Methods to alter plant architecture
Altering plant architecture can be useful for instance in ornamental plants such as Poinsettias and ficus, where methods to induce stunting and stem proliferations are used to make the plants look more attractive. Also, some vegetables are developed to produce more stems and leaves and extended vegetative growth phases. The present invention provides a new method to change the plant’s architecture.
Phytoplasmas are a group of obligate insect-vectored plant pathogenic bacteria that a known to induce massive changes in plant architecture such as witches’ broom-like proliferations of leaves and shoots. In some ornamental plants, phytoplasmas are being used as ‘stunting and free branching agents’ to make the plants look more attractive.
The inventors identified a phytplasma effector protein that is responsible for these plant developmental changes and can be used to achieve stunting and branching without the need to use the live pathogenic bacteria.
Vector-borne pathogenic bacteria produce effector proteins that are translocated to their hosts to modulate specific host processes, such as developmental processes and immune responses to promote bacterial colonisation. The inventors functionally characterized the effector SAP05 from phytoplasmas, a group of obligate insect-vectored plant pathogenic bacteria that can induce massive changes in plant architecture.
The inventors discovered that SAP05 is responsible for these plant developmental changes by facilitating the degradation of plant developmental regulators via a process that relies on hijacking the plant ubiquitin receptor RPN10.
This discovery provides a new strategy to change the architectures of plants to make them look more attractive. The method involves expression of SAP05 in the plant species of interest by genetic modification.
Intellectual property information
Published patent application: PCT number WO2022129557A1; Title “Methods of altering plant architecture”.
Link to published paper(s)
Huang W, MacLean A.M., Sugio A., Maqbool A., Busscher M., Cho S-T., Kamoun S., Kuo C-H., Immink R.G.H., Hogenhout S.A., 2021. Parasitic modulation of host development by ubiquitin-independent protein degradation. Cell: 184(20) 5201-5214.e12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2021.08.029
Prof Saskia Hogenhout
Group Leader at the John Innes Centre with expertise on the mechanisms that drive interactions between plants and insects and the role of microbes in these interactions.
Dr Weijie Huang
Former postdoctoral scientist at the John Innes Centre in the group of Prof Hogenhout working to understand how phytoplasma effector proteins manage to modulate both plant development and insect behaviours and contribute to the establishment of the 3-way interactions. Weijie is now a Group Leader at the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), Shanghai, China where he investigates insect-transmitted plant pathogens.
Dr Allyson MacLean
Former Marie Curie Fellow at the John Innes Centre in the lab of Prof Hogenhout where she studied phytoplasma effectors and their role in hijacking floral development. She is now Group Leader at the University of Ottawa where she investigates plant-microbe interactions.
Dr Akiko Sugio
Former postdoctoral scientist at the John Innes Centre in the lab of Prof Hogenhout where she studied how bacteria transmitted by insects manipulate host plants to attract them. She is now Research Director at Institute for Genetics, Environment and Plant Protection at INRAE, France.