phenylpropanoids and to hypothesize that conjugated scent compounds are sequestered in the vacuoles en route to the headspace (Cna'ani et al., 2017).
0 Q&A 5966 Views Feb 5, 2018
This protocol delivers a method to determine the biosynthetic capability of comfrey leaves for pyrrolizidine alkaloids independently from other organs like roots or flowers.

The protocol applies and combines radioactive tracer experiments with standard and modern techniques like thin layer chromatography (TLC), solid-phase extraction (SPE), high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).
4 Q&A 15265 Views May 20, 2017
1-MCP (1-methylcyclopropene) is a simple synthetic hydrocarbon molecule that interacts with the ethylene receptor and inhibits the response of fruit or plant to ethylene. 1-MCP has opened new opportunities in handling harvested crops and serves as a powerful tool to learn about plant response to ethylene (Watkins and Miller, 2006). 1-MCP is manufactured by Agrofresh and known by its commercial name SmartfreshSM.
2 Q&A 18643 Views May 20, 2017
Plants use nitrate, nitrite, and ammonium as inorganic nitrogen (N) sources. These N compounds are included in plant tissues at various concentrations depending on the balance between their uptake and assimilation. Thus, the contents of nitrate, nitrite, and ammonium are physiological indicators of plant N economy. Here, we describe a protocol for measurement of these inorganic N species in A. thaliana shoots or roots.
0 Q&A 11162 Views Mar 20, 2017
A common method to investigate the function of genes putatively involved in carotenoid biosynthesis is the so called color complementation assay in Escherichia coli (see, e.g., Cunningham and Gantt, 2007). In this assay, the gene under investigation is expressed in E. coli strains genetically engineered to synthesize potential carotenoid substrates, followed by analysis of the pigment changes in the carotenogenic bacteria via high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Two crucial steps in this method are (i) the quantitative extraction of the carotenoids out of E. coli and (ii) the reproducible and complete separation of the pigments by HPLC.

Here, we present a protocol for the extraction and analysis of carotenoids with a broad range of polarities from carotenogenic E. coli. The solvent mixture used for extraction keeps both the lipophilic carotenes and the more polar xanthophylls in solution and is compatible with the eluent gradient of the subsequent HPLC analysis. The C30-column used is particularly suitable for the separation of various cis-isomers of carotenoids, but also for separation of stereoisomers such as α- and β-carotene or lutein and zeaxanthin.
0 Q&A 14807 Views Mar 5, 2017
Lignin is the second most abundant biopolymer on Earth, providing plants with mechanical support in secondary cell walls and defense against abiotic and biotic stresses. However, lignin also acts as a barrier to biomass saccharification for biofuel generation (Carroll and Somerville, 2009; Zhao and Dixon, 2011; Wang et al., 2013). For these reasons, studying the properties of lignin is of great interest to researchers in agriculture and bioenergy fields. This protocol describes the acetyl bromide method of total lignin extraction and quantification, which is favored among other methods for its high recovery, consistency, and insensitivity to different tissue types (Johnson et al., 1961; Chang et al., 2008; Moreira-Vilar et al., 2014; Kapp et al., 2015). In brief, acetyl bromide digestion causes the formation of acetyl derivatives on free hydroxyl groups and bromide substitution of α-carbon hydroxyl groups on the lignin backbone to cause a complete solubilization of lignin, which can be quantified using known extinction coefficients and absorbance at 280 nm (Moreira-Vilar et al., 2014).
0 Q&A 8075 Views Feb 20, 2017
Organic acids secreted from plant roots play important roles in various biological processes including nutrient acquisition, metal detoxification, and pathogen attraction. The secretion of organic acids may be affected by various conditions such as plant growth stage, nutrient deficiency, and abiotic stress. For example, when white lupin (Lupinus albus L.) is exposed to phosphorus (P)-deficient conditions, the secretion of citrate acid from its proteoid roots significantly increases (Neumann et al., 1999). This protocol describes a method for the collection and measurement of the efflux of organic acids (oxalate, malate, and citrate) from the roots of rice cultivar Nipponbare (‘Nip’) under different nitrogen forms (NH4+ and NO3-), together with different P supply (+P and -P) conditions.
0 Q&A 10997 Views Nov 5, 2016
Metabolite profiling using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) permits the annotation and quantification of a relatively wide variety of metabolites, covering a wide range of biochemical groups of metabolites. Lisec et al. (2006) established a method for GC-MS profiling in plants. Based on this protocol, we provide here a detailed GC-MS-based metabolite profiling protocol to identify compounds belonging to several biochemical groups in the primary metabolism of mature Arabidopsis thaliana seeds (Cohen et al., 2014). The protocol uses methoxyamine hydrochloride and N-methyl-N-trimethylsilyltriflouroacetamide (MSTFA) as derivatization reagents, as previous studies indicated these are the most appropriate compounds for profiling of plant metabolites. The protocol is relatively rapid, delivers reproducible results, and can be employed to profile metabolites of many other types of plant tissues with only minor modifications. In this context, developing seeds can serve as an excellent system for studying metabolic regulation, since during their development, a massive synthesis of reserve compounds occurs controlled under tight transcriptional regulation and associated with temporally distinct metabolic switches.

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